Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas from My Patch of Heaven, Down Under

Hey Everyone,
Boy, has it been DISGUSTINGLY HOT!  It is every year but still, BLURGH, the grass is dead, most of the trees are dead-ish, the garden is drooping and a lot of the cooler growing orchids are wilting, but alas, Christmas is in the air.

My mornings are either spent snoozing on my bed in the Air-con or out in the garden doing some gardening before the sun makes it too hot, or the ground to impenetrable.  When midday approaches I eventually end up back in the cool of the house, with all the windows open and the nice wide veranda cooling the air a bit before it enters.  The days play their course accompanied by the never-ending accompaniment of the grasshoppers and crickets, and all the birds go quiet as the heat increases.  Then around 4pm I normally start my tentative steps back outside to try and do a bit more gardening and to make sure all the animals and the most precious plants have enough water.  Then as the afternoon turns to twilight, and then night everything starts to move again, the crickets change their tune and strum nicely, the occasional plover voices it's presence and the air is occasionally punctuated by the sound of laughter coming from one of the nearby houses where someone is having friends over, visiting.

Tonight there was some lovely rain for about 30 minutes so everything has cooled down very nicely.

To let you know what's been keeping me busy lately I think I'll do a role call of the family pets we have here at the moment.... *clears throat*

We have

Nalle Our Giant Schnauzer
Teddy Our Miniature Schnauzer
Beau My Sister's Boyfriend's Dog (unknown breed to me)
Brock My Sister's Male Kelpie
Roxie My Sister's Dog, Brock's Sister from the same litter

Roman My Sister's Horse
Sergeant My Sister's Friend's Horse, who's agisting at our house

Tilly Our Female Janday Conure
Henry Our Male Janday Conure
Fred My Cockatiel
Bert My Green Cheeked Conure

and then,
there's the 20 chooks,
the duck,
and the 30 Fishtanks of Siamese fighting fish, 29 of which are my sister's,
my two fish tanks of guppies and catfish.

not to mention all of the gardens and everything else, but hey, it's christmas.

Tomorrow (Christmas Eve), my Aunt is coming down to celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day with us.  Tomorrow is as significant for us as the other two because Dad is Finnish and in Finland the majority of the festive celebrations occur on Christmas eve, so I get half my presents tomorrow night, and the other half the following morning, yay.  I already know what my presents are from mum and dad; The stay at Dubbo Zoo, 50m of Shade-cloth and a HEAP of much needed clothes.

Then Boxing Day we're catching up with the rest of mum's family and it should be lots of fun.

Then on the 28th we're going up to Bundaberg to see all of the Turtles and my brother's going to have to look after all of the animals.... muhahahaha, sucked in for him.

We'll be up there until the new year, so I guess this means a temporary good-bye.... AGAIN.

So, I would like to wish all of you, and your families, a VERY Merry Christmas, and a Safe, Happy, and Successful New Year.

Happy Gardening,

p.s. .... I seriously hope that I'll get my act together with this whole blogging thing, but bear with me, I'm only new to this :) hehehehe

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Jam-Packed December GBBD (Garden Blogger's Bloom Day)

Hey Everyone,
Well, today I figured that seeing as I've been writing about my adventure to Melbourne and back lately, that I'd use this opportunity to fill you all in on what's been happening in the garden, but also to tell you all about some AMAZING nurseries that we visited whilst in Melbourne.

So.. shall we begin?

I'll start off with some of the orchids that I have in flower at the moment.

Most orchid growers would not think twice about the two orchids shown in the three following photos, but to me, seeing them, I'll admit it, almost brings me to tears of joy, pride, and just sheer happiness and glee.  I bet you're all a bit confused and wondering why I'd have such an overwhelming reaction to these flower.  Well, the answer is simple; They were my grandma's.  The photos shown are two of the few culprits that started my very unexpected, expensive, and rather odd hobby (addiction?).  When my grandma passed away a few years ago everyone asked me if there was anything in particular that reminded me of her, or meant anything special to me.  Immediately my mind turned to her garden.

