Leaf of the day: Bugs in Paint #6…Six CitrusTrees..

I was full of resolve to face the rude jogger today but of course she did not appear. The bad person in me just hopes that her heart monitor is up to 8 on the richter scale and that the perfect pet has bitten the neigbour’s cat.
Aside from that, all was tranquil today at the Gardens, my last out of doors painting day, at least for this week. Squirrels were prancing and lizards basking and I finally got settled and knuckled down to sketch 6 citrus trees, but this time in colour, with minimal pencil. It’s really drawing with a brush I suppose. It was rather more work than I anticipated but good practise. Here they are in order of size..

The little Oval Kumquat

The equally small Buddha’s Hand citron

The Sunquat

The Ponderosa Lemon, more lemons than leaves..

The Hirado Pommelo

The huge and beautiful Duncan Grapefruit from yesterday again.

These sketches are fairly fast but waiting for the paint to dry holds me up and I am impatient to get things down. Looking at the whole tree, rather than just a leaf or flower gives you a sense of its “personality”, its growth habit etc, and they are all so different. I must say that I enjoyed today and I am beginning to think about making a couple of more finished paintings of trees. Maybe a tree portrait.. but which one ? ..

Leaf of the Day: Pummelo, Pumelo, Pomelo.. whatever

When I was writing about the Contorted Orange the other day (here) I felt sure that Leu would have a Pummelo. They would just have to have a specimen of this very early citrus, and sure enough there it was, with many other varieties in the citrus garden and another “windfall” for me yesterday as one large fruit had fallen on the ground. It is huge. I have a picture of the fruit on the tree but also this one on a plate with a regular sized lemon and a pencil so you can see how absoutely enormous it is.

This one is the well named Goliath Pummelo, Citrus maxima, and to recap a little, it is one of the first 4 citrus fruits from which the modern varieties are descended. It is thought that the basic orange we all know and love, is a cross between this monster and a mandarin. Little and large makes medium I guess. It was considered more a curiosity than a good eating fruit and something of a talking point for tropical fruit displays. A tricky addition to Carmen Miranda’s topknots though!

Additionally, Wiki tells me that “The pomelo is also known as a shaddock, after an English sea captain, Captain Shaddock, who introduced the seed to the West Indies in the 17th century from the Malay Archipelago.”
I will, annoyingly, now remember this little bit of trivia, as I can’t get Tintin’s Captain Haddock out of my head.

But the leaves, the leaves are a nice surprise, not quite as simple as a normal citrus these have a winged part to the lower, a winged petiole to be exact.
A very worthy leaf of the day.

I had also forgotten that there was a pummelo in the “Amazing Rare Things” exhibition (see my other posts here), how could I ! Also a Buddha’s hand citrus which I wrote about before here.

Both are attributed to Vincenzo Leonardi 1621-c.1646 who was producing drawings for the collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo and provided illustrations for Giovanni Battist Ferrari’s “Hesperides” of 1646, a treatise on citrus cultivation. It is fascinating and the digitised version of the book is online here

You can see the slightly winged shape at the base of the leaf here but it is much more pronounced in my leaf from Leu.

The Pumello.

Pummelo, whole fruit and half …c1640

And Vincenzo’s drawing of the Buddhas Hand citron, known here as the “digitated lemon”.

Digitated Lemon …c 1640

There is something about these wonderful old images which some modern works lack..I feel we sometimes go for perfection rather than character, something I will try to keep in mind.


Pummelo Leaf

Leaf of the Day: Buddha’s Hand Citrus

In amongst the chat about the gardens, the weather, pods and seeds and astonishing ingenuity of nature, Pedro and I have occasionally talked about Buddhism. I think the first time was in reference to the beautiful Bo tree under which the Buddha was sitting when he gained enlightenment. (I drew the leaf from the Marie Selby gardens here.) Pedro had asked me if I had a religion to which my answer was an unswerving and unequivocal no. However if, with a gun to my head, I had to choose, Buddhism would seem to be one I could go along with. Something that, as Christmas Humphries explains ” has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and art, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny.” seems something hard to argue with.

Yesterday Pedro, who is also a Buddhist at heart, gave me the copy of the Noble Eight Fold Path .. all of whose directions seem to me to be quite hard to steer along. We agreed that, given the stresses and stains of dealing with other humans, “right mindedness” seemed the most difficult.
We said goodbye wishing each other a good and right minded weekend and as I was walking towards the exit, a path I use every time I go to the garden, there for the first time I saw this odd and wonderful fruit, labelled boldly “Buddha’s Hand Citrus”.. Jung would just call it more synchronicity.. what would Buddha call it I wonder?

So my drawing today, the auspicious first day of August is of the strange Citrus medica , Buddha’s Hand Citron. Looking like an aberration of a lemon with fingers that in this case are closed but in more ripe ones open up alarmingly into the grasping gnarled hands of scarecrows or goblins. Mine is obviously an unripe one as it is mostly green with only one finger beginning to uncurl and yellow at the tip.

Image from Logees tropical fruits here

It seems this fruit is a very ancient relative of the lemon. It smells very lemony but has neither flesh nor juice but used for its peel to make candied peel, see more here , to lend a lemony scent to clothes and cupboards, and put into glass jars like some horrid pickled specimen to flavour Vodka which is apparently very delicious. ( Hangar One Vodka here)

Legend has it that Buddha had picked a fruit from a citrus tree but finding it bitter and inedible held out his hand to make the tree disappear, but in the true spirit of Buddhism he relented, allowing the tree to live providing it altered its shape into something that humans would find more pleasing. The sensible tree, seeing the outstretched hand of its benefactor immediately transformed itself into the hand of the Buddha, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery I suppose.

There are many beautiful carved jades of Buddha’s hands this one from the 1800s, China.from the The Avery Brundage Collection here

This venerated object became an important offering in Chinese New Year ceremonies, offered up in porcelain bowls to the household gods. It is a symbol of good luck and happiness along with the peach, for long life and the pomegranate for many children. It is carried around as a talisman to bring good fortune and its lovely fragrance used to scent the home. I will be keeping mine very close, it’s a very nice object. It fits snugly in the hand and I now discover that this one is particularly lucky as the “fingers” are mostly closed signifying the hand in prayer.

So today, a drawing and a watercolour of the Buddha’s hand, with the other three fruits I tried yesterday. The strawberry guava to the left, the Natal plum centre and half a normal guava, right.

The Buddha’s Hand Citrus