Sunday, December 27, 2009

Today's Flowers; Exotics;

Heliconia rostrata

Heliconia rostrata is one of the most recognized and widely grown species, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is still considered one of the most beautiful. The inflorescence it produces is one of the most colorful you will ever encounter. The mature plant normally starts to flower in the summer. The flowers last a long time and make an excellent cut flower. It is an easy grower in tropical areas but some room is required because the stalks can reach 7 feet in height. Bright shade is ideal with good moisture in the air and in the soil, but no soggy soils. Heliconias are also heavy feeders.
-related to Bananas and Bird of Paradise
-clump forming, erect banana like foliage

Allamanda cathartica;

A genus of tropical shrubs or vines belonging to the dogbane family (Apocynaceae).
The genus Alamanda is native to South and Central America. Their year-round production of large, bright flowers have made the Allamanda popular ornamentals.

For Flowers from around the world click here please.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tomatoes...essence of summer;

Despite the dry we had a great crop of tomatoes. They are grown organically, no pesticide at all. This summer not one tomato was infested by fruit fly.

Ingredients for my Tomato Chutney, truly delicious and healthy.
1 kg tomatoes ripe and red
1/2 tbl spoon salt
1 fresh chilli or 1 teaspoon chillipowder or tabasco to your liking,
1 piece (ca.2 cm) fresh, finely grated ginger,
250 g organic sugar,
1/2 tbl spoon Garam Masala
lots of garlic, at least 5 big cloves pressed through a garlic press,
2 dl apple vinegar.

Mix all the ingredients, tomatoes halfed, and let slightly bubble for 1 hour until like a jam.
Generally I leave skin and seeds as they are good for a healthy diet.

Fill in squeaky clean glass jars. These are recycled. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today's Flowers; Summer delights;

Hoya carnosa is happiest...

climbing up a tree;

Hoya carnosa is one of 100 species of Hoya that are native to Eastern Asia and Australia. Hoya carnosa was named for Thomas Hoym, gardener to the Duke of Northumberland at the end of the 18th century.
Blooming Time: Summer: Clusters of attractive, star shaped, pink-white blossoms are produced in summer. The delicate flowers appear to be made of porcelain and are truly unique.
Culture: Hoya carnosa does best in at least 4 hours of direct sunlight a day, but also can be grown in bright indirect or curtain-filtered sunlight. Water freely during flowering but allow the soil to become almost dry between waterings when the plants are resting. Fertilize every 2 months in spring and summer. Do not remove the leafless spurs or stubs, on which new flowers appear every year.
Propagation: Hoya carnosa can be propagated at anytime by air layering or by stem cuttings. A portion of the stem including one or more pairs of leaves will quickly produce roots in water or damp sand.

Brachychiton discolour flowers from late spring into summer;

Australian native tree with a striking Summer flowering display.
Features: A large, bushy tree with a stout, grey trunk and attractively patterned bark. The large, matt-green leaves have a felt-like covering and fall from the tree prior to flowering. Then, in Summer, the bare tree is covered in a profusion of 6cm, woolly, pink, bell-shaped flowers that hang in clusters at the ends of the branches.
Conditions: Enjoys a warm, sunny, moist, well drained position but will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, and an occasional frost, once established.
For Best Results: Mulch to maintain soil moisture. Fertilize in Spring if required.
Planting Ideas and Uses:
- striking specimen tree
- site where Summer bloom can be enjoyed

The herb Dill has pretty flowers and dainty leaves. It is now ready to cut and dry for my herb salt.

Click here for Today's Flowers;

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Heart of the Swag; Henry Lawson; Australian Poetry.

The Heart of the Swag; by Henry Lawson; written 1905.

Oh, the track through the scrub groweth ever more dreary,
And lower and lower his grey head doth bow;
For the swagman is old and the swagman is weary—
He’s been tramping for over a century now.
He tramps in a worn-out old “side spring” and “blucher,”
His hat is a ruin, his coat is a rag,
And he carries forever, far into the future,
The key of his life in the core of his swag.
There are old-fashioned portraits of girls who are grannies,
There are tresses of dark hair whose owner’s are grey;
There are faded old letters from Marys and Annies,
And Toms, Dicks, and Harrys, dead many a day.
There are broken-heart secrets and bitter-heart reasons—
They are sewn in a canvas or calico bag,
And wrapped up in oilskin through dark rainy seasons,
And he carries them safe in the core of his swag.

There are letters that should have been burnt in the past time,
For he reads them alone, and a devil it brings;
There were farewells that should have been said for the last time,
For, forever and ever the love for her springs.
But he keeps them all precious, and keeps them in order,
And no matter to man how his footsteps may drag,
There’s a friend who will find, when he crosses the Border,
That the Heart of the Man’s in the Heart of his swag.