She had a modest garden, but it meant a lot to her, and she would spend hours out there watering, weeding, or just looking.  Her main garden beds were raised to about waist height so that she could still tend them up to the very end when she passed away at the ripe old age of 91.  Seeing as no one else in the family paid an interest in gardening, or Mummo's garden in particular, I plundered it for all the plants that meant something/anything to her.  I think it's at this stage that I explain that in her garden there was only one spot where, under no circumstances was I to water the plants there.  She'd been refering to her small collection of Cattleyas, Dendrobiums and Phalaenopsis that we'd given to her over the years as presents.  So as you can imagine, forbidden fruits and all that, that these were some of the first plants that I claimed.  These plants, through my determination that they WOULD survive were the reason that I started my love, passion and obsession with orchids.  And that is why they are so precious to me; The are not only my first orchids, but more importantly, they were my grandma's.

Also, another orchid that's in flower at the moment is my Myrmecophila brysiana.  This beauty was given to me by Bill, the wonderful man that I mentioned in my post: Overwhelming Generosity.  I've had this plant for a over year, but this is the first time it's flowered.  It's grown several new growths since I've had it and I nearly wet myself when I saw a spike developing.

Tolumnia Spotlight "Guy", Also given to me by Bill

Also, on the day of GBBD, I had the wonderful pleasure of finally meeting a long Facebook friend, Latoya.  Latoya is a fellow orchid grower like me and it is amazing the opinions, values and thoughts that we share, so there is no surprise that we get on like a house on fire.  And it's so nice being able to chat to someone that with whom you can just drop latin names in and they completely understand what you're talking about... ok, well, I should rephrase that... It's nice to talk to a young person with whom you can drop latin names into the conversation and they completely understand what you're talking about.  We spent a lovely afternoon showing her around my meagre collection, and my favourite part was the plant trade :).  I'm of the opinion that I by FAR got the better bargain in that trade.  I got some amazing Paphiopedilum Seedlings that she had brought home in flask from Elizabeth Chen in Taiwan, this beautiful Promenaea that she's been growing so magnificently, apparently it looks after itself (that's my kind of orchid), but it couldn't of grown to be this spectacular if it didn't have amazing culture, and last, but definitely not least, was a MASSIVE cattleya.

Encyclia ceratistes, I believe this plant is naturally pollinated by wasps seeing as it decided to encourage roughly a dozen of them into my bedroom last week.

Oncidesa Lemon Heart 'Sweet Sugar' (Registered in 1998)

Bulbophyllum lepidum x patens
I've very excited because all of my Stanhopeas, or Upside-Down orchids are coming into spike at the moment.  I have 2 varieties, Stan. wardii, and Stan. tigrina... except I have about 10 wardii and 1 of the other... but I lost the tags and can't remember which is which so I can't wait until they flower so I can find out :)
My Rosa 'Peirre De Ronsard', Yes people, I finally got it, and oh how the flowers are bringing back all those marvellous, wonderful memories
We had a bit of a panic with this one.  This is in fact in the same plant as the flower shown in the photo above, however, I believe that due to the low light that it received whilst we drove back from Melbourne while this flower's bud was developing, it has therefore not developed the pink pigment that it would normally have.  The plant had 5 buds on it as we drove back and all of which have come out pure white so Mum and Grandma have been determined that no, it obviously isn't what it's labelled as, we wasted all that time and money, blah, blah blah, where I was determined it was what the tag said it was, partly due to that fact that I had seen an open flower on it before we started driving home, and it was how it should be.  So tadah, this is what happens when you don't give your roses enough light :)
This is my new Thunbergia mysorensis, and I'm really looking forward to delving into the history and culture of this plant.  The pendulous flowers absolutely fascinate me and I love it.  I can't wait unitl the plant gets nice and big.

I can never remember the name of this plant.... oh how I wish I could... but aint it pretty?
Well, the millet it ripening and the birds are LOVING IT!
My Shrimp Plant and my Petunia seem to be getting along well together

