Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, August 31, 2012

Much ado about not much snow

This afternoon, the weather got cold at about 4:00PM. and then it started to close in, from the south.
We are at 760 metres above sea level, so cold "upper atmosphere" weather patterns can produce localised snowfalls.

It did that today.
Snow was reported (on Facebook), from Goulburn, Katoomba, and Robertson, of course. ABC radio reported Alpine conditions at Lake George. Martin said he would not class it as real snow. (Fair enough). But he did see flakes falling, at Canberra.

It suddenly got dark to the south of me.
An ominous roll of clouds
One of my Wattles, with dark sky as contrast.

A wall of weather coming up the valley.

Tiny hail Stones on the back deck

Hail stones blanketed the bare ground
between my Camellias.

And then it went "quiet".
I know that snow is often silent when it starts to fall.

Lucky shot on "close-up focus"
with flash on, to illuminate snow flakes

OK you can't go skiing on this, but its a genuine snow fall.

Big Potato trashed by local Paper

I am sick of the Southern Highland News. 
As a "local paper" it is the worst of the worst.

I have worked with a variety of Local Papers across NSW, Victoria and Queensland over 30 plus years. But the laziness of the editorial staff at the Southern Highland News (in Bowral) is breathtaking.
Big Potato with Daffodils planted by the community.

Today they have run a "story" about the Big Potato, and took the chance to put in the boot into the "Big Turd". They even wrongly claimed that it had been vandalised by the addition of a "face" -  a papier mache version of the cartoon character Mr Potato Head.

This was not an act of vandalism - far from it. It was welcomed by the local Chamber of Commerce and the community. You should have seen the numbers of people lining up to have their photos taken with the "Mr Potato Head" Face!

But the local paper has taken their comments from a book about Big Things.

They claim it has not been cared for by the local community.
Working bee at the Big Potato in June 2008

I wrote about a major Upgrade to the grounds back in June 2008.

Roden Mauger was heavily involved in the
upgrading of the surrounds - the path in particular.

I wrote about the Face back in March 2010.

Big Potato with face, in park-like setting.
Letters were sent to the Paper when it mistakenly claimed in March 2010 that the "face" was the work of vandals. But there is no corporate memory left in the Rural Press, and the Southern Highland News in particular.

Bring back Robyn Murray, I say. She was the last decent journalist to grace that Paper - and she left the Southern Highland News back in November 2009.

Lazy journalists will "eat their own children" (as the saying is).
It is easier to destroy a local community's reputation than to send a journalist out 35 kilometres to Robertson, to check the facts of the story. Or even to open their own archives, and see what has been written in the "letters", to correct previously published false and lazy stories.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another visit to Bullio

I had strayed as far as Bowral, on Saturday, to have Coffee with my friend Kim, and then thought I may as well keep on heading west.

I checked out an area opposite the Sand Quarry, near Joadja Creek, on the Wombeyan Caves Road, and finding no Orchids in flower there, I decided to ring Ken and Leonie at Bullio, to see if they were home. Ken had previously emailed me about some Orchids he had found - so there was an obvious point of interest out there.

I met Ken half way along the long private road into the hidden valley where they live.
First things first, I had to capture this gorgeous vista.
Lake Burrogorang and Bonnum Pic

 He then showed me the Orchids.
 I would not normally drive so far to see these, 
but hey, I had started out on the drive, for Coffee and chat,
so the rest was a nice add-on.
A nice colony of Pterostylis curta.
A close up of Pterostylis curta
seen from the side.
Ken showed me a few other things which shall not show, for fairly obvious reasons. Suffice to say, he knows where there are some good colonies of Dendrobium speciosum growing. It does not look as if these clumps are going to flower this year - apparently they flowered well the previous year.

Then Ken showed me a spectacular fossil. It is a fossilised leaf. It looks like a Eucalyptus leaf, but expert advice is that the venation is wrong, and anyway, it is probably way to early (geologically) for there to be any Eucalypts around at that time. Once again, for reasons of privacy and security, I will not show the fossils on my Blog. But it was fascinating to see it.

We then set off in search of other bit and pieces. No new Orchids, though.

Ken asked my opinion on a small shrub with tiny white flowers which I was able to identify as Logania albiflora.This plant flowers prolifically in early spring and has a sweet perfume.
Flowers and narrow leaves of
Logania albiflora

Correa reflexa

Hovea sp, possibly Hovea pannosa 

Pimelea linifolia ssp linifolia

There was a very nice specimen of Pomaderris intermedia growing nearby, with lovely rich, creamy flowers. it really stood out from the dry bush behind it.
Here is a "head" of masses of flowers of
Pomaderris intermedia
You can examine the petals of the individual flower of
Pomaderris intermedia

underleaf of Pomaderris intermedia

As I left the valley, I saw some small animal moving behind a bushy wattle tree. As I  moved slowly past the clump of wattle I could see this tiny little Red-necked Wallaby watching me, curiously. It allowed me to stop and take its photo, out the car window. I did not feel I had time to change lenses, so this is taken with my "close-up" lens, from 50 metres away, so it is a bit fuzzy.

tiny little Red-necked Wallaby
But I was so pleased to see this little fellow out and about without his Mum, that I like the photo well enough to publish it - faults included. You can see that his head is barely higher than the second line of fence wire. Way too small to be out on his own. Hopefully Mum was watching from a safe hiding spot. We parted on good terms, this little fellow and I.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood

Last week I was shown where a group of 
rare Botany Bay Bearded Greenhoods were growing. 
Unfortunately, they were not yet open. 
Today I went back, with Alan Stephenson 
and we found them open. 
So we were able to photograph them successfully.
The extraordinary "bearded labellum" is clearly seen.
The lateral sepals are virtually joined together,
not parallel or flared apart.
In this case the pollinia are clearly visible
within the hood of the flower.
Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood
"Pterostylis sp. Botany Bay (A. Bishop J221/1-13) (Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood) is
a terrestrial orchid which grows to about 20 cm tall (Bishop, 1996). The current
distribution is extremely restricted and it is known from only one small disjunct population
on the Kurnell peninsula in Botany Bay National Park in southern Sydney."
And see also the Approved Recovery Plan for this species.

The person who showed me these plants last week was Tony Rodgers, who has an excellent FilckR site, with many, many Orchid photos and some other images as well. His site is  His excellent photos of these plants, from 2010 are located at this site.

Note the crowded leaf structure
around the base of the stem.
which is unusual for Greenhoods
which normally have rosettes, or stem leaves.
Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood

These plants are listed as Threatened Species under both the Federal EPBC Act and the NSW Threatened Species legislation.

The note on the NSW Threatened Species page says: "A terrestrial orchid with a slender flowering stem to 20 cm. Leaves are a narrow oval shape, 37 mm long, and 12 mm wide. Up to 12 leaves form a basal rosette that slightly ascends the stem. The flower is solitary and translucent green with dark green veins. 

This is probably my favourite photograph of this species of Greenhood, as it shows the very narrow "waist" in the hood. And the pollinia area clearly visible inside the flower (still awaiting the visit of the appropriate pollinator). 
Seen from very low angle
Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood
Another plant, seen from the side.
Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood
Another shot which reveals well the
"knob" at the end of the "feathered" labellum.
In fact ts know is not solid,
just tightly packed with short, brown fibres.
Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood
Yet another view of these
remarkable and rare Greenhoods
Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood

 And here is Alan Stephenson with me today, at the Kurnell heathlands.
You can see how Alan and I both had to get down and dirty, amongst the low heath scrub to photograph these plants.
Hard work, but worth it.
Alan photographing
Botany Bay Bearded Greenhood

Was it all worth it? I believe so.
The walking today was pleasantly warm, and not windy. I am less enthused about last year's effort. I didn't tell you about that, but you can imagine I am sure, seemingly endless walking between dense patches of twiggy heath scrub - where each new patch of heath looks exactly like the last patch you have just searched - in vain.


Similar Species : Pterosylis plumosa (Plumatochilos plumosum)
The species is very similar to Pterostylis plumosa, however (in NSW) P. plumosa is found only on the tablelands and western slopes of NSW and has almost erect flowers which are larger and more robust that those of this species.
Tony Rodgers has comparison photographs of this species with the closely related species from the Little Desert, in Western Victoria.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to be an overnight success - be a Daffodil

It takes twenty years to become an overnight success.  Eddie Cantor.

