Canberra’s spring: birds, plants and a BraveHeart..

Canberra in spring, sunshine and flowers…. it is enough to make your heart sing.

Every day during winter the beautiful little Eastern Spinebill came to feed from the remains of the Peppermint Sage in our garden.

The Eastern Spinebill is an important pollinator of many native and non-native plants.

The Eastern Spinebill is a Honeyeater, and its long curved beak can reach nectar from native and non-native flowers.  They are often mistaken for Hummingbirds, (including by me) as they can hover over a flower in the same way a hummingbird does, but generally they perch on branches like other Honeyeaters.

The Eastern Spinebill: Photo by Ian Wilson (c) www.birdlife.org.au

The moment spring arrived, so did the Red Wattlebird. This bird is amongst the largest of the Australian honeyeaters. Despite the Eastern Spinebill’s loud call, he didn’t stand a hope and soon disappeared, and the Wattlebird took possession of the flowering Grevilleas, Camellias, and indeed, the whole garden..

The Red Wattlebird is known to be very assertive, noisy, and tenacious. It is difficult to tell the male from female, but both are extremely territorial in spring.

This year’s Red Wattlebird chased the sweetly twittering Silver-Eyes out of the plum tree, and the Crimson Rosellas out of the apricot tree.

..and the Blackbird, minding his own business searching for worms by the veggie patch…

It’s not as if they are all searching for the same food. ..the Wattlebird mostly feeds on nectar, and occasionally eats insects, either in the foliage, or caught mid-air….but is not a dedicated worm eater like the Blackbird!

Our garden felt a bit like the Australian parliament last week, there was a sudden shift of power!

Yesterday, to Paul’s amazement,  he saw the Red Wattlebird chasing a young Currawong…. David verse Goliath!

Currawongs are highly intelligent birds, with a distinctive and melodious call. They eat fruits and berries as well as small vertebrates, and in spring they sometimes attack nests for bird’s eggs.

No wonder the Wattlebird has turned into BraveHeart!

Pied Currawong: Photo by Harry Charalambous (c) www.birdlife.org.au

This spring we are choosing native plants to go into our newly cleared garden beds. Canberra had half our annual rainfall this year, and surrounding areas have been declared drought affected, so we are looking for frost resistant, and drought tolerant plants.

We would also like the plants to be bird-attracting (we can enjoy the birds and they are such good pollinators.)

Here are some we could choose:

(I took all these photos at our Australian National Botanic Gardens here in Canberra, a wonderful place to visit in spring.)

Grevillea

Grevilleas have been very successful in our garden so far…

Correas

Correas, are very easy to grow, and the bell-shaped flowers attract nectar feeding birds throughout the year.

Bottlebrush bush

The Bottlebrush is a hardy rewarding shrub, we have some in the garden already, but they are so reliable, we’ll add more.

Wattles (Acacia)

We had a Cootamundra Wattle Tree, beautiful while it lasted, but fairly short lived. We will plant another one.

A New Holland honeyeater on a Banksia flower.

I have not succeeded in growing a Banksia in our garden despite their hardy ability to survive in drought, once established.

Sturt Desert Pea

Who would not wish this lovely and unique flower in the garden, but I have only seen them thriving in the Australian Botanic Gardens, rather than gardens around Canberra.  I’d love to know if anyone is growing them successfully in Canberra.

I hope you are enjoying your season, and your place in the world at this time of the year, and may the sun shine and the rain fall on all the drought affected areas, in Australia, and elsewhere.

Many thanks to the photographers at Birdlife Australia, who generously allowed me to use their photos for the Eastern Spinebill and the Pied Currawong. This is a great organisation to support.

www.birdlife.org.au

Geraldine Mackey: Copyright, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Bay, birds, beaches, a swamp wallaby and signs of spring!

There’s some foot tapping going on here…..

Crimson Rosella

The seed bowl is taking a while to arrive today..

We are back in one of our favourite places, Mystery Bay, visiting friends.

Canberrans are not very far from the pretty south coast of New South Wales, and it is a wonderful place to visit for short holidays and long weekends (and is usually warmer than Canberra in winter, and cooler in summer).

Mystery Bay beach

Regular readers of this blog may recognise the sharp-eyed Kookaburra and lovely Spotted Eucalyptus (Gum) trees from a previous visit to this garden…

Kookaburra in Mystery Bay

The King Parrot, always a gentle and welcome visitor to a garden, looks as if he has been colour co-ordinated to fit with this birdbath..

