Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day 2 on the Robertson Common

The famous steam locomotive 3801 came to Robertson again today. This train has been a regular visitor to Robertson in recent years. There had been some doubt about its continued visitation, when the 3801 Limited company lost control of the locomotive, in favour of the NSW Rail Transport Museum at Thirlmere. However, it came today, on a stunning clear blue-sky day in Robertson. Yes, it was windy, but at least it gave clear blue-sky backgrounds for photos of the train.Apparently 3801 is to be taken off the rails for the fitting of a new boiler (I tried to check this report, without success). So, it might be some time till she comes back to Robertson, but at least we have faith that she will return.
The mighty locomotive was certainly in fine working order today as seen by this burst of smoke and stem, just before she departed, this afternoon, for what would have been a fine afternoon run down the Mountain Line, to Wollongong, and then back to Sydney.
It appears that Harry Potter might have made a secret visit to Robertson today, on the 3801.
And in the main marquee, this afternoon, a little girl shared a quiet moment with Jane and Leon's lovely Rado, the Kelpie X Spaniel. He is a beautifully natured dog, as may be seen by the way in which he gently accepted this approach, unsupervised, by this little dog-lover. Unbeknown to both of them, I was keeping a watchful eye on them, and all was well, so I decided to record this gorgeous moment.Here Leon and Monica and another friend attended the REPS table of leaflets and brochures in the marquee.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Waratahs flower for Springtime in Robertson

Today the Springtime in Robertson festival was launched.
The Robertson Heritage Railway Station hosted the first events, on the Robertson Common, with a series of displays from admirers of vintage motors, model rail enthusiasts, the Robertson Environment Protection Society people, and a floral art display (featuring Waratahs).

Here is Peter Vaughan, the local mechanic, and enthusiast for vintage motors, (who mercifully was able to replace my own car's water pump, last week). Peter is very proud of this little motor, which, powers a pump, although such a motor might well be used to power other devices, via a belt drive.On the left of this photo (below) is Robert Randall, (a backhoe operator) who I met before I even moved to Robertson. Robert helped me choose the land where I settled in Robertson, based upon the quality of the soil. I had told Robert I wanted deep red soil, and he guided my choice between a range of possible sites. I trust Robert's judgement, because he has worked with the soil (and rock) in Robertson, all his adult life.
Robert and Peter, along with some of the local farmers, are proudly keeping alive a tradition which transformed the face of rural Australia. Whether or not you approve of how the country has been transformed, there is something marvellous about these old motors. I am particularly fond of the relatively slow pace at which these motors turn. Somehow, it is both powerful and safe - safe in the sense that they could be operated at speeds closer to that at which humans operate.The largest motor on display today (above) bears this plate proclaiming it as Austral Oil Engine No. 4751. It was manufactured by Ronaldson Bros and Tippett Pty Ltd, Ballarat, for Moffatt Virtue Ltd, Sydney. Judging by the number of responses I got from a simple Google Search, and the number of photos on the link I have inserted (above) there are many lovers of these old engines.
And now let us go back to the Waratahs of Robertson. I strongly believe that the town of Robertson ought become known as the town of Waratahs, for we do them better than just about anywhere that I know of. Let me hasten to add that, as regular readers will know, Robertson is on rich red basalt soil, and so, while Waratahs grow close by, naturally - at Kangaloon and Belmore Falls and Carrington Falls, (on the sandstone soil) they do not naturally occur in Robertson. This area originally was covered in dense rainforest, which is so dense it excludes Waratahs. But, when planted in this soil, the Waratahs thrive.

Dr David Tranter, is the pioneer of Waratah growing in the local area.
David has a preference for the form of the NSW Waratah - the true species, that is (Telopea speciosissima), of which these flowers (below) are an example. For the perfect flower, David far prefers plants of the true species. The large bracts surrounding the flowers are diagnostic, as are the serrated leaves.But David has also planted around Robertson hundreds of specimens of the modern hybrid varieties of Waratah which have been introduced into cultivation. David explained to me today, he prefers to grow the Hybrid Waratah "Corroboree" in Robertson, as a garden plant - by which he means a plant grown for its overall effect in the garden, rather than a plant grown for the perfect form of individual flowers. It is a hybrid between the NSW Waratah, and the southern NSW species, Telopea mongaensis.