"Eddie Cantor (January 31, 1892 - October 10, 1964) was a comedian, singer, actor, songwriter, and one of the most popular entertainers in the United States of America in the early and middle 20th century. He was known to Broadway, Radio, and early television audiences as "the Apostle of Pep", and was considered "a member of the family" because of his intimate radio shows that involved stories and antics about his wife, Ida, and his five children."

Ok, what's that got to do with Daffodils?
Well, last week I had no Daffodils in my garden. Well, obviously I did. But none in flower.

The point is that, as with Eddie Cantor's early career, they were there, but invisible. Or more correctly, they just were not "standing out from the crowd".

We have had two warmish days in a row, in Robertson, and suddenly, the Daffodils are "In my Face".
Bright, golden, brassy and unable to be ignored.
Eddie Cantor would get the way they deliver their punchline.

The boldest of all are these tiny little Daffodils.

Daffodils "Tete a Tete"
They flower regularly
in time for Daffodil Day

A close up.
My "Tete a Tete" Daffodils do not flower as
multi-headed Daffs, as they are supposed to do.
They probably need a good feed, or to be 'divided"
A traditional golden and orange Daffodil
Nice and bright, but they do not increase well
J.T. Bennett Poe
a gorgeously elegant flower
Very fine, but subtle.

A cluster of these Daffodils
right beside my front path,
so I cannot "miss" them.
I bought most of my Daffodils from J.N. Hancock and Co 
My father recommended them to me, and seeing as they have been growing "Daffodils of Distinction" since 1917, that seems an entirely sensible thing to continue doing.
I am a traditionalist when it comes to supporting old family Nurseries.
There is too much change in the world.
Lets support people who know what they are doing, and who do it well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If you're not pissed off at the world, then you're just not paying attention

I found this reference the other day, and I was totally impressed with the quote (above).
OK, there is some ambiguity, as I am not "pissed off" at the natural world, but certainly I am pissed off with the political world and the human society.

And I know I am not alone in that.

A perfect little Maroonhood Orchid
I don't have a problem with this.

Kasey Chambers "Ignorance" lyrics.

Don't wanna read the paper
I don't like bad news
Last night a man got shot
Outside the house of blues
I'd like to ignore it
I'd like to just pretend
That the reason for it
Is something I can comprehend

I don't listen to the radio

Last time it made me cry
Two boys went crazy
Fifteen kids died

And I don't know their families

I don't ask 'em how they're going
They're on the other side of the world
But it's way too close to home

I've got something to say
And I thought it might be worth a mention
If you're not pissed off at the world
Then you're just not paying attention

And you can turn off the TV

And go about your day
But just 'cos you don't see it
It don't mean its gone away hey

We don't talk to our neighbours

They've got funny coloured skin
We see 'em out on the sidewalk
But we don't invite 'em in

We only eat when we're hungry

And we throw the rest away
While babies in Cambodia
Are starving everyday

We risk our lives

We hit our wives
We act like everything is funny
We hide our pain

While we go insane

We sell our souls for money
We curse our mums
We build our bombs
We make our children cry
We watch the band
While Vietnam
Just watch their children die

Copied from

Listen to her singing it here

Visitors from Gloucester, NSW

This morning I was having my regular Coffee, at Cafe Pirouette, and reading the paper, (in the sunshine outside the building) when a gentleman poked his head out and asked: "Is Denis Wilson here?".

He introduced himself as Rod Besier. I knew straight away who he was, so I responded to his wife by saying "so you must be Robin Besier". We shook hands, laughed a bit and got straight into swapping notes about the campaign against coal, coal seam gas, and in favour of protecting rivers. What a pleasant way to start a conversation.

Rod and Robin Besier
outside Cafe Pirouette in Robertson

Me with Rod and Robin Besier
Photo courtesy of Monica.
Under the name of "Save Gloucester", Rod and Robin Besier have become self-appointed media monitors for the Gloucester Region, including the Barrington Tops area, and the Manning River catchment. They circulate their postings and other intelligence, via the "Coal Communities" chat list, and I get regular updates from them, which I then sort through and circulate the most relevant "water" issues to the Australian Water Campaigners group, and other selected contacts. This system has worked extremely well, for more than a year. So, we were off to a good start.

