Friday, November 27, 2009

Baby bird!

Here's the baby swallow, sitting on the back verandah railing. I heard the grow-up birds chirping down the end of the verandah and snuck out with the camera, hardly focused, aimed and shot before streaking back inside for fear of my life, should the parents find me there! Only a few more days and things should settle down and I will once again be able to venture out onto my very own verandah!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The swallows that are nesting under the back verandah have a new addition to the family. And today is obviously the first flying lesson. I stepped outside a little while ago and was promptly attacked! They are dangerous birds. They fly at warp-speed, straight at your face, only deviating at the very last milli-second, to go past the side of your head so close, you can feel the breeze from their wings. I caught a very brief sight of the baby, all brown and fluffy, perched precariously on the edge of the guttering with frenzied parents zooming around, keeping one eye on baby and the other on me! I've retreated back inside - I've been totally out-braved by a tiny, fierce bird!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hotter . . . .


Okay, this is getting serious!

And I didn't last till 12 before I turned on the air conditioning. Then I'm wondering why the house isn't getting any cooler - nay, indeed, getting hotter. Better check the control panel. Oh good grief! The only vents open are the ones in the bedrooms which I have closed off - all the vents to the rooms I am presently occupying are all nicely shut - hence no cooled air is flowing out and cooling my sweaty brow. How frustrating!

I've just heard the rumble of distant thunder.

In the meantime, I have completed four more little star blocks. However, I think my concentration is severely compromised and I may give up sewing for today. Please observe this photo from a respectful distance - that way, the dodgy bits won't be so noticeable!

Hotter . . . .


Okay, I have retreated to the relative cool of the sewing room. I remembered a few minutes ago that the Murraya plants I picked up last week were still sitting out the back in maybe situ and in the full sun. Ran out and moved them in under the back verandah, the black plastic pots were almost soft!

I'm wondering if I'll make it till noon before I turn on the air conditioning.

Hot . . . .


And it's already hot enough outside to not want to go out there!

The forecast is for a top temperature of 41 degrees celsius. And not cooling down a whole lot until after the weekend. And it's not even summer yet. We had mid-30s temperature yesterday and things is the garden are starting to show a little stress. The Hagleys Hybrid clematis outside the kitchen window was very distinctly droopy yesterday afternoon but revived well after a good drink.

Here is the yellow rose in the birdbath bed, showing off its sunburn from yesterday. All the white Iceberg standards along the front of the house are similarly burnt.

Last night, the outside lights on the back verandah attracted a vast swarm of Christmas beetles. They were dive-bombing the lights and the screens on the windows and bouncing off the glass doors. When I went out to feed the dogs, I could see that the frenzied activity was also with a view to perpetuating the species!!

And like every party, there are always those who take things too far! And here they are - floating in the dogs' water bowl, partying days over and cut off in the prime of their youth with no chance of having children of their own and watching those children grow up to be responsible members of the Christmas beetle society. Let this be a lesson to all you young people out there!

It's 30 minutes since I took the photo of family room thermometer and a quick check has just revealed that the outside temperature is now 31.5 degrees. So far, I've only got the overhead fans going inside and with the doors and windows all closed and the blinds all down, it's not too bad inside but no doubt, shortly, the air conditioning will be on.

My poor garden outside - how I hate these dreadful hot days! Hang in there, little plants - think cool thoughts - does that work for plants, do you think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


My very first Kurrajong Geranium Johnson's Blue! I'm in absolute gardener's heaven! I so wish I had a snazzy camera with a big zooming-in lens instead of a little flat pocket size digital. Then I could capture close-up the beauty of this little flower, the gorgeous colour, the wonderful contrast between the petal colour and the colour of the veins, it is truly delightful.

Long may it bloom in my garden! If it feels the need to spread and multiply, I will be even more happy.

Thank you, Johnson, whoever you are, for making me one very happy gardener today!

And thank you, David Austin, for something as lovely as a little rose bush called Anne Boleyn which was only planted on 15th September 2009 (I know that 'cos my Coca Cola label says so!) and which is happily blooming near the front steps, despite being chewed by the green caterpillars.

On Remembrance Day 2009, I'm a very thankful person for the little things that give me huge happiness. And Happy Birthday to my brother, who thinks we're great for having a special day just for him!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another lovely day!

We've just had a lovely rainy weekend. Not that the rain gauge would say we've had heaps volume wise, but just one little shower after another. Enough to make everything look so much greener and enough to keep us indoors for a good part of the weekend, although Mike did find enough time between showers to whizz around on the mower and get the grass cut.

It's such a good sound, the sound of rain on the iron roof, sometimes when it's raining, I stand on the back verandah and listen to the water running down the downpipe on its way to the tank.

But we didn't waste the weekend at all. My son's girlfriend came to stay as he was working all weekend and we finished the quilting and binding on a quilt she is making for her dad's birthday. It's her first full sized quilt. This year was the first time she came with me on my annual quilting weekend away, called Stitch 'n Bitch, and a lot of the piecing of the quilt was done on that weekend. And a lot of laughing and a lot of drinking red wine! It's amazing how much faster you can sew something when you are mellowed by a glass of good red!

Anyway, the quilt turned out beautifully and it is certainly a credit to her crafty skills!

So today the sun is shining again and the forecast is for a week of increasing temperatures! Oh no, I don't like the summer heat coming.

