The Spring Garden

Spring is such an exciting period with everything waking up after the long cold Winter! The garden is literally transformed from September to November, as can be seen in the photos below, one for each month:BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-10 18.57.32OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt just gets better and better as the days progress, especially with the recent life-giving rain!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In fact, this seasonal post is probably the most challenging to write, as so much is now flowering that it demands complete ruthlessness when it comes to photo selection and I really don’t know that I am up to the task! Here are a few more general garden photos from mid-Spring:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 07.07.13BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-15 09.31.34and late Spring:

BlogSpringGardenReszd3017-11-26 11.16.50BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 11.17.49But back to the start of Spring and proceeding from the top down! First up, the trees…! It is just so lovely to have our tapestry of green back, especially on those sunny golden evenings when a thunderstorm is brewing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeptember was blossom-time, starting with the wild plums and crabapples: the Floribunda and Golden Hornet:

They were followed by the apples, quinces and pears, the maples (October) and finally, the dogwood (November).

By October, most of the trees were sporting their new foliage wardrobes and by November were in full fruit and seed production mode: plums, crabs and apples.

Next, the shrubs! September marked the end of camellia and japonica season;

and the return of old favourites like lilac and Michelia, White Caviar.

The bright sunny yellow of the broom and the Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) always gladdens my heart!

The May Bush (Spiraea), the Viburnum x burkwoodii Anne Russell and the Beauty Bush (Kolwitzia amabilis) were spectacular this September:

and continued on into October, to be joined by the white lilac, Mme Lemoine; the choisya (Choisya ternata), Viburnum plicatum Mariesii and the Snowball Tree (Viburnum opulus).

Further colour and scent was added by the woodbine on the fence;

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Woodbine (Lonicera periclymenum)

As well as the weigela, the Carolina allspice and the red azalea, which enjoyed its move to the rainforest section of the garden.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-10-19 10.51.59BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0571BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0602By November, the yellow honeysuckle on the fence had joined its cousin and was heading for the skies, while the blooming of the snowball tree finished with a snowfall of petals.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-15 09.26.55OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth philadelphus were in full glorious bloom and scent, as was the Italian Lavender. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 06.58.18BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0618And the roses…! My beloved roses…! But first, the bulbs! The bulbs are always the first flowers of Spring! Lots of whites, golds and blues with the odd red and orange accent. My wild white bank of Actaea daffodils above the birdbath was a great success and we had a good show of the glamorous Acropolis daffodils at the entrance to the pergola below the Michelia.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-20 09.46.45BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-14 14.34.15BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-14 13.47.18The bright yellow nodding heads of Winter’s miniature Tête à Tête daffodils (1st photo) were joined by these bright golden Golden Dawn tazettas (2nd photo).BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-03 11.04.32BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-14 18.37.24 The pink and blue bluebells under the crab apple and next to the mosaic birds provided a soft blue, while the masses of grape hyacinths and divinely-scented Delft Blue hyacinth turned the treasure bed into a sea of blue.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-24 18.46.40BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-13 19.37.44BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-08 13.14.56  The tulips in the cutting garden also provided a wonderful show from the soft pale yellow and candy-pink-striped species tulips (Tulipa clusiana Cynthia): BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_1293BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-25 11.31.52BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-25 11.33.05to the Pink Monet and Gold Bokassa tulips;BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-28 11.51.23BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-24 18.18.27 and the brightly coloured Synaeda Orange Lily Tulips and Red Bokassa tulips, all children of the original bulbs planted in 2015.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-28 11.51.59BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0071BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-21 10.41.28BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-26 11.59.53A snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) and Jacobean lilies (Sprekelia) arrived in October, but the iris quickly stole the show.BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0059OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I love the stunning bright colours of the Dutch Iris in the cutting garden,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 16.18.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 07.49.38 but I think my heart belongs to Bearded Iris, whose soft romantic colors and forms complement the November roses so well: gold in the Soho Bed and soft mauve in the Moon Bed.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-10-23 08.06.15BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-17 16.11.58BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-16 09.07.14 A friend has just given me a large variety of differently-coloured Bearded Iris, which we have planted above the agapanthus bank.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-16 09.14.53After the bulbs, the Spring flowers started to take over. Because there are so many, I have organised them into colour palettes.

White: Acanthus mollis; Rock Orchid and Dianthus Coconut Sundae,

Dandelion seedheads; Feverfew and Nicotiana,

and a white Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea Mirabelle, though some of them were pink:

I love the white cornflower in amongst the white foxglove and feverfew in the shady end of the cutting garden.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 09.35.19

Yellow: Nigella orientalis Transformer, English Primrose, Geum Lady Stratheden and Wild Strawberry;

Gold: A very special gift: an Intersectional Peony and my self-sown gigantic Russian Sunflowers;

and the stunning Meadow Lea dahlia;BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.42.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 09.34.45Red: Ladybird Poppies in the Cutting Garden and Dahlias, providing jewel-like colour on the skirt of the Albertine roses, as they finish their blooming season;

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Deep Red: The last of the Double Hellebores from Winter;

Pink: Rhodohypoxis baurii and Dianthus Valda Wyatt of the treasure garden and the last of the pink violets from under the camellia; deep pink divinely-scented sweet peas; a mutated Ladybird Poppy and glamorous self-sown Peony Poppies in the sunflower bed.

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Rhodohypoxis baurii in the centre of a sea of grape hyacinths
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Dianthus Valda Wyatt

I just adore the self-sown peony poppies in the Soho Bed!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 09.34.26

Purple: I am hoping one of my readers can identify this cute little flower adorning the steps, but the others are Perennial Wallflower and Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla);BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-26 19.06.34BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-08-28 13.18.12BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-18 13.56.21 Blue: Forget-me-nots, Borage, Blue Primrose and Cornflower;

And this last week, the Geranium Rozanne in the treasure bed!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 08.56.43And Green: Hacquetia epipactis, a new purchase and woodland plant from Moidart Nursery (https://www.moidart.com.au/).BlogSpringGardenReszd3017-11-22 15.25.02The roses started with the white and yellow banksias on the bottom fence and the pergola over the outside dining area in late September, with the house and main pergola roses opening in early to mid-October and then, the main flush of roses in November.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 07.12.18BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-19 07.27.59 I have presented the roses according to their location.

House: First up, Noisette climber, Lamarque, whose clean fragrance reminds me of Granny Smith apples:

then, Hybrid Teas, Mrs Herbert Stevens (white)and Château de Clos Vougeot (red):

Main Pergola: The climbing roses are now starting to clothe the pergola, especially on the top side, with Adam and Mme Alfred Carrière already reaching the top!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-18 14.32.19 In order, top to bottom and left to right : the top side with Mme Alfred Carrière; the bottom side; Adam (2 photos); Mme Alfred Carrière (2 photos); Souvenir de St Anne and Souvenir de la Malmaison, in the middle of the top and bottom sides respectively; New Dawn and Devoniensis.

I just had to include two more photos of the beautiful Devoniensis in the late afternoon light!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 17.15.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 17.09.39Arches: Cécile Brünner on the entrance arch;OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Cornelia (pink) and Sombreuil (white) on the arch at the bottom of the garden, leading into the future chookyard;

and Noisettes, Alister Stella Grey (small rose on bottom left) and Rêve d’Or (the larger rose in the other three photos) on the small arch near the shed corner.

Shed:

The Albertine frame on the back wall of the shed has been a great success, with the Albertine roses in full bloom from late October till late November and now, the jewel-like dahlias adding colour to its skirts as the roses gradually finish.

Here are the dahlias:BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 09.26.50BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.36.10BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.35.16BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 10.59.43BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.35.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 11.00.12In the front beds of the shed include: Reine Victoria; Fritz Nobis and Leander.

The roses in the long bed against my neighbour’s fence have been wonderful this year! They include, in order, top to bottom and left to right: Archiduc Joseph (first two photos); Viridiflora (green); Small Maiden’s Blush (white; photos 4 and 5); Mme Hardy (white with a green eye); Fantin Latour (pink); and the divinely-scented Mme Isaac Pereire!

I have still to identify these two once-flowering roses. Any suggestions?BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 06.50.27BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-15 09.29.50Maigold brightens up the lawn beside the shed. I planted it for my Dad, who died last January, and it borders the Tea Garden, planted with peppermint, Moroccan spearmint, chamomile and Camellia sinensis, as well as a golden Kerria. Unfortunately, the Native Frangipani, which was planted above Scamp’s grave and which got hit by last Winter’s frost, has not recovered, so we are replacing it with a golden peach tree or a lemon-cented tea-tree, which ever one come first!

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Maigold

Hedges:

The fragrant Rugosa hedge is growing, though the Roseraie de l’Hay still struggles with root competition from the Cottonwood Poplar. In order, Mme Georges Bruant (a white double); Frau Dagmar Hastrup (a pink single) and Roseraie de l’Hay (a rich purple, double, highly fragrant rugosa).

The Russelliana are tough though and are thriving, despite a similar problem and full shade from the Mulberry Tree in Summer! BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 07.22.06OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the Hybrid Musk hedge to the left of the arch next to Sombreuil: Autumn Delight (first two photos) and Penelope (the rest of the photos! It’s a favourite!):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 11.10.53OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-16 16.59.12And it looks like my ill Kathleen is on the mend at long last!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 09.18.23The hedge on the right, next to Cornelia, contains some of my favourite roses: Felicia (first photo); Stanwell Perpetual (photos 2-5) and Mutabilis (photos 6-7).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 07.47.50BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-16 16.57.35OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the boundary fence is a very prickly rose, which I propagated from cuttings, having a 100 percent strike rate! I think it is Wichurana Rambler, Albéric Barbier.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-16 16.59.29 Soho Bed: A mass of colour with gold bearded iris, Italian lavender, pink and white valerian, catmint, borage, thrift, geum, perennial wallflowers, salvia, stachys, rose campion and November roses!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 09.11.02OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 09.04.24Here are single photos of some of the roses in the Soho Bed, in order: Top to bottom, left to right: Fair Bianca (white); Mr Lincoln (deep red); Heaven Scent (pink; frilled petals) and Lolita to the right of her; The Alnwick Rose; Eglantyne (pink; two photos); The Children’s Rose (pink); Icegirl (white); Just Joey (salmon); and Our Copper Queen (gold).

Moon Bed: Full of beautifully blowsy and romantic David Austin roses, mauve bearded iris, blue borage and forget-me-knots, purple catmint and salvias (light and dark blue, deep pink and red-and-white Lipstick). Here is the Moon Bed in early Spring:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn order, from top to bottom and left to right: Windermere (cream; two photos); William Morris (pink; two photos); Heritage (pink globular); Golden Celebration (gold); Lucetta (pink; two photos); the divinely-scented Jude the Obscure (peachy-cream and heavily cupped); and Troilus (lemony-cream). Unfortunately, my Evelyn died!

As you can imagine, we have been kept very busy raising seeds (with not much success!), mulching garden beds, training raspberry canes and vegetable gardening. BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-15 09.17.16BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-26 19.05.32OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-20 09.50.42 The first photo below was taken in early Spring, when the kale was in full flower, and the second photo taken in late Spring.BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0567OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARoss commandeered my old dahlia and zinnia patches opposite the cutting garden for more vegetables, but I can still include the odd flower for pollination purposes, as well as just sheer scent and beauty! Because Iceland Poppies are one of Ross’s favourite flowers, we sowed its seed on one quarter of the old dahlia bed, but unfortunately only two white poppies emerged! They look stunning against the deep purple cabbage leaves!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 11.18.11BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 08.58.27Ross has reorganized the vegetable beds, as seen in the photo below. In the top left, perennial crops like raspberries, rhubarb, asparagus, comfrey, angelica, Russian Tarragon, and the odd potato from last year’s plantings, with sweet peas, nasturtiums and calendula flowers and even the odd wild strawberry, though we have lots of real strawberries in the old zinnia patch!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-19 14.39.26BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-19 14.40.48 BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 09.01.32On the right of the path are four vegetable beds, so he can rotate plantings. Just look at the size of those purple cabbages!!! It’s wonderful growing and eating our own food and the vegetable garden is now at a stage, where it self-seeds with tomato plants appearing all over the place! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALikewise, our giant bed of sunflowers and peony poppies, both of which have had excellent yields this year, compared to previous years.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-18 14.38.58BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-19 14.37.15BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 08.59.36BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-17 07.35.12BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 08.59.51 As well as a few surprises like this miniature rose, which must have grown from a seed in a bird dropping. I was momentarily stumped by the identity of this stranger, growing at the edge of the hard-packed dirt path under the shade of the potato plants, until I remembered that I had sown a whole packet of Scarlet Flax, Linum grandiflorum rubrum, last year in the cutting garden, none of which had come up, so I don’t know how it reached its current postion, but hopefully it self-seeds and is here to stay!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve also been kept busy with birthday cakes and gifts: A crochet roll for my daughter, who has started learning to crochet and amazingly and unbeknownst to me, received two balls of soft, multi-coloured mohair wool and this set of brightly coloured crochet hooks of different gauges, from a workmate. They look so wonderful in the crochet roll! I also printed out some crochet patterns for the matching folder.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-07 13.28.14BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-08-28 10.53.11And gifts for Zoe, my dear friend’s beautiful little daughter, who has such a generous and giving soul: a hedgehog to thank her for the cute little felt mouse, which she gave me, and a birthday ladybird coin purse. Note: all three patterns (crochet roll, hedgehog and coin purse) came from the wonderful book: Everyday Handmade: 22 Practical Projects for the Modern Sewist by Cassie Barden and Adrienne Smitke 2011.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-08-28 18.15.53OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA French cockerel coffee cosy and coaster for my friend’s 60th birthday, involving a huge saga and much blood, sweat and tears! All I can say, is NEVER EVER try to make such a complicated fiddly pattern when you have a bad migraine!!! Nor cook a cake, but that’s another story!!! This pattern came from Mollie Makes Feathered Friends, edited by Jane Toft 2013.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd75%GetFileAttachmentAnd birthday cakes for my neighbour and daughter!BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-24 18.20.30BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-06 22.50.21 It’s so wonderful being able to play with all the Spring blooms and create beautiful bouquets and vases for the house!BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-19 17.50.11BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-06 10.01.18BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-08-31 12.42.22BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0468BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-08-31 12.47.44BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0471OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 10.30.36BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 10.34.36While we have also had some terrific days out over the Spring, including a wonderful whale-watching trip, I am reserving these photos for future posts and instead, I am finishing this post with some of our avian residents and visitors! We are currently deluged with the noisy chatter of Rainbow Lorikeets, drunk on the nectar of Bottlebrush. Unfortunately, I am without a camera at the moment and the birds are a bit quick for my mobile phone, but the photos below show the source of their delight!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOliver, our super-quiet King Parrot, returns to our verandah from time to time to check if Ross has relented and softened his stance towards feeding wild birds!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-15 10.47.51BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0549The Crimson Rosellas love feasting on the Spring blossom of the wild plum,BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-19 20.01.45BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-19 20.02.33while the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos prefer sheoak nuts!BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0739BlogSpringGardenReszd25%IMG_0714The male Satin Bowerbird and his wife love our garden, snipping off blue cornflowers, Erlicheer blossoms and even the odd snowball (Viburnum opulus),BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-01 15.27.41as do the magpies, which still chase off any larger birds- at the moment, the targets are storm birds, but given the latter are cuckoos, that’s very understandable! This quiet baby magpie loves weeding with Ross in the garden!BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-17 19.38.55The galahs, who adored the pink blossom in early Spring, both an edible treat and a visual complement to their rose-pink plumage, and the Duranta berries;BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-02 19.29.00BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0681And the return of the huge and noisy Little Corella flocks amassing in Candelo for Christmas, before their big journey in early January!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 06.41.33BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 06.40.31Now that the year is drawing to a close, this is the last of my seasonal posts for the year. In fact, for quite a while, although I shall probably still add the odd post updating you on any major changes in the garden next year, the reasons becoming clear in next week’s post, Camera Woes (Thursday). I am also returning to my monthly feature plant posts, so you may also catch a brief glimpse of the garden in them!

But first, next Tuesday, I will tell you all about the wonderful Old Roses of Red Cow Farm, which we recently visited in early November. Such a treat! I was in heaven, as you can well imagine!!! If you can only ever visit this magnificent garden once, then this is the time to do it!!! Happy Gardening!