The King Parrot in Mystery Bay

On the first warm afternoon, we walked to Mystery Bay beach and watched the soft winter sky turn pink. On the way home we noticed Wattle shrubs beginning to blossom… a sure sign that spring is on the way.

Wattles are Australia’s National Flower, and, as I remember it,  Wattle day used to be the 1st August, but now is 1st September….

During the weekend, we went with our friends to a music concert in the neighbouring town of Narooma. On the way home we saw this lovely flower, but I have no idea what it is…I’m sure someone will be able to help me out here.

The weather was taking a turn for the worst, but we still ventured a walk through the forest, to look at the Burrawang Cycads growing amongst the ghostly looking Spotted Gum trees.

The forest is part of the National Park, and provides a home for many birds and also smaller Australian animals like swamp wallabies.

We picked a wild and windy last day to go for a walk along 1080 beach…

No matter how windy the weather, the beach is still a good place for solving world problems..

However, the icy wind that day drove us back to the car….whose idea was this anyway?

Just as we left the car park we spotted this Eastern Yellow Robin, and he seemed to come down to greet us…

As we were driving back through the bush, we spotted this Swamp Wallaby munching on some Eucalyptus leaves….

A Swamp Wallaby is a small macropod marsupial. It lives in forests, woodlands and swampy areas…

Luckily he wasn’t going anywhere until he had finished his lunch..

I wish I had been able to take a photo of his long tail…quite remarkable..

Sadly we had to leave all this wonderful wildlife, and the good company of our friends to return to Canberra…

As we drove over Brown Mountain, we noticed it had been snowing…not unusual in this part of the world, but a first for us.. (and I think this would be called a dusting of snow in the Northern Hemisphere!)

This is a picnic spot on the edge of a little town called Nimmitabel. it had been snowing since Saturday, and the children nearby were having fun with toboggans…

picnic and rest stop at Nimmitabel

We chose to have our coffee in the warm new coffee shop at Nimmitabel on this day…

When we arrived home in Canberra, our regular King Parrots ( a pair) were having a much needed drink from the birdbath….

and, spring must be on its way because they had brought a baby King Parrot along to feed on the Japanese Maple..(I think this is a female as the male has an orange head)

The baby seems to be saying…….it is very cold for a first outing…

Such a cute baby!   I felt very pleased that the King Parrots had trusted their youngster to our garden for her first glimpses of the world….

Thanks for visiting  Canberra’s Green Spaces, and I hope you are enjoying your place in the world, whatever season it may be..

For anyone who missed my first post on Mystery Bay, and is interested in the area, here is the link….

http://www.canberrasgreenspaces.com/category/new-south-wales-south-coast/

Copyright Geraldine Mackey :  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brisbane: Southbank, sun, shade, food and green spaces..

We recently left our lovely garden visitors, the King Parrots, and flew to Queensland to escape Canberra’s cold weather and to enjoy a family holiday …

Queensland has a tropical and subtropical climate, and for those of us who live in the southern states, winter is the perfect time to visit this part of Australia.

Our first stop was the city of Brisbane, a friendly and relaxed city of about 2.4 million people.

We stayed at Southbank, overlooking the city and along the Brisbane River.

Southbank has restaurants, gardens, river walks, ferry rides, water play for children….something for everyone.

Here along the River Quay, we arrived just in time for the last day of a local festival celebrating the food grown around this area. I wish we had been here earlier to write more about this festival…another time.

Despite the Canberra winter, I am always looking for shade in hot weather, and this was a perfect promenade for people to sit, walk or ride bikes along the river.

After my accident earlier in the year, ( being knocked over by a rogue cyclist in Austria)  I am, for the first time, a bit nervous of bikes.

However, Southbank is designed for all. There is a second extra wide path, easy for walkers, and prams and strollers, and people who just want to stroll along with a camera, or to sit under the trees and watch the world going by….

I loved the curved paths around the water features, space for children to play and splash in water fountains, and for adults to sit close by and enjoy some food and the subtropical warmth and greenery.

The town planner’s attention to shade was obvious….(Australia has a very high rate of skin cancers)

This Arbour is a shady walkway going the whole length of Southbank, made from 406 curling galvanised posts, all covered with Bougainvillea..

My photo shows some flowering bougainvillea but the photo below shows just how lovely this walkway can look, and how cool in summer…  it is used constantly by the locals and tourists alike as a connection between the ferries going to and from the city..

The Arbour : Photo by Tjunction Media -Oz Roamer

Mature trees have been used for shade and design

 In the centre of Southbank there is the Epicurious Garden, for foodies, garden enthusiasts and children …

This garden, with lots of herbs and vegetables, is for people to see, feel and smell and taste all that is in the garden.  All plants are grown organically and there are volunteers available to talk about the gardens and methods used.

Every Tuesday to Thursday morning, free produce is available from the gardens….this is done on a ”first come, first served, basis”.

I enjoyed seeing plants I haven’t seen since my childhood…(I was brought up in Central Africa)

Here is the Guava tree…..I had a flashback to the many long hot afternoons I sat with friends under shady trees just like these, eating Guavas.

I believe guavas are very high in Vitamin C…..who knew in those days!

The Goodwill Bridge is shaped to capture the views of the Brisbane River and the shoreline.

 

There is a pedestrian walkway which links Southbank to the city’s Botanic Gardens. There is even a coffee shop at midpoint if you are walking across the bridge.

Photo by Visit Brisbane

After a hard day of walking and looking at gardens…the food choices in Southbank were wonderful……..such a positive refection of a multicultural city.

So here are the decisions we had to make every night… Italian, Turkish, Mexican, Indian, Creole, French, Vietnamese, fish and chips, and burgers.

We tried a few, all good, but the Turkish was up there with the best…

This dessert was called Baklava (better known to me as Lady Fingers) with wonderful soft pastry, dripping with nuts and honey, a glass of wine and a refreshing apple tea to finish it off.

….which restaurant would you choose?

The perfect end of the day spent in Southbank….. the city’s green spaces,  designed and built by town planners and architects for the people.

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Canberra in winter: Parrots, the Lake, and Edmund Barton, first Prime Minister of Australia

Canberra has a crisp blue-sky beauty in winter…..and for those of us who live in leafy suburbs, it is all about the birds that visit our gardens, and brighten a cold day.

Winter is the time for King Parrots in our garden…. and this year they are searching, in particular, for fresh water. Almost every morning they check the gutters of our cabin for frosty water pools warmed by the morning sun.

Although King Parrots are relatively large, they are sweet, shy birds, always in pairs, and easily frightened away..

Once they have had a drink, they often fly to the Japanese Maple, right near the sunroom window…

Look at the beautiful red and dark green markings on the tail and underbelly of this bird, as David Attenborough says, the natural world is so full of beauty…

Our regular Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are also looking for water..

…and, rather like school inspectors, they investigate the garden thoroughly

and we are found wanting …….

Where are the bird baths?

What happened to all the almonds?

I have the feeling we are getting zero out of ten for this old bird bath..

Hardly any water, shabby looking, almost toppling over..

The only reason we are here is because your neighbours are neglecting theirs…

The birds are great fun to watch while I am resting and waiting for my wrist to mend. Many thanks for all the well wishes, my wrist is now almost back to normal, and all is well.

Apart from watching birds from the sunroom window, I have been catching up on some reading,

This book, called ”The Good, the Bad, and the Unlikely”  is a very short history of Australian Prime Ministers.

It is written by the irreverent and humorous journalist Mungo Maccallum.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Some of the flat stones from London’s Waterloo Bridge (when it was demolished) were donated to this bridge when it was built in 1963.

Inspired by my reading, I wanted to take a photo of the statue of Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia. His statue is appropriately in the suburb of Barton, and we decided to incorporate a walk around Commonwealth Park, near the centre of the city, before taking the photo.

Despite being a clear winter’s day, there was a biting cold wind, and all walkers and cyclists have long abandoned the Lake and are warming up in coffee shops all over Canberra.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, Lake Burley Griffin, and the Captain Cook Memorial

The Captain James Cook Memorial is combination of the water jet, and a terrestrial globe, and commemorates the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s landing on the east coast of Australia in 1770. The three routes of Cook’s voyages, are inscribed on the surrounding handrail.

The stunning jet  of water always attracts the eyes of tourists, especially children.  Many years ago, as a young teacher in Canberra, I met up with friends and we hired a little boat, and rowed around the fountain.

We were thrilled to get thoroughly wet by the jet spray……they seem such innocent times now!

The above photo was taken in winter a few years ago…the photo below was July 2018, absolutely freezing…..even the resident pelican looked downcast.

