Escape

A very hot weekend so we have escaped to the seaside. An early morning walk and one seagull to keep us company.

We are mindful that some areas on the other side of Melbourne are impacted by bushfires.

Tomorrow will be another hot one.

The Rains Came

After ten weeks of no rain, suddenly the heavens opened up and we received a welcome downpour. Summer here on the mountain can be a mixed blessing. Most of the the time we indulge in sheltered, lush greenery, going about our business of watering, potting, raking or contemplating! However, when the north winds blow, dry our soil and scatter bark and branches about and the risk of grass or bush fires permeate our waking, and sometimes, sleeping thoughts, that’s when we become obsessed by the CFA (Country Fire Authority) website. Their current APP tells us how far the nearest fire is to our property. As a matter of course, we then have the cat boxes and chicken cages at the ready should we need to leave on a total fire ban day. Such is life on the Mount – a balancing act of mind over nature!

Therefore, you can easily gauge our relief when the rains eventually come. No, not like the monsoonal rains in the 1939 film with Myrna Loy and Tyrone Power – The Rains Came nor the other flooding and earth quaking 1955 The Rains of Ranchipur with Lana Turner and Richard Burton, but the soaking, refreshing and cooling rains which hopefully snuff out any lingering or smouldering embers. Both these films, you might know, are versions of Louis Bromfield’s novel set in India. As we live up here surrounded by trees we are the envy of Melburnian’s who often have to swelter while we enjoy a cooler five degrees. Further up the mountain, grand residences such as Darjeeling and Tieve Tara conjure up a romantic past as we experience what is known as a late summer or Indian Summer.

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Summer here is the least colourful of the seasons. There are few flowering plants in our garden right now. The obligatory blue agapanthus, the well-watered hydrangeas, many pots, some begonias, a few geraniums and silent hellebores are amongst the limited colours.

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Then, when least expected, a great spiny arch entangled in the camellias or rhododendrons looks you in the face. You recoil only to be greeted with tiny deep purple orbs. Your hand reaches toward the irresistible cluster.

20130217-220849.jpg The scratches and the curses of the previous encounters with this enemy are forgotten – one of the little joys of summer – blackberries! They live for another day – but only just!

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Meanwhile, we wait and pray for a little more rain, please. I might have to watch these films again! What’s it like in your part of the world right now?

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The Peony Farm

Having just arrived back from the sub-tropics, I was reminded that some plants are unique to the colder climates. One such beautiful specimen is the peony. No sooner had I got back last weekend that I recalled I promised to go to the peony farm with our neighbour, Alex. We packed our baskets, secateurs and hats and headed for Spring Hill Peony Farm Open Day. Colin was our patient and appropriately attired driver – the pink shirt was a fluke!

Peonies really are a most superb flower and indeed an ancient one. They are revered in China and I have recently read on a site call “Peony Passions” that peonies are the traditional flower for a 12th wedding anniversary and also the floral emblem of Indiana! They come in various shades of pink and white. Our garden has two little plants, one of which has only flowered once- a stunning yellow specimen but it resides under the shade of large overhanging trees which might explain why it hasn’t flowered the last few years.

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The growing conditions for peonies require cold and an open sunny position. As you can see by this field it is in an exposed, open area and quite rough really but the peonies are very happy indeed.

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20121201-095011.jpg We came away with twenty stems for twenty dollars and they after a delight to behold.

The farm also boasted an old church which could be used for small weddings. Here’s the pink shirt followed by the delights of picking peonies!

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20121201-231413.jpg I arranged my collection in vases on the back deck. I guess I will have to move the two little plants which I have in the garden into a sunny spot if I am to achieve anything as brilliant as this.

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Happy gardening and dreaming – if you are on the other side of the world, remember that winter brings its own joys and treasures. For me, it will be back into the garden for lots more weeding, raking and burning off prior to the fire season. Isn’t nature remarkable. Enjoy every day in your garden.

Malta Magic

(Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you. Walt Whitman)

Despite our anticipation of Spring, it has still been freezing and we have continued to light our fire all week. In fact some news reports have shown snow on them there hills! After spending delightful days of sun and warmth in southern Italy, we had expected to return to Winter gone.

My only salvation is to dream of a warmer clime. Perhaps those photos Colin took recently in Malta will do the trick.

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Marsaxlokk and Marsascala

20121012-212305.jpg The Grand Harbour