Florence to Floriade

Our winter school term has just ended and we have made the seven hour drive up to Canberra to meet up with Daughter Number Two and her husband. No, it can’t be compared to Florence, however, since Canberra celebrates its Centenary as our capital, we have come to see its yearly tulip festival, Floriade and some its culture as well.

Last September we were fortunate to take a school trip group to Italy. Travelling through Rome, Siena, Verona, Turin, Milan and Florence, we experienced a memorable time together. One year on, our thoughts turn to that remarkable excursion. I guess it has something to do with the fact that we are coming out of winter and the weather is not dissimilar to the beautiful weather we also experienced in Italy.

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Forgive me if I indulge in some iconic Italian reminiscing…

20130922-210400.jpg Il Duomo, Firenze

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The white marble statue of Michelangelo’s, David in the Uffizi Gallery. (Did you know that an electronic device measures the amount of movement of the marble in the statue by nano millimetres!)

The marvel that is Florence cannot be compared to any other place in the world. It is a man made splendour. Whilst in Canberra we hope to visit some lesser forms of man made art, however, for today we turn to the splendour that is nature in Spring – a celebration of floral splendour and time with family.

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Red Splendour

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The tulips are out in force

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We enjoyed a perfect sunny day, basking in the glory of tulips in full bloom. While our thoughts may return to the memories of Italy, we revel in our present time together. How do you keep your memories alive?

Garden Gratitude Theme: Pink

No, not the popular female singer but the crimson colours of the camelias! On this unusually sunny morning and the walkways strewn with pink petals, it never ceases to amaze me how these trees push forth their abundance.

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In our decade here on the Mount, we have experienced drought conditions, heat waves, strong, hot northern winds and torrential rains. As a consequence, we have lost our fair share of important trees – a weeping cherry, the year we went to Italy; an established magnolia, the year of the drought and along with it, a magnificent pale pink rhododendron, odorata. With these significant losses we have tried to keep our mainstay trees alive during summer. Perhaps our lovely neighbours’ example of abundant watering makes sense! Our rewards are many.

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If you look carefully you can make out our rooster’s tail feathers in the background!

My gratitude really must go to the previous own of this property. She was a remarkable woman. Raising her four children alone and working as a nurse by night, she had a grand vision of the colours in a garden. Painstakingly planting camelias, rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs and magnolias she created an English garden beneath a canopy of gum trees. In this season, however, it is the camelia which takes pride of place.

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Some of them only briefly make their appearance.

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Others linger to create carpets of petals.

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At least one of our weeping cherries survived!

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With this vision of abundance we marvel at nature itself: its glory, its veritable magnificence which reaffirms our own existence.

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Are you “pinked” out yet?

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The English poets knew their landscapes. William Wordsworth wrote of paths and country meanderings. John Milton wrote about “those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world”. For me these are all found in a garden.

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One last flourish before I go (pardon the pun) – happy gardening, contemplating and appreciating!

A Sad Day

First thing this morning we checked on Pecker, picked him up and took him into the garden; sat with him and gave him his medication. His comb was still a little blue. There was a little shiver. We returned him back to the rabbit hutch; he stood up, looked around; his gurgling seemed a little less intense. I could see him from the kitchen while I prepared breakfast. We kept the lid open so he could look out. I even thought he seemed at ease listening to the morning household noises.

It was unusual to have rooster looking at me in the kitchen. The cats wandered around, quite in their own world. Remembering the vet’s instructions, we left him quietly and went about the day’s chores. We also had to go to the airport too pick up our daughter. In all, we were happy that he was standing; was comfortable and warm – he eve began to peck at some food and began making some faint crowing noises. He would sleep until we returned and then we would take him back into the garden for another look around.

Poor Pecker was not to see his beloved garden again. Poor Pecker didn’t make it – he left us while we were gone. I began to cry. Colin wrapped him up in the red blanket which had kept him so warm two nights ago. He found an old disused worm-farm box and gently placed him in it. He buried him at the bottom of the garden near the purple irises.

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20121104-165210.jpg He was the friendliest rooster – enjoy the garden, Pecker. Our backyard view today is basked in sunshine. It is a tribute to all the pets who bring sunshine into our lives; who love us unreservedly; who make our lives rich by their constant companionship.

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The Bush Beckons

Why do we enjoy living here? This is the question I alluded to last time. I’ll give you four reasons.
1. The four distinct seasons
Having grown up in the sub-tropics, moving to a cold climate, seven hundred metres above sea level, has been an intriguing experience. One of the advantages, and there are many, is that the seasonal changes are so noticeable. Compared to hot and humid, here Winter is cold, Spring is wet, Autumn sees the leaves fall and Summer can be a varied experience, hot, cold, and mild.
Earlier today, for example we took advantage of a superb Spring morning to burn off our increasing pile of bush debris. Colin repaired some of our pathway steps, while I raked and trimmed. Our neighbours too joined in the seasonal clean sweep.
The rhododendrons, azaleas and hellebores are out and the kookaburras could be heard overhead. This brings me to the next reason why we live where we do? The wildlife. Stay tuned.

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