P.S. Here is a photo of our delightful street library just outside the general store, a new addition to Candelo! It even has a library stamp and ink pad!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-29 14.47.59BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-29 14.48.57

Books on Specific Types of Gardens : Part Two : Vegetable Gardens; Sustainable and Organic Gardens; and Dry Climate Gardens .

Continuing on from my post last week, I am now focusing on vegetable gardens, organic and sustainable gardens and dry climate gardens, all of which are highly inter-related. In our view, vegetable gardens should only ever be organic and sustainable, as they contain the very food we eat, not to mention the importance of these concepts for our environment and the natural world around us! While most of the books are Australian, a few are written by English authors, notably Christopher Lloyd,  Joy Larkom and Jane Taylor. We might discuss the books by the first two writers first.

Gardener Cook by Christopher Lloyd 1997 was one of our early vegetable garden books and is a lovely introduction to the world of vegetable growing! His chapters on fruit trees, soft fruits, root vegetables, green vegetables, salads and herbs include delicious recipes and mouth-watering photographs by Howard Sooley. They include information on all the different types of fruit and vegetables; their varieties; cultivation and storage and lots of personal anecdotes.  An essential book for the gardener-cook and anyone who loves food!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-398

Christopher actually quotes from my next book: The Salad Garden by Joy Larkom 1984. It is a comprehensive guide to all things salad: creating salad gardens; the cultivation of salad greens; garden practices like raising from seed; sowing outdoors and indoors; germination; manures and compost; weeding; mulching and watering; greenhouses, cloches and container gardening; and pests and diseases; as well as specific techniques for salad plants like blanching; seed sprouting and cut-and-come-again; salad making – the different types of salad, preparation and presentation and delicious recipes for different salads and their dressings; and a large section on specific salad plants and their components – leaves; stems and stalks; fruits; bulbs, roots and tubers; cooked and cold legumes and potatoes; and the use of herbs, flowers and wild plants. The appendix includes salad crops for special situations; plants for saladini crops, a glossary and facts about salad crops, including their vitamin content, seed life, germination temperature and fertility index. It was written at a time, when Australia’s culinary world was suddenly and markedly expanding and has such a wealth of information, that I am not surprised that it was in Christopher Lloyd’s library!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-401The Cook’s Garden : From the Garden to the Table by Caroline Gunter and Karen Green 2000 is an Australian Women’s Weekly publication and has its typically high standard! After a brief examination of planning for production and cultivation for success (including recipes for home-made sprays), it follows a seasonal pattern with a seasonal diary of picking and planting chores for each different climate zone (temperate and cool; subtropical and Mediterranean; and tropical) and detailed notes on the fruit and vegetables grown in each season, including their cultivation in the garden and their preparation and presentation for the table. It is a very practical and useful publication and has some delicious recipes. It finishes with a brief chapter on preserving the season’s abundance including freezing; bottling and drying, as well as a map of world climate zones.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-399

Diggers Club also produces wonderful books on heirloom gardens, especially vegetables! The Australian Vegetable garden: What’s Old is New by Clive Blazey 1999 is one of their excellent publications. Clive is a passionate advocate for heirloom varieties of vegetables, because of their superior flavour, longer harvest period and disease resistance, not to mention their decorative qualities! In this informative book, he discusses the value and importance of heirloom varieties; different vegetable gardening styles; space-saving; and growing basics – the soil; water; mulch; temperature and heat; as well as seed sowing and saving. He provides a calendar and plan for growing a year’s supply of food in just 42 square metres and another one for seed sowing. And he discusses each heirloom vegetable in depth, including its historical background; varieties; preparation and management. There are so many varieties which I had never even heard of!  Apparently, Diggers have over 112 commercial and heirloom varieties of tomatoes. One day, I would love to grow their Moon and Stars watermelon , an old American variety!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-400Organic Gardening by Peter Bennett , first published in 1979, is another very important and seminal book for the organic vegetable gardener. We have the 6th edition, dated 1999, but there is now a new revised 7th edition, published 2006. Peter is THE authority on organic gardening in Australia and a forerunner of the current sustainable and environmental movements. Even though he has since died, he can still be seen in this You Tube clip at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua6Or0-W9W4. In his wonderful book, he talks about all the wonderful creatures that make up the life of the garden; the living soil; the preparation and maintenance of the organic garden; the use of natural fertilizers and acceptable alternatives to dangerous pesticides; composting; community gardens; and the organic cultivation of many different types of vegetables, fruits and flowers. His appendixes include photographs of useful tools and accessories for organic gardening, a table of the composition of compost ingredients; another table of the minimum depth of container required for growing vegetables in containers; a sowing guide for flowers and vegetables, including the best months for sowing in tropical/ subtropical, temperate and cold climates; best sowing method (seedbed or direct); the sowing depth for seeds; the number of days it takes for seedlings to emerge; the distance to thin seedlings apart; and the number of weeks till flowering for type of flower or vegetable. There is also a list of Goods and Services referred to in the book. This is an essential book for all gardeners! I cannot recommend it highly enough and the fact that it has sold more than 160,000 copies since it was first published in 1979 supports my claim!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-402

Now for another very important book, Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison 1988. Bill Mollison (1928 – 2016) was the co-founder of the permaculture concept, along with David Holmgren, from 1972 to 1974. The first classes in permaculture started in 1981 and since then, thousands of people from all over the world have studied this concept. It is now practised in over 20 countries, providing  wonderful hope for the future.

Permaculture, a term coined from two words ‘permanent agriculture’, is defined in the book as ‘the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.’ Its principles include: working with nature, rather than against it; the problem is the solution; make the least change for the greatest possible effect; the yield of the system is theoretically unlimited ; and everything makes its own garden and has an effect on its own environment. It relies on cycles; pyramids and food webs; complexity and connections; diversity; stability and harmony and self-regulation.

Permaculture garden designs are based on flow patterns and zones:

Zone 1 (ideally ¼ acre for a family of four) is the most intensively used space in the immediate area of the house and can include vegetables and salad greens with a short growing season; small trees with commonly used fruits like lemons; worm farms; workshops and sheds; glasshouses, cold frames and propagation areas; rainwater tanks; fuel for heating like gas and wood; and small animal pens eg rabbits.

Zone 2 (ideally 1 acre for a family) is also used  intensively, but less than Zone 1 and  includes perennials and vegetables with a longer growing season; fruit trees and orchards; compost bins; bee hives; ponds; chook pens and enclosures for larger animals requiring regular attention.

Zone 3 (4 to 20 acres) is farmland for main farming crops; orchards of large trees like oaks and nut trees; livestock grazing by cattle and sheep; and water storage dams.

Zone 4 can be any size and contains wild and partly managed land for the collection of wild foods; timber production; a source of animal forage and more pasture for grazing animals.

And finally, Zone 5 is unmanaged wild and natural ecosystems with bushland, forest and wilderness conservation areas for observation; meditation and reconnection with nature. Hunting and gathering can occur in this zone.

Permaculture garden design also involves planning to control external incoming energies like wind, sun angles, unwanted views and danger from fires and floods, using a number of strategies to block, channel or open up an area to their impact. It is a HUGE topic and an enormous door-stopper of a book, but essential reading for gardeners interested in the philosophy behind permaculture!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-404

The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow 1996  is a much lighter, smaller, more portable and very practical book on the subject. It covers permaculture garden design based on the principles of time-and-motion; multiple use; working with nature; and synergy and using a seven mandala system of circles to maximize use of space and energy efficiency. She discusses : choosing a site; climate: light, temperature; wind; frost and pollutants; water; soil management; mulching, composting and worm farming; propagating plants; lunar planting; guild planting; maintaining the garden and coping with pests; building a chook dome; and the cultivation of fruit trees and a large variety of vegetables. It is a very useful book, especially for gardeners in Northern New South Wales.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-403

Two  more terrific practical permaculture guides, both of which I would not be without  and both written by gardeners in Maleny, Queensland are: You Can Have Your Permaculture and Eat It Too by Robin Clayfield 1996 and Paradise in Your Garden by Jenny Allen 2002. Robin has practised permaculture since 1983 and lives at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. This great publication is a fantastic book to dip into at random, with snippets of information on permaculture principles,  garden design and techniques; sustainability; natural pest control; cash crops; health and diet; food combining; natural cosmetics; food preservation; bulk cooking; bush tucker; gift giving; and even party games; all with lots of wonderful recipes from herbal teas to soups, nibbles and dips; salads and main courses; and desserts and party nights. It is a wonderfully generous book and has such a wealth of information to explore and digest! For more about Robin, see: http://dynamicgroups.com.au/ and  https://permacultureprinciples.com./post/permaculture-pioneer-robin-clayfield/.

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-405Paradise in Your Garden is a beautiful book, both visually and creatively! Jenny uses photographs and experience gleaned from her own garden  to illustrate the  basic permaculture principles of multiple use; zoning; smart placement; elevational planning; diversity; recycling resources; homemade insurance; using nature’s gifts and seeing solutions, instead of problems. It’s an inspiring book, with lots of fun, imaginative ideas like aspirational trees; mediation areas; hammocks and swings; firepits and water features; places for wildlife; kids’ gardens; healing gardens and even an aphrodisiac garden! She has a large section on garden design and understanding site factors like sun and wind; weeds and stormwater; soil types; frost; and noise, providing an 18 point design checklist and techniques for managing these factors, like creating microclimates by managing Summer sun; building effective  windbreaks; managing soil, water, frost and weeds; and reducing annoying noises. She discusses integrated pest management and  smart use of monetary and time resources. Her descriptions of exciting and unusual edible plants and bush foods makes you want to go straight out and plant them and she also includes some great project ideas from sheet mulching and lasagne gardening (no-dig); building herb spirals, ponds, swales and paths; making worm farms, compost heaps and home brews for plants (comfrey tea); and planting green manure and cover crops. In the back of the book is a list of useful resources and recommended reading. For more current information  on Jenny Allen , read this article in the Hinterland Times on the 4th May 2016 at : https://www.hinterlandtimes.com.au/2016/05/04/is-the-love-affair-over/.

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And finally, a swag of books by the wonderful and knowledgeable Jackie French, who has a wonderful organic garden in the Araluen Valley near Braidwood in Southern New South Wales. On her website (http://www.jackiefrench.com/), she describes herself an Australian author, ecologist, historian, dyslexic and honorary wombat, which is all very accurate! She was also 2014 – 2015 Australian Childrens’ Laureate and 2015 Senior Australian of the Year and is the patron of Youth Educational Support Services (YESS),which delivers the MultiLit Literacy Program, developed by Macquarie University to improve reading skills in local primary and high school students. I volunteered with this rewarding program at Bega Valley Public School in our first year here. We have nine of her books, in order of their publication:

The Wilderness Garden: Beyond Organic Gardening 1992

Jackie has a delightful enthusiastic writing style and this book focuses on how to make gardening fun by changing our approach to gardening and using new or different methods or as she coins it: ‘the wombat way of gardening’ ! She has a very commonsense, practical approach in both her gardening and writing with chapters on different gardens for different places (wet areas; dry areas; polluted areas; seaside areas; and frost zones); feeding the garden (mulch; compost; nitrogen fixation); easy garden beds (weed-mats; hanging gardens; tyre gardens; raised beds; vertical gardens; and modified jungles (I just love that concept!); organic pest and weed control; and vegetable, fruit and flower gardens, with a very useful garden calendar at the end.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-411

Backyard Self-Sufficiency 1992

This publication has been a very well-thumbed book in our house over the years. While steering the reader away from the toil of total self-sufficiency, she has some wonderful ideas for still growing a fair proportion of your own food from staples (grains, legumes, oils and sugars and sweeteners) to vegetables and fruit all year round. We particularly liked her lists on fruit for small places; footpath trees; unusual fruits; edible fences; hardy fruiters and  fruit for cold, temperate and hot climates. She also has chapters on growing in adversity; scavenging in the suburbs; small animals for small gardens; saving the surplus; and the backyard supermarket and medicine chest with lots of great recipes for cosmetics and bath products; dyes; cleaning products; and drinks (beer, cocoa, tea and coffee and coffee substitutes). Her final chapter on self-sufficiency, including her self-sufficient owner-built house, and her general philosophy of simple living resonates so strongly with us and should be a blueprint for all human beings, living in harmony with nature and all is inhabitants on this very special planet we call home. This book also finishes with a comprehensive calendar covering planting; harvesting; other jobs; pests and fruit. This is such a useful book!

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Switch : Home-based Power, Water and Sewerage Systems For The Twenty-First Century by Jackie French and Bryan Sullivan 1994

This little book expands on the concept of the self-sufficient integrated house and gets down to the practical nitty-gritty of ways to actually achieve this. It examines home-based power systems (solar, wind, steam, petrol or diesel, hydro and hybrid or combined systems), as well as batteries and invertors; installation and maintenance and living with your own power system. There are separate extra chapters devoted to lights and a wide variety of appliances (power tools; vacuum cleaners; stoves; kettles and toasters; refrigerators; computers; sound systems; irons; washing machines and solar dryers, to name but a few); and heating and cooling (new house design and orientation; ventilation; insulation; greenhouses; pergolas and more active heating and cooling systems, as well as specific problems and solutions). The authors then turns their attention to water supply, including measures to reduce use; grey water systems; rainwater tanks; bores; pumping water and hot water systems. Sewage treatment is next and includes information on outdoor dunnies; septic tanks; methane digesters; composting toilets and finally garbage processing: the concept of reduce/recycle; compost; worm farms and chooks. Even though this is now quite an old book, it was cutting edge when it was first published. Renewable energy and sustainable technology and alternatives have come a long way since then (though it still has a long way to go and should have been de rigueur by now for every home!), but the basic principles are still the same and this is still a very valuable little book.

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The Earth Gardener’s Companion: A Month-by-Month Guide to Organic Gardening 1996

Exactly what it pupports to be! A very comprehensive month-by-month guide to organic planting and harvesting and pest control solutions, with some wonderfully obscure recipes along the way from culinary delights like Chinese pickled vegetables, soy cheese and beetroot flour to chilli massage oil and even a chilli bosom enhancer!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-413

Making Money From Your Garden 1997

This is another Earth Garden magazine publication and its treatise on ‘Time or Money’ is sufficient reason alone to own this book. We have photocopied and shared that article so many times in our lives, as it is the basic creed by which we live! While sufficient money is important, so you are not stressing out your little brain constantly, ‘sufficient’ being the key word here, time is a far more valuable and precious commodity, which is often under-valued in today’s busy world with its hectic lifestyles! While money may have been a constant challenge for us, we have raised a family to adulthood and always met our basic needs, and our lives have been very rich and fulfilled, with time for creativity, family fun and relaxation. In this book, Jackie shares so many ideas and recipes for making a living from your home and garden from selling surplus or gourmet produce, seeds, potted trees and bush tucker; herbs; bonsai; flowers; and animal produce to making garden gnomes, topiary pots and  terrariums; natural bath products, cosmetics and cleaning products; paper and textile crafts and of course, delicious culinary delights to opening your garden or providing accommodation or a much-needed service like child-minding; home or specialist catering; garden design; or running kids’ parties. So many wonderful suggestions….!!!

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Growing Flowers Naturally  1997

The world of flowers is such an enormous and magical subject, it requires a whole book of its very own! They speak to the soul and fulfil the human desire for beauty! Like Jackie state in her introduction, one can never feel poor when surrounded by beautiful flowers, especially when they are straight from your own home garden! This sentiment applies to home-grown vegies too!!!  After citing a dozen good reasons to grow flowers, Jackie explores flower magic; popular native flowers; cut flowers; drying flowers; roses; bulbs, corms and rhizomes;  perennial and herbaceous borders; and climbers, shrubs and trees, before delving into the practical advice about starting a flower garden; different ways of growing flowers; flower problems and their solutions; and propagating flowers. She even covers medicinal flowers and includes recipes for perfumes, skin and hair products, and flower food. She finishes with an alphabetically ordered flower compendium with notes on their description; requirements; sowing times and potential problems. I’d forgotten how good this book was!

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Seasons of Content: A Year in the Southern Highlands 1998 is a lovely dreamy read, which should possibly be part of next month’s post on inspirational gardens, but I am including it here, amongst Jackie French’s other books! Written in the form of a diary, it describes a year in the Araluen Valley, following the seasons and enjoying all that nature has to offer. It’s a delightful read, as well as being packed with delicious recipes! Equally good to read all at once or dip into for a quick revitalizing pick-me-up!

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How To Guzzle Your Garden 1999 is a great book for kids and for inspiring the gardeners of the future! Linking gardens with food and eating is a brilliant and inspired decision, and such an obvious notion when you stop to think about kids! As a very popular childrens’ author, Jackie knows what turns kids on and this book is so much fun for a kid to read! I also love the pencil sketches by her illustrator Judith Rossell! The book is written in a question-answer format. It addresses making jam, cordials and sweet treats and eating edible weeds and flowers and bush foods, as well as the more practical aspects of planting from seed and pips; tree planting; and making compost.

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There are also lots of fun projects like growing plants in joggers, bottles and boxes; growing an apple tree in an orange; and making an egghead with watercress seeds or shrunken heads from apple cores. I blame Jackie for my daughter’s optimistic (and we thought doomed!) decision to grow a pineapple in a pot from the discarded top and leaves in the depths of the Armidale Winter, but would you believe, it did actually produce a small pineapple on our move to the warmer subtropical climes of Dorrigo !blogspecific-garden-bksreszd50image-423blogspecific-garden-bksreszd50image-423-copyThe Best of Jackie French  2000 Our final book and a culmination of over 30 years of gardening wisdom, this book is typical of all her other books- light-hearted and fun, enthusiastic and inspiring; practical and knowledgeable and incredibly generous with recipes, not to mention eminently readable! There is SO MUCH in this book, I will have to leave it to you to peruse at your leisure!!! Suffice to say Jackie has been a wonderful ambassador for sustainability, self-sufficiency and organic gardening!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-412

Sustainability is a such an important issue, especially nowadays with the increased incidence of droughts and rising temperatures associated with global warming. The following books shed light on ways of dealing with our uncertain future and all the challenges it issues.

Earth Garden, the publisher of two of Jackie French’s books, has also produced a publication called The Earth Garden Water Book 2004, with lots of interesting articles by Earth Garden magazine contributors and readers on  water collection, purifying, conservation, reuse and recycling and water-saving tips.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-422

Readers’ Digest elaborates on these principles in their book Waterwise Gardening 2010 with chapters on climate; soil; waterwise garden design; waterwise plants; wise use of water; plant care and maintenance and a waterwise plant guide.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-419

And finally, two increasingly important books when it comes to choosing plants, which can cope with hotter and drier climates:

Even though Jane Taylor is English, her book: The Dry Garden: Gardening With Drought-Tolerant Plants 1993 focuses on Australian gardens and includes many Australian natives. It was published just before the start of the Millenium Drought (late 1996 to mid 2010) in South-Eastern Australia, so was a very useful book during that period. She briefly discusses dry climates and drought; plant mechanisms for coping with lack of water and the maintenance of dry climate gardens (including notes on soil; planting; windbreaks; lawn and lawn substitutes; and irrigation techniques), but the majority of her book is devoted to an in-depth discussion of over 1000 drought-tolerant plants of all types: trees and shrubs; conifers; palms and cycads; climbers; perennials and ephemerals; grasses and bamboos; bulbs; and succulents and xerophytes, the latter being plants especially adapted to dry conditions. In the back are lists of plants with special characteristics: bold and lush foliage; sword-shaped leaves; fragrance; wind-tolerance; and horizontal growth, making them ideal for ground-covers. It certainly is an inspiring book and offers hope and optimism for future gardens which, although different, can still be beautiful havens.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-421

Plants For a Changing Climate by Trevor Nottle 2004/ 2011, an Australian garden writer and historian, who has also written books on cottage gardening, perennials and old roses, which I have already discussed in Part 1 Specific Gardens last week and favourite Rose Books. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/03/21/books-on-specific-types-of-gardens-part-one-cutting-gardens-cottage-gardens-and-herb-gardens/ and https://candeloblooms.com/2017/01/10/fabulous-rose-books/ . Being a South Australian gardener, Trevor has had to cope with a hot, dry climate for over 30 years and is well-versed in Mediterranean-style gardening. Unfortunately, with climate change and global warming, the rest of us will have to adjust to a different style of gardening, less dependent on unfettered water use and more appropriate to future climatic conditions. In the introduction to his second edition and concluding chapter, Trevor examines the future implications, especially for gardeners, in great depth and offers possible solutions for the challenges ahead. He has divided his plants into a number of chapters with interesting titles : Shademakers; Statement Makers; Structure makers; Scent Makers; Silver Superstars; Useful Food Plants and Vegetables; Super-Special Plants; Geraniums; Succulents; Perfect Perennials; Roses and Other Pricklies; Little Potted Histories; Surprises From Last Summer and a Motley Crew of 10 of his favourite plants. Trevor is so knowledgeable about Mediterranean plants and so generous with that knowledge. It is a great addition to any horticultural library and is particularly pertinent in contemporary gardens.blogrosebooks25reszdimage-234

Next month, I will share some beautiful dreamy and inspirational garden books from our library, as well as some fascinating books about gardening and plants!

Landmark Birthdays: Part 1

On the eve of my birthday, I thought a post on landmark birthdays was appropriate! My birthday falls on the first day of Winter, which is special enough in itself, and while I enjoy all my birthdays, there have been 3 stand-outs : my 35th birthday in France, my 40th birthday on Lord Howe Island and my 49th birthday on Cape York in Queensland. The Lord Howe celebration was planned, but the other two just happened to be in exotic places, because my birthday fell during our travels. As this post is fairly long, I have divided it into two sections, which I will post either side of my birthday week. I have had such a lovely time writing and researching this post. It has been like having these holidays all over again!!!

The year I turned 35 was a pretty special year, not only because we eventually found our home in Armidale, as well as our country property at Dorrigo, but also because just prior to these purchases, we had a wonderful ten-week holiday in England and France with the whole family. Most of our major holidays have been at turning points of our lives, between leaving our old home and settling down in our new life, and this occasion was no different. We had been renting for a year, all the time searching for our new home unsuccessfully, so we decided to take a break and fulfill that long-held dream of taking the kids overseas.

It was a wonderful experience and even though there was the odd moment, it was fantastic travelling with young children. Because they were so young – all under 8 years of age – we were able to plan a nature-based trip, staying mainly in country areas, and were able to avoid places like Disney World! It also opened many doors to us, especially in France. The French love children and were so impressed that we had brought the entire family from such a long distance away, as well as the fact that I was able to communicate with them in their own language! Whenever we arrived at a new place, the kids would be whisked away by the hosts and plied with hot chocolate and croissants at the kitchen table while we unpacked or we would find them playing upstairs with the owners’ children or reading Tintin books in French.

We had so many amazing experiences from sailing on the Norfolk Broads in one of the original wherries; sitting with the puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory; walking on the Cliffs of Hermaness with the bonxies and tysties; visiting Gerald Durrell’s Rare and Endangered Species Zoo on the island of Jersey, viewing prehistoric cave art 14000 years old in the Dordogne, watching pink flamingos feeding in the Camargue marshes;  and hiking in the Pyrenees amongst wildflowers. I have touched on some of these experiences in my post: My Love Affair With France. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/12/my-love-affair-with-france/.

BlogFranceLoveAffair30%ReszdIMG_0630BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (85)My 35th birthday in the Limoges countryside was definitely one of the highlights! We’d just spent the day exploring the beautiful potager gardens at Villandry and visiting Clos Lucé, the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, with models of all his amazing inventions (see photos above), and as we left the Loire Valley, I hinted to Ross at the possibility of spending the night in a château (see photo below) for my birthday, only to be told it was far too expensive!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (86) We drove on and on along the scenic back roads of the alternative tourist route and by 8.30pm, we still hadn’t eaten dinner, nor found accommodation for the night!  In the evening light, we spotted a little chambre d’hôte sign on a tree, just south of La Trimouille. Proceeding down the tree-lined driveway, we discovered the beautiful old Château de Régnier.

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Because it was so late, we decided to enquire about the price , only to find that it was very reasonable and quite affordable! On asking about nearby restaurants, the hostess Anniq apologised profusely, saying that had she known that we were coming, she would have prepared us a meal. She also apologised for the overgrown state of the circular driveway lawn, which had not yet been mown for the upcoming hunt!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (88)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (98) She phoned the local hotel, only to be told that dinner might not be possible because they had run out of bread! I suspect the kitchen may have been about to close! But no problem!  Anniq had a whole loaf, which she sent down with us to the hotel dining room. After a five-minute wait, a surly waitress clomped out and took the bread from us without a word, disappearing back into the kitchen. Not a menu in sight, so no difficult hassles translating menu meals! Out came the bread, now sliced, with a huge bowl of pâté and some sliced avocado. Thinking this was dinner, we bogged into the pâté, only to be surprised by a main course of beef and fried potatoes with a delicious red wine, fresh pears for dessert and then coffee, all without having to make any decisions!!!

Because it was my birthday the next day and also because we were down to our last clean clothes, the’ best’ outfits, we decided to spend another night at the château. Doing the laundry while travelling was always a hassle and I was dreading having to use a French laundromat, but Anniq insisted on washing all our dirty clothes herself in her laundry, set in one of the lovely old outbuildings, and hanging them out to dry in her bat-filled attic overnight.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (99)The next morning was warm and sunny and we had a lovely extended breakfast with lots of conversation and laughter. Anniq was a wonderful communicator and between our dodgy command of each other’s languages, we were still able to make ourselves understood, even discussing quite complex matters!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (100) Ross gave me a beautiful green woollen cloak, which we’d bought in Ireland, and some lovely perfume. Anniq gave us a guided tour of the current château, built in 1820.  The original Château de Régnier was built in 1399 for the Loubes family, but it had been in the Liniers family for 5 generations since 1799.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (115) The château had 25 rooms, 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and a small, disused, cobwebbed family chapel underneath our room (bottom photo). The walls were covered with an Aubusson tapestry and trophies from the hunt- stuffed birds, foxes, boars and deer. Anniq showed me her shell collection and her own hand-painted porcelain.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (101)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (89) - CopyBlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (89)Her husband Charles showed us the stables, laundry, machinery sheds and dairy, all housed in these superb old brick buildings. The bottom photo is of the gatehouse.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (91) - CopyBlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (90) - CopyThe kids ran all day, dressed in their Sunday best and gumboots, in the long grass with the family dogs, two friendly Weimaraners called Hamlet and Jean, and Ibis, a very active, visiting Jack Russell terrier, with whom Chris fell in love. He is in the photo below.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (90)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (92)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (93) After lunch, we wandered down to the creek, from where the château had the appearance of a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (95)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (91) I picked a bouquet of Summer wildflowers- buttercups, forget-me-knots, grasses and lots of pink, purple and white wild blooms, as well as a bunch of apple mint for dinner.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (94)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (97) The girls found a baby bird and waded in the creek.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (96)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (102) Of course, Chris fell in and ended up swimming in his clothes!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (103)On our return to the château, Anniq made us a cup of tea with shortbread and we met an English couple, who had discovered this wonderful place a few years ago and now always called in en route to their holiday house in Spain each year. Because they could not speak French and Anniq’s English was limited (although she was attending English classes at night), whenever they called in,  Anniq would invite her neighbour Yvonne, who spoke excellent English, for dinner. Dear Anniq had made a special trip into Limoges to buy me a birthday present, as she didn’t have any spare hand-painted porcelain of her own to give me. She bought me a beautiful china terrine, decorated with French wildflowers, a cherished gift which I still have today. She also gave me a bouquet of her own pink roses- the first of the season.BlogLandmarkbirthdays20%Reszd2016-05-10 16.16.14My birthday dinner was amazing! An entrée of an egg, tomato and lettuce salad; a choice of roast pork or goose with fried potatoes, carrots and peas for our main course with a green salad made by Yvonne; and palate fresheners between courses and a different wine with each course.  The pièce de résistance was the homemade chocolate cake, aglow with candles and served with icecream, followed by a selection of cheeses and coffee. It was such a funny night! Both Brian, the Englishman, and Charles, the proud Frenchman, were very similar in character and neither was EVER going to learn one another’s language! They spent all night slinging off at each other in their own languages and Yvonne and I were very amused by their accuracy and similarities!

It was raining by the end of the night and as Yvonne departed, she invited us to visit her in her 11th century home at Courtevrault Manor the next day. It was amazing! Her bedroom, on the first floor next to the 11th century turret, was situated above a deep dungeon, accessed via a door on the ground floor and into which French soldiers would throw their English captives during the Hundred Years War. The depth and number of skeletons down there was unknown and did not unduly worry Yvonne!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (104)

There was also a 13th century addition with a well underneath and the main house with 11 bedrooms, a stone-flagged kitchen and amazing artwork, including a painting by Raphael. Yvonne was obviously very well-connected!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (105) She had her own gardener, who lived onsite, lit her kitchen fire every morning and kept her and his family in vegetables all year round.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (107) The vegetable garden and herb garden were huge and the flower garden filled with Old Roses and a huge Philadelphus shrub.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (106) There was also a dovecote, a pool and a creek, which ran through the garden.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (108)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (108) - Copy It certainly was an amazing opportunity, not often afforded to the normal tourist and a very memorable birthday!

Five years later, it was my 40th birthday and I wanted it to be equally special! I worked an extra job all year, sorting private mail boxes for Australia Post, in the wee hours of the morning – 4am on Mondays and 6am on the other weekdays. By the end of the year, I had earned enough to buy my coveted Bernina sewing machine and fund an 8 day trip to Lord Howe Island for the whole family to celebrate my 40th birthday. We had always wanted to visit Lord Howe Island. It is one of those very special places, especially if like us, you love nature, the environment, birds and bush walking.  It was listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982. We took a small plane with Eastern Airlines on the 29th May out of Sydney and, after a 1.5 hour flight, had to circle the island twice until the winds were conducive to landing on the tiny airstrip in the middle of the island. We had an excellent view of Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack at 551m, 26 km south of Lord Howe , as well as the lagoon and all the island landmarks.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (109)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (110)Before you can purchase your flight tickets, your accommodation must be pre-booked, as there is a limit of 400 visitors on the island at any one time. There is no camping on the island. Because we had the entire family with us, we booked a self-contained apartment at Hideaway Apartments on Middle Beach Rd, halfway up the hill from Joy’s shop. Because there are weight restrictions on luggage, you cannot bring your own food and supplies are very expensive, due to the fact that everything has to be brought in via the Island Trader. Consequently, our diet was fairly basic, until a departing couple of tourists left us the stuff they hadn’t used! There are few cars, so we walked everywhere or rented bicycles for longer trips. It was such a lovely free feeling, cycling with the breeze in your face, past aqua seas and tropical palms, and not a care in the world about cars or traffic!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (111)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (112) We were so lucky with the weather too- sunny blue skies and no rain, unlike the mini-cyclone last week! Here is a link to the official brochure : http://lordhowe.com/files/2014/11/LHI-Holiday-Planner.pdf.