The grey leaves of a River Gum along the Darling.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time to read....

when the sun sets...

A favoured time, a favoured book.. it can not get better;

The Dark Mountain by Catherine Jinks.

Based on the true story of a colonial family. This compelling tale includes a memorable cast of characters including Australia's first female Novelist. The story is set against the brooding backdrop of the Southern Highlands.

In the summer of 1836 a violent incident in the Belanglo wilderness, sets of a chain of events that transforms Charlotte's and her siblings life.

It was first published in 2008.

Oh! The light from the mountain is fading away
And the shadows creep over it chilly and grey,
I see the stark rocks in their sternness and pride;
But the flowers are hidden that grow by their side.
The tall trees are tossing their wild arms on high
As the shriek of the curlew goes mournfully by,
The cold night is coming it will not delay.
For the light from the mountain is fading away.

Louisa Atkinson calvert, ca.1850

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Today's Flowers; Little puddles;

Jazzy Bromeliads;

I like Bromeliads in the garden. They are tough, easy to maintain and adding vivid splashes throughout the garden. They also provide homes for tiny frogs. I hope you enjoy Bromeliads.

Today's flowers click here

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Slippery slope....

The vegetable gardener has broken the fibula in the ankle. He slipped on the round fruit of the Cocos palms which are planted in one row on a fairly steep slope. This accident was like a chain reaction.
As it happened, Billy brought every day a piece of bread; which we do not like a he eats it and gets fat. We do not feed him bread. The Bandicoots must have brought it into our garden, as Bandicoots do that sort of thing! Anyway he wanted to investigate where the bread comes from. The Vegetable gardener went over the fence to ask our neighbour. She was not at home. While on the other side of the fence he saw a big Bowen Mangotree and thought he has a look if this tree is bearing any fruit this year. Generally Bowen Mangotrees do not bear fruit in our area as it is to wet when they set flower. The flowers are affected by a fungus. As it is a very dry spring this year he was interested to see if this tree would bring some fruit. He did not reach this tree as he slipped on the round fruits of the Cocos Palms. He had to get home on his knees as nobody could hear him calling for help! I do not know how he managed to get over the fence!
If there is a moral to this story, do not go over the fence to see the neighbours Mango trees!
Now, I have to take over the care of the Veggie garden as well, which is not a mean task...for the next six to eight weeks.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's Flowers; Dendrobium speciosum;

RockOrchids; Dendrobium speciosum are flowering at the end of winter.

It is a wonderful show when the big sprays of orchid flowers appear. They have a very distinctive fragrance, not sweet, but still very special when you smell it you know the rock orchids are flowering.

A native orchid that grows on rocks or trees. It has sprays of small, creamy-yellow flowers, thick, leathery leaves and swollen, bulbous roots (called pseudobulbs). The flowers appear in spring. A third petal in the centre of each flower is known as the lip, which serves as a landing strip for insect pollinators.

Click here for Today's Flowers;

Thank you to Luiz Santilli jr. and his team.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Song of Innocence; Something blue;

Something blue;
Wednesday afternoon was school free. When I returned home for lunch, which I did every day not just on Wednesday, I spotted already from afar an unfamiliar blue colour between a small copse of birch trees and my home.

I loved the look of those trees at anytime of the year. One of them stood out much taller. I liked to peel off their soft, silken bark. My mother said one should not cut deep into the bark of the birch because it will bleed. I could not resist and tried to carve my name into the bark. The letters looked crooked and the tree bled which made me feel bad and I did not finish my name.
In spring, heart shaped leaves unfurled in the softest apple green. They quivered like a ballet dancer en pointe with the slightest breeze. Towards summer the leaves changed to dark green and their shadows danced on the coarse grass. In autumn the leaves turned golden before their final dance to the ground.
The trees looked white and ghostlike in winter, gossamer shreds peeling from the trunks and limbs. Their soft shape merging into the white, misty landscape.

On the tallest and sturdiest of the birches my father had hung a swing on a branch. He had sanded and smoothed a piece of wood, carved my name into the seat and blackened the letters with a blowtorch. I loved to sit on the swing and move slowly to and fro. There was always a creaking sound when I swung forward. I liked to look up through the sunlit leaves into the blue of the sky.
Today I ignored the swing as my attention was drawn to a sky blue painted gypsy wagon. All was quiet when I walked around it. Small, neat windows surrounded by painted flowers. I wondered who had left it there and who lived in there.
I looked around and saw a girl coming towards the wagon. She carried a full bucket of water that slightly spilled over the rim.
To me she did not look at all like a Gypsy with black hair and a dark complexion. She looked rosy and a long red blond plait was hanging over her shoulder. I was rather disappointed with her looks. There was nothing exotic about her, no golden earrings and bangles, or colorful skirts. She was wearing a very ordinary, rather drab skirt and blouse.

I said hello and pointed to my house where I lived. I asked if I could help with the bucket. She shook her head and walked on towards her wagon. I followed her and asked her all sorts of questions, which she patiently answered. She opened the door, I asked if I could come in as I had never been inside a gypsy wagon.
I had seen the wagons of the circus people when my mother and I went to the side show. My mother did not let me near the wagons because she said the circus people do not take it kindly if one invades their privacy.
I was wondering if the girl would welcome me into her home. When Serafina, she said I can call her Fina, let me see her home, I was amazed how neat, colorful and comfortable everything looked.
She put her finger to her mouth and looked at me while she opened a curtain to reveal a tiny room with just enough room for a big, high bed and a small window. Where ever I looked there were flowers, the bedspread, the curtains the carpet, the walls were painted with flowers, it was like a flowering bower. In the middle of the bed slept a baby. Everything about it was tiny.It was only two month since it was born.

It was getting late and I had to go home to do my homework for school. I hoped she would still be here tomorrow. I wanted to visit her after school. Fina said if everything goes well she will stay for a week or two and than she has to move again. I wondered where her horse or tractor was to pull the caravan. There was no horse as the caravan was transported by train.
I mentioned that it must cost a lot of money to transport a caravan, so she better stay here for a long time. Fina said she can not decide how long she is allowed to stay. There were certain rules they had to obey.
I also met her husband, he had a big red moustache and I thought he did not like me as he ignored me completely. Perhaps he did not like me visiting his family. I thought he looked like a Walrus, but I did not say that to Fina as it would have been rude. He was not often there when I visited which I was glad about.

Fina knitted everyday tiny garments for her baby. She said bring your doll and I will knit an outfit for her. I asked my mother for wool. She gave me a jumper which was too small for me. There were different colours and Fina was very pleased when she saw it and I helped her to unravel the knitting and we made neat balls of wool, each colour separate.

One day, out of the blue, the wagon was gone like it had arrived, without an announcement.
A small card was in the letterbox. It said “Perhaps we meet again”. I have never forgotten Fina and her baby. She was kind and had a lovely voice when she sang. She had knitted underpants, socks and made a dress for my doll. Sometimes I thought I saw the blue wagon in the copse when I returned from school but it was only my imagination. We never met again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reading: The Memory Keeper's Daughter; by Kim Edwards;

Life is like a glimpse through the trees. (T.S.)

A bestselling novel about parallel lives, familial secrets, and the redemptive power of love.

Pick up this book and you want to read it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today's Flowers; Daylilies;

It is not yet Daylily time in my garden. As I am planting some now I thought to show off some of my beauties. Usually the first start to flower at the beginning of October.

Charlie Pierce Memorial is a new one I have planted now.

Champagne Elegance is a new one.

Spode; I planted last year; it was a bonus plant from my Daylily supplier Shelly.

Bold Encounter I planted last year.

Maleny Debutante; was also acquired last year.

So softly spoken,flowers since many years in my garden.

Double Orange; I received more then 30 years ago from a fellow garden friend. Her Ancestors migrated to Australia in the 19Th century and brought this plant with them.

These are just a few of my daylilies. I must admit I am addicted to them!
Click here Today's Flowers; Luiz Santilli jun. and his team.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today's Flowers;

Bridal Pink; floribunda; 1967. This rose is recommended to grow in zones 5-9. It does grow and flower well in my subtropical climate zone 11. This rose lasts especially long as cut flower and looks attractive at any stage has also a nice fragrance.

Heartsease growing from the base of a hanging pot. A seed must have lodged itself there.
Photos T.S.
Today's Flowers click here

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A facelift...

For my kitchen;Welcome; The front entrance which leads into the boot room and is actually the back of the house has received a facelift as well, a new door and a new colour, it looks much friendlier now!

This sunny nook in the kitchen is my favourite place!

My farm!

New mosaic tiles; new Caesar stone counter top. The cupboards were still good so they got a new laminate paint. The colour is apple bitter and it is a moody colour which changes with the light from beige to a buttery colour or a tint of green. It matches well with the wall tiles and the floor. New sleek handles and the transformation is complete.

The exhaust was not replaced as it is very efficient, so just got a new copper lining on the hood.

A new big, deep sink; on the right the well water and on the left town water. Well water is for drinking and cooking.
I like my kitchen it is simple, easy and very functional. I do not like the new super kitchens with their big stoves, to much to clean. I also do not like to many gadgets. I would not know what to do with a rice cooker! I have a few handy appliances which I use. A kitchen Aid, a stick mixer, a blender, a toaster and a Espresso machine that is about it....and I like to cook!

How does your kitchen look like, what do you like best in your kitchen? Do you like to cook?