However, a pair of Crimson Rosellas were steadily eating their way through some scattered seeds from overhanging trees.

Across the lake from Commonwealth Park there is a view of Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Democracy) and behind it,  Parliament House today (under repair as the roof has been leaking).

Here is another, much closer, photo of Parliament House. Much clearer without the repair work tent over the roof!

And here is the handsome statue of Edmund Barton….

According to Mungo Maccallum, Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton had one unique quality…he managed to unite a fractious group of politicians and colonies into creating a federation… in Mungo’s words..

Like most of their descendants, this motley bunch (the politicians at the time) were driven by a combination of idealism and self-interest, and getting them to agree on anything substantial was like herding a football team into a temperance meeting room.

Politicians all over Australia, agreed to become… as Barton says,

”a nation for a continent, and a continent for a nation

What a talent! I wonder how successful he would be if he tried that today!

Here is another sculpture of Edmund Barton, which is in The Prime Ministers’ Avenue, set in the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue of the Gardens in Ballarat. Well worth a visit, in every season.

https//ballaratbotanicalgardens.com.au

 

 

I hope you are enjoying your green spaces, where ever you live in the world….each season has a beauty of its own.

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

Vienna, Stadtpark…and an untimely end to our holiday…

In June, we left Canberra on a chilly winter morning for a long planned holiday.

Paul was giving a paper at a conference in Switzerland in early July, so why not go to Austria and Switzerland in June? Paul had not been to either of these countries, and I had only been once, many years ago.

Photos of Vienna

Vienna was very high on the list of places to visit, and after an interesting tour of the city, we stopped off at Stadtpark .

This beautiful park is divided into two sections by the Vienfluss (Vienna River)

Photo by Trip Advisor

The park was designed in the style of English gardens and opened in 1862.

Scattered through the park are statues of famous Viennese artists, writers and composers…

The plants in the gardens were chosen to provide colour and interest in all seasons…….some groves are, Ginkgo, Honey Locust, Pyramid, Poplars…

The Kursalan is an opulent building in the historic style of the Italian renaissance.

A wide Terrace built into the park is attached to it.

Amusements were initially prohibited, but in October 1868 Johann Strauss gave his first concert, in the Kursalan…

Johann Strauss wrote some of the waltz classics  (The Blue Danube) and, although this music was, at first considered “frivolous” by serious musicians, it was, gradually, through its growing popularity, given the respect it deserves.

Statue of Johann Strauss

In fact we were told on a tour, that waltzing was so popular, and women so reluctant to give up dancing while pregnant, that special rooms were made available nearby in case a woman needed to give birth while dancing! (and frequently happened, apparently)

Seems extraordinary !

We strolled through this beautiful park on a gloriously warm day, watching the people of Vienna enjoying their weekend.

 

Everyone seemed to be eating ice-creams, but this time I settled for a Vienna-Styled Iced Coffee (without the Baileys!)

….What a lovely day…so far..

 

…unfortunately soon after that, while standing in the pedestrian lane at a busy intersection by the station, I was knocked over by a cyclist.

An ambulance ride and long hospital visit later, we learnt I had a broken wrist which would need to be operated on as soon as possible….

Naturally we wanted to come back home to have this done…and so began the long journey back to Australia….

We had landed in Munich, and spent a few days there, and then visited Vienna for a few days. Goodbye to Salzburg, Switzerland and Paul’s conference.

Back in Munich for the flight home

During times of unexpected trouble and stress it is easy to forget all the kind people who are there along the way….we will be contacting all to give them our thanks.

The biggest thanks of all goes to Paul, who spent all night cancelling accommodation/train travel and that was just the beginning… getting us back to Munich for our new flight was a mission in itself…

.. and he missed out on the Swiss conference….what a pity!

I shudder to think how it would have been if I was in charge of getting us back home!

 

Bike riders and big cities

I have friends, and know people of all ages who ride bikes. They enjoy riding and are very responsible riders. I am greatly in favour of cutting down pollution levels in cities, and my general impression in Munich and in Vienna was that bike riders were courteous and rode well in the city.

However, since arriving home many friends and fellow travellers have mentioned being frightened by bike riders (especially in Amsterdam).

Popular destinations now have immense pedestrian tourist traffic, especially at major city intersections where traffic meets. Is it reasonable for bike riders to cycle at the same speed coming towards these major intersections?

If cars are registered…why not bikes?

It is a modern day dilemma and hopefully can be resolved.

