Feature Plant for April: Versatile Salvias

Flowering Salvias are my new passion and are my feature plant for April, even though May has just begun!!! While I have always known about the culinary herb sage, Salvia  officinalis, with its fragrant grey-green leaves and spikes of pretty mauve flowers (photo below), I knew very little about its flowering cousins. In fact, I don’t think that they were even on my radar until we lived down south.BlogSalvias2514-11-26 16.37.51 My first introduction to them was the Salvia Collection in the Geelong Botanic Gardens in 2012 (photo below), so when we were developing our new garden in Candelo, salvias were definitely on the list of desired plants!BlogSalvias50%IMG_1550 While I have bought the odd specimen, most of my salvias have been struck from cuttings from my sister’s gardens and while some of the seedlings from plants in her South East Queensland garden have since died, all the ones from her Tenterfield garden are flourishing, due to their ability to either withstand or recuperate from frost! The photo below shows my salvia collection in my Moon Bed.BlogSalvias3018-02-08 08.29.28Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family (Laminaceae)  and includes over 900 species from herbaceous shrubs to perennials, biennials and annuals, and there is a salvia for every climate, environment, season and gardening style! The photo below features salvias with their cousins Mint and Lavender.BlogSalvias2517-12-09 17.57.14Salvias come in a huge variety of form and flower colour, including blue, mauve, cerise, pink, red, white, yellow and orange. Most types bloom from Spring through Summer to Autumn, though there are some Winter-flowering salvias from the cool, mountainous areas of Central and South America.

The genus is distributed throughout Eurasia and the Americas with three distinct hot spots of diversity with 500 species in Central and South America; 250 species in Central Asia and the Mediterranean and 90 species in Eastern Asia. Many species and hybrids easily interbreed, so new cultivated varieties are constantly appearing, resulting in its huge diversity and climatic tolerance. Below is a photo of all the different types of salvias in our garden.BlogSalvias2518-01-31 12.01.00Types:

I have to admit I get very confused when it comes to identifying sages, but here are the names of some of the salvias we grow!

Salvia microphylla, Small-Leafed Sage or Baby Sage or Mountain Sage

One of my favourites for its generosity, being  constantly in bloom, their light airy flowers complementing the roses, both in the garden and in the vase! It has tiny dark green leaves, as indicated by its species name ‘microphylla’ meaning ‘small leaves’, which have a fresh fruity fragrance like those of black currants, giving it its final name, Black Currant Sage.BlogSalvias3018-02-08 08.30.27-2However, it is a very complex species which easily hybridizes, resulting in a huge number hybrids and cultivars, making it very difficult to identify accurately. It has a wide colour range from magentas to rose pink and reds.  Unfortunately, because all my forms were produced from cuttings from my sister’s garden,  I am a bit hazy about their names!

One variety I do know for sure is the unmistakeable bicolour red and white form called ‘Hot Lips’, though it will also throw pure white and pure red blooms.BlogSalvias2017-04-23 18.31.24 Apparently, its  flower colour varies with the weather and water and nutrient availability. Cooler weather and  more nutrients and water result in more red flowers, while heat and nutrient stress in warmer Summer weather results in the blooms turning white.BlogSalvias2518-01-31 12.00.18However, I have a major problem identifying my magenta and deeper red salvias and I’m not the only one! Apparently, Salvia microphylla is often confused with Autumn Sage, S. greggii, with which it frequently hybridizes. Maybe, one of my readers can help me? Here are some photos!

The magenta variety with small fragrant leaves and dark stems:BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-140BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.06.45The red variety with larger more deeply veined rounded leaves and dark stems:BlogSalvias4018-03-29 09.59.08The photo below shows the differences between both varieties: magenta on top, red on the bottom.BlogSalvias2518-01-31 11.59.58However, I do know my Pineapple Sage, S. elegans, especially because it was labelled when I bought it from a nursery!!! I love the pineapple scent of its long, light green pointed leaves and have planted one at the top of my new herb garden next to the path, so that every time the gas bottles are changed, there will be a whiff of its beautiful fragrance! It bears spires of bright red flowers which are highly attractive to birds and butterflies and which bloom for a long time! Growing to 1.5 to 1.8 metres high, it is frost tolerant, though it is more compact in colder climates.BlogSalvias2518-04-11 09.23.54I am a bit more definite about my blue salvias!

‘Indigo Spires’, another labelled nursery purchase, is a hybrid cross between S. longispicata and S. farinacea. It is a large shrub, at 1.5 metres tall and 1 metre wide, and has 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 inches) long spikes of purple-blue velvety flowers, from early Summer through to late Autumn. While easy to grow, it is not frost tolerant, but it does regrow after frost.BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.10.26BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-129Salvia uliginosa, Bog Salvia, is another tall prolific flowerer, bearing clear sky blue flowers on long stalks all Summer and Autumn. It is one of the few salvias, which likes wet feet, though it will still grow in dry conditions, though probably not as tall and unruly!BlogSalvias3018-03-03 10.09.25-2BlogSalvias25%IMG_4994I think my third blue salvia is Salvia x chamelaeagnea “African Sky”, a cross between two South African species, Salvia scabra and Salvia chamelaeagnea. It has leathery sticky stems and leaves and beautiful soft azure blue flowers on long floppy spikes from late Spring to Autumn.BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.08.53BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-78BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.09.22Three more blue salvia species I would love to grow and photographed below in order are:

Salvia nemorosa ssp tesquicola with spikes of rich violet flowers set in large lilac bracts from late Spring until Autumn; Gentian Sage, Salvia patens, with its royal blue flowers; and  the attractive Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ with its lime green calyces and electric blue flowers and lime green calyces.BlogSalvias2514-11-26 16.27.12BlogSalvias20%IMG_0532BlogSalvias2014-04-06 12.28.16And then, there is the monstrous Rose Leaf Sage, Salvia involucrata Bethelii! This was one of the cuttings I took from my sister’s subtropical garden in South-East Queensland and because I lost its identifying tag, I mistakenly planted it in the Moon Bed, where it then proceeded to grow like Jack-and-the-Bean Stalk, engulfing my poor roses and totally dominating the garden bed! It would have been at least 2.5 metres tall, though they can grow up to 4 metres tall and 1 metre wide!BlogSalvias2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogSalvias2017-04-28 11.50.54It has heart-shaped, long-stalked leaves to 10cm in length and  5cm long, tubular, two-lipped, deep cerise pink flowers, with conspicuous rose-pink bracts, that give it its common name, Roseleaf Sage, and which fall off as the flowers grow bigger. BlogSalvias2017-05-15 15.43.17The Eastern Spinebills LOVED it! This salvia does get frosted, so we propagated some more cuttings last year and this time, we planted them against the fence behind the Moon Bed, where they were free to romp to their hearts’ delight!BlogSalvias2017-05-23 11.54.54BlogSalvias2017-05-23 11.56.26-1For anyone interested in knowing more about the different types of  salvias, it is well worth visiting the Nobelius Heritage Park in Emerald, Victoria, where the Salvia Study Group of Victoria has a wonderful display garden. See: http://salvias.org.au/about-us/. They have a wonderful website, with descriptions of all the different salvia varieties and their suitability for different climates (http://salvias.org.au/lists-of-salvias/) , as well as an excellent Links page (http://salvias.org.au/links/) with links to other sites like: http://www.robinssalvias.com/ (UK); and http://salvias.com.ar/ (Argentina). Another good website is: http://www.salviaspecialist.com/catalog/.

BlogSalvias20%DSCN0753Cultivation and Uses:

Most salvias love well-drained soil and full sun or semi-shade, with some tolerating cold temperatures and frost. Many are drought-tolerant. They are long-flowering, easy to propagate and easy to grow, providing copious nectar for bees and birds. In fact, the labiate design of the salvia flower includes a bottom lip which makes a perfect landing pad for bees. For more about their flower anatomy, see: http://www.worldofsalvias.com/flower1.htm.

