Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, July 29, 2011

Signs of Spring (in late Winter)

Every year, about this time, I start to kid myself that Spring is coming - soon.

It is happening again, and not just to me.
  • The little birds are very active - Red-browed Finches are massing in the grass heads which pass for a lawn at my place. 
  • Bowerbirds were singing in a new area where there has never been a Bower before. 
  • Wombats and Swamp Wallabies have been active on the roads in the early evenings - risking their lives. One has taken to marking its territory (see last image).
  • Foxes also are active on roads, but I am happy for them to risk their lives.
And in the Garden, my Camellias are now blooming freely. Actually, the Sasanquas have been going for a month or more, but the larger flowered hybrid Camellias are going now. The "Japonicas" (the large flowered forms most people know) are a few weeks off, yet). But I happen to favour the "Williamsii" hybrids and they're the ones which are kicking in now.

Here is one of my all-time favourite Camellias. Camellia "Brian" (a Williamsii X Reticulata Hybrid) I love this particular colour, which has just a hint of cyan in the mix of pinks. I grew this plant in Canberra, beside my driveway, so I could see it every time I drove back home. It flowers early, for a large Camellia, and flowers for several months. It is easy care, and the spent flowers simply fall apart, shedding their petals like pink snow, on the ground below. That is a much better result than some of the old-fashioned Camellias (Japonicas), especially the fully double ones, where the old flowers remain on the bush, looking untidy.
Camellia "Brian" - a Williamsii x Reticulata hybrid
 And as  a surprise, I found a clump of true Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) which I planted many years ago - and had seen in flower only once - well, they are blooming happily again this year. Note the 3 large "tepals" which frame the flower. They are pure snowy white. The inner 3 tepals each have a green mark towards the bottom.
Galanthus elwesii - note the 3 pure white outer tepals
 And another shot of one of the Galanthus flowers.

By contrast here is the more familiar "Snowflake" (although there is much confusion in the use of that name). To clarify, this plant is Leucojum aestivum To make the naming confusion worse, this plant bears the popular name of "Summer Snowflake".It flowers well for me (and it did so in Canberra too) in the middle of the Australian Winter. I have never had a garden without Snowflakes growing, preferably near a front door, where I see them come up each year - at the coldest time, just to cheer me up.
Leucojum aestivum - "Snowflake"

And as a celebration of Spring coming, one of my local Wombats has offered me this spectacular "Poo" - which is something of a work of art, compared to their normal offerings. 

A spectacular Wombat Poo. Territorial marking beside my driveway, on a mound.
The sap must be flowing freely through the plants to make the quality of the Wombat's poo this good. It is not very clear from this angle, but in keeping with Wombat tradition, it has left its dropping on a rock, or beside a rock. It really is a process of "marking territory". 

It is on a mound of soil, beside my driveway. Obviously, my driveway is its front entrance-way too, it seems. Fair enough. It is also where the Rural Fire Service guys placed my street number marker too. So everyone/everything recognises this an the Entrance way to the property.
This is posted here, in recognition of Snail's fine post on Marsu-poo-pals

A good frost was recorded last night, so Roll on, Spring, I say.


mick said...

Hi Denis, I like all your signs of spring (in late winter) and I guess I should have been a little more careful in naming my post with all the wildflowers! We haven't had any frosts for a while - just nasty cold SW-erlies. The consensus opinion is that we will possibly get an early and hot summer. I love the Snowdrops and Snowflakes - just wish more spring flowers would grow up this way.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick.
It always gets me that the coldest part of the year is after the Mid-winter day.
But the plants and the birds seem to work on daylight length, and that is infallible.
Longer daylight ->> Spring is coming.
Glad you liked the Snowdrops and Snowflakes. Good old fashioned plants which always mean Winter's darkest days for me.