Those of us who talk with our gardens' plants (it is the only known virtue of the otherwise-not-especially-virtuous Prince Charles) are disconcerted to learn that our plants may be capable of lying to us.
Not that many of us will learn of it since the scientific paper containing that finding is an esoteric thing that I have only stumbled across because in my online reading I trespass where angels fear to read.
So one doubts that the Heir to the Throne unless he reads this column (which he boycotts, churlishly, because of its republican attitudes) will learn of the scientific paper The Plant Consciousness: Understanding and Developing Proto-Languages Between Plants And Humans just published by cerebral Serbian researchers.
They devised a lie detector capable, they claim, of telling whether a chosen plant, a popular variety of Poinsettia grown by thousands of Canberrans, was lying or was telling the truth when asked questions.
The Poinsettia told researchers several lies although, unlike a recently deposed Australian prime minister (whose name escapes me for the moment), it also sometimes told the truth.
The researchers' findings are disturbing for those of for whom our gardens have been till now an important source of sanity. In an untrustworthy and deceitful world we have increasingly turned away from reliance on people (so many of them Donald Trumps, Boris Johnsons and Scott Morrisons) and turned to the surely more ethical companionship of non-humans such as garden plants, trees and dogs.
Does the Serbian research point to one's long-time suspicion that only dogs can be trusted?
An instinct for exploration of the Great Unknown (my heroes in this are Burke and Wills and Dr Who) continues to take me to Canberra's newest, still-being-built suburbs of the Molonglo Valley.
A man has to have no poetry in his soul not to feel some excitements at the sight of brand new suburbs arising where once there was only nondescript tundra.
Yes, I know that some older Canberrans in leafier suburbs deplore the ways in which for them new suburbia spoils beloved vistas of tundra. They, the olde deplorers, resent the ways in which younger people breed so irresponsibly (the Molonglo Valley is expected to one day teem with 55,000 souls) and then, selfishly, expect to live in houses.
By contrast, for I am young at heart, I find the arisings of the new suburbs exciting.
There is a poignant optimism about all this pioneering, about all the feverish building going on.
Where I do my reading there is terrible pessimism about mankind's prospects, with doomsdayists imagining how a changed climate and war and disease may soon erase our species. But the new suburbs seem in their articulate bricks-and-mortar and kerbs-and-gutters ways to express a human determination to Keep Calm and Carry On in the optimistic expectation that mankind has a future.
Whenever (as one day last week) I drive away from the Molonglo Valley's swish, new, evolving suburbs and home to my superannuated (established 1966), leafily bedraggled, long-in-the-tooth suburb in past-its-prime Woden there is a strong sense of having time-travelled from the bright future to the weary past.
Even Denman Prospect's name is enviable. It refers to the admirable Gertrude Lady Denman. A very fine, feminist, activist woman in her own right, as the wife (far too good for him) of governor-general Lord Denman it fell to her to make the public announcement on March 12, 1913 of the hitherto secret name chosen for the federal capital city.
Happy the citizens that live in a suburb named after a fine human being!
Then, heaping even more panache upon the suburb, Denman Prospect's streets are all named after people who were activists and reformers.
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It is ironic, perhaps, that some of the streets of desirable Denman Prospect bristle with the ostentatious mansions of the capitalism-loving rich when those streets are names after people who held socialist principles.
One wishes persecuted Julian Assange a long life but perhaps it is only the fact of his still being alive (for only the safely dead can have Canberra places named them) that has prevented Denman Prospect from having a Julian Assange Terrace honouring that activist and reformer.
Perhaps, one day, Julian will have a whole suburb named after him, its citizens neither knowing nor caring who or what an Assange was.
Meanwhile, sadly, there is nothing in the new suburbs of Molonglo Valley to prominently explain to anyone who those suburbs are named after.
Judith Wright, 'Nugget' Coombs, Baroness Denman and Gough Whitlam are all eerily absent from the places labelled with their names as perfunctorily as different jars of jam are labelled with the words "strawberry" and "apricot" and "cumquat".
Surely an early item of the infrastructure of these places should be something conspicuous, perhaps a looming and high-quality floodlit figurative statue of the lionheart, the champion the place is named after.
That there is not a trace of Judith Wright, Australian poet, pioneering environmentalist and compassionate campaigner for Aboriginal land rights, in Wright, seems absurd and wrong. When I come to power every new suburb named after a person will have to have such an artwork, and, perhaps controversially in these dumb times (but my government will show no fear) everyone aspiring to live in such a suburb will have to pass an exam that shows they know who their suburb's champion was.
So for example everyone aspiring to live in Wright will be required to learn by heart and to recite one of Judith Wright's longer and more demanding poems.
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
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