I ducked home to get my camera, for some "happy snaps", and then proposed we go for a quick drive around the village.

"The Rocky Hill Horror Show"
"Not another BLOODY mine in Gloucester"

I suggested that I take them for a short drive to show them the best view in the district - overlooking the Macquarie Pass, and Lake Illawarra and Port Kembla. We stopped outside Woody and Kirsten's farm, appropriately adorned with a Shoo Cockatoo sign already. Rod added one of his Bumper Stickers to the fence.
The Rocky Hill sign from Gloucester
with the local "No Coal or Coal Seam Gas" sign
on the farm fence above Macquarie Pass,
courtesy of "Shoo Cockatoo"

A "before and after" image
opposing the Rocky Hill mine in Gloucester.
Lake Illawarra and the Tasman Sea are visible beyond
the Macquarie Pass escarpment (just below us).
Rod and Robin have spread their media monitoring net much wider in recent times, and monitor just about everything that Alan Jones says about water, coal and coals seam gas, (plus his favourite hobby-horse of Political Staffers who have switched over to advising the Mining Industry). In this issue Alan Jones skirts the word corruption, but only just. I follow his lead on that.

We swapped a few more stories, then Rod and Robin set off for Bowral, Sydney and the M7 which I am reliably informed leads to places the other side of Gotham City. As far as I am concerned, all maps of points beyond that ought be marked "Thar be Dragons".

Monday, August 20, 2012

Orchids at Heathcote corner of Royal NP

The Royal National Park is so large that it is extremely varied with its "treasures". A fellow Orchid enthusiast offered to show me a few places he knows about - just on the edge of the Royal, at Heathcote. Thanks Tony. My photos are not a patch on Tony's, unfortunately.

We started with a small patch of open grassland, beside a track, within walking distance of the Heathcote Railway Station.
Glossodia minor - an early flowering spring Orchid
Here is a Diuris we found flowering - the one and only.
The first Diuris I have seen this year.
Diuris maculata - the Spotted Double-tailed Orchid
Side view of Diuris maculata
the lateral sepals on this species
bend backwards under the flower
From the rear view,
the "ears" of Diuris maculata
show a series of small brown streaks or spots.

We then left that area, and drove to the strangely named "Bottle Forest", just a few kilometres away.

We saw a number of leaves (only) of Pyrorchis nigricans but literally hundreds of leaves of Acianthus species and Corybas/Corysanthes Orchids. Then Tony took me to a place where he knew we could find the dainty Mayfly Orchid, Nemacianthus caudatus We only found one of these tiny flowers, but hey, that's enough to show you why it earns the name of Mayfly Orchid.

Leaf of Pyrorchis nigricans
Note the red margins of the leaf.
These plants are named for
their propensity to flower
the year after the area where they live being burnt.
Clearly not flowering in this area, not this year.

A nice set of fresh leaves of
Pyrorchis nigricans

The dainty Mayfly Orchid,
Nemacianthus caudatus

This Orchid is clearly related to
the more common Acianthus Orchids.

This photo is here to show
how hard these plants are to see
amongst the leaf litter on the forest floor..
Look for the flowers silhouetted
against a dead Gum Leaf.
Nemacianthus caudatus

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Early-flowering Orchids of Macquarie Pass and Albion Park

This morning I took my Orchid colleague, Bruce Smith down the hill, to Macquarie Pass, and on to Croom Reserve, at Albion Park, to see some of the local Orchids.
Pterostylis hildae

Pterostylis hildae

Pterostylis hildae
A lovely dark specimen of the Maroonhood, Pterostylis pedunculata
Pterostylis pedunculata

Pterostylis pedunculata

Pterostylis pedunculata

Bruce photographing a nice specimen of Pt. curta.

Pterostylis curta,
showing its famous twisted labellum

Pterostylis curta,
showing its famous twisted labellum
and in this case the "pollinia" are visible

Pterostylis curta,
this species has much fatter "bum"
than Pterostylis hildae
 Just a few of these small-flowered Black-tipped Greenhoods were in flower.
Hymenochilus bicolor

A nice grouping of Hymenochilus bicolor