This brochure details the many walks on the island : http://www.lhib.nsw.gov.au/sites/lordhowe/files/public/images/documents/lhib/Tourism/LHI%20Walking%20Track%20Brochure%20-%20July%202014.pdf

and I have also included a map to give you an idea of some of the things we did from : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/travel-essentials/map-2/ Lord Howe Island MapOn our first day, we walked up to Clear Place to get our bearings and had a beautiful view of Muttonbird Island and Wolf Rocks. In the Valley of Shadows, the kids enjoyed playing in amongst the pendulous aerial roots and buttressed trunks of the massive Banyan trees (Ficus macrophylla subsp columnaris), whose long branches extended over a hectare (2 acres). There is also a forest of 40 feet high Kentia Palms (Howea forsteriana), one of 4 species of palms endemic to the island and the world’s most popular indoor palm for 120 years.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (121)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (116)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (114) The palm seed industry was started in 1906 with the formation of the Kentia Palm Seed and Plant Cooperative and is a key component of the island’s economy, along with tourism. See : http://lordhoweisland.info/library/palmseed.pdf. The Kentia Palm is a lowland palm. The other 3 endemic palms are :  Curly Palm (Howea belmoreana), another lowland palm, which grows slightly higher up;  Big Mountain Palm (Hedyscepe canterburyana), which grows from altitudes of 400m up to the summit of Mt Gower and Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana), which only grows on the summit.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (119)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (120) There are also some lovely specimens of Pandanus (Pandanus forsteri) with their long prop roots on the walk to Boat Harbour.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (118)

At Middle Beach, we came across 16 Landcare members planting 200 native trees for their Big Muttonbird Ground Project, which aimed to restore the natural bushland and nesting habitat of the migratory seabirds : the Flesh-footed Shearwater and the Black-Winged Petrel, both classified as vulnerable on the Threatened Species List for NSW. They were very appreciative of our help and wrote us up in the Lord Howe Island Signal, their local paper.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (117)BlogLandmarkbirthdays20%Reszd2016-05-09 12.29.09 - Copy We had lunch on the top of Transit Hill, which has a 360 degree view and was the site of the 1882 observation of the Transit of Venus across the sun. These photos are of the western side of the island: Mt. Gower; Blackburn Island; and the main area of settlement, looking across to the island and the lagoon.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (124)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (122)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (123) We saw our first Emerald Dove here. We loved the birdlife on Lord Howe Island. There are 180 species of birds on the island , which provides breeding sites for 32 species, of which 14 are sea birds and 18 are land birds. A good website to consult on the bird life of the island is : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/things-to-do/bird-watching/nature-calendar-2/ and http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2014/12/birds-of-lord-howe-island . BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (125)Because of its isolation, bird species are often similar, but not quite the same as their mainland relatives. For example, the  Lord Howe Island Currawong has a longer, more pointed beak and totally different call to its Eastern Australian cousin, the Pied Currawong. The Lord Howe Island Silver-Eye is endemic to the island and has a white ring of feathers around its eye. It has a heavier build, larger feet and claws and a longer bill then the mainland Silver-Eye.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (126) The lack of natural predators meant that the birds had little fear and were easy targets when humans arrived in 1788, followed by rats in 1918, as well as introduced owls and feral cats. Their habitat was further destroyed by feral goats and pigs. For information on the island’s extinct birds, see : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/e137ac48-41b7-4f69-9b60-359a0763c635/files/lord-howe.pdf  and http://www.lordhoweislandbirds.com/index.php/extinct-birds.

The Lord Howe Island Woodhen, a flightless rail endemic to the island, was brought to the very brink of extinction (less than 30 in late 1970s and restricted to 2 tiny populations on the inaccessible summits of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower), but thanks to a successful captive breeding program begun in 1980, they have increased in numbers ( 200 in 1997; 117 in 2001), though they are still considered a highly  endangered species. We saw this woodhen up on the top of Mt Gower. For more information on this lovely little bird, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/woodhen.pdf       and         http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/TheLordHoweIslandWoodhen.htm.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (128)Then, there are the migratory birds, who return year after year to breed. Lord Howe Island is the only known breeding ground of the Providence Petrel, which arrives in March for its Winter breeding season (see photo below). The island is also the only breeding site in Eastern Australia of the Flesh-footed Shearwater, which breeds in large colonies on the forest floor between September and May. It is the only breeding location in Australia for the Kermadec Petrel and Grey Ternlet and is the most southerly breeding location in the world for the Sooty Tern, Common Noddy, Black Noddy and Masked Booby. The White Tern breeds on Lord Howe Island between October and April.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (127)The Red-tailed Tropic Birds are also Summer visitors, arriving in September from the North Pacific Ocean and performing their airborne courting rituals off Malabar Hill (208m), where we saw them on our second day. Lord Howe Island has the world’s largest breeding concentration of Red-tailed Tropic Birds. They nest on cliff ledges between Malabar Hill and North Head and head off late May back to the North Pacific Ocean.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (132)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (130)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (133)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (131)Looking to the  north from Malabar Hill, we could see the Admiralty Islands and to the east, Middle Beach (with Muttonbird Island in the background) and Ned’s Beach.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (115)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (135)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (134)We walked out to Kim’s Lookout, then headed back down to Old Settlement Beach, so called because it was the site of the first settlers in 1833. For more on the natural history, it is well worth consulting Ian Hutton’s website : http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/. Ian Hutton is the island’s resident naturalist and has written many scientific papers and over 20 books, as well as producing 3 videos about Lord Howe. He is a keen photographer and has run Lord Howe Island Nature Tours since the early 1990s.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (138)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (137)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (139)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (140)We had a beautiful day for my 40th birthday! It started with present-giving, including an unexpected bonus, when departing guests left us their food, including bottles of red wine and port! We spent a wonderful morning snorkelling down at Ned’s Beach.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (141)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (142) Lord Howe Island has Australia’s, and in fact the world’s, most southern coral reef ecosystem. Due to its location at the cross-roads of 5 major ocean currents and the influence of the warm East Australian Current, which flows south from the Great Barrier Reef to the Tasman Sea, the island has a rich and unique biodiversity of tropical, subtropical and temperate species, including 447 species of fish, 305 species of marine algae, 83 coral species and 65 species of echinoderms (sea stars and sea urchins), as well as sea turtles, dolphins and whales. There are over 60 world-class dive sites, including the spectacular Ball’s Pyramid, and most of which are only 10-20 minutes off shore. The alluring Admiralty Islands are home to 30 dive sites. See: http://www.prodivelordhoweisland.com.au/pages/admiralty-islands-dive-sites.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (113)We were blown away by the colourful corals, the bright green seaweed, the huge sea urchins and clams and the amazing variety of fish from rainbow coloured wrasses of pink-aqua-green or orange-yellow-green combinations with blue fins, blue double-header wrasses, black-and-yellow striped butterfly fish and purple striped fish to large schools of sea mullet. And that was only an nth of it! For a more in-depth look at the species list for Lord Howe Island, please consult : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/3ed1e470-6344-4c6f-b8f1-c0e9774ce639/files/lordhowe-plan.pdf.

It appears that there is a video for everything on Lord Howe Island and snorkelling is no exception, See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZpluoFDqRE. Not so sure about the accompanying soundtrack though!!! Scuba divers might also enjoy : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpwCwcBr8J4. The music is slightly better!

My birthday lunch was at the restaurant of the luxurious Capella South, now called Capella Lodge. It was delicious, especially the sticky date pudding, and having just watched the Getaway program on Capella Lodge, I feel extra lucky to have dined there, as the restaurant is now exclusively for Capella guests. See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtnYMx6ovM.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (143)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (144)Through the restaurant windows, we looked straight up at Mt. Gower, our destination for the next day.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (146) We cycled down to the start of the track to check it out and saw our first, very quiet Lord Howe Island Woodhen in the wild. The air looked like it was full of little specks of ash, with all the Providence Petrels being buffeted about by the strong wind. We met an older fellow, Les, who had been in ill health for 4 years with heart problems and  Ménières Disease, a disorder which affects the inner ear and balance, resulting in tinnitus and attacks of vertigo, so we really hoped that he wasn’t going on the guided tour the next day!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (145)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (147)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (150)The hike to the summit of Mt Gower (875m) is considered to be one of the 20  best walks in Australia. It’s a 14km round walk (7km straight up hill and 7km back!). Because of the rugged and often risky terrain, you can only access it with a guide and Jack Shick, our guide, is one of the most experienced on the island, having been a mountain guide for more than 20 years. See : http://www.lordhoweislandtours.net/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (149)We started walking at 7.45 am, as the walk takes 8.5 hours to complete. There were 6 adults (including our guide) and our 3 kids and yes, Les was there!!! He was determined to prove his doctor wrong, but it did slow things down a bit, especially on our return, and meant that we were often looking after Les, instead of keeping an eye on the children!!!  Luckily, they are an adventurous lot and fairly sure-footed when it comes to outdoor activities. It was such a great adventure for them.

