Christmas is such a busy time that I’m going to keep this post, short and sweet.
The first sweet item is a book that I ordered online, through Booktopia. It has arrived in time for Christmas! This book is part of a series, written by Laurie Graves. Laurie lives in Maine, USA and I live in Canberra, Australia, so we couldn’t be further apart, but the wonderful part of blogging is getting to know and enjoy fellow bloggers. I have been reading Laurie’s blog posts for a few years now, and I know just how much time and effort she has put into this series.
We are a family who love stories and reading and we’ll enjoy this book. Many thanks Laurie!
My granddaughter pointed out these Rainbow Lorikeets in the playground, completely oblivious of children playing around them.
This Crimson Rosella has spent some time in our garden this year, without a partner….very unusual, hopefully the new year brings a partner.
Another Crimson Rosella, this time at the coast. He or she is navigating the spiky bush very well considering she has a beak full of food!
We recently bought a Hibiscus shrub to put on our deck, and this is the reward, a regular supply of beautiful flowers.
Another Rainbow Lorikeet swaying in the breeze…
A flashback to winter. Every year we get a visit from a pair of Kookaburras, and this year they had two juvenile Kookaburras with them.
There is something endearing about Kookaburras, and perhaps it is their early morning call, one of the unique sounds of the bush in Australia.
We walk past this plant in a neighbour’s garden almost every day in spring. I don’t know the name of this wonderful plant but it lights up the garden in the early morning.
It looks like Waratah flower with the leaves of a Woolly bush.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog post today, and may you all have a peaceful Christmas where ever you are in the world.
PS the header photo is a red flowering Eucalyptus …it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Winter arrived in Canberra on 1st June with snow falling on the Brindabella Mountains
During autumn we had seemingly non-stop rain and so the occasional wintery, but sunny day was welcome. The storm water drains around the inner city were flowing steadily with water, hard to believe after so many years of drought, not so long ago.
We have taken to walking our daughter’s dog Charlie once a week, which is very good exercise and we visit parts of the city with good walking/cycling tracks.
One of my favourite walks is through Haig Park. This park reminds me of parks in Europe, perhaps as so many of the mature trees are European, and as in Europe, people stroll through the park all week and all through winter.
The park was planned and trees planted in about 1921, as a wind break shelter within the city. 7000 trees were planted, mostly exotic evergreen and deciduous trees.
Since that time the park has had times of neglect, but is now a wonderful addition to inner city living.
However, in contrast to European parks we have possums rather than squirrels and many different colourful birds..
Despite the regular walkers, and a very popular, busy market in the park on the weekend, there are plenty of birds to be seen everywhere.
Eastern Rosellas are very shy parrots, so I was happy to get a photo of these two Rosellas.
Last week we went to Sydney to visit Paul’s mother, and on the way home we stopped off at one of our favourite bookshops Berkelouw Book Barn.
This inviting Book Barn has a roaring fire in winter, and is a wonderful place to browse for books, (second-hand and new ones) at any season of the year. We always have coffee and sometimes cake, which provides the fuel needed to hunt out new books and second-hand books. We came away with an interesting pile of books, as always..
Nowadays the Book Barn is also a restaurant and a wedding venue as well. However, these don’t start until midday, so the very best times to visit are the mornings and week days if possible.
Lastly, a flashback to autumn when we visited our family in Melbourne. We always stop about half way, at a small town in the Alpine region called Myrtleford. Next door to our Air BnB is a vacant block of land, which is used as a wildlife sanctuary.
This family of Kangaroos always come down cautiously to see us…no feeding required, .. they are just curious, or as the Aussie expression would have it, they are Sticky beaks!
Finally, my favourite photo of the year so far, a young kookaburra in our garden. Every winter about this time a family of kookaburras come to our garden. I’m sure the family love the fact that we have many birdbaths filled with water for them, and many worms in our vegetable garden..(Paul doesn’t love that side of things)
However, I like to think, and I’m sticking to my story, that they also come back to show us their latest very cute offspring.
Best wishes to everyone and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.
We are living in a turbulent world these days, and during times like this I remember my mother, who concentrated always on the small, simple and pleasant parts of life, to help get through the difficult parts, and her favourite quote, as I have mentioned before:
”When the world wearies and society does not satisfy…. there is always the garden.” by Minnie Aumonier
International Tree Day is coming up on Sunday 1st August. Time to celebrate all our beautiful trees in Australia. and the wonderful array of birds that rely on these trees.
The states surrounding Canberra (ACT), are either in Lockdown or just coming out of Lockdown, and everything is very wintery and quiet..
