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.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos living in Canberra have an abundance of food, and very few enemies. So there is plenty of recreational time.
…During the dreary winter days why not practice undoing knots, and a tennis net is just the thing….
Parrot experts say that the parrot family are the smartest of all bird families, they continue to learn as they grow, rather than relying on instinct.
Luckily humans leave tempting problems like street lamps and tennis nets, and almonds wedged in the roof of carports..
The Little Corella is a cousin of the cockatoo, and has become a frequent visitor to the Canberra region in recent years….judging by the amount of lamp post covers swinging in the wind.
Members of the Canberra Ornithologist Group have noticed Corellas teasing rows of Crested Pigeons perched on power lines by pushing them off balance..(obviously the Little Corella has no problem with balance)
There is something very sweet about these Crested Pigeons, who manage to keep their fine hairdos in place regardless of the weather…(or teasing going on)
In June, the beginning of winter, we usually have cold crisp days, with blue skies…
Food is still in abundance…
Then comes the grey, cold July days, and life becomes a bit tougher..
On cold winter mornings these King Parrots perch on the guttering of our cabin in the garden. There they drink the melted icy water after a frosty night.
We have a Japanese Maple growing between the cabin in the garden and our house. This year the King Parrots have come to feed on the dried seed pods…
.. giving us a perfect chance for photos as we sit in the sunroom having coffee..
The male King Parrot spends a lot of time rearranging his tail so that he can eat in comfort.
This magnificent Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo flew into my neighbour’s garden last winter, and used the Silver Birch tree as a viewing platform in the hunt for food..
(Despite their regal appearance, I read recently that their cousins the Orange-tailed Black Cockatoo in Western Australia have suffered injuries from Raven attacks.)
And now, in mid-August, there is warmth in the air, and the skies are occasionally blue again.
We saw this Magpie on our walk this morning, and he began warbling…… a very familiar and much loved Australia Magpie call.
My Scottish father used to say the bagpipes brought ”a stirring” to his heart and I think a Magpie’s warbling brings a stirring to most Australian hearts.
and back home, here is another important member of our garden bird family ….one very noisy Cockatoo!
… it is true, spring is almost here!
Paul and I are also waiting for a very special event in our lives, my daughter and her husband are soon to have a baby, our first grandchild!
With the early morning light increasing, I have been getting up early (hard to sleep in when waiting for baby) and reading and enjoying many blogs …a lovely distraction.
May you enjoy your season, and green spaces, where ever you live in the world…
Season’s greeting from the bush capital of Australia.
I began blogging about 18 months ago, to write a low key kind of diary about our garden.
Before long I realised that the blog was really about my place in the world: Canberra, the bush capital of Australia.
The word Canberrais often used to explain the workings of government….”Canberra raisedtaxes this year…”
But of course, behind the workings of Parliament there is a city of people who call Canberra home.
Since I began blogging about green spaces in Canberra, I have met many gardeners, volunteers and ordinary Canberrans who are very knowledgeable and proud of their place in the world.
The gods were smiling on this lovely part of the world when Chicagoan Walter Burley Griffin won the competition to design Canberra, and his wife Marion Mahony created the beautiful drawings of his design.
He dreamed of a city in green spaces, and that is what we have today… a city in a big bush garden.
The land around the lake is reserved for all people to enjoy..
This kangaroo was photographed five minutes away from our house, on the edge of Mt Taylor. Not long after we moved to Canberra, 30 years ago, a kangaroo from Mt Taylor hopped down our suburban road. A great introduction to life in Canberra for our family!
I’ve shared the blog with some big personalities
and some colourful ones ….
and some that are just plain cute.
I’ve had the pleasure of following many blogs, in UK, US, Canada, Italy, France and of course, Australia and New Zealand. The Northern Hemisphere seasons, especially the autumn and spring are a delight to see. As an armchair traveller, I also enjoy the breath-taking snowy winter photos….happy in the knowledge that I won’t have to go and shovel snow at any time!
Thank you very much to the all the people who have visited and followed Canberra’s Green Spaces, over the past 18 months, I appreciate every visit, and every comment.
As soon as spring arrives, our garden becomes a playground for families of birds.On this cold spring day the Cockatoos have perhaps given up on flying lessons for this big family……far too cold ….
