Sunday 31 December 2023

Saturday 30 December 2023


You may recall in a previous post I posted a photo of a Huntsman spider guarding her egg sac. Pleased to report that the spiderlings have hatched and the steadfast mother is still there guarding and looking after them! We like having these spiders in our garden as they hunt and eat a lot of harmful insect pests.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme.

Friday 29 December 2023


Sunrise on the River Yarra in the City. Rowing on the river is the thing to do for College and University students associated with the old school Rowing Clubs on the crack of dawn.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme

Thursday 28 December 2023


Angelonia is a genus of about 30 species which occur from Mexico to Argentina and is classified in the Plantaginaceae family. They are herbaceous plants occurring mainly in arid and semi-arid habitats. Most Angelonia species can be found in Northeastern Brazil in the Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest, namely Caatinga.

The flowers of Angelonia are highly specialized for pollination because they have hairs in the inner corolla, which produce oils collected by oil bee pollinators, especially of the genus Centris.

Many hybrids are cultivated as ornamental plants for their snapdragon-like flowers, but need warm temperatures and large amounts of sunlight. Garden varieties are mainly cultivars of A. angustifolia.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme

Wednesday 27 December 2023


Our garden is mainly a flower garden, but seasonally we plant a few vegetables here and there, and of course there are plentiful culinary herbs amongst the rose bushes and seasonal flowers. Despite the changeable weather this year, we managed to harvest the first produce a couple of days ago: 'Blackjack' zucchini and 'Purple King' climbing beans.

We usually have these first harvested vegies boiled, together with sliced boiled potatoes, and also boiled wild greens known as Amaranthus blitum var. silvestre. The last mentioned grow wild in the garden (but also in wastelands) and only the tender young shoots are gathered. This light, but filling, dish is served with a simple olive oil vinaigrette and with a slice or two of crusty bread (read more here).

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Sunday 24 December 2023


May these holy days bring us all what we most need.

As Bulat Okudzhava says in his "Prayer of François Villon":

"...Almighty, please give to all of us
The things that we do not have:
Grant a brain to the wise man,
To the coward, grant a battle horse,
To the happy, give some money,
And don't forget to give something to me...

Let those striving for power,
Wield it to their heart's content.
Give a break to the generous - 
At least for a day or two;
Pray, give Cain repentance,
and remember me, too..."

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme

Saturday 23 December 2023


The galah (Eolophus roseicapilla), less commonly known as the pink and grey cockatoo or rose-breasted cockatoo, is an Australian species of cockatoo and the only member of the genus Eolophus. The galah is adapted to a wide variety of modified and unmodified habitats and is one of Australia's most abundant and widespread bird species. The species is endemic to mainland Australia. It was introduced to Tasmania, where it is now widespread, in the mid-19th century and much more recently to New Zealand. This specimen was grazing on the lawn of the nature strip in front of our house.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme

Friday 22 December 2023


On the longest day of the year, on our Summer Solstice here in the Southern Hemisphere, light lingers in the sky well into the evening. This is the view from my window.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.

Wednesday 20 December 2023


Dianella caerulea, commonly known as the blue flax-lily, blueberry lily, or paroo lily, is a perennial herb of the family Asphodelaceae, subfamily Hemerocallidoideae, found across the eastern states of Australia and Tasmania. It is a hardy plant, growing to a height and width of around 1 meter with grass-like strappy leaves.

Blue flowers (lower photo) in spring and summer are followed by indigo-coloured berries (upper photo). It adapts readily to cultivation and is commonly seen in Australian gardens and amenities plantings. The sweet blue berries with tiny nutty seeds are edible.

CAUTION: Be careful to choose a variety with edible berries for your garden: Dianella tasmanica and Dianella intermedia are known to be toxic and should not be consumed!

