Canberra in summer: gardens, sunshine and life with cockatoos

Canberra’s usual spring planting was lost to rainy weather. Finally, close to December, the rain stopped falling and the sun came out, but most of us were still struggling with Hayfever, after months of long grasses growing in between suburbs and on verges of gardens.

The rain prevented the lawns and pathways from being mowed.

Once the rain stopped and the sunshine came through, it was lovely to walk through the garden and see it blossoming for summer.

We’ve never tried growing Lupins before, but during Covid we ordered three Lupin plants online, and this was the only one of three that survived, and thrived! The bees loved it.

The Salvias have also attracted the bees, and although I was tempted to trim this red Salvia as it spread, I took my cue from the bees buzzing around me!

When we visited the UK I was amazed to see hedges of fuchsias growing like weeds. They are tricky to grow in this part of Australia, but these two seem hale and hearty.

Hydrangea

This hydrangea is loving its place under the plum tree and this year it has the right amount of water and sunshine.

Paul has grown an impressive crop of garlic this year, and to think he was worried that our continual rain in November, might affect the crop. Once the crop has dried out, (in our garden shed) Paul will keep the garlic under the house, in a cool dark shelf.

Buddleia /Buddleja (not sure of the spelling here)

I have included this lovely plant although it grows in Melbourne, near the home of our daughter and family. Our granddaughter, aged five, said she watched a cartoon about bees, and when they saw tempting flowers, they said to each other “Let’s have a party!”

This gorgeous blue flower is always full of bees having a party, and if we ever have a space in our garden, we’ll try to grow it.

Canberra has many paths between suburbs and plenty of choice of walks. During the summer months Paul and I walk almost every day. One of our favourite walks is near “Five Ways” otherwise known as Ken’s garden, which I featured last year.

We live on the side of Mount Taylor and so we walk up a path called Heartbreak Hill (named by one of our neighbours) and along to Ken’s garden and then back home.

Red Hot Pokers and Agapanthus

Ken began by planting some Red Hot Pokers and Agapanthus on the verge of his house and garden, and then gradually extended the garden.

It is a wonderful social space where people tend to linger on a summer day, chatting to Ken, his wife, or other passers-by. It is very much valued by the community.

Not to mention birds, and Wattle Birds in particular, as you can see.

Wattle bird feeding on Red Hot Pokers.

The birds in Canberra have never had such a feast of grasses, flowers, seeds and berries. As a result we now have far more big birds than usual, many living on Mount Taylor near us. (Currawongs, Ravens and Cockatoos)

When it comes to Cockatoos, the War of the Roses has nothing on the Wars for space in the best Eucalyptus trees. We live opposite two mature Eucalyptus trees, and this summer, there has been constant screeching and chasing each other in and out of the trees. Their wingspan is incredible and their screeches can be ear-splitting.

When they are in the trees, they often peel the bark and drop it, or they shred flowering trees, (or our Almond tree.)

Mercifully they all seem to fly off to the mountains once their young are mature enough to be self-sufficient.

Paul found this wonderful card in the National Library, and it just sums up cockatoos perfectly……

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and may you be happy and healthy in 2023.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Christmas in Canberra: birds, books, bloggers and flowers

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!

Rainbow Lorikeets

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.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Bathurst Spring Gardens: Welcome to old Mill Cottage

Spring has arrived in Australia, and for the first time in almost three long Covid years, we are able to visit open gardens all over the southern states.

Last weekend, the country town of Bathurst, New South Wales, held its Spring Festival.

We don’t live far from Bathurst and Paul and I met at College in Bathurst many years ago, so we have great affection and memories of this town.

Machattie Park in the centre of Bathurst.

There were many open gardens to visit, both in Bathurst, and around the district. We spent so long looking at some of the country properties and gardens that we will have to come back next year for the rest!

Mill Cottage in O’Connell

The owners of the gardens often provide ”a story” about their garden, and this is the beginning of the story of Mill Cottage, in O’Connell near Bathurst.