One of the Carpet Roses we bought Whilst in Melbourne
one of my Georgeous Broms is flowering once more
The last Hippeastrums for the year I believe
This little brom is in the shade house and has been flowering for quite some time, it's slow and steady
My gloxinia that Reg gave me is producing buds, I'm very excited because it's my first one and I can't wait to see the flowers
Those Salvia cuttings I took a while back are flowering now to they shall be getting a trim soon and getting transplanted
My poinciana is going strong still, but after the recent rain not as many flowers remain
I am very happy to announce the cloe arival of the flower on one of the Melbourne Botanic Garden's Titan Arums (Amorphophallus titanum), I'm so sad that I wont be there in a week or two when it opens, but one day I'm determined that I WILL see one.  But at least I got to see the bud when I visited a couple of weeks ago.
One of my Masdevallias that I bought at Mt. Beenak Orchids.  More on the AMAZING Nursery in the upcoming weeks
One of my Masdevallias that I bought at Mt. Beenak Orchids.  More on the AMAZING Nursery in the upcoming weeks
One of my Masdevallias that I bought at Mt. Beenak Orchids.  More on the AMAZING Nursery in the upcoming weeks

Well, I've finally managed to write my GBBD, sorry it took me so long, But at least it's now here, for more wonderful garden-y goodness, visit Carol over at May Dreams Garden.

Happy Gardening,

Friday, December 14, 2012

Melbourne Adventure | Fitzroy Gardens (The Tudor Village and The Fairies' Tree)

Hey Everyone,

Today I shall be showing and telling you all about the Model Tudor Village and The Fairies' Tree.  To make sure all of the info is accurate I have copied the info from the Fitzroy Garden's Website.

Sorry about the poorly angled and positioned photos, I was trying to see as much of the gardens in a short space of time and had to rush through everything.

"The Village which is situated in the centre of the Fitzroy Gardens, was modelled in cement by Mr. Edgar Wilson, a 77 year old pensioner who lived in Hamilton Road, Norwood, London, England, who carried out the task as a hobby. He built three such villages.

One of them which he presented to the City of Melbourne through the City of Lambeth, England, in appreciation of Melbourne’s generosity in sending food to Britain, during the Second World War. It was officially opened by the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Councillor Sir Raymond Connelly, on 21st May, 1948. The model buildings represent a typical Kentish village built during the "Tudor" period of English history. The village is composed of various thatched cottages, a village church, school, hotel, barns, stocks, pump, and all public buildings which make up one of the delightful villages. Also included is a scale model of Shakespeare’s home and Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

Six houses were presented to the Lambeth Council on 27th October 1948 for Vauxhall Park. They were subsequently located on the site laid out by the Borough Engineer. A set of houses was also given to Lambeth for Brockwell Park." (Fitzroy Gardens, n.d.)

"One of the greatest attractions for children is situated in the Fitzroy Gardens - Ola Cohn's Fairies Tree, comprising a series of lovely carvings on the stump of one of the original Red Gum trees in the Fitzroy Gardens, well over 300 years in age.
From 1931 to May 1934 - Victoria's Centenary Year - Miss Cohn worked on the delightful likenesses of fairies, dwarfs, gnomes, a marvelous jackass, koalas, flying foxes and a host of typical Australian animals and birds. She used all the natural irregularities and curves to transform the tree trunk into a thing of beauty.
Her intentions are best described in the foreword to her book, "The Fairies Tree", inscribed on the tree's plaque :
    "I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you, and the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary - a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures."
The carvings were done years after the death of the tree and so the problem of the trunk's preservation presented a problem. In 1977, the trunk was extracted from the ground for chemical treatment and the removal of rotted wood, and during the process, a mummified brush tail possum over 40 years old was found perfectly preserved within the trunk. The tree was remounted on a concrete base to prolong its life."(Fitzroy Gardens, n.d.)

Now, I'm going to apologize for the oddity of the size of the images of The Fairies' Tree, they are larger than what I normally have my photos and they don't quite fit within the borders of the blog.  But for some reason I couldn't bare to have the images any smaller, the tree deserved to have the biggest photos, I don't know what is making me need to do this, perhaps it's fairy magic ;), but whatever it is, I must have the photos BIG! :)

Happy Gardens,

and tomorrow, it's onto Her Majesties' Rose Garden... yes, I did bow to her statue.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Melbourne Adventure | Fitzroy Gardens (Part 1, The Gardens and Trees)

Hey Everyone,
Sorry I haven't been blogging as consitantly as promised... my bad :).  But it's not because I'm not dieing to tell you all about my adventures, but it's because a couple of days ago was my big brother's graduation.

So a very hearty congratulations to my brother Matt for graduating after his 3 year course to get a Bachelor of Mass Communication.  I'm very proud of you :).

But then, to prevent my bloggery we have now lost internet connection in the house so I am braving the Brandy Gully Airforce (the mosquitoes) and am writing my blog.

I'm going to be writing about the Fitzroy Gardens in several segments because so much happened and I can't bring myself to do any further culling of photos, I have the compulsion to show you every single one of my photos, but that would take far too many hours to upload them, link them and then write about them and view them.  So, here are some of my favourites.

I guess I'd best start from where I left off.  So, I left the Aquarium and had a casual stroll back to the Convention Centre to meet up with Mum and Dad.  I then helped out around the show for a while until it closed and then we were going back to the caravan park... or so I thought.
It turned out that Mum and Dad had actually driven around Melbourne that day before I had flown in and spent the day trying to find the best parks and gardens to take me to if we had the time... AND WE DID, YAY!

In my opinion, Mum chose well.... the amazing FITZROY GARDENS!!!!

In 1848 the 26 Hectare site was set aside as a public reserve in 1848.  And was later named Fitzroy Gardens in 1862.  The gardens were included in the Victorian eritage Register in 1998.
Now I must mention briefly that due to it getting late we only had the chance to explore a comparatively small section of the gardens.  However, to me the areas we went through were HUGE, so lets just say, Melbourne knows how to do their gardens :).
It is Melbourne's premier garden and displays the cities many different historical eras, through both the landscaping and the built features.  In the area that Mum and I went through (dad was sleeping in the motorhome), we saw the most amazing tree avenues, a couple of fountains, a very familiar gully that was full of exotic (familiar to me) ferns, and foliage plants, all of which looked out of place in Melbourne, but would have fit right in up here in Brisbane :).  We also saw some lovely garden beds, the massive and manicured lawns.  As well as The Fairies' Tree and the Model Tudor Village.

I'll be writing about the Model Tudor Village and The Fairies' Tree in my next post.

This is mum as we walked past Captain Cook's Cottage
one of the beautiful beds bordering Cook's Cottage
"The cottage was purchased by Russell Grimwade in 1933, dismantled, and shipped [from Great Ayton, England] to Melbourne in 253 packing cases, arriving April, 1934. As the cottage structure had been altered considerably by a succession of owners following the Cook family's occupation, its Australian assemblers had the task of restoring the cottage as accurately as research and guess work would permit to its mid 18th century appearance.

A site in the Fitzroy Gardens was selected to complement the cottage with its large shady European trees and the construction work was completed in six months. The cottage was handed over to the Lord Mayor, H. Gengoult Smith by Russell Grimwade on the 15th October, 1934 during a centenary ceremony.

The cottage has undergone two restorations. The first was undertaken in the late 1950's and the most recent in 1978, when a thorough effort was made to investigate and restore the building, furnish it with material appropriate to the period, and surround it with a garden of eighteenth century character." (n.d., Fitzroy Gardens).
One of the MANY amazing hedges of Hydrangea

Unknown Plant

Unknown Plant

Another mystery plant
A more detailed photo of the flowers

This is what the light levels were like when we first arrived, then as the evening went on it got darker and darker (as it does as the sun sets :D), but thankfully the camera did a wonderful job of "lighting things up"

The Tree, The Pavilion and The Church

A beautiful fountain.

The view from the fountain

this garden bed made it feel like a botanical garden because it seemed relatively out of place, and tropical, yet somehow part of the whole design... I dunno, I found the feeling very confusing

close up
oooh, ooh, I know this one... Agapanthus :)

Me, play on the playground?!......

......Maybe :)

Getting ever darker

this palm confused the hell out of me.  From all other angles it was near impossible to find where the trunk was

it just kept going, and going, and going, and going and... you get the idea :)

My favourite fountain/water-feature/thing... because it had animals.

some of the pwitty aminals

you can see mum thinking "yeah okay kid, yes, another pretty plant, can we go now, I'm tired?!"

Some how this is the only photo I have of the conservatory.  It was huge, but sadly it was close.  However the plants inside it were relatively similar to the ones outside so I didn't mind too much.

I was mesmerised by this beautiful mass planting.

Oh so many more photos I want to share... but I must behave myself :)

Well, Happy Gardening and tomorrow.. hopefully.. we shall continue to adventure, but this time to the Model Tudor Village and The Fairies' Tree :)