Mystery plant identified

You may recall in my recent post entitled Spring or Autumn, I had purchased a plant which I thought was an orchid at a local garage sale. Having scoured the gardening books, I could not identify it. However, with the help of some of plant loving friends, we have a definitive name. It is Haemanthus albiflos – or as the name suggests, blood lily, the albiflos denotes the colour – in this case white. A few friends of mine went to that trouble to taking the photos to the Secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria who declared it, the white variety, was quite rare and generally expensive! It would develop a yellow centre and produce red berries – apparently it drew quite a crowd! Here are the latest photos as it sits on our back deck.

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The horticultural notes also told us it was of South African origin and needed well drained soil and kept well watered in summer, allowing a rest period. That explains why it flowered when I left it under a large tree and forgot about it! Will survive to a minimum of 10-15 degrees. Considering we get down to zero Celsius here on the Mount, I will have to keep it sheltered.

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Compared to this early photo, it is blooming quite well as our begin temperatures begin to drop. Quite an unusual specimen.

Spring or Autumn Take #2

After visiting the Melbourne International Garden Show, I am again confused . Are we in autumn? Then these wonderful tulips belong to the Northern Hemisphere not Down Under. e

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This interesting contraption from fifty years ago sorts the bare bulbs into sizes. What intrigues me are the fantastic displays which are often not seasonal and brought here from thousands if miles – was this also the way in the 1960’s or were the seasons recognizable ?

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Thank goodness we finally found some maples turning to mellow yellow.

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More special arrangements to come later – stay posted! Hopefully they will be seasonal too.

Spring or Autumn?

It’s a beautiful day on the Mount. The season is turning and we are approaching the delight which is autumn up here. However, I have this potted plant which I haven’t been able to identify. I have scoured the Plant Encyclopaedia, maybe just looking in the wrong place. It seems like a spring plant not an autumnal one.

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It can’t be a crocus as it doesn’t die back. I thought it was an orchid when I bought it pot-bound at a garage sale in early summer. I repotted it and forgot about it. Now it has this lovely creamy white flower.

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Maybe my little white cat knows what it is!

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Any suggestions welcome.

Happy Valentine’s Day from a secret friend

We have a tall, dark, 6 foot stranger living in our garden. We thought we heard him a few weeks ago. We thought we saw him a few days ago. Then today, here he was staring straight at us. He kept looking at us as we stood in shock. He had never been so close before. We were a little frightened at his stillness. He was hungry and thirsty; he was big and strong. He looked straight at us today, on Valentine’s day. He even left a few deposits!

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Due to the recent bush fires in our area, kangaroos are coming closer and closer to houses seeking a little fresh grass. Colin came out to look; Whitey cat was too use smelling the flowers to notice.

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See you later big guy, but please don’t surprise me behind the camelias!

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I thought I saw a puddy tat – or was it a mouse?

We are experiencing a heat wave, not unusual for this part of the world in January. However, during this time some strange things are happening. Apart from our broody Plymouth Rock chook who has nestled down to nurture her potential chicks – it always amazes me that hens can exist almost trance-like for twenty- one days.

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We placed a small bowl of water near her just in case she got thirsty. She’s in a cool house.
The other chickens and Long John Silver, the feisty rooster, are searching for a cool place too.

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However, the strangest occurrence today happened this morning. Our oldest companion cat, Sarge, yes, he is quite a bossy cat, had to go to the Vet. After the consultation, I began to rummage through my handbag for a pen to write some instructions, I wondered what the furry thing was in my bag. Then it hit me, it was a little brown mouse. Shocked, I quickly closed the opening and declared to the vet and Colin, “There’s a mouse in my bag”! They both looked at me suspiciously.

Convinced, I wasn’t deranged, the vet took my handbag and after a few minutes returned with this
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He’s a carnivorous native mouse – Dasyurid Antechinus, a relative of the Tasmanian Devil – as the vet excitedly told us, as he pulled out a text book photo. We packed him in a little box and returned this little marsupial to the bushland on the Mount. I wondered why our little white cat, this morning was digging in my handbag. Poor mouse, just wanted to stay out of the heat. A tip, keep your handbags off the floor in summer!

