Creative SustainAbility poster

World Environment Day 2013, an exhibition in St Kilda

Annette Zerrenthin

The gallery at St Kilda Town Hall is currently showing environmental themed works by local artists. Six of my close-up flower photographs were selected to be part of the show that launches on World Environment Day, 6th June 2013.

My work highlights the minute details of flowers that are barely noticed in our daily lives as we rush around. My intention is to inspire the viewer to slow down, take a breath and a closer look at the environment, the beauty of a wild flower, a rose in the garden or admire  the intricate details of a weed without judgement. Beyond seeing the flower are their healing properties, use as foods, their natural habitat and biodiversity of place.

Come along to St Kilda Town Hall on the 6th June at 6pm to celebrate life and our envrionment.

Creative SustainAbility poster


Bluebell – ‘An open, aware heart is your camera.’

Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes, your easy smile is your museum. ~ Ansel Adams

This quote by photographer Ansel Adams highlights one of the healing aspects of the Australian Bush Flower’s Bluebell essence … helping to open the heart.

The essence can be used when you feel cut-off from your feelings with emotions present but are unable to find words to express them. The essence supports you to gently ease your heart open. Ian White adds … ‘for subconsciously these people are afraid that their feelings of love, joy, etc., are finite or unrenewable.’  The essence promotes trust in universal abundance, sharing joyfully with your world.

The harmonising aspects for this essence are … opens the heart, belief in abundance, universal trust and joyful sharing.

Botanically, Bluebells are part of the large Bluebell family of about 2000 species, Campanulaceae, that are mostly found in temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

Wahlenbergia is part of the extended Bluebell family that occurs predominantly in South Africa, but also in New Zealand and Australia.  In Australia, the widespread genus consists of about 20 species of which, Wahlenbergia gloriosa, Royal Bluebell, was declared the Australian Capital Territories floral emblem in 1982.

Being curious about the name of the genus I found information on the  Floral Emblems of Australia website  ‘The genus Wahlenbergia was proposed by Heinrich Schrader, a German botanist, in honour of Georg Goran Wahlenberg (1780-1851), Professor of Botany at Uppsala, Sweden, and described by Albrecht Roth in 1821.’ 

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin

Denise Greig. Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers. New Holland, 2012.
Margaret G. Corrick, Bruce A. Fuhrer. Wildflowers of Victoria. Bloomings Books, 2001.
Ian White. Australian Bush Flower Essences. Bantam Books, 1991.



Much Ado About Geranium … or was it Pelargonium?


I found a treasure at the St Kilda Night Market on Valentine’s Day, a lovely Peppermint Geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) from the HERBS2HEALME stall.


The scent when touching the leaves is just like fresh peppermint. What got me hooked into buying was the tip from the grower to use it in baking to infuse chocolate cake with a peppermint flavour.  Both, leaves and flowers are edible and add flavour to sugars, jellies, lemonade and teas. Medicinally it can be used for its astringent properties as a poultice for bruises and sprains.

Having known of rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) a world opened for me to explore the many scented varieties that mimic the scent and flavour of the botanical world, e.g., cedar wood, cinnamon, nutmeg, apricots, orange or ginger. Scented geraniums were introduced to England from South Africa in 1632 and it took until the 1840’s to be discovered by French perfume makers.

The Geraniaceae family is a family of perennial herbs and shrubs of 7 genera and about 750 species globally distributed in mostly temperate zones. The genera of Geraniums and Pelargoniums are the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern of the plant world and commonly used interchangeably however they are different genera. To ease confusion GardenWeb has a good description of the differences for you:

“True geraniums, also known as cranesbills, referring to the shape of the fruit, for the most part have symmetrical flowers with ten fertile stamens. Most Pelargonium have bilaterally symmetrical flowers with up to seven of the ten stamens fertile. True Geraniums have a different seed dispersal technique than Pelargoniums. Geraniums fling their seeds away while Pelargonium seeds float away on the breeze and usually have a ‘feathered ‘ end that Geraniums don’t have. Of course, you can only see this when they are producing seeds.

Pelargoniums are tender perennials and occur naturally almost entirely within South Africa. Leaves of true geraniums are usually deeply divided and cut while those of most groups of pelargoniums are not. Pelargoniums also have rather thick, succulent stems, originating as they do from areas where they have to withstand summer drought, whereas geraniums have the appearance of ‘normal’ herbaceous perennial plants, a mounding form of many many slender stems arising from a central core, and fibrous roots.”

Native to Australia are three genera and about 36 species and this native pelargonium was photographed in Porongurup National Park in Western Australia.


Geranium essential oil is distilled from the flowers and leaves of pelargonium odorantissimum (apple-like fragrance) or graveolens (rose aroma), see below.

Rose Geranium

The oil is widely used by the perfume industry as it can be made to imitate most fragrances. As with all essential oils the list of properties is long and includes for example analgesic, antidepressant, antiseptic, diuretic, insecticide, tonic, vasoconstrictor which support our mind and body in the following ways:

Mind: Tonifies the nervous system and reduces stress through its action on the adrenal cortex.

Body: Regulates the endocrine system and is effective for premenstrual tension and menopausal problems. A tonic for the liver and kidneys to clear the body of toxins. It’s diuretic properties help to guard against fluid retention and swollen ankles. Indicated for throat and mouth infections.

Skin: Balances and tones the skin. Used for acne, bruises, broken capillaries, burns congested skin, oily complexion, mature skin, insect repellent, wounds.

In her book ‘Bach-Blueten und 52 neue Bluetenessenzen’ Dr. Cornelia Alber-Klein indicates Geranium flower essence (geranium perforatum) to be used when wanting to break through confined social or moral life circumstances. It frees a person from the burden of external pressure  having to conform to social and moral constrains to nurture oneself and satisfy one’s own needs.  It allows for space and playfulness in relationships that have grown stale.

Dr. C. Alber-Klein, R. Hornberger. Bach-Blueten und 52 neue Bluetenessenzen. Edition Tirta, 2005.
J. Lawless. The Encyclopedia of Essentail Oils. Thorsons, 2002.
W. Sellar. The Directory of Essential Oils. Vermilion, 2oo1. 
D. Greig. Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers. New Holland, 2012.

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin

Annette Zerrenthin

Beyond the Seen – Photo Exhibition December 2012

If you live in or around Melbourne  you have the opportunity to see my flower photographs up close and framed  in a show called Beyond the Seen  at the Kallista Tearooms in the Dandenong Ranges  during December.  Many of  the photos I selected for the show are from my recent visit to the Stirling Range in Western Australia  and some photos you might recognise if you’ve been following my blog on flower essences.


“To be able to truly see, to become a seer, you must go behind the seen, then beyond.”
~ Mikio Sankey


Beyond the Seen is a series of photographs inspired by the intricate worlds hidden within a flower, and was created during my travels through Germany and Australia in 2012. The flowers have been photographed in their natural environment using a handheld camera without the use of filters, sprayed water, flashlight or clamping to keep them from moving in the wind, as I believe artificial intrusions interfere with portraying the essence of a flower.

The difficult process of selecting images for the show

In the process of selecting images for the show

The lens of the camera serves as the mediator to our eye to make the barely seen visible, highlighting minute details and amplifying colour. Beyond what we can perceive with our eyes lies the world of healing properties of a plant and, beyond that, the subtle energy of flower essences that can be intuited by truly seeing a flower. Yet, in our hurried lives when even the seen world has become unnoticed, how can we still our minds and move into our hearts to become receptive again of the seen and then beyond?

My intention for the show is that these photographs  may inspire us to become more curious about the small worlds that surround us and awaken our senses to those that lie beyond the seen.

Listen to the interview (in German) discussing the exhibition with the SBS German Language program broadcast in December 2012.

Kallista Tearooms
103 Monbulk Road
Kallista Vic
Ph:  03 97552659
Open: daily    8am – 5pm
 Exhibition dates: 1- 31 December 2012

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin


Berlin … metaphor for Oneness

The 13. August of this year marked the 51st anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, a strip of 155 km dividing East Berlin and East Germany from West Berlin. Growing up in the East close to the border to Berlin-Zehlendorf, living near the wall was somewhat normalised by everyday life. At the time, I knew there was no hope getting across, being taught in school that the wall would NEVER be opened for East Germans in this lifetime and I found myself being jealous of birds that unhindred flew to the other side. Sometimes there was an element of fear that entered my consciousness when visiting school friends that lived in houses within the ‘Grenzgebiet’ without a permit, as entry to houses within that zone was by official permission only.

The ‘death strip’ consisted of a 3.6m high concrete wall, mesh fencing, signal fencing, anti-vehicle trenches, barbed wire, dogs on long leashes, over 302 watch towers, border guards that were issued by the East German government with the order to “shoot to kill” any defectors.  The death sentence was issued not only to people but to nature, so that vision across the strip would not be obscured by trees, shrubs and weeds. Pesticides were used as was regular ploughing to stop anything from growing.

The Berlin Wall patrol road by Berlin-Zehlendorf in September 1990.

The Berlin Wall patrol road by Berlin-Zehlendorf in September 1990.

When the wall came down in 1989 I experienced Berlin for the first time as one … the streets, U-Bahn and S-Bahn being gradually re-connected and allowing life to stream back into those cut off arteries, the ‘Chi flowing’ as we would say in Chinese Medicine. An exciting time and it is still exciting for me when visiting Berlin and experiencing this oneness.

Walking on the border strip now that divided my town Teltow from Berlin, only the road used by the border guard vehicles and occasional memorial plaques are reminders of the former border where nothing grew but concrete walls, fences and watch towers. This is now being replaced by an abundance of life – birds, insects, flowers, trees and people cycling, walking, exercising.

The former patrol road of the border fortifications near Berlin-Zehlendorf in June 2012

Perhaps the Berlin Wall can serve us also as a reminder when our fears and anxieties cut us off from life, creating borders within us that block life and Chi to flow. We can experience what it means when nature takes its course creating abundance by being in the flow and I believe we can create this abundance in our lives when we become aware of and transcend our fears.


Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao Tzu


As a kinesiology practitioner I support people in my clinic to become aware of the underlying reasons of their fears so they are able to let go, overcoming blocks and allowing growth in their lives. My first hand experience of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ensuing re-connection of the two divided parts is a constant reminder that ALL IS POSSIBLE in life and to disbelieve those people that use the word ‘Never’ and ‘Not possible’.

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin