A garden lookout

Record rainfall over the last few months have prevented me from spending time in the garden. We have had snow, wind, hail and low level flooding! What a winter!

I guess this little fellow is waiting patiently for my return. Shortly, I will be able to show off my new veggie patch and restored chicken house – now a potting shed! Waiting for the sun and some warm weather. Look out for my posts soon.

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Hibiscus holiday

It is time for us to visit the tropical north again. Not only do we escape the mountain cold for a short while but it offers us an opportunity to see my family and catch up with friends.
For the first few days it rained. I wore my grey, woollen jumper and wondered when the sun would warm me. Not to miss an opportunity to find new plants, I ventured into the old garden . 
  The fragrant roses and sweet peas have since gone and so too has the veggie garden and the old mango tree. All these have now made way for tropical survivors.  The crucifix orchid is one of these. They spring up in just about everyone’s Queensland garden. If you look closely you will see what resembles a small upright “cross” on each cluster of flowers.

  
We never had bromiliads in my childhood garden but they do grow so well here. (I have one poor specimen back home on the Mount which I must keep sheltered from frosts.) Common “bird of paradise” have also overtaken the front garden beds.

   
 
I guess I always associate the tropical garden with at least  one hibiscus tree. Reminiscent of Hawaian and Tahitian cultures, these are brilliant flowers in a variety of bold colours and able to survive in this harsh climate. The flowers can be used as a medicinal tea and in ancient cultures were offered up to the gods. I used to always be disappointed that once picked, they would close up and prematurely lose their splendour.

While we have been away a good friend of ours revealed an unexpected health challenge. This bold hibiscus is a little fragile now, battered by its climate but its courage and beauty have been revealed – it is a survivor.

  
My thoughts go out to all those who have a heavy cross to bear – may their friends and family be the mesh that supports them at this vulnerable time.

Enjoy the beauty of each day. Our hibiscus holiday continues.

The Caves

We have left our garden, cats and chickens for a short time to travel to Western Australia. This much awaited second trip will take us form Perth to Albany, about a six hour drive, south, staying in various locations in between. Currently, we have nestled into a beautiful bush setting overlooking Bunker Bay near Cape Naturaliste.

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After a track walk to the lighthouse with spectacular views and a fright – a little brown snake crossing our path – recovery, we reached the lighthouse with a further surprise – whales in the distance.

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Our surprises for the day, however, were only to increase.

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Who would have thought a spectacular ancient cave was just down these inconspicuous steps?
As a child I visited some caves in New Zealand but nothing like this one. Ngilgi Cave (pronounced “Nilgi) a show cave which opens up for kilometres! In a classic tale of good and evil, the aboriginal dreamtime spirit of Ngilgi now resides in the caves.

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I can tell you that it was a privilege and a rare experience to spend an hour down in these caves. The air was heavy with humidity but the main chamber was a colossal experience with stalactites from the ceiling and stalagmites as well as straws and shawls – highly recommended.

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If you ever get the opportunity to visit a limestone cave don’t pass it up.

Christmas in July

The annual Christmas in July expedition to country Victoria with the family’s Buick Car Club. A suitably cold day needing long coats and hats.

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A lovely, hot Christmas lunch and lots of classic cars.

Our own white 1982 model went out for a spin. It was a good experience chatting and lunching with familiar people and meeting new ones who shared stories and connections.

Christmas in July – it can only happen here in Oz but we like the opportunity to socially and "automotively" show off!

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Surf side

During school holidays each year we try to escape the Mount for a short period of time. We visit family and friends in Queensland and bask in the sub-tropical sun. This time round our yearly pilgrimage took us, not only to Brisbane, where I grew up but also to friends on the Tweed Coast.

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How would you like to meander to the edge of your garden and see this?..

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surf side at Fingal Heads at the end of the garden path.
I hope you agree with me that the sight of the ocean brings about a serenity and a peacefulness as we breath in the sea air and feel the sand underfoot.

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Winter here is still cold at night but the days after splendid indeed. A much welcome winter reprieve. Where would you like to escape during winters?

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.