We bought Mill Cottage, also known as the Garden House, attracted by the historic house, the old garden, and orchard and the lovely setting beside the Fish River.

The original 100 acre farm was taken up by Daniel Roberts in about 1829. Daniel Roberts was born in Wales in 1800 and arrived in the colony in 1826. The 1828 census lists Daniel as being a free settler, a carpenter, aged 28.

Daniel met Catherine Spinks about 1828. She had arrived in the colony in 1820 when she was only 13 years old, with her convict mother, Anne. Daniel and Catherine were married in Parramatta in 1828. They left on horseback after their wedding and arrived in O’Connell, where they settled.

A very long way to travel by horseback…they were tough in those days!

The present owners know there was the stone and brick house here by 1837, called the Garden House. This assumes there was a notable garden from the beginning, maybe tended by the two convicts allocated to the Roberts family.

The orchard

Daniel built a water mill, located about 200 metres upstream from the house in 1833. He saw the need for a place to mill the wheat that the early settlers were busy growing. Local farmers brought their wheat, it was ground into flour, and a sack cost them one penny!

Daniel became a prosperous local businessman and over time the property was sold, and the land around was subdivided.

Here is the impressive rhubarb patch and many other vegetables, well mulched and fertilized.

The present owners have extended and expanded the garden over the previous ten years .

The garden has mainly cool climate plants, bulbs, roses, salvias, hellebores and many other perennials, with a wonderful shady Box elder (maple) tree in the centre of the garden near the house.

We were lucky to have a lovely sunny day to visit Bathurst and surrounds, however, like much of the Eastern states of Australia, Bathurst has experienced heavy rains this year, and the Fish river, (seen in the photo below) was rising.

All parts of the garden have attractive borders of plants, and this gave us a chance to wander through the garden and take time to look at all the flowering spring shrubs.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to the owners of the property, but I did wonder if kangaroos hopped over the fence/gate to eat the abundance of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

We had a wonderful time wandering through this garden and it was a delight to be out and about amongst fellow gardeners. Many thanks to the owners of the property, as it must take an enormous effort to get ready for an Open Garden weekend.

For those who are interested in learning more about the house, Lee Steele’s Volume Two of “Heritage Homes of Bathurst and District” describes this house in more detail.

I have photos for at least one or two more gardens, so I hope you can look out for them.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Winter in Canberra: walks in Haig Park, birds, and a Book Barn when you need it..

Winter arrived in Canberra on 1st June with snow falling on the Brindabella Mountains

The first day of Winter: Photo: Canberra Times

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.

Needless to say the cockatoos are everywhere..

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..

Berkelouw Book Barn Bookshop Photo: Trip Advisor.

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

Canberra in Lockdown and from Africa to Australia..

Ken the local gardener extraordinaire has made this garden (called 5 ways)

Canberra has been in Lockdown for over two months now and there are just one or two highlights every day that keep us afloat. We are allowed a daily walk, and fortunately there are many paths and bush trails near us…

This huge dead Eucalyptus tree remains to provide habitat for birds who nest in hollows.

and lots of gardens to look at along the way.

Even in the middle of winter, it is lovely to get outside and walk around. Another daily highlight is buying a take-away coffee at our local café. It’s the small pleasures that count.

The Brindabella Mountains around us are a deep blue hue in winter and early spring. Even with our mandatory masks on, the clear mountain air is a tonic.

Almost everyone I know has become a bit more reflective in Lockdown, we all appreciate family, friends and neighbours now that we cannot spend time with them. People need people!

During this time I have been putting together some of my family history. ..and not for the first time I’m reminded of my family’s good fortune in emigrating to Australia.

It has taken three generations for my family to find a place to call home, and how lucky we are to live in Australia.

My father was born in Scotland of Irish parents…amongst his many stories he talked about hiking in the mountains of Scotland ….

Hiking in Scotland 1937

I’m sure he would have loved to spend his life in the wide open spaces, which he always loved, but earning a living was the most important thing to do and he applied for and got an apprenticeship on the Clyde River in Glasgow.

My father and his brother decided to emigrate to Africa, for work, and in my father’s case, for adventure. As they boarded the ship, my grandmother stood on the dock, and said

“I wish you were all wee again”.

It was only when I was a mother myself that I realised the poignancy of that remark, he thought he was off for an adventure, but she knew the truth. Both her sons left for a better life and she never saw them again.

My mother was born in Ireland, and brought up in South Africa.

Her father and mother left Belfast and ”the troubles” only to find life in their new continent just as difficult.

My mother became a nurse, and she and my father moved to what was then Northern Rhodesia, and is now Zambia.

My mother (left) was never happier than when she was nursing .( 1941)

Although my parents had excellent skills to survive in a new country, my father had always wanted to be a farmer, and so they accepted a job of farming and care-taking a farm in a remote part of Zambia called Abercorn. In the way of new migrants, my aunt and uncle came to stay on the farm as well, and all their skills together, kept them afloat.

My mother sitting in the front with my two brothers and my cousin and uncle. My father on the top step on the left. My aunt and my cousin leaning over the balcony.

My older brothers and my parents loved this time of their lives, despite the trials and tribulations. The stories they told were wonderful, and I feel I missed out on something special.

However, the remote farm was a precarious long term prospect, and my father and my uncle were able to get work in one of a cluster of copper mines in Zambia.

I was born in the small mining town of Mufulira. My brothers and I had a happy childhood in this town, but, over time, there were tensions as Zambia struggled for independence. It was our temporary home.

The Malcolm Watson Hospital in Mufulira, where I was born.

Eventually, at the difficult age of 55, my parents made the decision and we left Africa for Australia. I was eighteen and my brothers were in their early twenties. We had a clean slate and a future full of possibilities in Australia.

My brother and I on the ferry enjoying Sydney Harbour. The Opera House only half built!

It was more difficult for my parents. They left behind relatives and friends, people who had the same experiences and interests as themselves. Just as many migrant children have done, we became the bridge between our parents and the new country. At an age when we were leaving the family home, we were helping them make a home. We worried about them, often without realising how resilient they were.

My mother and father and I getting to know the coastline around Sydney Harbour.

When I married, it was to a 5th generation Australian. (although Paul’s ancestors are Irish too!) I was glad to know that my children had ancestors, not only from all over the world, but also in the country of their birth. Our daughters have a natural sense of belonging in Australia, they wear their nationality with ease.

What could be more Australian than going to the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in the summer holidays?

The initial struggle to live in a new country was successful for my parents. They came to love Australia, and over the years they appreciated the landscape, the Australian humour, and the uncomplicated way of life.

This photo was taken not long before they died. They were very proud of their home and garden .

They loved their big garden, and filled it with mango, avocado and many failed attempts at pawpaw trees. Many years later, although the house and garden have long been sold, the avocado trees survive…. which just goes to show, you can’t keep a good avocado tree down!

Brindabella Mountains

Lockdown is almost over in Canberra, and we will, very tentatively, begin moving around, and seeing family and friends again.

Best wishes to everyone and stay safe and sensible!

Venice: the secret gardens of Guidecca.

We had a wonderful holiday in Italy in May 2016, and one of my favourite days was our visit to the gardens of Guidecca.

I thought it would be interesting to re-post this, as Venice, known and loved for so many reasons…is not known for its gardens and green spaces.

Guidecca is a pencil thin island not far across the water from St Mark’s Cathedral.

As we arrived on the vaparetto, the rain stopped, the sun came out, the coffee shops opened and the touches of greenery could be seen along the canal.

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We were lucky enough to meet up with Tudy Sammartini, a long time resident of Venice, a designer and passionate gardener, and author of three books; Secret Gardens of Venice, Floors of Venice and the Bell Towers of Venice.