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canberra’s Space Station, koalas and kangaroos…all on a summer’s day

Canberra is a city surrounded by bush, so it is possible to visit or work at Parliament House, and then drive out of the city into the bush within a very short time.

Last summer we had family and friends visiting our city, so we decided to take them into the bush, rather than the usual tourist places.

We live very close to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, a great place to see native wildlife in their own environment …….

However, not far away, from this Reserve, on 50 hectares (120 acres) is the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. It shares the Tidbinbilla valley with several sheep and cattle properties…..as incongruous as this sounds!

Exploring our solar system and beyond

This space station is part of the NASA’s Deep Space Network that spans the globe.

As the earth rotates, three sites, Goldstone, California, Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia provide 24 hour coverage of the solar system.

When we arrived on this cloudy morning, two of the satellite dishes were facing the sky…

The Space station provides two-way radio contact with dozens of robotic spacecraft and space telescopes exploring our solar system and beyond..

There is a viewing platform where we sat and drank our coffee while we watched a second dish move slowly down…

and as the sun came out and the clouds disappeared, the dish turned slowly and gracefully towards us. Quite a sight…

While we watched, many birds flew backwards and forwards, completely undisturbed and in fact, some Starlings perched on the dish, and stayed there while it moved around. Birds have amazing ability to adapt to their environment don’t they?

The Space Station has an excellent Information Centre, and I realised it deserved a much more detailed post, which I hope I can do in the next year.

However, for a complete change of pace….

….we had also promised our guests a viewing of the some young koalas nearby in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve…

This handsome young koala is called Billa, and he is one of a few koalas born at Tidbinbilla during the last few years, in a new breeding program started after the appalling bushfires in and around Canberra in 2003.

The koala in the photo below looks as if he has a thick furry black hat on, but this is actually another koala sleeping peacefully behind him.

We were lucky enough to see Billa climb down and hitch a ride with his Mum. This didn’t last long before she gently shook him off……tough love!

On the way out of the koala enclosure, we saw this kangaroo, completely oblivious of us…

As we drove back to the centre of the city, the sky looked promisingly as if it might rain..

and sure enough, as we sat by the lake having a glass of wine, there was some light rain…

and then this magnificent rainbow appeared  just near the Australian Museum

Most people had packed up their picnic suppers and left when the rain came….but the few that stayed were stunned by the sight

This little girl was pointing the to height of the rainbow, little knowing the pot of gold was nearby..

After the rainbow came this glorious sunset…..a wonderful way to end a day of sight-seeing…

I hope you are getting a few rainbows in your life, and perhaps some magnificent sunsets as well!

For those interested in koalas, I have written a previous post about koalas at Tidbinbilla…..

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, fire, rain, water and new life

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Right Reserved.

Canberra in Autumn …the gentlest season of the year

When the long hot summer is over, autumn is most welcomed in Australia.

Here are two verses from  Dorothea McKellar’s beautiful poem called

Australian Autumn

Rowing on an early autumn morning across Lake Burley Griffin near the Carillon

This is the gentlest season of the year,

From mists of pearl and gold

Lake Tuggeranong looking over the Brindabella Mountains

The slow sweet hours unfold…

fishing in Lake Burley Griffin near King’s Avenue bridge

To crystal colours, still

Canoeing on the lake near Yarralumla..

as a glass, but not so chill..

All birds speak softly in the autumn bush..

Crimson Rosella

 

King Parrots

And so the mellow day flows on to dusk.

and loveliness that grows

From skies of mauve and rose,

While fragrant smoke-plumes lie

Subtle as a memory.

Isn’t autumn a wonderful season? I hope you are enjoying your season, where ever you are in the world.

I have a few busy weeks coming up and I won’t be able to post, but I will read your posts and enjoy keeping up with your worlds.

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Bay, Spotted Eucalyptus, Kookaburras and an historic village

On any given morning Canberrans wake up to the sound of Magpies warbling…a lovely song.

If you drive over the mountains to Mystery Bay  on the south coast of New South Wales…

you can hear an entirely different song sheet… that of the Kookaburra.

This bird is the largest member of the Kingfisher family, and is known as the Laughing Kookaburra, because of its raucous dawn call…almost always done in chorus with the whole family.

The name, the Bushman’s Clock was given to the Kookaburra by early settlers because every morning at dawn and then again at sunset the Kookaburras call could be heard.

This is still true today. My parents lived in an area surrounded by Eucalyptus trees and when we visited them, the Kookaburras woke us up earlier than our children!

We are spending a weekend with good friends,  relaxing amongst these magnificent Spotted Eucalyptus trees…

This graceful tree is smooth and cream in colour with grey spots coloured from older bark. The light changes on the bark depending on the time of day..

Sometimes the trunk of the tree looks like grey green silk..

 

 

 

 

 

The Spotted Gums (as they are known) have clusters of fragrant white flowers from autumn to winter. These flowers attract the birds, (especially the Rainbow Lorikeets) and honey bees.

(I can’t imagine the honey bees getting a look-in today with all the Rainbow Lorikeets here)

While we were in Mystery Bay the Rainbow Lorikeets could be heard calling and feeding on the flowers…occasionally coming into the garden to bathe or drink in the birdbaths.

They are canny little birds and here they have reversed into the birdbath, for a quick get-away if needed.

Under the Spotted Gums the Satin Bower bird is looking almost iridescent in the sunshine..

Here is his nest and lots of blue objects to impress the female in his life..

….I hope she is impressed!

Nearby is a plant called Heliotrope, and it is known for its wonderful vanilla scent, almost as if a cake is baking nearby….. I was hoping we could grow this in Canberra, but it doesn’t tolerate frost very well.

Whenever we go to Mystery Bay we visit the markets in the nearby  picturesque historic town of Tilba Tilba.

Traditional owners of the land are the Yuin people and their dreamtime stories live on in the dramatic rocks and volcanic landscape. Gulaga mountain is the sacred mother mountain of the region.

Historic town of Tilba: Eurobodalla Tourism photo

European settlement began in the 1800s. The rich volcanic soil around the mountain was ideal for dairy farming.  Later gold was found in the surrounding mountains, and this brought prosperity and more settlement to this region.

The historic town of Tilba is now full of  galleries, traditional crafts, coffee shops and cafes, and markets on Saturday.

When we visit the markets I usually buy some jam and chutney, and warm knitted clothes. I bought a soft felt lined pure wool beanie (hat) for the winter and a knitted hat for my granddaughter.

The gold mining dwindled in the early 1900s..

but the diary industry continued and thrived, and Tilba became the home of some world famous cheeses.

ABC Cheese Factory: Photo from Eurobodalla Tourism

On the way home we passed a farm set at the foot of Gulaga Mountain.(Mt Dromedary)

This farm was used in the filming of the TV series, River Cottage Australia (taken from the British series of the same name)  The series was about sustainable farming, growing produce to sell locally, cooking and sharing food and farming skills. The local community were often part of the film crew.

Once the series had finished, the house and contents were sold, and, Paul West, the central character of the show, said all the animals found good homes!

On our travels around Tilba we also found (surprise surprise) the Tilba Nursery…full of interesting plants..

With our new garden border just waiting to be filled by new plants, we couldn’t resist these two plants. The nursery man assures me they are hardy and frost tolerant.

Eryngium planum “Silver Santino” and Cephalonia alpina

There is just time to get back to Mystery Bay for a walk along the beach, on a glorious autumn afternoon….

It is amazing just how many world problems you can solve while walking on a lovely beach with  old friends…

I hope you are enjoying your green spaces where ever you are in the world….

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

Corella-geddon……..borders and companion planting…

Corellas are the slightly smaller cousins of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, and when they  come to town, everybody knows about it…

They screech, strip leaves and bark in search of food, undo lamp post wires to swing on them, and they are up for a party any time!

Sam Dooley from Bird Life Australia says ”they are extremely intelligent birds who are able to adapt and exploit new food resources”  Corellas in Canberra (and elsewhere in Australia)  have developed a penchant for the seed pods of the Liquidambar, and the Oak trees, traditionally northern hemisphere trees.

They are destructive and entertaining in equal measure.

Well, just as long as they haven’t discovered our garden.. because look who’s coming….

Autumn is the time cockatoos fly in to our garden to check out our almond tree.  Thanks to Paul for taking this incredible photo as the cockatoo flew into the garden…

The cockatoos haven’t visited too often this autumn, perhaps because they prefer their almonds soft and soggy from the rain and we haven’t had any rain since February. We are hoping May will be rain month…

Meanwhile, Paul, who is just in the last stages of finishing his PhD, decided to clear about one quarter of the back garden, (he says it is a good counter balance to studying) . The plan is to change a very overgrown tired area, with a winding path and new plants along the borders.