BlogSalvias2518-03-29 10.08.10Our salvias are full of the constant buzz of bees from dawn to dusk every day! I particularly love watching the Blue-Banded Bees, Amegilla cingulata, which positively adore the Bog Salvia, though they will never sit still long enough for a decent photograph!BlogSalvias2518-04-05 10.17.44BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-54 Butterflies and beetles also love the salvias!BlogSalvias2518-03-03 09.55.57-3BlogSalvias2518-03-31 16.17.24-2BlogSalvias2518-03-03 09.56.28-1BlogSalvias2017-02-09 10.13.43So, salvias are fabulous for encouraging pollinators in the garden! BlogSalvias2518-03-03 10.01.09I also love using them in floral arrangements as fillers and dots of delicate colour, though the flowers of the Bog Salvia often start falling the first day and the flowering stems of the Indigo Spires salvia wilt easily the minute they are cut from the plant! Nevertheless, both provide beautiful colour and contrast in both pastel and bright floral arrangements.BlogSalvias2518-04-14 15.52.44BlogSalvias2518-04-03 08.39.26Culinary Sage, Salvia officinalis, has a long history in the kitchen, being the main ingredient in stuffings for goose and pork dishes, as well as flavouring soups and pâtés.BlogSalvias20%2016-01-01 00.00.00-102.jpg The leaves can be made into a tea for colds and sore throats and gum disease. In fact, ancient herbalists used salvia to cure a multitude of ailments from snake bite to epilepsy, the genus name, ‘Salvia’  deriving from the Latin ‘salvare’, a reference to the plant’s ability to heal. It is also said to enhance memory and lift the mood. See: https://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/sage-medicinal-salvia.php.

Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea, also has a strong tradition of medicinal use, the essential oil being used to treat menstrual pain and hormonal imbalances, depression, anxiety and  insomnia, stomach and digestive problems, and kidney complaints. See:  https://draxe.com/clary-sage.

Salvia chamelaeagnea is used to treat colds and coughs, colic and heartburn in the Cape region of South Africa, while the roots of Red Sage, Salvia miltiorrhiza, are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine to treat cardiovascular disease and chronic renal failure. In Mexico, Salvia microphylla is used as a medicinal and tea plant, while Diviner’s Sage, S. divinorum, is a psychedelic drug , which was used by Mazatec shamans to produce hallucinations and altered states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions. White Sage, Salvia apiana, was also used in religious ceremonies and purification rituals by Native Americans tribes on the Pacific coast of the United States. The seed is the main ingredient in pinole, a staple food and was also ground into a sticky paste for removing foreign objects from the eye, much in the same way as the Europeans did with Clary Sage. Other medicinal uses include the treatment of colds and fevers, stomach upsets, heavy or painful menstruation and  to promote healing and strength after childbirth. See: http://www.herbcottage.com.au/white-sage.html.

All in all, Salvias are a very useful and beautiful addition to the garden! Next week, I will tell you a little more about our recent trip to Victoria, in which we explored a number of gardens, including the Salvia Display Gardens, mentioned previously in this post!

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Bountiful Beautiful Butterfly Bushes: Buddleias: January’s Feature Plant

My first monthly feature plant for the year are the beautiful, bountiful buddleias, which are in full bloom this month. Also spelt Buddlejas and known as Butterfly Bush, due to its popularity with butterflies; Summer Lilac and Bombsite Plant (see later), they were named by Linnaeus after Reverend Adam Buddle (1660-1715), an English botanist and taxonomist, who produced 36 volumes dedicated to British native flora (volumes 14 to 36 about mosses alone)!BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-11 09.56.33They belong to the Foxglove family Scrophulariaceae (Buddlejaceae), with the genus containing at least 100 species (some sources number 140) and numerous decorative cultivars. They hail from four continents: Asia; North and South America: 60 species from Southern USA to Chile; and Africa, with no buddleias native to Europe or Australasia.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-10 19.02.53Please note that because I inherited my buddleias, which were already well-established in our garden, when we arrived, I do not know their names, though I assume they are all forms of B. davidii, hence my photographs will be identified solely by their colour!

While I will try to be consistent with my spelling, generally restricting myself to using ‘buddleia’, the odd ‘buddleja’ might still slip in, especially when the latter spelling is used in the names of plants or plant collections!

Description

Large, sprawling, deciduous (temperate climes) or evergreen shrubs (tropical areas) shrubs, usually less than 5 metres tall, though they can reach 9 metres tall.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-03 10.24.44Long, narrow, lanceolate leaves, arranged in opposite pairs, except for B. alternifolia, in which the leaves are arranged alternately. Leaf size varies from 1 to 30 cm long. The leaves are often crepe-textured with pale, sometimes downy, undersides. Some species are silvery grey, while others are a dull matte green.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.24.57Buddleias are grown for their flowers. Many have long, nectar-rich flower spikes, but some occur in spherical heads or loose clusters. The Asiatic species have terminal panicles, 10 to 50 cm long, and tend to be pastel pink or mauve, while the American species have cymes, forming small globose heads, which are often red, orange or yellow. Many cultivars have deeper colours, including a rich reddish-purple.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.47.45 Each individual flower is tubular and divided into four spreading lobes (petals), 3 to 4 mm across. The corolla length again varies according to the species. Asiatic species have a 10 mm long corolla, while American species vary from 3 to 30 mm, the latter having long red flowers, pollinated exclusively by hummingbirds. Some species are fragrant and strongly honey-scented, attracting not only butterflies, but also moths and bees.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.40.29Flowering times vary according to the species, but generally they flower from Spring to Autumn. We had our first bloom in mid-November last year.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-05 17.17.59The fruit is a small capsule, 1 cm long and 1 to 2 mm diameter with numerous small seeds.

Use and Care

Buddleias are usually grown for their flowers, as a feature plant and as a butterfly food plant, though B. davidii yields dyes (black and green from mixed flowers, leaves and stems, while the flowers alone produce an orange-gold to brown colour); and B. officinalis and B. asiaticum are used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine and. See: http://www.chineseherbshealing.com/butterfly-bush/.

They are extremely hardy and tough, the deciduous species being hardier than the evergreens, though none will tolerate prolonged severe Winters. They are incredibly easy to grow and undemanding, tolerating salty air, drought, shade, urban pollution and most soil types, though they have a preference for chalky and limey soils.

Best in full sun on a moist, fertile well-drained soil, they grow incredibly quickly and some species can become invasive (more later).

They spread easily by seed and can be propagated easily by half-hardened soft wood cuttings taken in late Spring and early Summer. Cut a 15 cm new shoot, just as it is beginning to harden up, trim below the leaf node and nip out the top, then remove any large leaves. Dip the cut end into hormone rooting powder or honey (though it really doesn’t need it!) and plant in a 50/50 mixture of horticultural sand and compost.

They should be deadheaded constantly throughout the flowering season to encourage more flowers and prevent self-seeding and then pruned back to within 3 to 6 inches of the old wood in very early Spring, around crocus time, removing all dead wood. I am referring to the most common Butterfly Bush, B. davidii, here.

Pests include capsid bugs, caterpillars, nematodes (when grown in sandy soils) and red spider mite (especially during droughts). Neem Oil is a good organic treatment for all infestations. Buddleias can also experience root rot, if growing in swampy ground, and downy mildew, if grown in a cool climate with extended periods of rain.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.16.16Species and Cultivars

B. globosa : Orange Ball Tree

See: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/2453/Buddleja-globosa/Details

Buddleias are mostly 20th century plants, except for Buddleja globosa, which was introduced to Britain from Chile in 1774. It is semi-evergreen, 5m tall and wide, and produces highly fragrant, honey-scented, orange globular inflorescences on branches from the previous season’s growth.

B. colvilei : Himalayan Butterfly Bush/ Tree Buddleia See: https://lambley.com.au/plant/buddleja-colvilei and http://www.louistheplantgeek.com/a-gardening-journal/802-buddleja-colvilei.

2 to 6 metres tall deciduous shrub or small tree with dark pink flowers in Summer.

B. paniculata   See: http://www.buddlejacollection.com/plants/paniculata/

Deciduous 6 metre tall shrub from East Asia and Northern India.

B. alternifolia:    Weeping Butterfly Bush/ Alternate-Leaved Butterfly Bush or Fountain Butterfly Bush

A weeping, semi-deciduous, 5 metre tall shrub, native to North-West China (Kansu), which also produces flowers on older wood, and whose leaves are arranged alternately along the stems. For an image, see: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/2441/Buddleja-alternifolia/Details and https://lambley.com.au/plant/buddleja-alternifolia-argentea.

B. asiatica:      Bai Bei Feng     or Dog Tail/ Asian Butterfly Bush.

See: https://wildlifeofhawaii.com/flowers/904/buddleja-asiatica-dogtail/

A 3 metre tall and wide evergreen shrub, whose dried and powdered root is used to make a fermented liquor, used as an abortifacient and to treat skin problems in traditional Chinese medicine.

B. officinalis:  Mi Meng Hua

See: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/85046/Buddleja-officinalis/Details

A 2.5 to 4 metre tall, early Spring-flowering, semi-evergreen shrub, native to East Asia and Western China, whose flowers (dried or fresh) are used to make a tea used in the treatment of ophthalmic conditions eg Corneal Opacity; Glaucoma and Nebula. The leaves, flowers and roots contain a large variety of flavonoid, triterpenoid and iridoid glycosides, which have been shown to repair damaged cell membrane of lens, prevent protein denaturation in the lens, reduce lens opacity and restore vision.

In traditional Korean medicine, the flowers and flower buds are also used to treat eye problems, as well as cramps and spasms caused by problems with the intestine, bladder or stomach eg Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The leaves are used to treat gonorrhoea, hepatitis and hernias.

The flowers of B.officinalis are also used to dye rice yellow in sticky rice dish, Hao Leng, and Five Coloured Rice, Wu Se Fan.BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.17.04B. davidii (B. variabilis)

The most popular cultivated Buddleia species and a semi-evergreen, open arching shrub, 1.2 to 4.6 metres tall and wide. It is native to Central China (Sichuan and Hubei provinces) and Japan.

It was introduced to Kew in 1896 (180 years after Buddle’s death) and was named after another clergyman, a French missionary called Père Armand David (1826-1900), who travelled over 7000 miles by foot in Asia and was the first European to see it flowering on stony rocky slopes in China. David collected 1500 plants in his travels, including 250 new species and 11 new genera, including the Handkerchief Tree, Davidia involucrata.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.44.01B. davidii is highly invasive and colonises dry open ground very quickly, including railway track sidings (see http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28196221); derelict factories and urban bombsites, hence its name, the Bombsite Plant.

Both the species and its cultivars have been banned in many states in the United States of America (eg Oregon and Washington), and it certainly has naturalised very successfully in Northern Australia.

There are interspecific hybrids like Buddleja ‘Lochinch’, a cross between B. davidii and B. fallowiana; and B. x weyeriana, a cross between B. davidii and B. globosa; and at least 180 B. davidii cultivars.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-02 19.04.05Some of the most popular garden cultivars are Royal Red (rich magenta), Black Knight (dark purple) and Empire Blue (small blue spikes), all three being taller older varieties, as well as Sungold (golden yellow) and Pink Delight, the latter bred in Holland in 1990, a compact shrub with silvery foliage and fragrant long, pure pink flower spikes. Dartmouth is another tall hybrid, 5 metres tall, with magenta-purple hand-shaped blooms, whose spikes radiate from one ‘palm’.

There are compact varieties, suitable for smaller gardens, like the pink Peacock ; Purple Emperor; Adonis Blue; Marbled White; and Camberwell Beauty (like a dwarf Dartmoor), the last four named after British butterflies. Nanho Blue (blue) and Nanho Purple (purple) are both dainty hybrids, only 1.5 metres tall, with delicate long slender flower spikes.

Other hybrids include: African Queen (dark purple); Blue Horizon (clear blue); Petite Indigo (lavender- blue); Darent Valley, Nanho White, White Profusion and White Bouquet– all white; and Opera (pink). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Buddleja_hybrids_and_cultivars; and https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/butterfly-bush-buddleia-davidii-plant-buddleja for more species and hybrids.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.32.16In the United Kingdom, there are 4 NCCPG national collections, including:

Peter Moore (http://bredbypetermoore.co.uk/) of Longstock Park Nursery (https://leckfordestate.co.uk/nursery) has been breeding more compact (1 to 2 meters tall), sterile buddleias for over 20 years, which flower for a longer period without self-seeding. He produces 50 Buddleia crosses each year, trialling the most promising hybrids in the garden, and spends 10 hours every week, deadheading all the Buddleias in the collection. Longstock Park Nursery has two Plant Heritage Collections, one of Clematis viticella, the other of Buddleias, as well as holding the Gilchrist Collection of Penstemons.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.28.19The Buddleja Collection started as a deer- and rabbit-proof screening hedge along the old tennis court and now contains 160 species and cultivars, some of them tender. The aim is to conserve, grow, document and celebrate buddlejas growing in the United Kingdom. See :https://leckfordestate.co.uk/nursery-plants/buddleja-stock-list for the stock list of Buddlejas held.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.39.19The collection includes:

Sugar Plum: a compact form of B. davidii, with the reddest flowers of all buddleias;

Pink Pagoda: a pale pink form of B. x weyeriana;

Blue Chip: 0.6 to 0.9 metre high compact shrub with lavender-blue flowers with sterile seed; and

Silver Anniversary: A cross between B. loricata from South Africa and the lilac-pink B. crispa from Northern India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, with the best silver foliage of any hardy buddleja. See: http://www.buddlejacollection.com/collections/  for the whole collection. BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.30.47Here is another useful link for further reading on Buddlejas: http://www.buddlejagarden.co.uk/linx.html.

Next week, we are visiting the beautiful Murrah Lagoon!

 

The Festive Season 2017

It has been a wonderful festive season with the return of my daughter from Berlin for three weeks and long-awaited visits from old friends to relaxing lunches and beach trips on the warmer days, as well as plentiful rain, resulting in a blowsy overgrown garden, full of colour!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-15 17.43.06BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 08.39.13OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA While the roses are taking a break, except for the wonderfully generous Archiduc Joseph, the sunflower patch has been prolific and the honeysuckle has scaled the side fence.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 09.10.54OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe self-seeded pumpkin, tree dahlia and tree salvia are also heading to the heavens, the latter never missing a beat after its transplantation from the Moon Bed, and a remnant kiwi fruit vine hitching a ride on the tree dahlia!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-12 08.44.18BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.42.31Here is a sample of the plants in bloom this Summer:

Roses:

Left to Right and Top to Bottom:

Heritage, Archiduc Joseph (2 photos), Ice Girl, William Morris and The Children’s Rose:

White: Gardenias; Hydrangeas; and Madonna Lilies:

Purples and Pinks: Buddleias, Poppies, Hydrangeas, Geraniums, Bergamot and Dahlias;

Golds and Reds: Dahlias and Calendulas; Meadow Lea Dahlia and Gladioli; Ladybird Poppies and Alstroemeria; Red Dahlia and Pomegranate; and Sunflowers.