We began in the private garden of the Fortune Factory, an old red brick factory, that Tudy had been restoring with specialist architect Maria Forti.

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In the 16th Century Guidecca was the centre of trade and horticultural discovery. The whole region was very fertile, and full of orchids, vineyards and gardens of rare exotics.

I took endless photos of each garden, but in this post I have concentrated on the two gardens of Guidecca we had mainly come to visit…… the private gardens of Hotel Bauer, and Hotel Cipriani.

The first garden had been restored to its former glory by Francesca Bortolotto Possati, the owner of the Hotel Bauer on the island.

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A very old olive tree still thrives in the grounds of the hotel, testimony to its historic past.

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Historic documents record orchards and vineyards too, and fruit trees can be seen around the gardens today.

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The lawns are cut at three different heights, the first is closely trimmed for visitors to walk along, the second is slightly higher, and the third is left to grow wild as a meadow.

IMG_2577 (1024x808)There are over 200  different kinds of ancient roses throughout the garden, and together with all the other blossoms on this sunny spring day, the birds and the bees were enjoying this garden as much as we were.

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There is a pergola with Isabella grapes and roses. At the base is lavender, and the rest of the garden is full of  Iris, catnip, columbine roses, and grasses.

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What a surprise to see these glorious gardens so close to Venice.

Small herb gardens surround the pergola.

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Here is another ”room” to the gardens. The tall trees and greenery make this a place  of peace and reflection.

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Nearby is the Hotel Cipriani where the wife of the CXVIII Doge designed her Renaissance garden.

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The vineyard of ‘Refosco’ Merlot and Cabernet grapes still thrives in the rear garden of the hotel, and the grapes  provide plenty of wine for the hotel cellars.

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Casanova was said to have courted the young novice Caterina Capretta in this very vineyard.

The vegetable and herb gardens of this hotel were well looked after……here is a member of the kitchen staff snipping herbs for the lunch time menu…. impossible to get much fresher than that!

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Around the pond is a statue of the young Sea God Triton, on his sea horse, looking out onto the waters of Venice.

 

And so ended our tour of the gardens of Guidecca.

Here is a last glimpse of the island as we crossed the bridge to wait for the vaparetto.

This was a day to be remembered.

IMG_2461 (1024x799)Our warmest thanks go to Tudy Sammartini, her affection and passion for the Guidecca gardens was obvious.

Salute Tudy!

Farewell to a wonderful country, and salute to the people, the places, the food, and of course….the green spaces.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Canberra gardening in Spring, Cockatoos ten/ Gardener one (won?)

During the dull and colourless days of winter, I always forget the sheer joy of walking into the garden in spring.

This year we planted new tulips and these pink ones were the best performers…

When they began to grow I told my neighbour they were orange, but in fact, the orange tinge is on the inside of the tulip, or perhaps the red tulips, (almost finished flowering) are reflecting some red onto them

….either way, they are a joy to walk past every morning.

A few years ago we bought a packet of mixed bulbs from Diggers and miniature surprise bulbs keep coming up in the garden,  like these tiny yellow daffodils.

 

 

 

 

Many gardens in Canberra have Alpine plants. I have grown to love them, especially in spring, when they display their tiny, but perfect flowers.

 

The almost magenta-coloured Salvia is a good backdrop for the lovely white Dutch Irises, multiplying all over the garden.

The Hot Lips Salvia (photo below) flowers for about nine months of the year in Canberra.

This year we planted some lavender along the path, and the bees absolutely love it.

New this year are some blue Dutch Iris, smaller than others we have in the garden.  We have planted them in three different parts  of the garden, with varying sunshine. They all flower at different times in spring and so there is always an extra touch of blue in the garden.

Speaking of sunshine, we have one part of the garden which has full sun most of the day.

At the nursery recently, I noticed this lovely plant called Gazania Variety. This is the description on the flower.

A small perennial plant, which is very hardy and versatile and produces masses of daisy flowers. They thrive in a range of soil types and positions, and are ideal for hot dry exposed sites.

Let me add, they are very resilient.

There were four flowers on the plant when I put it into this blue pot. Their colour is breath-taking on a sunny day, and can be seen from all over the garden. The flower below was my favourite.

I should add that this is a fly-over areas for Cockatoos who are visiting a neighbouring tree.

….as you can see from the photo below, my favourite flower has been lopped off at the stem, in the morning, and left to wilt and die.

Overseas readers might not know that Sulphur crested Cockatoos frequently take an exception to a flower, especially bright coloured ones, and they break the stem as they go past.

Not to eat, just because they can..

Crimson Rosellas are also known to do this, especially in spring, but my money is on the Cockatoos.

I tried small stakes near each stem…no luck, and then, in a hurry before dusk (early morning seems to be lopping time), I wrapped this gaudy, but strong twine around the plant.

The poor plant now looks mighty confused, and naturally is not flowering with the same gusto as before.

The flowers were lopped regardless of stakes or twine..

I found a hideaway place on the deck and pulled out all the twine and stakes. The poor plant looks as if it is on day release.

We went to visit our lovely granddaughter, and I left the long suffering, but recovering Gazania, in a very secluded spot on the deck. When we came back, there were no less than six flowers lying wilting on the deck.

So….?

In her blog  NewEnglandandGardenAndThread, Judy says we have to remind ourselves that our plants are not our children (and yes, who knew?)

However, just on principle I’m keeping the pot of Gazanias in the laundry at night, and on the front deck in the day time. (where I can keep an eye on them and flyover Cockatoos.)

okay, so where have you hidden them?

So far, the flowers are gradually recovering.

I think I might have won the battle…..

Butter would not melt in my mouth

but  perhaps not the war….

 

I’m not going to let this spoil spring for me, and I hope you are enjoying your green spaces and season, where ever you might be

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cockatoos and Australian King Parrots….waiting for spring

So, what to do in winter if you are a cockatoo?

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..

A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo looking for almonds on the carport roof..

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)

Little Corella Judith Leitch www.birdlife.org.au

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)

Crested pigeons

In June, the beginning of winter, we usually have cold crisp days, with blue skies…

Food is still in abundance…

The Crimson Rosella feasting amongst the grass seeds in our garden

Then comes the grey, cold July days, and life becomes a bit tougher..

The male Australian King Parrot with vivid orange and deep green colouring, and the female Australian King Parrot with a softer green and orange chest.

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 female Australian King Parrot

The male King Parrot

The male King Parrot spends a lot of time rearranging his tail so that he can eat in comfort.

The male King Parrot, finishing a good meal!

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.)

A Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

A Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo feeding from a Banksia bush..

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!

”I told you spring was coming…doesn’t anybody listen to me anymore?”

… 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!

Lake Tuggeranong

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…

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

Canberra’s autumn leaf collector ..do we all need one?

This is Tom Maloney, and his faithful horse Dobbin, whose job it was to collect leaves around the streets of Canberra. He and another man called ”Old Sox” worked for the Department of Interior on parks and gardens, also using a horse and dray. Maloney did this job until the early 1970s!

Younger members of the family remember that Tom even made time after work to take the local kids at Marymead School in O’Connor for a ride on the horse and cart.

How slow and innocent the times were…

American Elm trees in the inner city of Canberra

…can’t you just imagine old Tom and Dobbin clip clopping up this street?  It must have taken a long time to clear the leaves in one street.

When Old Parliament House was built, it was surrounded by dusty paddocks, used for grazing sheep…

Opening of Parliament House in 1927 : photo: library act.gov.au

Politicians of the day, were not happy about moving from the developed city of Melbourne to the windy plains of Canberra. However, in time, trees and shrubs were planted to build gardens around Old Parliament House and surrounding buildings.

Canberra now has a mixture of mature native and deciduous trees, and it gives the city a real sense of space and parkland.

