Officially, it’s the start of Autumn, but Summer is not quite ready to give up her reign, with a run of temperatures in the early to mid-thirties and quite high humidity over the past few weeks, though it has cooled off the last two days! It’s been wonderful for beach visits and sunbaking pumpkins! We have discovered a beautiful cooling swimming hole in the bend of the Bega River as it enters the sea!We have finally harvested the Jap pumpkins! Here they are soaking up the last of the Summer sun before joining their cousins in the shed. The late warmth is also great for extending the growing season of our plants – I may yet get to view some of the new Dahlia flowers. The first flowerbuds are already forming!The Autumn raspberry crop is in full production- we have actually been able to feast on THREE raspberry fruits each at the one picking on one occasion! Luxury!!! The tomatoes and capsicums are still very productive.The northern vegie bed has been planted up with its last vegetables for the season before the Winter shade : new carrots, lettuce and spinach with potatoes on the left and raspberries on the trellis at the back.We may yet get our 2nd potato crop of Dutch Creams, so long as the 28-spotted lady beetle doesn’t decimate the foliage first! All the organic gurus advise that the best way to control them is to handpick off the ladybirds and their eggs and larvae, then squash them or drown them in a small amount of methylated spirits. Quite a task, but necessary, as we don’t want to kill all the ‘good’ ladybirds and other beneficial insects! There is such an amazing diversity of wondrous insects in our garden. Whenever we venture down into the garden, we are assaulted by masses of butterflies from white Cabbage Moths flitting madly from plant to plant; The more humble browns sitting quietly on foliage; And majestic courting Orchard Butterflies chasing each other around the garden. We also discovered this precious little spotted moth and a stunning striped metallic green fly! The colourful zinnias host some equally stunning red and black beetles; While the roses are home to grasshoppers and tiny spiders:Here is our old friend, The Blue-banded Bee, pollinating the Gaura in the Soho Bed. I can’t wait to discover the creators of these leaf cocoons high up in the Kurrajong tree.The abundance of insect life provides food for those higher up the food chain. This little brown frog hunts at night-time, while a variety of birds enchant us during the day. Now that the big boys of the Cockatoo family have finished their fruit-picking season, the smaller birds have reappeared. They especially love the birdbath on these hot days and often a number of different species will be taking the waters together!
We often see a pair of resident Eastern Spinebills (first 3 photos) and a lone Yellow-faced Honeyeater bathing or foraging for food together. The last 3 photos are of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (2 photos of an immature bird and the last an adult Honeyeater)
We saw a New Holland Honeyeater partaking of the birdbath for the first time yesterday.We have also watched a myriad of other small birds plunging in for a refreshing dip including : both Yellow (1st photo) and Brown Thornbills (2nd and 3rd photo). Other little birds include a White-throated Scrub Wren, Silver-Eyes and a Grey Fantail (photo below); A flock of Double-barred Finches has been grazing on the lawn.Larger birds like female Blackbirds and Bower Birds are also attracted to the birdbath for a cool drink. We have heard the call of a Golden Whistler from the bottom of the garden, but have been unable to locate it yet, but I did finally see and photograph our cuckoo baby, an immature Common Koel, whose incessant calls plagued us last month and I am gradually improving on my attempts to capture the Gang-Gang fly-past! Because this new camera has been upgraded from a 20x zoom to a 30x zoom, I am still learning how to control it, especially for objects in close or mid-range, which often end up blurred! It is however perfect for long-distance shots like the cuckoo, flying birds and even the moon!!! Back on earth, its namesake, the Moon Bed, is looking so established now. The David Austin roses are positively romping and the daisies are in full bloom. We planted a blue-purple flowering Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’, bought recently at the Lanyon Plant Fair, between William Morris and Lucetta and next to the daisy and their colours complement each other perfectly! All the roses are blooming so profusely- it is almost like they know Winter is coming!!! The first 3 photos are of my favourite Jude the Obscure, followed by Golden Celebration (photo 4), Troilus (photo 5), Heritage (photo 6) and Lucetta (last 2 photos). The Soho Bed is also full of colour and scent. I love the golden-orange Lolita, as you can see in the 3 photos below!
Elsewhere in the garden, Alister Stella Gray (photo 1), Penelope (photo 2) and Devoniensis (photo 3) are also in full bloom.Here are some photos of this month’s bouquets.
The Cutting Garden is still ablaze with sizzling Zinnias, sprawling orange dahlias and intense purple and softer mauve cosmos. Nearby the rhododendron throws out a beautiful red bloom.The bright orange cannas glow like flames in the late afternoon sun. The Banksia is laden with golden candles and the protea is forming pink buds. The hydrangea bed provides a cooling respite on these hot days. I love the delicate mauve and white flowers of the feral Duranta. The white Nerine bulbs are gearing up for next month, as is the Tree Dahlia. Fortunately, we have not had last year’s windy weather, when we were constantly having to support the long canes. Instead, Ross has been attaching the long side-runners to the top of the new pergola. It’s a tricky job, as he is using recycled timber of different lengths and has had to mortise beams together to achieve the full 5m length. He has done a wonderful job! All those years of building cattle yards and fencing have stood him in good stead!
Meanwhile, I have been creating another cushion cover for my highly creative and artistic friend Heather, who visited us for her birthday last weekend. As Heather loves colour and abstract art, I used a design by Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), who was a Ukrainian-born French artist, who founded Simultanism, a branch of Orphism, with her husband Robert Delaunay. She painted abstract pictures with colour rhythms, as well as designing textiles, fashion garments and stage sets. She was a thoroughly modern, independent, highly creative and versatile woman, who was a friend of Kandinsky and Chagall, so she is a perfect match for my friend! For more information about this fascinating artist, see : http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/mar/27/sonia-delaunay-avant-garde-queen-art-fashion-vibrant-tate-modern and http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/13/sonia-delaunay-tate-modern-london-review
It was an interesting and challenging design, involving many small pieces of felt and lots of decision-making about thread colour and embroidery stitch type, so as not to detract from the original design. I have also started some embroidered calico patches depicting Australian animals, which I will later attach to a cushion cover. I will show you some photos next month, when I have done a few more! It’s time-consuming, but fun! Luckily, the Easter break is coming up!!! Happy Easter!!!