So another year is upon us, and I thought I should start it off with my very first photo-gallery of the year. The photos themselves were taken last year of course, but that is how these things tend to work. So Happy New Year everyone, and lets get on with it.
I’m editing this post just to add one note of interest for anyone who may not be familiar with the single tree that makes up one of the images below. That particular tree is an import to British Columbia from the lower slopes of the Chilean and Argentinian south-central Andes, and for whatever reason (beyond being on the endangered species list), they’re not quite as plentiful as they use to be when I first moved out here (approx. 35 years ago).
The tree is commonly known as “The Monkey Puzzle Tree”, though it’s more distinguished scientific name is Araucaria araucana. Unlike what most people think, and as I have even noted in the caption, we don’t really know if this tree, a tree that is so old that it is regarded as a living fossil, can or cannot truly be climbed by a monkey. I don’t know if anyone has ever tested this relatively new theory. The story, as it was told to me, was that the strange leaf formations, which feel actually quite brittle, and are attached very close to the stem along the whole edge of the leaf (if you enlarge my picture to it’s maximum size, you will get at least a decent idea of what I mean) would continually break off from the tree wherever the monkey grabbed it, thus preventing the hapless simian from making any progress.
A little deeper reading, however, has turned up for me the following explanation for the name, and until I actually see a monkey sitting under a Monkey Puzzle Tree, shaking one fist at the tree above him, while massaging his sore bottom with the other fist, I’m going to have to believe the new explanation (which is actually the original explanation). That story goes like this:
“The origin of the popular English language name “monkey puzzle” derives from its early cultivation in Britain in about 1850, when the species was still very rare in gardens and not widely known. Sir William Molesworth, the proud owner of a young specimen at Pencarrow garden near Bodmin in Cornwall, was showing it to a group of friends, one of them – the noted barrister and Benthamist Charles Austin – remarked, “It would puzzle a monkey to climb that”. As the species had no existing popular name, first “monkey puzzler”, then “monkey puzzle” stuck”.