The first lesson was climbing a Kentia Palm. Being a 5th generation islander, Jack was a master, but Chris quickly got the hang of it!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (151)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (152)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (148)Once everyone had arrived, we started on the track, ascending quite quickly to the first challenge of the day- the Lower Road, where we had to don our helmets and follow a rope along the edge of the black volcanic cliff, with a sheer drop of over 100m to the sea below! You can see the ledge in the photo above , as well as photos 1 and 3 below.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (153)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (155)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (154)We came to a clearing at Pandanus-lined Erskine’s Creek , where I surprised a feral mother goat and her two black kids and found a freshly-laid Muttonbird egg.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (158)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (162)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (159) We then walked up through a forest to the saddle and then finally, the Get-Up Place, where there is a rope to help you pull yourself up the incredibly steep slope. Below is a photo of my family with a much younger Jack and Les on the far left.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (157)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (160)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (161) From the summit, there are incredible views out over all the island and the ash-speckled sky is filled with Providence Petrels (Pterodroma solandri) , wheeling and whittering to each other. This photo shows the view to the north over the rest of the island. BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (164) These gentle, trusting birds can be called out of the sky, to land with a heavy thud at your feet and then be picked up and cuddled. David Attenborough has recorded them falling from the sky in this video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgHch5Bg9Jg. It is such a special experience to hold these fearless birds in your hand, a little akin to our experience sitting with the Puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isles. See : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/17/when-the-king-comes-to-tea/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (166)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (165)The summit is covered with 52 acres of mist forest with Dendrobium moorei orchids in full bloom, elkhorns, ferns and mosses, wet fungi bells, the Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana) in red berry, Green Plums (Atractocarpus stipula, the endemic Hotbark (Zygogynum howeanum) with its chilli flavoured bark, the Fitzgeraldii tree (Dracophyllum fitzgeraldii) and the endemic Scalybark (Syzygium fullagarii) with its sharp, deep red fruit, high in vitamin C. The photos below show a mist-covered Mt Gower; a forest covered Mt Lidgbird; and the orchid Dendrobium moorei in full bloom.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (168)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (163)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (167) The vegetation on Lord Howe Island is also very special, with half of the island’s 241 native plant species being found nowhere else in the world. Overall, there are 52 tree species; 24 shrub species; 24 creeper species; 12 orchid species; 28 grasses and sedges; 48 herb species, 56 fern species and 105 moss species. There are at least 100 different types of fungi. For more information about the vegetation, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/plantlife.pdf and http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/biodiversity/plants/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (170)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (172)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (169)The high degree of endemism (up to 60 per cent in some groups) is also found in the invertebrate population with over 1600 species. There are 157 species of land and freshwater snails; 21 species of earthworms; 515 species of beetles; 27 species of ants; 137 species of butterflies and moths and 71 species of springtails. As with all oceanic islands, there are few vertebrate land animals, apart from birds. There are only 3 on Lord Howe Island : a small insect-eating bat; a gecko and a skink, both of which are endemic to the island. There are no native frogs or terrestrial mammals on the island.

Even though he is looking a little older than in our photos, it is worth watching this video, produced by Jack, to get a feel for the climb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRkb24DPjE0. We were so exhausted at the end of the day we fell straight to sleep at the start of The English Patient, a film we had not seen and which we had rented out on video at enormous cost, especially for my birthday! We woke up early at 6am the next day to watch it before its return!

We were so stiff and sore and very very tired, so we were fair game for the spruikers and easily convinced to join Ron’s Rambles boat trip around the island!  The boat was overcrowded with 40 people crammed in and the weather rough with a giant swell, so most of us (but NOT Ross!) were very seasick. Still, we did get to see the island from a different angle, but I was pleased to get back on dry land, safe and sound! This jaunty video was taken on a far better day, but will give you a bit of a feel for exploring the island by boat : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXcN2ZhzosM.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (171)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (173)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (175)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (174)

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Ball’s Pyramid by sea

Still sore the following morning,  we had a low-key day : viewing the Woodhen breeding enclosure at Stevens Reserve, swimming at Lagoon Bay and Blinky Beach and visiting Lovers Bay and the rock pools of Middle Beach, where we saw Turbans, Sea Urchins, Nerites, black-and-white Cone shells and coral. We fed the fish at Ned’s Beach: Silver Drummers, Mullet and enormous King Fish. This amusing video will give you an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NbtNtlYf4U.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (177)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (180)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (179)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (183)We finished with an evening of jazz and dinner at Pinetrees Lodge, the largest and oldest resort on the island , having housed guests since 1895 and now run by the 6th generation of the original family.

Yet to explore Mt Eliza (147m) and North Bay, we cunningly decided to hire sea kayaks, so we could spare our still-sore legs! We had an easy and quick trip down to North Bay with the wind behind us, climbed Mt Eliza and explored the rock pools of Old Gulch, but at 3pm, when we started our return paddle, we discovered that the wind was now against us and it was strong!  We made little progress, so in desperation, we tied the kayaks together then, with much swearing and pushing, we finally inched our way past yachts, amused onlookers and the imminent arrival of the Island Trader, heading straight for us, back to the original beach. It was so good to get home and we’d achieved balance- now, our arms were as sore and stiff as our legs!!!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (182)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (184)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (188)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (187)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (181)We went down to the wharf the next day to see the MV Island Trader (http://www.islandtrader.com.au/) being unloaded.  Owned and operated by the islanders, it makes fortnightly trips from Port Macquarie on the NSW coast and delivers all the islanders’ needs from groceries, building supplies and hardware to cars and furniture, and even a few passengers- though the trip takes much longer than flying!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (185)  We revisited Old Settlement Beach, site of our other dream resort, Trader Nicks, now known as Arajilla Resort. If you had the money, it is so hard to choose between the two : Capella Lodge has the views, but Arajilla, nestled in amongst old Banyan trees, is closer to everything and has a lovely beach!  For information on Arajilla, see:  http://www.arajilla.com.au/ or http://lordhowe.com.au/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (190)We watched White Terns wheeling in the sky and snorkellers in the Sylph’s Hole, then made our way back to Ned’s Beach to say goodbye.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (186) A Sacred Kingfisher farewelled us at the airport.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (191)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (189) We flew home that afternoon, having had the most magical island holiday – an unforgettable way to celebrate my 40th birthday!!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (193)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (192)

The March Garden

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!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6925BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0694We have finally harvested the Jap pumpkins! Here they are soaking up the last of the Summer sun before joining their cousins in the shed.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0955 BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-19 18.47.52The 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!BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.35.18BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-19 18.42.40BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0862BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-20 16.52.17The 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!!!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0681 The tomatoes and capsicums are still very productive.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0914BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0690The 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.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0958BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0956We 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!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0911 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;BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0919 The more humble browns sitting quietly on foliage;BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-22 11.16.36BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.37.29BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.37.39BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-12 17.17.36BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0734 And majestic courting Orchard Butterflies chasing each other around the garden.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0113BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0155BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0127 We also discovered this precious little spotted moth and a stunning striped metallic green fly!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0645BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6957 The colourful zinnias host some equally stunning red and black beetles;BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0685BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6961BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6966BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0655 While the roses are home to grasshoppers and tiny spiders:BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0407BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0410BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0396Here is our old friend, The Blue-banded Bee, pollinating the Gaura in the Soho Bed.BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-12 17.13.50 I can’t wait to discover the creators of these leaf cocoons high up in the Kurrajong tree.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0922BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0921The 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.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0670 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!

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Eastern Spinebills and Yellow-faced Honeyeater
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Eastern Spinebills and Yellow Thornbill

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0385 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)BlogMarchGarden30%ReszdIMG_0782 - CopyBlogMarchGarden30%Reszd2016-02-23 10.19.19 - Copy

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A very wet, but cool, Eastern Spinebill!

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0859BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0854BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0345We saw a New Holland Honeyeater partaking of the birdbath for the first time yesterday.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0945We 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).BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0803BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0753BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0218 Other little birds include a White-throated Scrub Wren, Silver-Eyes and a Grey Fantail (photo below);BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 19.07.59 A flock of Double-barred Finches has been grazing on the lawn.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0300BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0316Larger birds like  female Blackbirds and Bower Birds are also attracted to the birdbath for a cool drink.BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 19.10.47BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 19.13.47 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!BlogMarchGarden40%ReszdIMG_0239 - Copy - CopyBlogMarchGarden25%ReszdIMG_0241 BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0283Because 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!!!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0867BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-21 21.38.49 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.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0394BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0395BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0648 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!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0902BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0865 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). BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 09.36.41BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0391BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0392