It’s not just the jolly colours of the Nordic Grip Wets that make them great winter footwear in the garden or out and about, it’s the patented IceLock non-slip technology that was originally developed by the South Korean military to ensure they stayed on their feet in icy conditions. Apparently the rubber compound sole contains micro-glass filaments that are electrostatically aligned to give grip and traction. They also happen to be waterproof, fleece lined, and very easy to put on and take off. They are also incredibly comfortable, so much so that when my pair arrived I wore them round the house for an entire afternoon until persuaded that it did look slightly eccentric. Nordic Grips are available in 5 colours for £44.95 from www.cuckooland.com
On our visit to Cranbourne Botanic Garden, the curator pointed out the Australian version of our mistletoe – which is parasitic exclusively on eucalyptus. It so effectively mimics the foliage of its host that I don’t think I would have noticed it if it hadn’t been shown to me. With my eye in, I saw it everywhere – the giveaway is that its leaves are generally greener and more densely clustered than those of the tree.
It’s not until you get to Australia that you realise that eucalyptus has adapted itself to just about every type of climate variation – wet, dry, mountainous and marine – everywhere we went there seemed to a eucalyptus that was adapted to the habitat. We saw snow gums in the Snowy Mountains, towering 100ft specimens in the rainforests and admired the marvellously mottled trunks of those fringing the Pacific Ocean. Impressive.
This is the Aboriginal name for the climbing vine Pandorea pandorana – and absolutely nothing to do with loan companies or money. We spotted several plants when we were walking in the Mount Buffalo National Park in Victoria where there was a quite noticeable variation in flower colour between the different plants. It is very lovely and as it is hardy to minus 5 degrees it might be worth growing in a very sheltered garden or a conservatory. It flowers early (April) so it might struggle a bit except in a very mild year or an exceptionally sheltered spot. www.roselandhouse.co.uk offers several varieties.
We may have been in the wrong places at the wrong times, and we didn’t have a local botanist guiding our walks, but we didn’t see carpets of wildflowers anywhere on our travels. I found I really needed to keep my eyes peeled to spot the tiny lilies, orchids and other yet-to-be identified flowers, although the flowering shrubs were generally much more evident.