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme
and also part of the Nature Notes meme

Tuesday 19 December 2023


Sunny Summer day on Chapel St, South Yarra. Melbourne’s Chapel Street Precinct runs from the Yarra River to Dandenong Road, through the well-to-do metropolitan suburbs of South Yarra, Windsor & Prahran. A strong retail presence, including expensive boutiques and iconic major brand storefronts, vie with multiple eateries and cafés, restaurants and bars, as well quirky unique shops in the precincts of Yarra Lane, Commercial Road, Greville Street and High Street. The Prahran Market offers fresh food and produce as well as epicurean delis, butchers and fishmongers.

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme.

Sunday 17 December 2023


Sipping coffee on Chapel St, South Yarra. Definitely the place to be for café culture on a sunny Melbourne Summer Sunday.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme

Saturday 16 December 2023


The Noisy Miner Bird (Manorina melanocephala) is a common sight around Melbourne gardens and parks. Noisy Miners are nectar-eating birds native to eastern Australia. They enjoy nectar, fruit and also eat the occasional insect.

Noisy Miner is a good name for them, because of the repetitive noisy chirping they make, especially when there are young miners around. They can also make a whole lot of noise when an intruder enters their territory. That intruder could be another type of bird, or a monitor lizard, a snake, a cat, or even a person.

One of the reasons why these birds seem to benefit from people is their preference for areas with widely-spaced trees. Suburban gardens fit that description perfectly, and they are further rewarded by the recent Australian interest in planting flowering nectar-rich indigenous trees and bushes like Grevilleas and Bottlebrush.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme.

Friday 15 December 2023


A couple of nights ago we had a storm with quite a bit of lightning and thunder. The Northeastern coast of Australia and the Top End get quite a bit of cyclonic activity in Summer, but usually Melbourne has been spared. Now with the climate changing we more often get the weather that was typically associated with Sydney - a subtropical wet Summer.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme

Wednesday 13 December 2023


We are finally beginning to see some Summer days and the sky turns that brilliant pure blue that highlights the green gold of the eucalypts and the red of the earth.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday 12 December 2023


In Western Gippsland on a Summer's day. Life is good under the trees beside a dam of cool water.

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday meme

Monday 11 December 2023


We've had some rainy, muggy days lately but from tomorrow, Summer is coming back and we're expecting a high of 34˚C. Time to take the bathing togs out!

This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Blue Monday meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.

Sunday 10 December 2023


At the local service station, yesterday. Yes, I did fill up, such low prices aren't bound to last long with Christmas coming up!

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Friday 8 December 2023

Thursday 7 December 2023


Jacaranda mimosifolia is a sub-tropical tree native to South America that has been widely planted elsewhere because of its beautiful and long-lasting blue flowers. It is also known as Jacaranda, Blue Jacaranda, Black Poui, or as the fern tree. Older sources give it the systematic name Jacaranda acutifolia, but it is nowadays more usually classified as Jacaranda mimosifolia. In scientific usage, the name "Jacaranda" refers to the genus Jacaranda, which has many other members, but in horticultural and everyday usage, it nearly always means the Blue Jacaranda.

The tree grows to a height of 5 to 15 meters. Its bark is thin and grey-brown in colour, smooth when the tree is young though it eventually becomes finely scaly. The twigs are slender and slightly zigzag; they are a light reddish-brown in colour. The flowers are up to 5 cm long, and are grouped in 30 cm panicles. They appear in spring and early summer, and last for up to two months. They are followed by woody seed pods, about 5 cm in diameter, which contain numerous flat, winged seeds.

The Blue Jacaranda is cultivated even in areas where it rarely blooms, for the sake of its large compound leaves. These are up to 45 cm long and bi-pinnately compound, with leaflets little more than 1 cm long. Melbourne's climate is well suited to these trees and every year we have spectacular displays of blooms during early summer. 

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 6 December 2023


A beautiful path in the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens. The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne are internationally renowned botanical gardens located near the centre of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on the south bank of the Yarra River.

The tree in the foreground is the "Puriri" tree from New Zealand (Vitex lucens in the Lamiaceae family).

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Sunday 3 December 2023


We had occasion to go to Northland yesterday and as is the case with most of these large shopping centres, we tend to avoid them as much as possible. It was a surprise (although unwarranted!) to see the Christmas decorations up and the holiday activities in full swing.

