Home National museum Vegetable Garden: Enjoying Bush Tucker at the National Museum of Australia | Canberra weather

Vegetable Garden: Enjoying Bush Tucker at the National Museum of Australia | Canberra weather


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A visit to the National Museum of Australia is enhanced by the Christina and Trevor Kennedy Garden at the entrance. A group of us were heading to the museum cafe for lunch, but we stopped to see a large group of people attending Adam Shipp’s Tasting Australia tour. This garden is a living museum of medicinal and food plants native to all of Australia. Adam Shipp, a man from Wiradjuri, presented the pictures and scents of the season to the group but, in particular, made reference to the seeds of a plant the size of quinoa. This was appropriate because Adam runs Yurbay Consultancies – “yurbay” meaning “seed” in his native language. I couldn’t see the plant but it was probably rush (Lomandra longifolia) which Adam said has a seed like a grain of rice and can be made into a shock absorber. The plant is used for food, fiber, and medicine. He twists it into a rope which becomes harder as it dries. There were four visits on November 4 and 6, and these will be followed by other visits on February 3 and 5. Visitors must book through the museum’s website (headphones for hearing are provided) and morning tea is included. Adam brings samples of native pepper, salt, acacia seed, and kurrajong seed (which he says is like popcorn) to enjoy with a cup of bush tea. At home, he cooks with acacia seeds collected from acacia trees in Cootamundra and Blackwood. In the home gardens, edible plants in the museum grow well. I have had kangaroo weed (Themeda triandra) in a pair of tall, narrow pots for 20 years. Their edible seeds can be ground into flour. Adam says kangaroo grass is also used in land management and native grazing animals use it for their food. The native blue flax lily (Dianella revoluta) has pretty blue berries that would be edible fresh or cooked. In my garden, you have to watch its spread. Native indigo (Indigofera australis) is a source of nectar for butterflies. Adam calls it a peach plant because the leaves can be crushed and thrown into a waterhole that deprives the water of oxygen, causing the fish to float and get caught easily. At ACT for bees, Julie Armstrong and her team sent an email to say it’s Australian Pollinator Week November 13-22 and among the event details ACT for Bees has included a list of covers -soils to attract bees and pollinators into the ACT. Two low-growing grevilleas provide high nectar to attract bees, the fan flower (Scavola humilis) which attracts bees, butterflies and birds, species of salvia (the sage family). The prostrate false sarsaparilla (Hardenbergia violacea) is also recommended as an attractant for bees and Adam Shipp says its leaves or flowers can be used to make tea. Campbell’s Drewe Just collects the best honey from the bees in his hives. He originally said he only wanted to have three hives but the bees kept swarming, so in October he increased it to five hives. The three-time swarming was spectacular. My neighbors and I should agree. A bee hive has resided in a large hole in the trunk of an over 300-year-old blakelyi eucalyptus tree near our townhouses. The bees have been swarming for two weeks. It’s both impressive and something to be aware of when visiting exotic and native flowers in the surrounding area. Julie Armstrong includes in the newsletter an excerpt from a report by Hall Rotarian Jonathan Palmer announcing that Hall is the first bee-friendly village in Australia. Starting in 2018, a group of local beekeepers, environmentalists and concerned citizens became the Hall Honeys. Members of Hall Men’s Shed built 100 bee hotels and local residents all joined in. They know the bee dance when a bee walks in a circle, turns around, often with a small movement, and then walks the same circle in the opposite direction. It is believed that this tells the beehive companions about the quality of the flower patch it has found. On World Bee Day in May, humans were invited to participate in a global challenge to do the wriggling dance. Speaking to Hive Mind at the Museum of Australian Democracy in June, environmental scientist Cormac Farrell said the bees were dancing in the dark when they voted to move to a new home to replace the queen bee. It’s time to dance before dinner tonight.