Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Knock, knock." "Who's there?"

Magpies, of course.

Richard was feeding the magpie in the first two photos, and then he went off to do some work while I was sitting at the table in the family room talking on the phone. After a few minutes it was difficult to concentrate on the phone conversation because the magpie decided it needed more food. It began walking right up to the glass door and pecking on it, but as that didn't bring any more food, it then walked back across the deck, turned and ran at the door and pecked it again. I was worried about the damage it may do to its beak, not to mention the door.

Obviously all was forgiven and it came back for a social call later.

A few years ago we had a pair of magpies, whom we called them Scruffy and Buddy, who spent the entire summer out on the deck, mostly sitting on the backs of the outdoor chairs. They had very distinct personalities.

Scruffy, the female, would bathe continuosly in the bird bath, but you never saw the male have a bath at all. I sometimes wondered if Scruffy had lice.

First thing in the mornings, when I arrived in the kitchen, there would always be one or other of the magpies standing on the ledge outside the kitchen window, pecking on the glass. As soon as it saw me go to the fridge it would fly down off the ledge, and by the time I got to the family room door with some meat, the magpie was waiting for me. Sometimes we would simply open the door and stand back. Very often they would calmly walk into the house.

They were wonderful entertainment for the entire summer, warbling away out on the deck. The only drawback was that I was forever scrubbing the chairs. They had one baby whom we called Rossini (composer of 'The Thieving Magpie' opera). We must have known that he would be musical because he has become the most amazing mimic (which magpies are quite renowned for). The sounds of cars, fire engines, dogs, and other birds are part of his repertoire. He often visits when we are working in the garden and provides a little concert for our entertainment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Touched by the Sun

Photographing flowers in bright sunlight doesn't always produce the best results, but sometimes you just have to take the opportunities when they arise, especially with a wind threatening to turn many flowers and blossoms brown in no time at all.

Red Wing Azalea

White Dogwood buds

Cherry blossom

Dutch Iris

Centranthus and Wallflowers


Gazanias and curly-leafed parsley

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Through my kitchen window ....

..... at 10.30 this morning.
It's a beautiful Spring day - blue sky, scarcely a cloud, bright sunshine on all of the new leaves!
Even the Crimson Rosella was ready to pose.

A quick trip around the garden.

I can't believe that we actually have a green front lawn.

Slightly out-of-focus buds on the Cercis 'Forest Pansy'

Nectarine blossom.

Even the back lawn is that magical green colour.

Vegies on the move.

Geraldton Wax budding up.

White Westingia.

Osteospermum (African Daisies)

Acacia (Wattle)


Silver leafed Pyrethrum

Monday, September 22, 2008

Victory smiles

University of Canberra's A-grade hockey team after their Grand Final win again the Australian National University yesterday.
Sara is third from right, front row.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No Need for Words!

Two proud and happy fathers.

Scoreboard tells it all,

as do the smiles.

Confession: I didn't get photos of the team today, but it was mostly the same as last year, and Sara's smile was just as big.

Friday, September 19, 2008

After the Coffee...

... tea actually. Morning tea at the National Art Gallery followed by a short walk along Lake Burley Griffin, amongst the Manchurian Pear blossoms.

An Avenue of Blossom.

A variety of Diosma (I think)

A Bee's eye view

Captain Cook waterjet in action

Spring time among the willows near the Carillion

Flower framed photo of the Carillion

Towards the back of the High Court of Australia

New leaves

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We Do the Darndest Things

If the last posting got you thinking about gardening, then I'm sure you'll appreciate this one (also resurrected from 3 years back).

I found this little gem on the Internet and thought you may be amused at the idiosyncracies of us humans, from a Higher Perspective.

God Finds Out About Lawn Care

"Winterise your lawn," the big sign ouside the garden store commended. I've fed it, watered it, mowed it, raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I'm supposed to winterise it? I hope it's too late. Grass lawns have to be the stupidest thing we've come up with outside of thong swimsuits! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistles, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through an annual four step chemical dependency.

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have with St. Francis about this:

"Frank you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles."

"It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great extent to kill them and replace them with grass."

"Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

"Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn."

"The spring rains and cool weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy."

"Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it _ sometimes twice a week."

"They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?"

"Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."

"They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"

"No, sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."

"Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?"

"Yes, sir."

"These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work."

"You aren't going believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."

"What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life."

"You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away."

"No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?"

"After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves."

"And where do they get this mulch?"

"They cut down trees and grind them up."

"Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?"

"Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about..."

"Never mind I think I just heard the whole story."

My Wife, the gardener!

Scrolling back through my blog I came across this little gem from about 3 years ago and thought it worth a re-run.

(With thanks to the unknown author.)

She dug the plot on Monday
The soil was rich and fine
She forgot to thaw out dinner ...
So out we went to dine.

She planted roses Tuesday
(She says they are a must)
They really were quite lovely
But she then forgot to dust ...

On Wednesday it was daisies
They opened with the sun
All whites and pinks and yellows
(But the laundry wasn't done!)

The poppies came on Thursday
A bright and cheery red
I guess she really was engrossed ...
She forgot to make the bed!

It was dahlias on Friday
In colours she adores
It never bothered her at all,
The crumbs upon the floors.

I hired a maid on Saturday
My week is now complete
My wife can garden all she wants
The house will still be neat!

It's nearly lunchtime Sunday
And I can't find the maid!
Oh no! I can't believe it
She's out there with a spade!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Australian Garden, Cranbourne, Victoria

A visit to The Australian Garden at Cranbourne, Victoria, is a day well spent. These gardens were established in 1970 for the purpose of conservation, research, display and enjoyment of Australian native plants, and first opened to the public in 1989.

Untouched healthy woodland and wetland covers two-thirds of the 363-hectare site, providing visitors with the surprising opportunity to explore pristine environments within an hour's drive from Melbourne. Eleven hectares of gardens containing over 100,000 plants, all native, ranging from delicate orchids to towering eucalypts, delight the visitor at every turn, with another 10 hectares to be developed. Various gardens feature the diversity of Australian flora that has evolved to cope with the climatic variations this ancient island continent offers.

The Trig Point Lookout gives 360ยบ views across south-eastern Victoria including Westernport and Port Phillip Bays, Mount Macedon and the Melbourne CBD.

A delicious lunch of afternoon tea in the restaurant is the perfect way to complement your day in these ever-changing and surprising gardens. I say 'surprising' because, if you thought like I did for many years that Australian native plants were dull and boring, these gardens will prove that nothing could be further from the truth. Added to their beauty is their hardiness and resiliance in our harsh climatic conditions.

(Please click on the photos to enlarge for a closer look as some of these beautiful plants.)

The Red Garden represents Australia's 'red centre'