Magpies are very tame and great gardening companions….that is, if you are clearing, rather than planting..

They dig away looking for grubs and take a great interest in the gardening routine.. as you can see they are very low key compared with Corellas.

At the rear of the above photo is a water tank, it is attached to the carport roof, and rain water drains from the  gutters into the tank…  (we have a second much bigger tank near the house) These two tanks have provided enough rain water for most of the back garden this summer.

Here is Paul’s cleared border…looking great, and ready for new plants. The Photinias on the right hand side will be trimmed right back at the end of May.

The magpie on the archway is really enjoying a shower, what could be better after a bit of companion gardening..

Meanwhile I had a much smaller project on hand…moving some of the succulents, which, after summer are spilling out of their pots.

I put an ornamental white agapanthus in the middle of this old birdbath, and some succulents and pebbles around it. One of the younger magpies spent a bit of time watching me… as the Aussie saying goes..  she was having a ”stickybeak”.

…. I left to have lunch on the deck.. and started filling in my new ” Five year Garden and Planting Diary”

and when I looked into the garden, she had pulled out one of the agapanthus. I suppose if it was good enough for me to pull plants out of pots, it must be worth  trying for her…

She is warbling at me (gently) here, to tell me that this is her territory..

and she looked so determined to try again that I resorted to putting the newspaper over the top of the new creation, while I finished writing in my diary.

The things you do for birdlife….

The succulents are safely on the deck now…

and all is well in the autumn garden..

….except for water….that most precious commodity for much of Australia.

Crossing fingers for May..

 Finally the weather has cooled into the gentle golden sunshine that is autumn in Canberra, and often accompanied by beautiful sunsets..

The kind of weather that inspires you to stand in the garden every morning and sing

”Oh what a beautiful morning..”

I hope you are enjoying spring or autumn/fall in your part of the world, and singing…

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

The Snowy Mountains, a walk amongst the wild flowers and snowgums..

Canberra, the capital of Australia, was created to appease the established cities of Melbourne and Sydney…..both of whom thought they should be the capital!

UK Net Guide photo

As a result Canberrans are lucky enough to live in a small manageable size city….. not too far away from big cities…and with two other holiday choices, the pretty South Coast beaches, and the Snowy Mountains, which is the highest Alpine Region in Australia.

In the summer time, Paul and I often come to Lake Crackenback, which is just outside Kosciuszko National Park, to enjoy the cooler mountain air, and to do some walking and see the alpine flowers.

self designated umpire looking for players

Lake Crackenback has a Lodge and some self-contained apartments, and nearby the kangaroos are frequent visitors.

These kangaroos easily hop over fences to graze on the lawns, but will also hop away if you come too close.

We drove from Crackenback up to Charlotte’s Pass amidst flower-covered borders along the road….for me this is reminiscent of Scotland (where my father was born)

We took the walk  from Charlotte’s Pass down to the head waters of the Snowy River seen below….Paul had ideas of walking up the path on the other side which goes to the Blue Lake…..but I thought we should quit while we were ahead!

These Alpine plants cope with harsh conditions during the winter….

and then create this patchwork of colour during summer..

The yellow flowers, Billy Buttons. 

Australia is the only country in the world where a single genus of tree, Eucalypt (commonly called gum trees), occurs from the desert to the mountains, to the sea.

The Snow-gum trees are very imposing, often looking dramatically twisted and stunted, and able to repair themselves from wind and snow damage.

The Silver Snow Daisy makes a lovely carpet of flowers beneath the Snow gums.

It is impossible to go past one of these trees without touching the silk-smooth trunk and branches.

The sign nearby says  ”these grandfather trees are two or three hundred years old. Aboriginal tradition says that the spirits of the ancestral travellers live in these warraganj (old snow-gums)”

The water here is cool and clear…a lovely place to stop and take some photos..

Australia is such a dry country, water is always a delight to see..

Time to turn back….unfortunately what comes down……must go up….

However, the scenery along the way is worth it..

Meanwhile, at Lake Crackenback, the kangaroos are snoozing on the edge of the golf course…..amazing really..

and near our self-contained accomodation…we’ve interrupted a bit of grazing on the grass

”where have you been?”

Just as well we walked that day, the next morning the Scottish weather had rolled in… dramatic and beautiful in its own way…

Many thanks for dropping by to read about my place in the world, and I hope you are enjoying your own green spaces, city or country,  where ever that may be….

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved