Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dry, Dry, Dry

Since I last posted we have had a really dry spell and promised rain has not arrived. No water restrictions yet, so we are using the sprinkler to keep things going, but it is costing an arm and a leg. We have decided to invest in a couple of large water tanks to use in the garden, but that won't happen until later this summer. Meanwhile we water as sparingly as possible without losing any plants. Today's 39.9 did not help at all!!!

We are having a second flush of roses and the hydrangeas and agapanthas are coming along nicely, but I thought I would feature some rather nice Australian natives today.

My favourite without a doubt is this one a regular visitor. This fellow is called Kenneth and we have been acquaintenances for a couple of years now.

I really like this pretty banksia. The flowers are not noticeable unless you really look intothe heart of the bush, but they are a gorgeous colour.
I love Kangaroo Paw, but don't have much luck keeping it alive and flowering for more than a few years. They are indigenous to Western Australia where they thrive on the sandy soils. I don't think our heavy clay loams really suit them.

My favourite at the moment is this beautiful tree. Blueberry Ash - Elaeocarpus reticulans. The flowers are tiny, but absolutely exquisite, like miniature ballerinas.

How could you not love them?

Liz Needle

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The first fuschsia was discovered in the Caribbean in1696/7 by a French monk and botanist, Charles Plumier. He named the new genus after the german botanist Leonhart Fuchs.

Since then many other types of fuchsia have been discovered and bred until today we have many hundreds of varieties. I really love the very simple small single fuchsias and while I can admire the lush beauty of the large double varieties, I have no real desire to grow them. My fuchsias are not delicate and fragile - they have to tough it out with the rest of the garden plants.

Very simple and dainty, this little pink beauty is so easy to grow. This one was here when we came  - 40 years ago, so it must be very hardy.

This is another old variety - simple and elegant and greatly loved by the honey eaters and the Eastern Spinebills. In fact the spinebills have built a nest in this bush right outside our bedroom window.

The variety below always makes me think of  flower fairies dancing

This bush was damaged by the rain a few weeks back, but the lowers still look OK.

This one has the ccolours reversed - dark below and pale above.

And for the tiniest flowers ever, there is this species which the bees love.  This plant - growing to 2-3 metres is beautiful when it flowers, but is very frost tender and needs protection.

Liz Needle

Monday, December 3, 2012

Birds and Bees

One of the things I love about Spring in the garden is the variety of birds and insects that visit. Mark is keeping a log of bird visitors and so far he has he has recorded over 30 species.

My favourites are the grey shrike thrush who have nested in the shed and are now raising two nestlings. They are very protective little birds and as soon as anyone approaches the shed one of them is on guard in the nearby trees calling out  continuous warnings to the mate sitting on the nest. As  we get closer to the shed, the warnings become more frequent and they become less frequent as we walk away. It is lovely to see that although they cry warnings, they are not scared of us and remain on the nest if we have to go into the shed. We had planned to build a chook yard in part of the shed, but are holding off until the nest is empty.

We also had a pardelote's nest in a heap of weeds and soil that we had built up for compost. They too seemed unconcerned about the humans moving around and even mowing lawns in their vicinity.

Each morning and evening the birds come in and feed on our back lawn. I know the practice of throwing out seed for native birds is sometimes frowned upon, but during the winter the pickings are slim around here and I like to think the birds feel welcome and safe in the garden.

This is one of a pair of galahs who nest in our old River Red Gum every year. One of this pair has only one leg, but does quite well regardless.

We get dozens of rosellas of various hues from red fellows like this one to pale yellow ones. I only throw seed out about once a week, but the birds never fail to know its there and they flock in to feed.  They must have a very efficient means of communication.

Insects are another lot of visitors that love the Spring and spend time collecting nectar from the flowering trees and shrubs.

Liz Needle