Hopefully, the flowers of the pomegranate will develop into fruit! We have had a wonderful fruit season with raspberries for breakfast every morning and now strawberries and plums.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 15.45.47BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.02.43BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-02 13.00.44BlogFestiveSeason2517-11-29 11.37.43We have also been harvesting the chamomile flowers daily to dry for a relaxing tea.BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-02 15.07.20BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 15.46.22 We only just caught the wild plums (photo above) in time after a mini-raid by a party of hungry Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos and are now watching the ripening of the purple plums with eagle eyes, in case they suffer the same fate!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-12 08.55.19 We are similarly vigilant with the apples (third photo), though the cockatoos have not yet discovered our Golden Hornet crab apples (first and second photos).BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-21 11.42.30BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-07 09.09.18OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Elder tree (Sambucus) is also growing fast and has blossomed for the first time. I look forward to using the flowers in future years to make elderflower cordial!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.44.36Here are some photos of the local inhabitants of the garden:

A blue-tongued lizard sunbaking; a butterfly resting and another butterfly feasting on a buddleia flower; and a happy snail exploring after rain :BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-04 09.42.27BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-04 08.53.00BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 15.42.58BlogFestiveSeason5017-12-02 13.02.37And the birds: Huge flocks of very noisy Little Corellas (photos 1 and 2), who wake us up every morning at 5 am (!); and a pair of Crimson Rosellas, grazing in the Soho Bed:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-23 18.04.09OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith all the wonderful colour in the garden, I have been spoilt for choice and have revelled in making beautiful bouquets for the house! Here is a bucket of freshly-cut blooms, ready for arranging!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-24 07.48.37From simple blue agapanthus to a single rose bloom (Lucetta):

Soft Pinks and Purples:BlogFestiveSeason2517-11-30 11.11.46BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 15.00.16BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-20 07.55.54And bright golds, oranges, reds and purples: BlogFestiveSeason2517-11-30 11.22.09BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 14.28.15BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-07 09.43.54BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-09 16.20.39-4BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 15.01.40To the vibrant colours of the Christmas table:BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-24 08.41.30BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-24 08.12.18Other creative pursuits included home-made Christmas gifts: a spectacle case for my Mum:BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.46.18 and a table runner for my friend Heather to compliment the set of Russian vintage wooden folk art spoons, which I found for her!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-04 17.35.51 We have also been loving the musical sessions with both my daughters, who are keen musicians and composers. Here is a photo of my youngest Caro playing at Bodalla Dairy.BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-10 14.31.30I will finish with a photo of our beautiful Christmas Tree!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your New Year!

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Two: Natural History Books : Birds and Butterflies

One of the wonderful benefits of a garden, apart from beautiful flowers and fresh home-grown food, are all its other inhabitants – the interesting insects and spiders, the beautiful butterflies and the amazing bird life! We are always finding something new, both in our garden and our explorations of this beautiful area, which is so rich in natural history! Because the insect world is so vast, we have yet to find a good general guide on Australian insects and possibly never will! I suspect that it is probably easier to research and identify them from internet sites like :

http://anic.ento.csiro.au/insectfamilies/ ;

https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Collections/ANIC/ID-Resources

http://www.ozanimals.com/australian-insect-index.html    and

https://australianmuseum.net.au/insects .

However, butterflies are a particular love of mine and there are a number of excellent publications!

I have always adored butterflies. They are such fragile ephemeral creatures, yet remarkably tough to survive at all and have such beautiful patterns, both as adults and caterpillars, and interesting life cycles, their emergence from their pupas being quite miraculous! While we have a number of butterflies in our garden here in Candelo, like the majestic Orchard Butterfly, we particularly loved their colourful cousins in Tropical North Queensland, like the iridescent-aqua Ulysses Butterfly, the pursuit of whose image resulted in my daughter falling through old rotten verandah boards and damaging her leg! In 2008, we were lucky enough to visit Iron Range National Park, a biological hotspot, not just for birds, but also butterflies, where we watched butterfly expert and James Cook University lecturer, Peter Valentine, in a crane, netting species in the tops of tall trees, while being kissed on our hands by salt-hungry butterflies – a very special moment! So, we could definitely identify with the author of this book:

An Obsession With Butterflies by Sharman Apt Russell 2003

This paperback is a fascinating read about equally fascinating creatures!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (554) - Copy

I learnt so much about them, including some of the following facts:

Butterflies belong to the Order Lepidoptera, which contains 18 000 known species of butterflies and 147 000 species of moths. This was back in 2003. There are more species identified now – see later!  Apparently, their appearance can morph within a gender; within different populations and habitats, and even within the same place at different times of the year, which makes identification a very difficult task indeed!!!

They have wonderful names like owls; birdwings; apollos; hamadryads; satyrs; jezebels; tortoiseshells; milkweeds; snouts; fritillaries; painted ladies, admirals, buckeyes, checkerspots ; crescents; moonbeams; brimstones; sulphurs; hairstreaks; swordtail flashes; metalmarks; coppers; cornelians; ceruleans; azures; oak blues;  imperial blues; emperors and even, white albatrosses.

In the Middle Ages, people believed buterfloeges were fairies in disguise, who stole butter, cream and milk.

Lord Rothschild (1868 – 1937) had a butterfly collection of 2.25 Million butterflies and moths, which he bequeathed to the British Museum, London, making it the largest collection in the world at that time.

2000 species of butterflies exhibit myrmecophily (a love of ants), where ants will maintain and protect larvae from parasitic wasp attack, in exchange for honeydew secreted by glands on the caterpillars eg. Bright Coppers and other blue butterfly species.

On emerging from its chrysalis, the Tiger Swallowtail engages in puddling or salt-drinking at muddy puddles with their bar buddies, who then practice hilltopping behaviour, where they congregate at the top of the hill to lie in wait for unsuspecting (or usually, not so unsuspecting) females to mate! While waiting, they engage in spiral territorial fights trying to establish dominance, all the while keeping a lookout for females! Not that different to humans really!

Monarch butterflies in Canada and Northern USA overwinter in Mexico. They can fly in clouds at altitudes as high as 3000 feet and as far as 50 miles a day. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9rZz3fILt4 and https://www.mexperience.com/travel/outdoors/monarch-butterflies-mexico/.

We also have migratory butterflies in Australia. See: http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Insects/Butterflies+and+moths/Common+species/Migratory+Butterflies#.WMh7e2fj_IU and https://australianmuseum.net.au/caper-white-butterfly.

I remember sitting on our east-facing verandah at Dorrigo and watching hordes of Caper Whites, flying west up the escarpment, then up over our roof and ever onward. And they weren’t just hill-topping- there were too many of them!!! If this book has whetted your appetite to know more about butterflies, it is worth obtaining a comprehensive guide.

We actually possess three : Butterflies of Australia by IFB Common and DF Waterhouse 1972/ 1981; The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by Michael F Braby 2004; and The Butterflies of Australia by Albert Orr and Roger Kitching 2010 . The first one is Ross’s old classic; the second, a more recent field guide, a perfect weight and size to carry with you on your butterfly walks; and the third and most recent, written by one of Ross’s ecology lecturers, when he studied environmental science at Griffith University, back in 1976 to 1978. This latter book is the one we tend to use most, so is the one I will discuss!

The Butterflies of Australia by Albert Orr and Roger Kitching 2010

This is an excellent book – very comprehensive, with clear readable text and lots of wonderful illustrations of butterflies in the field, reacting with their natural environment, rather than as dead museum specimens (the usual presentation in previous guides). If you can only own one butterfly guide, this is it!

As of 2010, in Australia, there are over 20 000 species of butterflies and moths, arranged in 82 families. The majority are moths, but the 400 species of butterflies are grouped in five families.

In Part One, the book discusses their anatomy; life cycle, reproduction, habitats, relationships with  plants and other animals and human impacts and butterfly gardening.

The larger Part Two is devoted to an in-depth discussion of each family, including identification notes about all the different species, including scientific name, size and habits, as well as a distribution map and illustrations of each species at each life cycle stage: egg, larvae (caterpillar); chrysalis (pupa); and adult male or female.

In the back is a list of butterfly books; journals; websites and societies; and two appendices : a checklist of Australian butterflies; and a list of larval host plants of Australian butterflies.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (518)

Birds

Another major interest is ornithology and we are so lucky here in Candelo with our beautiful bird population. Living high on the hill in amongst the old pepperina and loquat trees, we have an excellent vantage point for watching these amazing creatures, especially from our verandah. Not only do we have parrots and cockatoos in abundance, but also a number of smaller birds, like fairy wrens, finches and eastern spinebills, despite the high local population of cats!

Our immediate environment on the Far South Coast of New South Wales is very rich in birdlife as well, which I will write more about later in reference to local bird guides, but for now, a look at more general guides!

Every birdwatcher has their favourite bird book, which they believe is superior to all others! While my parents swore by Peter Slater and other ornithologists liked Graham Pizzey (both books, which we have owned in the past!), these days, we tend to refer to Simpson and Day as our first choice, followed by Michael Morecombe’s book for more detailed information and the Reader’s Digest Guide for top photographs.

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Simpson and Day   1984 – 1996     5th EditionBlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (505)

This is an excellent field guide with a waterproof cover, ideal for using outside! The introduction has a key to all the families and their page numbers, as well as a diagram of a bird’s body and information on bird identification using this book.

Most of the book is devoted to field notes about each bird species: its common and scientific names; abundance; movement (sedentary, annual or partial migratory and nomadic) ; description of males, females and juveniles; size; voice; and habitat, as well as excellent colour illustrations of each bird (male/ female/ immature/ races) and maps showing distribution (breeding/ non-breeding and vagrant, as well as boundary lines between races). Special identifiable features are also highlighted with black-and-white sketches of their hatchlings; head profiles; markings; tail patterns; eyes, bills and claws; or activity (display and courtship; flight; perching; calling; diving; stalking) for quick easy reference.

The Handbook in the last quarter of the book has detailed notes on the life cycle of birds; hints for bridwatchers; bird habitats in Australia; prehistoric birds; modern avifaunal regions; DNA – DNA hybridization;  and more information on the different bird families in Australia, including the breeding season for each species and further reading. There is also a rare bird bulletin; a checklist for Australian island territories; and a glossary of bird terminology.

Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe 2000BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (506)

While this book has very similar information, there are two major differences, which are very useful. Firstly, on the inside of the back cover (as well as in the introduction), there are colour tags for each family group with page numbers for quick reference, to which I constantly refer. And secondly, there is a large section in the back with 1000 colour illustrations of nests and eggs, showing the huge diversity in building techniques and aiding identification (photo below).

Accompanying the text are detailed notes on breeding season and location; courtship; nest material, shape and size; clutch and egg  size; incubation ;  fledging and leaving the nest. In the back is a section on migrant waders with a map of distribution;  a list of extinct birds and new discoveries; and references to bird books, magazines and prominent bird groups and schemes.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%Image (507)Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds 1976

The big advantage of this book is its wonderful photographs of birds in their natural environment, including amazing shots of birds feeding, wading, sitting on nests or feeding nestlings, but its large size means that it is certainly NOT a field guide! We have used this book so much that we are now on our second copy!

Part One starts with a map of altitudes; average annual rainfall and rainfall variability; and vegetation zones in Australia, then explores each bird habitat from rainforest, forest and woodland to scrubland, shrub steppe,  grassland, heathland, mangroves and wetlands.

In Part Two, each bird has either a full page or double page spread with wonderful photographs, general notes (often with interesting historical notes)and an italicized section specifying other names, the length and description of males, females and juveniles; voice; nesting and distribution, including a distribution map. Towards the end of this section are lists of rare visitors, escaped captives and unsuccessful introductions, as well as notes on the different orders and families of Australian birds.

Part Three is concerned with the life of birds: the behaviour which distinguishes species (locomotion; flight; finding food; adaptations to feeding; care of feathers; aggression displays;  and courtship rituals); migrants and nomads; regulation of bird numbers; prehistoric birds of Australia; and the origins of Australian birds. It is such an interesting book with a wealth of information about Australian birds.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (515)

The next two books are devoted to birds of the world and show the huge diversity and beauty of these incredible creatures.

Encyclopaedia of Birds edited by Joseph Forshaw 1998

While the primary focus is always on birds of your own country, it is great to learn more about their worldly cousins, especially if travelling overseas. The introduction looks at bird anatomy and classification; the evolution of birds from feathered dinosaurs 150 Million years ago; bird habitats and adaptations to their environment; bird behaviour and endangered species.

The remainder and majority of the book is devoted to the different orders and suborders of birds eg albatrosses and petrels; divers and grebes; herons and their allies; waterfowl and screamers; and waders and shorebirds.

Each section has key facts in an orange box: the name of the order; number of families; genera and species; the smallest and largest types and conservation status (though this information is probably outdated now!), as well as a world distribution map and detailed notes about each type of bird and lovely illustrations and photographs. For example, in Herons and their Allies,  there are notes on identification by bill shape and historical notes on the Sacred Ibis of Ancient Egyptians, as well as specific notes on herons, night herons, bitterns, storks, new world vultures, ibises, spoonbills and flamingos. Kingfishers and their Allies covers kingfishers, todies, motmots, bee-eaters, rollers, ground-rollers, courols, hoopoes, and hornbills.

It is a fascinating book with lots of birds, of which I have never even heard and is a great addition to our natural history library.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (552)

Birds of the World by Colin Harrison and Alan Greensmith 1993

Slightly different in approach to the previous book, this  pocket sized guide describes over 800 bird species of the world, with half and full page spreads devoted to each bird. Each entry has a colour-coded band on the top, specifying the family and species name and length with detailed descriptive notes, including their nests and distribution; terrific photographs annotated with key identification pointers; scale silhouettes to compare bird height with the size of this book; pictures of alternate plumage, a worldwide distribution map and a band at the bottom of the entry specifying plumage, habitat and migratory status.

There are also notes on the relationship between birds and humans over history; types of feathers; bird anatomy; bill shape; variation within species; nesting boxes and bird feeders and water containers; birdwatching in the field; identifying birds in flight; and a useful identification key. An excellent taster to the wonderful world of birds!

BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (550) - Copy

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an excellent website for bird information. See: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478 and https://www.allaboutbirds.org/. I discovered them, when researching Birds-of-Paradise. They have some wonderful video footage of the 39 species. See: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/search/?q=Birds%20of%20Paradise.

We would dearly love to see these beautiful birds in their natural environment in New Guinea one day!  In the meantime, we can satisfy our desire with the above videos and maybe one day, this bucket list book: Birds of New Guinea by Thane K. Pratt & Bruce M. Beehmer 2015 . See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/birds-of-new-guinea/fp9780691095639.aspx.

The following two books are useful guides to birdwatching locations, especially the second one, which focuses specifically on our local area.

Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia by Sue Taylor 2013

Having lived in the country for most of our life and being keen visitors to National Parks, we have never really had to think about where to see birds, but this book would have been very useful during our 2008 trip around Australia, as well as being of great value to city birdwatchers in planning their ornithological excursions.

We feel we have seen a fair bit of Australia and key birdwatching venues, so it was an interesting exercise to tick off the places which we had visited in the book, finding to our surprise that we’d only been to 46 out of the 100 places listed! Happily, there is obviously much more to see!!! We are looking forward to a desert trip one day to see more of our beautiful parrot species.