Despite David's demurring about the less than perfect form of many of these hybrid Waratahs, some of them produce wonderful specimen flowers.

A near-perfect flower of Waratah "Corroboree"
This stem is a good example of the floriferous nature of the modern Hybrid Waratahs. This is "Corroboree", but the varieties called "Shady Lady" or the newer "Red Shady Lady" are very similar to this plant in habit and flower form. They are the result of a cross with the Victorian species Telopea oreadesDavid Tranter is largely responsible for the many Waratahs planted in the public areas around Roberson, such as at the Robertson Common, and across the Railway line, and at Hampden Park, along Caalang Creek, and at the newly developed Pinkwood Park.
For full impact as a garden or Public Park planting, the hybrid Waratah, such as this specimen of the cultivar "Corroboree", is surely hard to beat. This is one of many wonderful specimens planted in Pinkwood Park, in Robertson, by David Tranter and other members of REPS, which organisation has operated as the custodian of this Park. They are to be found opposite the Post Office, on Hoddle Street, up towards the top end of town.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Spring Photo Competition - at the CTC@Robertson

Entries for the Robertson CTC's Spring Photo competition have closed (officially), but I guess we can squeeze in a few last minute entries if you feel inspired. But be quick!

I have entered one of the Gnome series shown a few days ago. And I have also entered a photo of a frond of a Soft Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) unfurling. This photo was taken several days ago, at George's place. He has many Tree Ferns there, including both the two main local species - this one and the "Rough Tree Fern" (Cyathea australis).

The distinctive shape of the Tree Fern frond, as it grows, and unfurls progressively is really interesting. Historically they are called "crosiers" which is the name of a Bishop's symbolic staff - the so called "Shepherd's Crook" - named after the traditional staff used by shepherds, looking after their roaming flocks of sheep and/or goats. The hook in the top was supposed to help the Shepherd retrieve a lost sheep. All of that imagery has been borrowed by the Church as symbolic of Christ, the "Good Shepherd". And that is why the "crosier" is used for the symbol of power and authority of a Bishop.
But mathematicians and theoretical physicists have also focussed on the Fern Frond, as it unfurls, as a demonstration of "chaos theory" - for within each frond are smaller and smaller leaf sections, each of which as it grows, reveals the repetitive patterns which first prompted mathematicians to describe the seemingly endless repetitive sequences which are key to chaos theory. Obviously, in the Tree Ferns, these pattern repeats are not infinite, but the leaves are so large, and so complex in structure, that they are probably the supreme example in the plant world of complex leaf structures. The structure is described as multiple-pinnate, which literally means "feathered upon feathered" leaves.

There is an interesting description of this unfurling processes of Tree Fern branches in Wikipedia, where they describe it as "circinate vernation" - a term which is new to me.

I love these Tree Fern fronds, and I know that Crimson Rosellas also love them. They eat Tree Fern fronds, much as we humans eat Asparagus.
These photos were taken at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, where they have a fantastic display of the Soft Tree Ferns growing in the rainforest gully. There is one point where the Tree Ferns are growing underneath a foot bridge, and one can often see Crimson Rosellas sitting in the Tree Ferns, chewing the young growth of the fern leaves, as in these photographs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Finger Orchids" - or Caladenias

The names are difficult, even awkward. They used be called "Ladies Fingers" when I was a child. But that has been modified by political correctness, to "Finger Orchids". Until recently, these charming little Ground Orchids were all "Caladenias" - a very large and diverse genus within the Orchid tribe. But the taxonomists have been at work, and these little Orchids have been revised and split into Petalochilus and Stegostyla; with other groups, notably the "Spider Orchids" split off to their own group, and also separated into several distinct genera.