Despite a few blue skies you may see in some of today’s photos, don’t believe it…. Canberra is having a cold, rainy, windy winter.
The brightest colour in the garden this week was the cockatoo’s yellow crest.
Fortunately birds are still visiting the garden and we are also going for bush walks around Canberra, when the rain stopped. While we were walking along Coolamen Ridge, on a rare sunny day, we noticed the juvenile Kookaburra below calling for his family..
Why are we seeing juvenile birds in the middle of winter? Perhaps, as a result of the rain, there is an abundance of food… Paul suggested a bird baby boom. Well that would be something positive in these Covid times.
These magnificent Eucalyptus trees are providing a haven for the birds to feed on and nest in hollows. Imagine how safe and warm they would be on windy rainy days.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens is a wonderful place for wildlife because there are so many Eucalyptus trees.
Australia has a wide variety of bird and animal life, and while we are on the topic of trees, there is a unique marsupial very much connected to trees, called the Tree Kangaroo.
While visiting my cousin in the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland in 2017 we stopped off at the Nerada Tea farm. This is the largest supplier of Australian grown tea, and not only do they have a lovely shop with lots of interesting teas and specially selected imported teas,
they also have a tea room with very inviting scones and cream.
After visiting the shop, we noticed a furry animal in one of the trees….a tree kangaroo! Very difficult to take photos of these shy animals, as it is very hard to see them. They look a bit like furry teddy bears with long tails. This was the first time for all three of us to see one in the wild.
Tree Kangaroos are kangaroos that live in trees. They have small ears and shorter legs and arms, their feet have curved claws for gripping and climbing. They are marsupials and are the largest tree-dwelling mammals in Australia. The Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos is the smallest of the species, and are found in the rainforest patches on the Atherton Tablelands.
Tree kangaroos feed on leaves and foliage and fruit and flowers of native trees in the rainforest.
Fortunately I was able to get a photo of a Tree Kangaroo from our own National Zoo. I must say this tree kangaroo is looking very well groomed and smart.
On this wild and wet day we stopped off at small cafes and shops selling delicious foods, specialist food products and coffee. A very satisfying day indeed.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog post today. With so many people in Lockdown or quarantine, or just being careful during these Covid times, I noticed a Zulu saying (undoubtedly meant for hunting) but true for us today ..
Well here we are in the middle of winter in Canberra, and I have left my camera in Melbourne.
Canberra, with its beautiful clear autumn and winter light, lends itself to photography. My Iphone is fine for family photos, but my camera is better for landscapes.
However, I do have many, many folders of photos that have not been used. I wonder how many bloggers are the same? I am better at de-cluttering the house than getting rid of photos. You just never know when you will need them.
So here are a few photos from these folders of my favourite places to walk, take photos, and have coffee in Canberra. Some photos have been used in previous posts, but many have been hiding in all those folders.
Ann Moyal, a writer, and an academic, had to say….
“I have been in love with Canberra for over sixty years. Its parched landscape, its ring of deep blue mountains etched against an iridescent sky. Its light and calming beauty…“
Canberra’s suburbs are full of birds all year round, but in autumn and winter we start to notice some our most colourful visitors…the King Parrots.
The male Australian King Parrot is the only Australian parrot with a completely red head. The female King parrot has a green head and neck.
The Rainbow Lorikeet is a beautiful splash of colour against the Eucalyptus tree in autumn.
Early morning walkers and bike riders are dedicated…they are relaxing around the lake in every season ..even winter.
This is my favourite building, one of the best places for coffee, and so warm and comfortable too!
I always enjoy the native gardens in Art Gallery gardens, and the sculptures change with every season.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is not far from the city centre, and is full of wildlife..
I have many photos of kangaroos as a result of our visits during spring. However, for some reason this photo never makes the cut.
When we first came to Canberra we went to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve at Easter time with our two young children (after our Easter hunt back home). We found a picnic table and sat down to have our picnic and Easter eggs. Some Emus appeared out of nowhere and two of them snipped up the Easter eggs, and off they went into the bushes! Our daughters have had a very cautious approach to Emus every since.
One of my absolute favourite places for a walk in autumn and winter is around the suburb of Yarralumla.
This is the house where the Governor General resides, and has a wonderful view across the lake. There lines in the water are for rowing boats.
In summer time I sometimes meet friends at a coffee shop near here, and the mature shady gardens are a wonderful place to sit on a warm day.
During one of my visits, a very organised lady arrived with her greyhound and small dog. I asked if she would like me to keep an eye on them while she ordered her coffee. She thanked me, but said the little dog was the boss, and even with her restricted collar, she would not let the greyhound move away.
I could believe it!
Just as I write this today, Australia has experienced a spike in COVID cases in Sydney, and short Lockdowns have begun. This is a timely reminder to get vaccinated. Paul and I have had our first vaccine with no side effects and will have the second dose in August.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and may your garden, your home and family be happy and safe, where ever you are in the world.
The poet Mary Oliver liked to go out walking early in the morning. Although her landscape in the USA is undoubtedly different to mine, her poem has universal appeal to all who go out early in the morning.
”Softest of mornings hello. And what will you do today, I wonder with my heart…”
The National Arboretum of Canberra is a wonderful place to see the sun rise on a soft autumn morning.
Autumn is a very busy time for us, and we are trying get as much planting and tidying done in our garden, before we go and visit other gardens.
So here are just a few photos of our autumn garden…. and of course, the birds that come to visit…
The tiny Eastern Spinebill is a regular visitor, feeding on the Pineapple Sage, which has almost taken over this part of the garden.
It is a most elusive little bird, but Paul just managed to get a photo of him with his phone.
Thank you for visiting Canberra’s Green Spaces today, and I hope your autumn or spring days are bright and sunny, where ever you are in the world.
Recently a family living in the Adelaide Hills had an unexpected visitor to their Christmas tree. There are many trees in the area where they live, and seeing koalas in the trees is not uncommon. However, a curious koala had made it’s way into Amanda McCormick’s house
and climbed up the Christmas tree! The story went viral when her daughter posted these photos on FB. The koala was gently removed, (the Wildlife Rescue Team thinking this was a hoax at first) and the koala was taken back to her natural habitat. Fortunately she had not managed to eat decorations or green plastic leaves!
Amanda McCormick said, ”After a bad year, it was nice to have that”
2020 has been a year like no other. A year of changing our routines and habits, feeling a degree of fear and anxiety as the pandemic spread, and spending more time at home than ever before.
Looking back over my photos of the year, I feel as if we have lived three years in one year! Was it really only in January that we did a trip to Melbourne Botanic gardens? Wasn’t that a life time ago?
Lockdown began in Canberra in March and we realised it was time to cancel our long planned trip to the UK in May. The light slowly dawned on us all that travel to another country was definitely not going to happen any time in the near future, and travel to other states within Australia became increasingly difficult too.
By August and September, when the state of Victoria had the worst number of Covid cases in Australia and therefore the hardest lockdown, travel to another suburb within Melbourne was banned for three months. During this time, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, our daughter, living in Melbourne, gave birth to a baby boy.
Despite all the hurdles of tight hospital rules and general anxiety in the community, this bonny baby was born in September and he smiles all the time….the best of 2020.
During this Lockdown year, most Australians have been able to go for walks, around suburbs and within slightly wider boundaries.
As good luck would have it , the La Nina had begun, bringing plenty of rain to Australia.
Now there is less chance of drought and bushfires in summer…not to mention beautiful healthy green growth, food for all the birds and animals around Canberra.
If the Chicagoan architects and planners of this city, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony could see Canberra now (well, most parts of it anyway) …..so much greenery, bushland and space, at a time when it is most needed. Many thanks to them.
I have read that during this pandemic, dog ownership has become remarkably popular, in Australia and elsewhere. This is not surprising considering how many people have been working from home…dogs provide both companionship and a reason to exercise!
Our daughter bought a puppy, named Charlie, during this year, and he has been a great Covid year companion, and we look forward to his visits. He is very very cute!
Last summer I wrote about a gardener in our suburb, named Ken, who had begun to grow plants on the verge outside his home and garden.
This year, he has, with the permission of the local council, extended the area and he has planted, trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. (the vegetables are for any passer-by to pick)
These pathways are well used by the local community, and every time we walked past there are a whole range of new plants to admire.
Ken and his wife are very proud of their gardens and always have time for a chat. The big sandstone rocks provide seating and shade, and companionship to passers-by. Best of all, the birds love the extra trees and plant food.
I think this casual interaction between neighbours gives us a sense of community, and belonging, I’m not sure anyone had the time for chatting before 2020!
Yesterday, as we walked through these gardens and down the hill to get the morning paper, we came across some busy cockatoos.
The ABC Science show recently had an interesting talk on Sulphur Crested Cockatoos..
They often fly in flocks as big as 50 -100, (the noise they make is deafening) but spend their time sleeping and eating in small five square kilometre areas, with tight networks, going from 5-20 birds who seem to be best mates….as seen here.
They could be collecting the bark to look for bugs to eat, and/or perhaps sharpening their beaks at the same time. (I’m open to suggestions). They are such intelligent birds they could be just keeping busy.
I always love to catch a glimpse of birdlife in Canberra, and to look over at the Brindabella Mountains….may they keep that blue/green hue all summer long.
Many thanks for visiting my blog this year. During a year of so much solitude, I have enjoyed reading blogs and keeping in touch with every day living in other parts of the world.
May you have a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.
Desiderata was my mother’s favourite verse, and it is very apt for today, despite it being written in 1692!
”…with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
As we adjust to our ”new normal”, Paul and I decided to make sure we went for a long walk every day, to help us keep fit, and sleep well.
Fortunately, Canberra has been designed to have corridors of bushland between suburbs, and there are many fire trails (backtracks) that skirt around suburbs.
Life in the bush is thriving again since the recent rain, and to our delight, we saw quite a few birds as we walked.
I noticed a splash of colour and saw two baby Rainbow Lorikeets preening themselves in the hollow of a gnarled old Eucalyptus tree.
and this endearing little Galah also resting and nesting in the same tree……all unhurried and blissfully unaware of world events around them..
The Brindabella Mountains are recovering from the dreadful summer fires and now there are only clouds overhead, rather than smoke rising from them.
In the distance we could see Sulphur Crested Cockatoos swirling and swooping through the suburbs like shining white kites. (unfortunately hard to capture without a good lens on the camera)
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are not very common in Canberra, but since the fires, many of these parrots have come to Canberra for the water and vegetation.
They are the smallest bird in the Cockatoo family, and make a sound like a creaking door. They mate for life, and live in family groups, and they are very low-key compared with their cousins, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.
My mother used to say the black cockatoos bring the rain……we would welcome the rain and the cockatoos any day.
On the way back home we saw a group of Magpies; very familar to all Canberrans.
They stood together, warbling softly to each other..indignation written all over those intense stares…
There is certainly something going on here…
The problem is the Magpie in the nearby tree. She has long white markings on her back.
This Magpie is a ”ring-in” …… an outsider. Her striking white markings suggest she is a coastal Magpie… and not from this area.
This Magpie comes from the State of New South Wales, not our state, known as the Australian Capital Territory.
She hasn’t heard the news…the borders are closed!
Never mind, the Canberra Magpies border patrol are on to it!
We left them to it , and I hope all went well.
A day in the sunshine, walking and looking at the birds, cheered us up immensely.
Less news and more walking is our plan!
Hard not to smile at these two …absolutely no social distancing going on in the koala world. (photo from Pinterest)
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and may you enjoy at least a little of each day in these unpredictable times !
The end of June and the beginning of July is mid-winter in Canberra…..no wonder the pelican looks dejected.
However, there is one place where you are sure to find colour and interest in Canberra ‘s winter months, and that is at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
I love this combination of colour and texture. The Golden Everlasting Daisy in the front, the Red Kangaroo Paw at the back, and a pretty grey shrub (no name attached) in the centre.
Kangaroo Paws come in a variety of colours including red, yellow, orange, purple and green. These plants protect themselves during extremely hot summers by letting their strap-like leaves die down, and underground rhizomes wait until autumn to send leaves up again. After a bush fire the growth of foliage on the plant become more prolific.
Golden Everlasting Daisy grow wild in every state of Australia, from the mountains to the sea. They attract many butterflies, and this one is a Painted Lady Butterfly.
This is a cream-coloured winter flowering plant. It has velvety leaves and always has a few bright purple bugle-shaped flowers.
The Sturt Desert Pea is a beautiful South Australian floral emblem, and grows well in various parts of the Botanic gardens here, especially in the desert garden. Aboriginal names for this flower include ”malu” (kangaroo eyes) and ”meekyluka” (flowers of the blood).
The Dwarf Banksia is a lovely soft green bush, with almost luminous yellow flowers….they are like welcoming beacons in the winter.
Banksia flowers attract the nectar loving big birds and the smaller insect eating birds, and are an important source of food for birds in the gardens.
The tiny New Holland Honey Eater is frequently seen at the Botanic Gardens, and is very elusive, but I was lucky enough to get this photo early one morning in the gardens.
The Crimson Rosella is another frequent visitor here, amongst the soft green winter foliage.
The gardens are full of tranquil paths and green spaces, it is hard to believe there is a University and a city just a few streets away.
Of course where there are Eucalyptus trees there are almost always Sulphur Crested Cockatoos as well…and here are a few of the noisiest Cockatoos in the gardens during my visit.
Don’t be fooled by that closed beak, ‘‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’‘ look from this cockatoo. He has just finished screeching to his noisy friend.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and I hope, despite the vagaries of the weather, you are able to take some time and enjoy your garden, and your part of the world, as I enjoy writing and photographing mine.