While Sue admits the choice of places was subjective, I agreed totally with many of her selections. How can we ever forget the vast flotillas of Black Swans at Tower Hill, Victoria; the huge diversity of waterfowl at Fogg Dam, near Darwin, and Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory, as well as at Parry’s Lagoon in Western Australia; the enormous flocks of Plumed Whistling Ducks and Magpie Geese at Hasties Swamp on the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland, nor the Eclectus Parrots, Palm Cockatoos, Magnificent Riflebirds and Sunbirds at Chilli Beach in Iron Range National Park and the delicate Jacanas, Blue-winged Kookaburras, Brolgas and Magpie Geese at Lakefield National Park, both areas on Cape York, North Queensland. We finally saw a Cassowary in the wild on our last bushwalk at Mission Beach; called and cuddled Providence Petrels out of the sky at Lord Howe Island; and visited Broome Bird Observatory in Western Australia. It was great seeing the inclusion of our old stamping ground at Lamington National Park and two local areas of our new home : Mogareeka Inlet and Green Cape.

There are beautiful photographs throughout the book of birds in their natural environment. It is a lovely book to own!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (508)

Birding Australia: Australian Edition 2008 by Lloyd Nielsen

A very similar book, which covers a much larger area, but doesn’t have the lovely bird photos of the previous book. It is very much a directory with maps, a brief description of each area, its climate, access/ directions and its birding highlights, as well as lists of key species and endemics; good birding spots and best times; suggested itineraries; regional field guides, CDs and DVDs; local bird groups, accommodation, tours and websites, and a table of times for first light, sunrise, sunset and last light for the first day of each month.

A very comprehensive book, which is backed up by the Birding Australia website:  http://www.birdingaustralia.com.au/.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (574)

Birdwatching on the Far South Coast New South Wales by Far South Coast Birdwatchers Inc 2008

Essential reading for birdwatchers on the Far South Coast of New South Wales! We are so lucky in this area to have a wide variety of habitats with many wonderful waterways from mountain and forest; lakes and rivers; and National Parks to agricultural land and dams and many coastal lagoons and beaches. We also have three designated birdwatching routes, which never fail to please, especially the dam and floodplains at Kalaru, near Tathra, which always have a multitude of waterbirds.

This useful small book, compiled by the local birdwatching group,  is divided into three sections: Places to Go; Birds to See; and Other Information. In Places to Go, each area is described, including access, favourite birdwatching spots; and the birds likely to be seen, as well as providing a handy map and random hints like binocular adjustment and care; what to do if you find a bird on the ground and the Birdwatchers’ Code of Ethics. Like with the previous book, while we have already explored many of the areas mentioned, we still have plenty of local excursions in the future!

The second section, Birds to See,  lists 300 species of birds in the Bega Valley, including its scientific name; residency and abundance status; the best spots to see them and other general notes.

The last section suggests useful books and websites; gives the contact details of the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS) and Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) and a few notes about dealing with ticks, mosquitoes, sandflies and leeches!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (509)

The next two books are very interesting reads about our Australian bird life.

The Lyrebird: A Natural History by Pauline Reilly 1988

My daughter based one of her science projects in Year 10 on Superb Lyrebirds, of which we had quite a large population on our rainforest block on the escarpment, adjoining Bellinger River National Park. We used this book extensively in her research for this project, as well as in the formulation of her experimental hypotheses.

She was particularly interested in their song, as male lyrebirds are superb mimics and will often go through an extensive repertoire of different bird calls to attract their mate. Armed with a tape recorder, Caro would tiptoe up on the birds, only to have them invariably go silent on her and glide off like Houdini into the bush, highly frustrating for her and by the end of it, I don’t think she wanted to see another lyrebird for a long while!

Nevertheless, she did get enough results to confirm Pauline Reilly’s assertion that the amount of time between between its own calls during the mimicry sequence is fixed and specific to each male, allowing their identification and ownership of territory.

However, her statement that lyrebirds do not mimic birds, which breed at the same time as themselves, was not supported by Caroline’s evidence, as she clearly recorded them mimicking Eastern Whipbirds in the subtropical rainforests of Dorrigo!

For anyone interested to know more about these fascinating birds, this book is a must! Chapters cover their origins and relationships; their distribution and annual cycle; descriptions of their physical appearance and  the roles of both males and females; immature lyrebirds; song and mimicry;  and random and interesting extra information. I have always loved Pauline’s story about the 1930s flute player, who used to play two popular songs of the time ,‘Mosquito Dance’ and ‘The Keel Row’,  near his pet lyrebird, who incorporated the tunes into his song, then passed them on to his descendants, who melded them together in their territorial calls, still heard in 1969.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (510)

Where Song Began by Tim Low 2014

Australia has so many fascinating and unusual birds from the lyrebirds with their amazing mimicry to the Satin Bowerbirds, which build courting platforms, decorated with entirely with blue tobacco flowers, cornflowers, pegs, milk bottle tops etc); the scrub turkeys and mallee fowl, which build enormous incubation mounds; the male emus and cassowaries, who raise the young; the Laughing Kookaburra, which eats snakes, the territorial magpie, nominated by Canadian biologist, the aptly named David Bird, as ‘the most serious avian menace in the world‘, yet with such a beautiful melodious song; and its incredibly beautiful colourful and raucous parrots!

This is a fascinating book, primarily  about the origin of birds and their evolution. There is so much interesting information about birds and their behaviour, particularly our Australian species, and while I really don’t want to add any spoilers, some of the topics include the beginning of song and the origin of parrots (both in Australia);  the birds of New Guinea; gigantism in birds; rainforest pigeons and their role in forest evolution, the endangered Gouldian Finch; seabirds; and the relationship between people and birds.

It’s a very readable book, backed up by both the fossil record and contemporary research and genetic studies. I was fascinated to learn that flamingoes used to live in Australia 20 Million years ago, having always doubted the inclusion of flamingos in Swiss Family Robinson, a childrens’ book about a family, shipwrecked on a tropical island near New Guinea. Apparently, there were 3 species of flamingos at Lake Eyre, up until 1 Million years ago. And that I’m afraid, is as much as you get…!  Enjoy the book!

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Next, I will be discussing books about more fascinating animal life.

The Autumn Garden

It has been a beautiful Autumn with good rain early in March; a superb display of colour with the deciduous foliage from April to late May and long-lasting zinnias, dahlias and salvias, as well as a repeat-flush of roses; and lots of gardening activities, creative pursuits and local exploratory trips!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-17 11.35.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.44.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 14.34.52BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1019BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-10 12.50.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.30Autumn vies with Spring in my affections. The weather is much more stable, though is tempered by the knowledge of the impending Winter, only to be assuaged by the parade of brilliant deciduous colour, as each tree prepares for its Winter dormancy.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.08.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.51BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.01.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.52.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.59.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-20 16.12.47 The verandah is such a vantage point, the backdrop changing daily.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 17.16.16BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.23.52BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.37.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-26 18.02.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 09.47.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.25.17BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.59.23The zinnias and dahlias lasted well into late May, having been touched up by a few early frosts, and Ross has finally put them to bed with a good layer of protective mulch.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0199BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 11.06.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 18.53.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-25 11.50.02The roses have taken centre stage again with a wonderful Autumn flush. These photos were all taken this Autumn. I have organised them into their separate beds:

Soho Bed:

Top Row: Left to Right: Just Joey; Fair Bianca; LD Braithwaite and Alnwyck.

Bottom Row: Left to Right: The Childrens’ Rose; Mr Lincoln; Eglantyne and Icegirl.