Anyway, these little Ground Orchids have started to flower, in the last week, down in the Eucalypt Forest in Kangaloon. Here are some of these delightful and delicate flowers.
Petalochilus carneus - mid pink, (normal) form.
Petalochilus carneus - a really dark pink form.
Petalochilus carneus - light pink form.
Petalochilus carneus - nearly white form.
Can this still be Petalochilus carneus?
Note the greenish tinges to the "column" (the central section of the flower)
and the distinctive magenta coloured tip of the column.
But it still has the typical red banding on the column
and on the Labellum, and a yellow lip of the Labellum.
But the four fingers are purest white - not a trace of pink.
I will follow up in a few days with some other related plants in the genus Petalochilus and Stegostyla. There are some details of identification which I wish to check up on, before going "public" with my idea of their precise names.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Watch out for Wombats - on the roads.

Please watch out for Wombats, on the roads at night.

I stopped to drag the corpse of a freshly killed Wombat off the side of Tourist Road today (down in Kangaloon). They are sufficiently large that even when dead, they pose a traffic hazard, if left lying just on the edge of the road. On that road, passing vehicles usually run with two wheels on the dirt, while passing). In my opinion a large animal right on the edge of the bitumen, as this one was, poses a risk to traffic. So I stopped to drag the body away to the edge of the road.

As I did, I rolled the body over to check if it was male or female. Female, she was. And clearly had been carrying a "joey" (a baby Wombat) for her pouch was very large - but empty. I looked around, and then found the dead joey, two metres away. As the mother had died where she was lying (from the blood stains on the ground) the joey had presumably crawled just two metres away, before it also died.

I was so angry to see this gorgeous young thing, dead before it had become independent of its mother. Normally I do not photograph road killed Wombats, but I decided to take this photo - to make a point. I moved the Mother off the road, and put the Joey with its Mum.

From a Wombat site I found the following notes on dead Wombats.
The local Wombat rescue service is the Wingecarribee Branch of WIRES, and their phone number is (02) 4862 1788. Links to all NSW regional branches of WIRES may be found here at this link.

In an emergency, if you live in New South Wales, call WIRES on 13000WIRES or 1300 094 737.
Wombats have a slow metabolic rate, and breed slowly. According to some reports, female Wombats do not start to breed till they are 3 or 4 years old, and then normally only breed every second year. So, that's a slow rate of reproduction. If we keep on killing them on the roads at the rate of this year, then one day the Wombat will be an endangered species - even around Robertson. Locals seem to regard them as vermin, which is most unfortunate.

This particular Wombat had been in wonderful condition, with a lovely healthy joey. It is a great shame that she was killed, and with the Mother dead, her Joey was probably doomed anyway, but it was killed outright. Bugger!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Phillip's Spring Romp with PixieToes

Phillip, the wicked little Garden Gnome, has been flirting with "PixieToes", as Springtime has been developing. True to his name, he is a"Lover of Horses".
But last night, with the Spring Equinox upon us, Phillip went for a little romp with PixieToes, in the garden of the CTC in Robertson.Evil little Sprite that he is, he picked Spring Flowers to place in her hair, packed a small bottle of Spirits to take on the Picnic, and decked himself out with some "bling" in the form of metal springs, also bedecked with chains of flowers.
And as you can see, as the sun set slowly in the west, he was making intimate suggestions to the little filly.
I left them alone at this point, as I did not think it "nice" to watch any more.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A new Orchid - for me.

My friend Lucy and her son George drove past, when David Young and I were out taking photographs of Ground Orchids this morning. The sight of two grown men lying on the ground, beside the road, caused some comment from Lucy. For the record, we were taking photographs, separately, of different plants, at the time. But that did not stop Lucy from raising an eyebrow. Oh dear, how we photographers and plant enthusiasts are misunderstood!