For a weekend, it was not as busy as expected and I got the impression that this year, Christmas will not be a happy time for many families. I know that many people are struggling with the cost of living going up, inflation and rising interest rates taking their toll and the future being uncertain for everyone.

Please be wise in your gift giving this year and try to do something for someone in real need.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme

Saturday 2 December 2023


Huntsman spiders, members of the family Sparassidae (formerly Heteropodidae), are known by this name because of their speed and mode of hunting, relying on pursuing prey rather than capturing it in a web. They are also called giant crab spiders because of their size and appearance. Larger species sometimes are referred to as wood spiders, because of their preference for woody places (forests, mine shafts, woodpiles, wooden shacks).

In southern Africa the genus Palystes are known as rain spiders or lizard-eating spiders. Commonly, they are confused with baboon spiders from the Mygalomorphae infraorder, which are not closely related. More than a thousand Sparassidae species occur in most warm temperate to tropical regions of the world, including much of Australasia, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and the Americas.

The female huntsman spider makes a godo mother. She will lay all 200 of her eggs inside a disc-shaped egg-sac which she places behind bark or under a rock (see photo taken in our garden). While the babies are developing she will stand guard to protect them day and night for three weeks without even eating. When the babies are ready to hatch, some huntsman mothers will moisten the sack that’s covering them and help tear it open. She can be a bit touchy when she’s looking after her babies. You may see her rear up to scare away any predators nearby.

Some Huntsman species live quite socially in groups of up to 300. They will help raise children together and even share food. Don’t be alarmed by their hunting behaviour, because their venom won’t hurt humans and they’re very scared of us. A huntsman bite in humans will not require medical treatment. They are beneficial in the home and garden as they will hunt and eat many harmful creepy-crawlies.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme

Friday 1 December 2023


Early morning on the banks of the Yarra River in the City. A wonderful Melbourne sight!
This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.

Thursday 30 November 2023


Canna or canna lily is the only genus of flowering plants in the family Cannaceae, consisting of 10 species. All of the genus's species are native to the American tropics and naturalised in Europe, India and Africa in the 1860s.  Although they grow native to the tropics, most cultivars have been developed in temperate climates and are easy to grow in most countries of the world, as long as they receive at least 6–8 hours average sunlight during the summer, and are moved to a warm location for the winter.

Cannas are not true lilies, but have been assigned by the APG II system of 2003 to the order Zingiberales in the monocot clade Commelinids, together with their closest relatives, the gingers, spiral gingers, bananas, arrowroots, heliconias, and birds of paradise. The plants have large foliage, so horticulturists have developed selected forms as large-flowered garden plants. Cannas are also used in agriculture as a source of starch for human and animal consumption. C. indica and C. glauca have been grown into many cultivars in India and Africa.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme

Wednesday 29 November 2023


As the final month of Spring nears its end in Australia, in Melbourne we've had several days of rainy, cool and sometimes stormy weather. The garden is suffering a little, but the plants seem to persevere and try to grow despite the adverse weather.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday 28 November 2023


On Swanston St, outside the University of Melbourne, looking South. Early on Saturday morning and it's quiet there!

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday meme
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Saturday 25 November 2023


The Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) also known simply as "seagull" in Australia, is the most common gull seen in Australia. It has been found throughout the continent, but particularly at or near coastal areas. It is smaller than the Pacific gull (Larus pacificus), which also lives in Australia.

The silver gull should not be confused with the herring gull, which is called "silver gull" in many other languages (scientific name Larus argentatus, German Silbermöwe, French Goéland argenté, Dutch zilvermeeuw), but is a much larger, robust gull with no overlap in range.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme

Thursday 23 November 2023


Pelargonium rodneyanum, commonly known as magenta storksbill, is a perennial herb species that is endemic to Australia. It grows to 40 cm high and has leaves with 5 to 7 shallow lobes. Dark pink flowers appear between October and February in the species native range.

The species was first formally described in 1838 by English botanist John Lindley in the second volume of Thomas Mitchell's "Three Expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia." It occurs on rocky slopes in forested areas of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

In cultivation, the species prefers a sunny position with good drainage. It tolerates a variety of soil conditions as well as periods of dryness and frost. It is suited to rockeries and can be grown in containers.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday 21 November 2023


The St Kilda Ferry about to approach Williamstown pier.  In the background, HMAS Castlemaine (J244/M244/A248), named for the city of Castlemaine, Victoria, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially crewed and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Launched in 1941 and commissioned in 1942, Castlemaine operated during World War II in the waters of Australia, New Guinea, and Timor. She remained in service until 1945, when she was decommissioned into reserve and converted into an immobilised training ship. In 1973, Castlemaine was presented to the Maritime Trust of Australia for conversion to a museum ship. She is one of two surviving examples of the Bathurst class, the other being HMAS Whyalla.

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme.

Sunday 19 November 2023


The West Gate Bridge is a steel box girder cable-stayed bridge that spans the Yarra River, just north of its mouth into Port Phillip, and is a vital link between the inner city and Melbourne's western suburbs with the industrial suburbs in the west and with the city of Geelong, 80 kilometres to the south-west. The main river span is 336 metres  in length, and the height above the water is 58 metres. The total length of the bridge is 2,582.6 metres. It is the third longest in Australia behind the Houghton Highway and the Hornibrook Bridge, and is twice as long as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The bridge passes over Westgate Park, a large environmental and recreational reserve created during the bridge's construction. This view is from Newport, looking towards the northeast, with the City skyline in the background.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme

Saturday 18 November 2023


The Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) is a rosella native to southeast of the Australian continent and to Tasmania. It has been introduced to New Zealand where feral populations are found in the North Island (notably in the northern half of the island and in the Hutt Valley) and in the hills around Dunedin in the South Island.

The eastern rosella is 30 cm long. It has a red head and white cheeks. The beak is white and the irises are brown. The upper breast is red and the lower breast is yellow fading to pale green over the abdomen. The feathers of the back and shoulders are black, and have yellowish or greenish margins giving rise to a scalloped appearance that varies slightly between the subspecies and the sexes. The wings and lateral tail feathers are bluish while the tail is dark green. The legs are grey.The female is similar to the male though duller in colouration and has an underwing stripe, which is not present in the adult male. Juveniles are duller than females and have an underwing stripe.

The diet of eastern rosellas mainly consists of fruit, seeds, flowers and insects.The natural range of the eastern rosella is eastern Australia, down to Tasmania. The species is found in lightly wooded country, open forests, woodlands, gardens, bushlands and parks. Eastern rosellas usually breed in spring but if needed summer as well. They can have 2-9 eggs. In the wild their breeding hollow is 1m deep and 30m high up a tree. The sign the eastern rosella mostly shows that they are breeding is that they give food to each other.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme.

Thursday 16 November 2023


ITOH Peony "Garden Treasure" is a very successful Intersectional (Itoh) Peony first released in 1984. Gold medal winner with the American peony society and for good reason! Fast to establish, extremely floriferous over a long period maybe 3 weeks, tall and bushy makes this beauty a desired plant in the garden. One of the Itohs that has also been successfully used as a cut flower, with over a week vase life if cut in bud.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme

Wednesday 15 November 2023


Preston Market is the second largest market in Melbourne selling fresh produce, clothing and homewares with a variety of restaurants and food stalls; it attracts over 80,000 visitors per week. The market opened in 1970, however, its long-term survival is in jeopardy as the new owners plan to redevelop the site, wishing to build high rise apartment blocks on the site.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday 14 November 2023


Lush farmland and wooded hills in West Gippsland. A rich fertile area that offers many attractions and is only a short drive from Melbourne. Many cafés, restaurants, cellar doors and breweries  are to be visited, serving up award-winning cool-climate wines, mouth-watering farm-fresh cheeses, small batch craft beers and gins, and menus packed with the best regional produce.

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday meme