Keep cool everyone,

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I guess ratty has the last laugh! LOL

A Classic Christmas

This time last year I was busy baking in my kitchen. I tried my hand at ginger bread cookies. Having purchased some delightful cookie cutters from an American on-line store called House on the Hill and they included a lovely recipe. Apart from the usual star shapes, I bought a cabin in the woods mould and an acorn. I guess I have a romantic notion of a cold Christmas surrounded by warm hearths and warm glows. I guess a cold climate is more conducive to trying your hand at specialty baking and crafts.

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This year we are in Brisbane with family here. I have to say, give me a cold Christmas any time. The temperatures during the day have been a constant 32 degrees C with humidity and blazing sunshine. All great, when you’re by the sea, but not so great in a city, or in a weatherboard cottage. Too hot to bake, too hot to eat really. So I guess we head for the air conditioned shopping – but away from the “madding crowd”. Instead our usual vintage haunts never fail to lure us.

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One advantage of being here is that we don’t have to drive very far and often we can walk to these vintage and craft sellers. Wonders can be found.

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I love these vintage buttons from my favourite little shop – Travels with my Aunt named after a film of the same name. Check out my blog entitled Travelling North, 9 July, 2013

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So whether you are enjoying a hot traditional Christmas dinner or a cold seafood lunch, whether you are with family or friends or on your own, in a cold climate or a hot one – what classic or traditional elements will you include in your day?
(Ours will be Spumante, Panettone and plum pudding!)

Christmas Chicks

Sorry if the title misleads you, but after ten years of having chickens here on the Mount, we have never had success in raising chicks. Even now that we have Long John Silver, our Plymouth Rock Rooster, so aptly named by Colin for his long legs and silver plumage, we have had no success. Maybe it’s the cold, or the fact that our hens don’t get broody for some reason. I don’t know why, really. Long John Silver seems to be doing his best, but the girls are not clucky.

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On the other hand, my mother-in-law, Esther and sister-in-law, Maree have always inspired me to tackle the impossible. They do just this – not once in a while, but every day. From sewing, upholstering, inventing and solving intricate problems, they have taught me to give it a go. My mother-in-law has raised many chicks, chickens, peacocks, parrots, ducks and pheasants and nursed and nurtured them in the cold and in the heat. So when she gave four hens to Maree a couple of months ago, little did we know that new life would hatch so quickly. Just today, her broody chicken, Naomi, patiently sitting on four “borrowed” eggs and hand fed by Maree during the incubation delivered her brood. They are the Christmas Chicks – the miracle of new life; the wonderful parallel to the waiting and watching which we commemorate at His birth.

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The Christmas story is one of simplicity and reverence – for life, for the wonder of discovery, the hope of the new and the love shown to God’s creatures, great and small.

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May we not dismiss the fragility of life, the deep care we show for each other, echoed in the most basic of all stories – that of a simple birth witnessed by those simple creatures long, long ago. Merry Christmas – let’s take a moment to appreciate what we all have.

Christmas recycled

Visiting Daughter Number Two in Sydney this weekend we came across an interesting recycling concept – Reverse Garbage. The idea is you buy household items which have been discarded by others, fill a bag or buy individually. I came across these nifty Christmas decorations.

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On man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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In our world of excess, consumerism and the lure of the new – recycling seems to make sense to me. How did we get to this point of excess? How have come to devalue things so quickly? There were dozens of people dipping into bins and coming up with treasures to take home – another life for discarded goods. More importantly though, what would otherwise be relegated to garbage dumps has a chance to be reused and readmired.

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Not sure about these Aussie thongs though!

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I must admit to a penchant for rummaging in vintage, used and second hand stores, one Daughter Two shares. Maybe we could also make our own Christmas gifts – I think I may have left it a bit late!

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Enjoy the lead up to Christmas, where ever you are.

Christmas (aka Catmas) is coming!

I love catching up with Bailey Boat cat, so I thought I’d share his Christmas antics with you!

Bailey Boat Cat

I’ve spend today wrapping (well helping to wrap) lots of presents. Most of them have to be sent internationally so I made sure the humans got down to business today. It’s left me feeling very festive and remembering how lucky we were to have a pawesome Christmas last year!

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I loved my role as Santa Paws last year!

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I can’t wait to get a tree this year but there’s a debate among the humans whether to have a real one or one with the twinkles at the end of its pines… I would like a real one that twinkles too… Paws crossed!

How are your Christmas preparations going?

Bisous Bailey

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