Well, Lucy knows full well what we were doing, but she could not resist teasing us. Fair enough. I tease her, from time to time, too.
Today I found a rare Orchid which I have been on the lookout for. It is called the Wollongong Bird Orchid, Simpliglottis chlorantha. This plant is known to grow on the Budderoo Plateau, but that is a very large area, adjacent to the Barren Grounds. Anyway, today I got lucky, and found the distinctive paired leaves of these plants, and one of the plants (one only, mind you) was in flower. It is quite a thrill to find a plant, in these circumstances, when you have been given a bit of a clue as to where to look, but not much more than that. I think it was the fourth time I have gone out to this area, looking for these plants. As I said, today I was lucky enough to find them (or it).
That plant is related to the far more common "Ant Orchids" which feature below. If you compare these photos (above and below) the first impression is that the plants are very different, and indeed they are. One is wide, and green, the others narrow and dark reddish. However, if you concentrate on the structure of the flowers you will notice some obvious similarities. Note the "column" like a broad tube held above the labellum, with the pollinia prominently positioned above the scent producing glands. Unlike the Ant Orchids, which have glands resembling an insect in appearance, this Bird Orchid has some red, and one prominent green scent gland, of what looks like a soft jelly-like substance.

Until very recently, all these plants were classed in the same genus, Chiloglottis. The Botanic Gardens website has not yet formally recognised these new names, so the link above takes you to "Bird Orchids" and Wasp and Ant Orchids - all under the same genus name.
Earlier in the day, I had gone out with David to try to photograph some of the little Ant Orchids which are found out in the tall Eucalypt forests (on sandy soil) in the Kangaloon area. These tiny little plants are very hard to see on the forest floor, for they are perfectly camouflaged, amongst the leaf litter.

This one is the "Diamond Ant Orchid" (Myrmechila trapeziformis)- a reference to the diamond shaped blade or "labellum" of the Orchid flower. Their lateral sepals are held wide and flat, beside the labellum. They arc back, as can be clearly seen in this photo.
This second plant, growing in a small colony, just about 20 metres away from the other plants, is of a different, but closely related species. This is the "Common Ant Orchid", Myrmechila formicifera, which means "ant-bearing" - a reference to the structure on its "labellum". In this case, there is a line of small glands behind the "pseudo-insect", which glands reach down in a line to the furthest edge of the labellum. How far these glands extend on the labellum is the easiest way to distinguish these species. These differences in the two species were quite consistent amongst the individual plants in each group. In other words, all the plants in one group were basically the same. And the other group were all basically consistent too. These plants have a series of glands on the labellum which have the appearance of an insect. It is referred to as a "pseudo-insect" by Orchid experts and those few entomologists who study this process. In fact these plants emit a scent which mimics the pheromone of a female wasp, prompting male wasps to seek to mate with this "s.x-toy" on the Orchid's labellum. In so doing the male wasp might end up with a dob of the Orchid's sticky pollen stuck onto his back, which, hopefully, he will take off to another flower, and will accidentally pollinate it, as he once again attempts to mate with the other flower. This is the process known as "pseudo-copulation".

I went out in the bush with David, who has a very good camera, which allows far closer camera positioning than mine does. Here you can see how low the dedicated photographer has to get down, in order to take photos of these plants. I have placed a ring of light around the flower which David's camera is focussing on - just to highlight exactly what it is that David is photographing on the forest floor.
You can see some of the results of David's handiwork over on his blog, where he has photos of some other plants and some amazing photos of the Hover Flies which were buzzing around the flowers of the Hardenbergia violacea, the so-called "Native Sarsaparilla". David's blog is called "Focus on Nature", which is exactly what he was doing in this shot.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Spring Flowers at the CTC @Robertson.

Robertson does Waratahs very well. In a few days, most gardens in Robertson, and several parks which have been planted out by the local Environment group (REPS), will be showing a wonderful display of Waratahs.