Moon Bed

Top Row: Left to Right: Golden Celebration; Heritage; Windermere; William Morris

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Lucetta; Jude the Obscure; William Morris; and Troilus

Main Pergola

Top Row: Left to Right: Mme Alfred Carrière and Adam

Bottom Row: Left to Right: an older Adam bloom and Souvenir de la Malmaison

Hybrid Musk Hedge : Left-hand side : White Roses

Top Row: Left to Right: Autumn Delight and Penelope

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Penelope and Tea rose Sombreuil on arch.

Right-hand Side: Pink Roses

Left to Right: Cornelia on arch; Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis

Rugosa Hedge

Left to Right: Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Mme Georges Bruant

House

Left to Right: Cécile Brünner first two roses and Mrs Herbert Stevens

Shed

Top Row: Left to Right: Viridiflora and Archiduc Joseph

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha

I have organised the rest of the garden blooms by colour:

Blue :

Top Row: Left to Right: Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis; Violet; Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Poor Man’s Lavender Plectranthus neochilus; Plumbago; and Hydrangea

Green :

Top Row: Left to Right: Tree Dahlia buds and Elkhorn Fern

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia new bud and Bells of Ireland, Molucella

Orange, Gold and Yellow :

Top Row: Left to Right: Paris Daisy with Salvia, Indigo Spires; Woodbine; and Paris Daisy

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Hill Banksia, Banksia collina; slightly older bud of Rosebud Salvia; and Orange Canna Lily

Pink :

Top Row: Left to Right: Fuchsia; Salvia; Christmas Pride, Ruellia macrantha;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia, Salvia involucrata; Christmas Pride; Pink ‘Doris’

Red :

Top Row: Left to Right: Grevilleas Lady O and Fireworks; and Salvia ‘Lipstick’

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Grevillea Lady O; Echeveria and Azalea Dogwood Red

Purple :

Top Row: Left to Right: Mexican Heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia; Cigar Flower, Cuphea ignea

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Dames’ Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, and Violet

White :

Top Row: Left to Right: Nerines; Honeysuckle; Strawberry flowers and first of the Paper White Ziva jonquils for the season!

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Autumn Crocus; Windflower; Tea, Camellia sinensis; and Viburnum opulus – an out-of-season bloom.

We have been very busy and productive in the garden, gradually crossing jobs off the list! Weeding is a constant in the Soho and Moon Beds, as well as around the feet of all the shrub roses and bulb patches.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 13.25.16 We have just dug up either side of the shed garden path, so the shed roses are now in garden beds and we planted out many of the potted cuttings, which we took from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. All are doing well!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1186BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1237We also made two arches out of old gate weld mesh, one leading into the future chook yard and supporting Cornelia (photo 2) and Sombreuil (photo 3);BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 18.04.14BlogHybridMusksReszd2016-11-10 09.19.26BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0877 and the other on the corner of the shed, with Reve d’Or (photo 3) and Alister Stella Grey (photo 4) either side.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 15.33.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.27.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 18.58.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.13.31 Ross defined the edges of the vegetable beds with old recycled fence palings and planted out young vegetable seedlings, which he then mulched. We are really enjoying their Winter crop in our salads at lunchtime.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0277BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0274From front to back in the photos below: red and green mignonette lettuce; spring onions; broccoli; spinach; cos lettuce and kale. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.07.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 19.24.20 We harvested the pumpkins, which again engulfed the compost heap, zinnia bed and maple tree, as well as the last of the tomatoes, making 3 bottles of green tomato chutney.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.43.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-05 11.44.26 We also have plenty of late Autumn fruit, now that the bats have gone, though I suspect our citrus is fairly safe anyway!  Unfortunately, the figs did not ripen in time, but the Golden Hornet crabapples have lasted well on the tree.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0879BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.15.23 All the new citrus are growing madly  and bearing fruit – the lime (photo 1) has a particularly fine crop and the lemonade (photo 2) is also bearing well.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 18.09.05BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.33.13 The cumquats have been an absolute picture, both in full blossom and fruit.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0773BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0774BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0778BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.12.41We picked 6 Kg of fruit to make into cumquat marmalade and there was still fruit left!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.35BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.48The loquat trees were in full bloom for weeks,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1241 attracting huge noisy parties of rainbow lorikeets,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 10.54.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-28 14.30.57 which then went on to eat the Duranta berries, along with the Crimson RosellasBlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.34.29 and huge flocks of King Parrots.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.57.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.04BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.30.07BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.28.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.01.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.59.33 Up until early May, we had even larger flocks of screeching Little Corellas in the thousands, gathering in the trees, recently vacated by the bats,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0518BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0642 then flying off en masse right on dark to their roosting trees to the north,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 08.51.21-2BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-03 19.44.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 19.54.50BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1253 occasionally accompanied by the odd Galah!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.46.46BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0807 We have enjoyed flyovers by the local Gang-Gangs (photos below) and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. We even had a rare flypass by a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, en route to the local mountain forests. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.08.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.20.25Other exciting glimpses included three Dollar Birds (photos 1 and 2) and a Figbird (photo 3), both Summer migrants, normally found further north.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0116BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0090BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.16.41 Other larger birds in our garden at the moment include very quiet Australian Magpies (photo 6), a pair of courting Australian Ravens (photo 2), a Grey Butcherbird (photo 3), Pied Currawongs (photo 5), Spotted Turtle Doves (photo 4) and our Blackbirds (photo 1), which have been on holiday and have just returned.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.40.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-04 14.53.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 12.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-13 17.29.54BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 14.37.25BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 17.46.44 And our littlies: the Eastern Spinebills (photos 1 and 2), Silvereyes (photo 3) and Double-barred Finches (photo 4).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 11.54.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 14.54.51BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0707BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0319 all of whom do a stirling job keeping the bugs in check.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.48.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.07.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.30.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-06 12.11.05We found this delightful Grey Fantail nest in our old camellia tree at the front door.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 14.54.13The slightly cooler weather has been wonderful for pursuing creative tasks from cooking to sewing, embroidery and paper crafts. I made my son a delicious carrot cake, using a recipe from https://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/carrot-cake/ for his birthday:BlogAutumngardenReszd7517-04-25 17.56.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-25 15.00.36 and hot cross buns for Easter Friday, using a recipe from https://bitesizebakehouse.com/2017/04/08/cranberry-hot-cross-buns-2/ , with a fun Easter Egg hunt in the garden with friends on the Sunday.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-12 13.33.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 12.09.54 My friend Heather, who visited us during the Candelo Arts Festival and is the Melbourne agent for Saori (http://artweaverstudio.com.au/), gave us a Saori weaving workshop and we were thrilled with our woven runners.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 14.27.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 15.36.30BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 16.16.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 10.56.10 I gave my friends Rae, Brooklin and Kirsten, a hand embroidery lesson, inspiring Rae’s wonderful exhibit. I was so impressed!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0441BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.19.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.23.44 I made embroidery rolls for their birthdays,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0510BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0516BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0845BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0505 as well as a pair of felt appliqué cushions for my sister’s bed.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-06 17.44.17 And another decoupage floral card and a paper owl, assembled from a German kit, which was given to me by my daughter in Berlin.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0499BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1220BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1221And finally, there were the bouquets from the garden! Masses of colourful zinnias…BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0037BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-29 20.26.32BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.12.28 and bright dahlias;BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0226BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1148 Scented roses;BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.32BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0888BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.26.09BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.58

Simple blue salvias and bold hydrangeas;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 10.20.45BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0264BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0261 And wonderful mixtures of colourful blooms!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 18.58.02BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.49.40BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0021BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 12.16.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.49.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.50.00 How I love arranging flowers!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 14.11.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.07.18BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0003And finally, we had some wonderful days out, exploring new spots and revisiting old haunts. The Bendethera day in March was rather inclement and while we could not reach our final destination due to the amount of water in the final creek, we did ascertain that our vehicle could manage the 4WD tracks for a future camping trip and despite the rain and constant cloud, it was still a lovely day out.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1007BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0985BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0995BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0998BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0952 We had much better April weather for our Monaro drive to Delegate, Jindabyne (including the wonderful Wildbrumby Scnapps Distillery in photo 2) and Thredbo (the Kosciuszko chair lift in photo 3) and discovered a wonderful birdwatching and trout fishing  venue, Black Lake, near Cathcart, on our way home (photo 5), where we saw six elegant Black-Winged Stilts (photo 6).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 11.21.45BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 12.59.21BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 13.28.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 15.11.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.14.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.48.57 We introduced friends to Bay Cliff and Greenglades (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/12/13/wonderful-wonboyn/) in late April (see if you can guess the tracks on the beach in photo 7!); BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 15.15.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 13.45.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.50.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.12.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.55.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.09.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.10.41 and Aragunnu (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/11/aragunnu-and-bunga-head/) in May, two of our favourite spots on the coast;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.37.22BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.40.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 16.05.58BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 15.28.36BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 17.30.24as well as revisiting Nunnock Swamp and Alexander’s Hut (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/10/18/south-east-forests-national-park/).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.15.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 13.16.33BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.21.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.23.20BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.15.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.52.27And we went canoeing on Back Lake at Merimbula, where we photographed a beautiful Azure Kingfisher, as well as a teenage cygnet and white egrets.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.40.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.09.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.49.59BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.26.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.20.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.39.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.01.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.56.10 We are so lucky to have such easy access to these beautiful unspoilt natural areas! Next week, I am returning to our dreamy roses!

The December Garden

It has been a very mild  Summer so far, though I suspect it is about to get hotter! Apart from the odd day in the late 30s/ early 40s, it has been more like a late Spring, which has been wonderful for gardening and has given us the opportunity to clean up and reorganize the cutting garden, which had started to get out of control!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-15-11-45-28blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-31-25 We have now moved all the Narcissi to their own little patches under trees and the ends of the pergola and arches, and the old freesias to their own bank, bordering the car parking flat, where they can run riot and naturalize to their heart’s content! We have divided all the replicating Dutch Iris, tulips and anemones, which we then replanted throughout all the newly dug beds. I was surprised how many new bulbs there were and hope they all bloom successfully next Spring!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-19-11-09-27blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-19-11-09-34 We transplanted the self-sown feverfew seedlings down the centre of the Dutch Iris and old zinnia beds and moved the latter’s self-sown seedlings on a very cool day to their own patch behind the dahlias in the recent peony poppy bed, leaving a few seedpods of the latter to dry out for seed. The zinnias are such tough plants and all have survived and are set to bloom in January.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-17-35-53blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-12-01-34 We were also fortunate in that another self-sown sunflower seedling is blooming in the same spot as last year and we have sowed the seed of some bright scarlet Mexican Sunflowers Tithonia on either side of the Helianthus annuus. They may not be successful, as the packet stipulates sowing them in Spring, but given the cooler weather we have been experiencing, I decided to give it a shot and see what happens! All going well, it should be a stunning display late Summer.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-33-23blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-33-28 The dahlias have already put on a wonderful show.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-23-43blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-34-14 I love all their rich vivid colours, as well as their more muted, softer pastel shades.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-18-15-11blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0116blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-29-18-46-24blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-21-12 They make wonderful bouquets for the house and the Christmas table!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-08-23-28blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0156blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-52-00 I also made a lovely, wild, blowsy bouquet from the early Summer flowers in the Soho and Moon Beds : bright blue Cornflowers, paler blue flowering salvia, mauve wallflowers, pretty white feverfew daisies, pink peony poppies and the seedpods of the latter and Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’.blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0127blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-04-14  While we are still getting the odd peony poppy in the Soho Bed, the cutting garden has had masses of stunning ladybird Poppies, interspersed with a few self-sown Iceland Poppy seedlings from last year.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-17-20blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-17-25blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-04-33blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-03-10-22-56 The Soho Bed has settled down from its early November peak, but it  still has nice colour with the roses (Lolita, Mr Lincoln and The Childrens’ Rose),blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-09-29blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-08-17-58-02blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-18-52-50 and bergamot (photo 1), stachys and blue flowering salvia, replacing the wallflowers and the geum Lady Stratheden (photo 2).blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-10-36blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-10-54 We have two other blue salvias in the Moon Bed : Indigo Spires, which we bought from the nursery at Foxglove Spires, and a light blue variety, grown from a cutting from my sister’s old garden.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-14-20-58-40blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-08-17-58-54blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-14-20-59-13 They contrast well with the white feverfew daisies and the gold daylilies, also given to me by my sister,blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-12-26-29blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-17-11 along with this unusual flower, whose identity I have yet to ascertain. Any suggestions?blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-18-20-31blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-11-59 Elsewhere in the garden, roses in bloom include : Autumn Delight (photo 1) and Penelope are reflowering in the white hybrid musk hedge; Frau Dagmar Hastrup (photo 2) in the rugosa hedge; Devoniensis on the pergola (photo 3); and Alister Stella Gray (photo 4) in preparation for its future entrance arch!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-30-18-50-11blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-12-24-04blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-17-19-40-36blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-10-48 However, the standouts of the Summer Garden are the cooling blues and whites : the blue Convovulus maritima and the Madonna lilies with their pure white trumpets and gold stamens, heralding the start of Summer.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-27-29blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-12-16-53-47blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-30-45 They look so beautiful with the sun shining through their petals;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-10-19-00-22blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-07-07-47-09 The potted  gardenia at the back door with its sumptuous white blooms with their exotic sharp spicy sweet scent, which always reminds me of Christmas!;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-16-47blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-11-59blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-08-17-41-34 The white and blue blooms of the agapanthus bank, flowering in tandem with the mauve and white Acanthus mollis;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-12-10-00-36 and the soft blue shade of the new hydrangeas, their huge bushes showing great promise;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-17-19-50-41blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-11-54 and finally, the honey-drenched blooms of the pink and mauve buddleias down the path, constantly full of butterflies, bees and wasps!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-16-40-50blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-18-18-02blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-16-41-17blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-18-31blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-21-09blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-15-12-18-55 We have also had a few exciting surprises! Our new hosta Peter Pan has flowered with sprays of mauve flowers, which complement its blue-green foliage;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-12-01-05blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-12-01-10 Our dogwood Cornus ‘Norman Hadden’ has bloomed for the very first time. Its green buds turn white, and finally a deep pink by the end of Summer;blognovgarden20reszdimg_0083blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-28-38 The Sprekelia (Jacobean Lily) bulb nearby at the bottom of the steps has grown back after disappearing for a long while, after a mishap with the whipper-snipper, and most exciting of all … we discovered that we actually have more Jacobean Lilies, with an up-till-then unidentified bulb at the end of the tulip bed coming into bloom with its distinctive red flower, another Christmas treat!blognovgarden20reszdimg_0084blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0112 While the NSW Christmas Bush flowers have yet to turn red (delayed due to the cold I suspect!), Lady X grevillea (photo 2) is doing the right thing with masses of red blooms for visiting honeyeaters, while the wattlebirds love my neighbour’s red hot pokers (Kniphofia), another Christmas flower (photo 1).blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-17-55-28blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-15-02 The newly transplanted lemon verbena is also in full bloomblogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-18-11blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-03-10-25-19 and the rainforest plants are growing madly, including this beautiful staghorn on the loquat tree.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-12-30-55 Other garden stalwarts include the bromeliads, the pinks and geranium Rosalie in the Treasure Bedblogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-28-53blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-30-18-46-22blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-30-19-00-07 and the honeysuckle climbers on the fence.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-23-31