But on a brighter day, the babies are growing up…….. parents of all persuasions are a pretty tolerant bunch.
This sweet looking Crimson Rosella, no doubt a parent, is watching on from the Japanese Maple, while the young ones enjoy the birdbath, and even better……..
………a sprinkler shower as well!
This little one is a Juvenile Crimson Rosella, and she is moulting and changing from green to red. At the moment she has nice red pantaloons, but is looking a bit awkward…just as most teenagers feel at times..
This one is also changing colour, but she is a real water baby and spends all her time happily in the birdbath..
The young Wattlebird is as hyperactive as her parents, and the mere thought of the water is sending her into a spin!
Kookaburras are not that common in our area, but this young one has, perhaps, come down from Mt Taylor in search of water.
She turned her head to give me her best side as if to say……”‘you’ll catch me soon @kooka.burra’
Galahs are always found in family groups, but this little one has found his way here to our Bottlebrush bush on a very hot day…but waiting politely for his turn in the birdbath..
These young Eastern Rosellas are blending in nicely to the Japanese Maple
Lovely to see these colours on a hot day..
But the regulars in our garden are the Magpies, and this year a pair arrived with these three babies. Very soon it is obvious there are two fast learners…..
and one High Maintenance Baby
It was a long spring and summer with HM following Mum around plaintively calling for food, every morning and every evening. Mum seems young and anxious, and she gives in every time…
One day, just for a little break, the whole family left HM up on the carport roof (plenty of grubs and fruit up there)
”I know you are down there!” she is calling
Mum is just enjoying some peace and quiet in the veggie patch
Dad’s having a bath…he’s had enough, he wants this baby off the payroll..
As we drive away for our summer break, I wonder if HM is going to make it…she has to learn to feed herself…as Garrison Keiller says about difficult kids ”Just send money and pray”
When we return from our summer holiday, the Magpies have gone…..in fact all the young birds have grown up and flown away…it’s very quiet here …I realise I’ve got the empty bird bath blues..
Then, just as I write this, the three young Magpies come back for a visit….they poke around the lawn looking for some worms, have a drink in the birdbath, and stay a while as we do some gardening..
HM Baby is turning her head to show she is listening for beetles, worms and grubs in the ground…she can feed herself!
Just look at them! So confident, these city slickers in their sharp Armani suits…all grown up and ready to go….when did that happen?
May they have a happy autumn and winter before their hectic turn at parenting begins..
Canberra has quite a few hotels, but this is special…..a timber bee hotel at the National Botanic Gardens, especially made to attract many of the native bees in the area.
(it reminds me of my neighbour’s neat and organised quilting cupboard!)
To attract a variety of bees the hotel features many different room decors, including hardwood logs and mud bricks drilled with holes, plant stems, fern fronds, and hotel ”rooms” made from cardboard tubes which are packed tight with paper drinking straws, the perfect size for a native bee nest.
The hotel is in a shady spot at the Botanic Gardens, and surrounded by flowers, mostly of the daisy species.
I arrived early in the morning to see the new bee hotel, but I’m also here to join a group who do a garden stroll through the Botanic Gardens every week. One of the first things we do is look at what is in flower….how about this Banksia Victoriae Proteaceae?
Near the entrance to the gardens is a bust of Joseph Banks, a British naturalist and botanist, who took part in Captain Cook’s voyage to Australia and New Zealand.
He was fascinated with Australian plants, and the plant genus Banksia is named after him.
The bust of Joesph Banks is surrounded by Banksias, and therefore we are also surrounded by birds.
A Wattlebird is feeding on the Banksia flowers, in branches just above us…..the food must be tasty! Unfortunately, the one thing the Wattlebird objected to was my camera, so no photo…..sadly.
Considering this is mid summer I am surprised at how much is flowering….
Here is a Lemon Myrtle tree flowering gloriously in the summer sun… when you crush the leaves there is a wonderful scent of lemon…
It is thought that Aboriginal people have always used the leaves for flavouring in food, and this tradition continues today. The leaves are used in cooking, to make tea, and are also added to soaps and used as herbal remedies.
These gardens are a paradise for birds…this lovely Crimson Rosella is busy preening his long blue tail and wishing I would just go away..
We are back at the entrance of the National Botanic gardens, what a cool and beautiful spot to spend the morning… I have no doubt that bee hotel will be booked out in no time!