I have planted some at the Community Technology Centre (CTC@Robertson) garden, and on Saturday, the first plant (2 years since it was planted out as a 4 inch seedling) has flowered for the first time. This Waratah is the true species Telopea speciosissima, (the NSW Waratah) not the more commonly planted, and more floriferous hybrid Waratah "Shady Lady". The modern hybrid Waratahs are great garden plants in Robertson. They absolutely love the deep, red basalt soil here. Incidentally, one of the differences between the true species and the hybrids is the sharp serrated edges of the leaves of the species. The hybrids tend to give less evidence of the leafy bracts which surround the flower, thus appearing to have more of the rounded buds in the centre. In many cases, the hybrids have multiple flower heads on the one stem. In that sense, they sometimes appear to carry "mutant" flowers. More photos later on, to demonstrate that.

Here is the local Carrington Falls Grevillea, Grevillea rivularis. I am very pleased to have established this plant at the CTC. I planted several seeds from this plant last week. I also have a large bush of this plant at home. The "toothbrush" shaped flowers are distinctively coloured, with pale soft pink bases to the young flowers, but the older flowers in the "head" of flowers mature to a mauve colour (look at the left of the flower structure above). The colouring is very delicate. It is not a spectacular flower, but given its rarity, and the fact that the birds and ants love the flowers, I am happy to grow it here. I believe it is nice to grow local wildflowers in local gardens.

I have also established a nice clump of deep purple coloured Dwarf Bearded irises at the CTC. These flower just a little earlier than their taller cousins. These are, of course, exotic flowers, but I love them too.
I am not an "horticultural racist" - I like to grow beautiful flowers, no matter wherever they come from.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Cataract River is dying. The George's River is dead.

Day 2 of the Southern Coalfields Inquiry was held today. They started with formal hearings in the morning, and then moved on to a Field Trip to the Cataract and Georges rivers.

Well, having gone down to the Cataract Gorge today, I can say that the Cataract River is in a very poor state, but it appears not to be dead. Not quite, anyway. But it is in a serious state. Certainly one would not want one's kids swimming in it.

The condition of the River is a result of cracking of the rock base of the rivers, as a result of subsidence, as a result of coal mining, by Longwall Mining techniques.
For readers less than familiar with the fine print on maps of NSW, we are talking about two of the rivers in the southern catchment for Sydney's drinking water. The Nepean River is the longest of these rivers, and it rises near Robertson (as you will know).
It flows down through the sandstone plateau north of Kangaloon, and, in the habit of Australian rivers, it meanders around, on its way towards Sydney. Then it goes past Camden (south from Sydney), and suddenly it goes in a huge loop, skirting around the base of the Blue Mountains, (passing west of Sydney) through Penrith, Richmond, Windsor. It becomes the Hawkesbury River, where upon it flows north to Wiseman's ferry, and then flows east, towards Gosford, and Woy Woy, and enters the Pacific Ocean, at Broken Bay - half way between Sydney and Newcastle. There are a number of smaller rivers, the Cataract, the Cordeaux and the Avon which all are tributaries of the Nepean River, which rise on the Illawarra (Woronora) Plateau. It is these Rivers which we have mostly been dealing with in the hearings of the Southern Coalfields Inquiry, this week. Then there is the Georges river, which rises close to the Cataract river, but takes a "short cut" to the ocean, by flowing past Campbelltown, then Liverpool, and suddenly it arcs eastwards, and flows into Botany Bay on the southern side of Sydney.
Cataract River - Douglas Park, 19 September 2007.
The water I saw with my own eyes, today, in the Cataract River today, is a greenish-grey colour, in most places, and there is sludge on may of the shallower pools. The water is quite opaque. It must be remembered that this river was in flood 2 months ago, so much of the algal blooms and bacterial "floc" (mats of floating iron oxide stained material) has been washed downstream by those floods. We were walking over dried, dead algae on the rocks. The river clearly has been much, much higher in the past. In fact that is the main thing I noticed - the "high tide" marks on the rocks, (clearly visible on the taller rocks beyond the pool, in the photo above) indicating the levels at which the water used be - back in the days before mining cracked the Cataract River, and allowed most of the water to escape down into the bedrock below (somewhere).
Methane Gas bubbles emerging
(in this case, occasional large bubbles making an audible "Glubb" sound).

And, of course, water being water, there is always a two-way flow with gas bubbles emerging from the coal seams some 350 metres below the surface of the rock. And, also iron and other minerals (exposed by water dissolving minerals from below, as a result of the cracking), as a result of the mining having caused subsidence. This all contaminates the streams.
A fine stream of tiny bubbles rises to the surface,
then the bubbles float downstream.
Here is Caroline Graham, one of the long-term campaigners for the health of the rivers, and a foundation member of Rivers SOS - a voluntary body of some 30 member organisations across NSW, including the Hunter Valley region, which is currently facing so much stress from mining. Caroline was responding to an Illawarra Coal representative, who had been making a presentation of what he claimed was a highly successful "remediation" effort at "Marhynes Hole" on the George's river, near Appin. Amongst the claims made by this representative of the coal mining company responsible for the damage in these two rivers, was that in this case they had been able to preempt damage to the river, by installing a "grouting curtain" - a series of deep drill-holes, which were then filed with a cement and bentonite grouting. This process is intended to release pressure in the bedrock. Judging by the evidence of fallen rock in an area in the river where a rock ledge forms a kind of natural barrier, their attempts were not very successful (despite the claims made for the merits of this system).

The paper Caroline is holding says "Missing River", referring to a time when this part of the George's River had dried up entirely. It was flowing today, but not very much, as we could easily step across the river in a few steps from rock to rock. Its flow is not that of a "river" - it is reduced to just a small stream.

One part of the presentation from the man from Illawarra Coal annoyed me intensely. He showed us a particular graph which purported to show that prior to "remediation", the flow of water in this section of the George's River was much lower than it is now (after remediation). I asked what the input flow rates were in the River, for the various data in the graphs. His answer was that the two sets of data were both collected at times of "low flow".

What the bloody hell does that mean?

For a graph purporting to measure river flow loss, this graph is a nonsense, and is not worth the paper it is printed on - and I said so, publicly.

I was quickly shut down by one of the members of the Panel (Drew), who said it was not appropriate for me to cross-examine the man from the mining company like that. I subsequently (privately) pointed out to Drew that as Garry was making claims, in public, which were not supported by facts, I would have been irresponsible of me to not to have challenged his claims.

I spoke privately with Garry after that interrupted exchange. I commented that, as a former bureaucrat I was not impressed with "pretty graphs" which meant nothing, because there was no factual data to back the graphic presentation. His response was: "Some people like pretty graphs".

I found his presentation intellectually dishonest, and demeaning, from the point of view of the company which he apparently represents.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rock Lilies, and Lily Rocks

After a day with the Southern Coalfields Inquiry hearings, today, at the Camden Civic Centre, I have come to Sydney with Kim, for an overnight stay, before going back for more, tomorrow. Kim and Peter have gone out to dinner, and I am working on their computer (wow, Broadband is sooo good!)

The hearing was very good, with some powerful presentations of how the rivers of the Woronora Plateau have been abused, and in fact killed. Speaker after speaker said the Upper Nepean River, the Cataract River and the Waratah Rivulet are DEAD.

See for yourself.

Iron Oxide sludge forms a poisonous,
de-oxygenated algal bloom over what was once a healthy river.

The Panel appeared to take this evidence seriously (and so they should). The photos and videos showed by representatives of Rivers SOS, the Nepean Action Group, and the Macarthur Branch of the National Parks Association spoke powerfully of polluted rivers and pools. And as for the Waratah Rivulet, a 2km stretch of the river was as dry as the pavement of George Street, Sydney.

No home for Platypuses here - not any more! Thanks to Peabody Mining.
Oh, did I mention that this ought be fresh drinking water?
Instead it looks like a crack in the pavement.
Nope, it is the dry bed of the Waratah Rivulet, inside the
Sydney Catchment Authority's "Special Areas" .

Those cracks caused by subsidence, caused by coal mining. Yet the SCA's Special Areas website states that the function of the Special Areas is to protect the water quality. How exactly, is that plan working, when mining companies can kill the rivers, as evidenced above?

For my own part, I spoke of the recent evidence (mentioned on this Blog a few days ago) that Orchids have been around on the planet for some 80 Million years (and other plants for probably 300 million years), and asked - what right does anyone have to put these plants and organisms at risk of extinction, for 20 years of profit?

I also mentioned that in some cases we are dealing with endangered species and Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs) which are protected under Federal Environment Law (the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act). I even vowed to hold the members of the Panel accountable of they fail in their responsibility to protect these endangered species and EECs. Seeking to soften my comment slightly, I then pointed out to the Panel that it is not that I do not have faith in their good offices, but rather that they are the last 5 people on the planet with the power, at State Government level, to do anything about this preposterous position.

Many of the speakers also made the point that not only is coal mining bad for the local environment, it is also a major contributer to Global Warming, and Climate Change, which threaten the future of life on this planet, or at the very least the future of life, as we mere humans currently know, and enjoy it.

Anyway, after a fairly intense day with the Panel, I was happy to accept Kim's offer of accommodation over night.
Here are some photos of a Rock Lily (Rock Orchid is a truer name) (Dendrobium speciosum) which Kim says was at the front door of their house back in the 1920s, so it is an 80 year old Orchid. But we now know it has a tradition, a genetic inheritance, going back 80 million years. Just think, Kim was proud of it being 80 years old, without thinking of it being a million times older than that!And here is the lovely Lily, the much loved Black Labrador, who is snoring gently in her bag behind me, as I type this. She is a lovely dog.
Lily rocks, alongside the Rock Lily.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Spring Flowers in my garden

Today I am tired, and so I am just showing some photos I took a couple of days ago, in my own garden.

Now, let it be said that I am not a Gardener's Gardener. I am a plant enthusiast - but not a really well organised one. I grow some interesting plants, but I tend to lose their names.

The most obvious of the Spring Blossoms in my garden at present, is Prunus elvins. This lovely small Plum covers itself with tiny flowers along its branches. It is the density of its flowering which makes it so showy. The individual flowers open white, and then as they mature, the flowers darken to a soft pink. This photo was take after a shower of rain, a few days ago. At the end of its flowering, the whole plant will be pink. A very lovely plant indeed.While the petals change somewhat, the main feature of the flower which changes is the colour of the stamens within each flower. As can be seen in this photo (above) the stamens start out white, and then, they turn quite a definite red colour. That gives each flower a dark centre, and greatly contributes to the over-all colour of the flowers.
This photo was taken late in the afternoon, with flash. In the daytime, this bush is surrounded by bees, which love the prolific pollen, which is also obvious in this photo.I said I was tired, didn't I? That is my excuse for publishing this photo of this little narrow-leaved Wattle without publishing its scientific name. Shame on me. This plant was bought at Wariapendi Nursery, but the plant grows wild at West Berrima and Medway (on the western end of the Wingecarribee Region). It is a lovely little wattle, with tight ball-shaped flowers of a clear lemon yellow. As soon as it finishes flowering, I shall prune it hard, to make it send out more stiff branches, on which it will reward me with flowers, next spring.

This next little flower is another native flower, for which I owe you another apology, for not remembering (or else not researching properly) its name. From memory it is amongst the Veronica genus, but don't quote me, please.
And another, a lovely little Paper Daisy, for which I also do not have a name at present. This is a tough little surviver, which grew fast, and then got swamped by other plants and weeds. Eventually I rescued it, and it came straight back and started flowering. Amazing. This is a popular little native Daisy. It is a great groundcover, and is readily available in Nurseries. The plant itself is soft, with fine grey-green leaves and the rosette flowers have several layers of silvery-white bracts outside the yellow centre part (which is where the true flowers are located).