The tall irises in front of the verandah are putting on a lovely show. They were originally in the garden at Winston Hills where my mum and dad used to live and Mum dug them out and gave them to me when she moved to the retirement village. So they were in our previous garden at Castle Hill and I brought them with me when we moved. She couldn't remember the name of them, she thought they were something 'Imperial'.

There is another bloom on DA Charlotte. Such a lovely soft colour, contrasting with the self-sown cosmos behind! The cosmos has come up mixed up in the little patch of alliums I bought online this year. And I have noticed that there are buds on the allium. Exciting!

I love the pictures that plants in the garden make. In the bed at the western end of the house, the acanthus are flowering, all tall and spiky in front of a sea of self-sown pink gaura. I threaten the gaura as I see it coming up, but when it starts to flower, the bees just swarm all over it and I feel guilty about being less than enthusiastic about it. But its softness here is a lovely contrast to the hardness of the acanthus.

And there are buds on the DA Anne Boleyn. Hang on, I thought this was a soft pink colour - it is coming out quite a strong apricot! Something has been eating it severely - I'm thinking it is the dreaded green caterpillars that fall from the dreaded yellow broom shrub at the front of the house. At this time of the year, they rain down on your head as you walk around it. The broom's day are very numbered - I have already started removing it branch by branch and have planted a replacement dissected leaf Japanese maple on one side and a white spirea on the other. I wonder if it feels threatened. It is an ugly thing and rewards me with a gazillion seedlings in the front garden each year. I can hear my Dad saying "I've told you a million times not to exaggerate!" No exaggeration, Dad!

At the bottom of Anne Boleyn, you can see one of my very professional plant labels - made from a Coca Cola can! I cut a piece of can and write on it the name of the rose and when I planted it. The writing presses into the soft aluminium which I then try to tie onto the plant with enough tie to slightly bury the label in the soil. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't!!

The lilies in the front garden are getting buds on them. For the life of me, I can't remember that this one was this colour last year but I guess it was! There is also a Siberian Iris bud here and something behind - what is the name of that? I think it's a Veronica. Don't tell me I'm going to have to start labeling everything in the garden!

So exciting! There are buds on the Johnson's Blue. How I love this plant! I had it at Castle Hill and it was one of the things I wanted to take with me, but I kind of ran out of time to find it in the garden there, particularly as it was winter when we moved and things weren't visible in the garden. It's another recent eBay find - that and Campanula Glomerata Superba! Two of my favourites and totally unable to be found at nurseries. Hooray for dedicated gardeners who list such treasures online!

My cheap terracotta pots with their cheap hardware-shop-bought pelargoniums are doing well along the front verandah. Later this week, I'm off to collect 10 Murrayas bought online from a nursery selling out surplus stock. I'm intending to extend the Murraya hedge at the back of the house, with a view to enclosing the poor old mulberry and the persimmon trees and give them a little more shelter from the wind, hopefully.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Every garden needs a water feature!

And this garden is no exception! But no ornate multi-level creation with overflows and little peeing boys for us! No, our first water feature is to be the most simple possible. It's an old set of concrete laundry tubs, conveniently left at the side of the front verandah by the previous owners of the house. At one stage, I thought that the tubs would be handy as containers for herbs on the other side of the house, close to the kitchen door. Then I tried to move them and decided they were just fine where they were!

I have bought myself an iris which loves to grow in water and some goo to waterproof the tubs so that the water doesn't seep away, but my first job is to put an opening between the two tubs so that the pump will circulate all the water. Still water means mosquito wrigglers and we don't want that. I'm still undecided if I'll buy some goldfish or will I hope that the frogs in the garden come and live in the pond? I'd much rather a frogpond than a fishpond! Speaking of frogs, I took this shot a week or so ago, when I joyously went out on the verandah to watch the rain falling for the first time in ages. This little green frog was also looking up at the sky from a Leander bloom, he was obviously enjoying the shower!

I'm sure there would be people who would think that putting a hole in the dividing wall between the two tubs is not a good thing to do. It's certainly not an easy thing to do - the concrete is tough as and is calling for some industrial strength gadgets to do the job. I have just had my first go at using an angle grinder - maybe my angle wasn't right and that's why I didn't do a whole lot of grinding! I have decided that the new hammer drill I gave Mike for his birthday a month ago (with precisely this job in mind!) is perhaps a better option, but I will need to go and buy some super strong drill bits to do the job.

In the meantime, a coffee and a walk around the garden seemed to be a good plan. Yesterday, I planted out some seedlings I grew from seed collected, some white aquilegia, some blue salvia and some echinacea went in around the roses and in the birdbath garden in front of the kitchen window.

Here is David Austin Summer Song. What a colour! This is in the garden bed on the western end of the house, now known as the Snake garden! It is planted with blue salvia, yellow irises, a yellow daylily and some pink aquilegia that have come up from seed from somewhere else in the garden. Next to Summer Song is a clump of old fashioned Tiger Lilies, the old orange ones with little black spots. Now if I can just get them both flowering at the same time, I will be more than tickled pink! Or orange!

And I discovered on my stroll around the garden that my Siberian Iris is starting to flower. It is one of the plants that I had in our previous garden which made the journey in the removalist truck. It didn't flower last summer, I guess it was cross at being moved, but I have three buds opening at the minute, all of them the most beautiful blue. What a joy!