Old Parliament House, now the Museum of Australian Democracy

On this lovely autumn Sunday we are taking a walk from Old Parliament House to the lake, to look at the autumn colour before it disappears.

Old Tom Maloney would have needed more than one horse and cart to gather leaves these days…

The Sulphur Crested Cockatoos love the oak trees, and spend the autumn days dedicated to eating….

…a very sensible idea with the coming cold Canberra winter..

The male and female Red-rumped parrots are blending into the grass and leaves, while a Galah is feeding around them. Galahs are one of Canberra’s most familiar cockatoos.

These young Australian King Parrots are well camouflaged in the grass, but once they reach adulthood they will be bright orange and green.

Down at the lake’s edge, autumn is the perfect time for a fishing competition….on this slow warm Sunday.

Lake Burley Griffin, the Carillon in the distance, and a Darter drying his wings

 

Lake Burley Griffin, Telstra Tower in the distance, and the Manchurian Pear trees along the lake

We finish our walk with a cup of coffee looking out on these beautiful Manchurian Pear trees along the edge of the lake…..I think they are my favourites…for today anyway.

Do you have a favourite tree in your garden, town or city?

Does your heart sink when you see those autumn leaves falling…do you need a leaf blower, or even Old Tom and a horse called Dobbin?

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens

‘Have you ever noticed that botanical gardens often make you think of Paradise?”  Francis Halle French botanist 2004

Welcome to the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens, a little piece of paradise in Australia’s largest city.

….who would be anywhere else on a lovely summer’s day?

Sydney Harbour, Royal Botanic Gardens, Harbour Bridge

The Royal Botanic Gardens were established in 1816 and cover an area of 30 hectares along the foreshore of Sydney harbour.

Plants, lawns, trees and bush line the edge of the city right up to the Opera House and give views of the Harbour Bridge.

Can you imagine trying to preserving that amount of prime land for the public today?

Salute to our visionary forebears!

The Gardens are home to nearly 9000 plant species from all over the world, with a focus on Australia and the South Pacific.

A sign near the sculptures says…

‘ Before European settlement this foreshore was a mud flat. Seeds, flotsam were washed up by waves. Ships arrived in the tide in 1788 and crops were planted soon after. This area has been dedicated ever since to the introduction and propagation of plants reflecting the changing culture and horticultural needs of the day.”

Palm by Bronwyn Oliver

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnolia by Bronwyn Oliver

These sculptures symbolise the seeds washed up by the tide, blown by the wind, eroded by the water, and laden with potential for vigour and transformation.

The huge older trees, like this fig tree have been given space and time to grow, and now they provide plentiful shade in summer. (They say the shade of a big tree is worth one air-conditioner)

The flowers of the mature Magnolia trees are magnificent at this time of the year.

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This tropical garden has lush colourful foliage, and flamboyant flowers and plants…orchids, hibiscus, palm….sensory overload while I sit nearby drinking iced coffee!

Cannas

 

Frangipani

Our home in Canberra, a four hour drive away, is a world away in terms of  plants and climatic conditions. We have hot dry summers and cold, frosty winters. The Sydney climate of long humid summers and mild winters is a big contrast.

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The Botanic Gardens provide habitat for wildlife….colourful birds, fruit bats and water dragons..

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Rainbow Lorikeet

The Herb gardens, not far from the city streets, have blossoming herbs, sunflowers and all kinds of bee attracting flowers…

…what a bonus to have so much variety in such a big bustling city…

 

 

 

This beautiful sundial was fascinating for tourists and especially children…..imagine the sun directing our time rather than our Iphones ….incredible!

I love visiting big cities like Sydney…but, thank goodness for gardens like this glorious one…..

I return to my favourite quote….(one day I will find out who wrote it..)

”when the world wearies, and society does not satisfy, there is always the garden”

Salute again to those generous forebears who had the wisdom and energy to started this wonderful garden… for everyone.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved