Archive | April 2018

Six on Saturday: April 14

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Saturday has rolled around again and it's time for another six.  The Propagator is the excellent host of this meme and if you would like to see what everyone else is doing in their garden this weekend, do pay a visit to his site.

We were  kept busy watering during the week. One of the good things about so much dryness is that there are fewer weeds to bother about, except perhaps the dreadful euphorbia maculata, or spotted spurge which isn't fazed by anything the weather throws at it. I think it could grow through cement under a blowtorch.

But last night we had a thunderstorm which brought us 13 ml of rain and it was lovely to look out into the garden this morning and see the last drops of water shimmering in the sun before a breeze arrived to shake them gently to the ground.

Here are my six for this week:

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  1. An unidentified dahlia given to me  in a bag of other unidentified dahlia tubers by a friend.  I've waited ages for any of them to flower and this is the first (and perhaps only) one to cooperate.  It isn't one of the flouncy attention-seeking dahlias, but I do like its neat and orderly petals with their hints of gold in the centres.
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2. My peace rose.  Yes, I know I've shown it before, but not this particular photo, and I do love it. I think it's looking particularly fetching in the early morning sunshine. Look at those peachy-pinky gelato colours!

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3.  I wonder what this strange fungus is that appeared in the garden the other morning?  It reminds me of tripe.

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4. The flower of Hakea Petiolaris,  just emerging from its bud on the left and fully open on the right.  It's also called the ' sea urchin' hakea. The leaves are leathery and a strange greyish-green  and  the tree carries its seed pods from the previous year until it's prompted to open them, usually by a bush fire, not unlike other Australian trees such as the Banksia. I hope the seed pods won't be opening here.

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5. Beautiful little garnet berries on the Berberis Thunbergii atropurpurea. These little gems could almost hang on a necklace or be clustered together on an earring.  When the cold weather arrives, the colours on the plant will be even more intense.

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6.  Part of my front garden: dry but still coping and cunningly photographed so the neighbouring houses can't be seen-we are living in the suburbs, after all. You can see Sedum, Salvia 'Greek Skies', Perovskia,  dwarf Chrysanthemums, and Agastache 'Sweet Lili', amongst others.

 

Weather today: Sunny, slightly cloudy, and windy- a bit of everything. 15-26 C.

 

Six on Saturday, April 7. Garden Visitors 3

I have called this week's SoS 'Garden Visitors Three'  because I've previously posted Garden Visitors and Garden Visitors Two, so the title of this post seems to be quite pertinent. We have recently had a number of really delightful guests in the garden. I wish they would become permanent residents, but perhaps because there isn't really a canopy as yet, their sojourns are fleeting; a hasty stop before flitting off elsewhere.  They are visitors of the feathered variety, of course,  but because I had a lot of difficulty photographing them without a telephoto lens, the photos aren't the best quality.

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1. A male King Parrot. These large parrots can become quite tame and will eat food from a person's hand.  In our town they're almost at the most western limit of their distribution.  He is quite resplendent in his suit of scarlet and green, and he has a  a blue tail, which doesn't feature very well from this angle.

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2.A female King Parrot, looking a little ruffled: she might have spotted me loitering.  These parrots mate for life and can always be seen as a couple.  They communicate with each other by emitting sweet whistles.

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3. A male Superb Fairy Wren. He isn't monogamous at all and can be seen darting through the shrubbery with his harem of females, communicating with them with silvery calls. A fairy wren is tiny and weighs on average 10 grams. These little birds like dense foliage to keep them safe from predators:  he'd be rather prominent with his bright, almost irridescent blue livery.

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4.  Here's one of his wives.  She's quite dowdy in comparison, but very sweet nevertheless.  These birds are one of Australia's favourites.  It was really difficult to get a clear photo of the wrens because they're never still for more than a second as they dart hither and thither searching for insects.

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5.  This handsome bird in his dinner suit  is a Butcherbird.  I'm not able to identify it specifically, because I can't see enough of it and there are several different varieties.  Butcherbirds have earned their name because of their  habit of wedging animal bodies (lizards, other smaller birds or mice) into the fork of a tree, or impaling them on a broken branch (just like a butcher hanging a carcass ) before tearing them into smaller pieces.  Look at that beak!  Just made for carnage.  One of those little wrens would make a perfect meal if it wasn't hidden away in my shrubbery! Butcherbirds  are friendly to humans however (except during nesting time), and can be tamed. A redeeming feature is their call, a variety of sounds, but often a glorious, perfectly pitched sequence of notes in the cool Autumn morning air. They are related to Australian magpies and like them, are clever at mimicking other birds and animals.

You can hear an example of the Butcherbird's song here

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6. White Cheeked (or eastern) Rosella.  This Rosella often uses one of its feet, usually the right foot,  to hold food when eating on the ground or perched on a tree. Right-handed Rosellas, who would have thought it! They eat seeds, fruits and nectar.  They also, like most parrots, mate for life. This one is a male.

I hope that when the canopy in my garden becomes  thicker, more of these birds will come to stay.

 

Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the Six on Saturday meme.  Don't forget to go on over to his site to see what other gardeners are doing this week.

Weather today: Sunny, 13-31 C

Japanese Gardens in Red Earth Country.

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Dubbo (red earth, in English) is a city of nearly 40 000 people 90 minutes' drive from where I live. The red earth of Dubbo is very fertile and in good seasons the countryside around the city abounds in wheat rippling in the breeze and fields of canola adding a brilliant yellow to the landscape. It's good country, but if there isn't enough rain, as there hasn't been for some time now, everything struggles. So far this year, Dubbo has had 35 ml (2.1 inches) which isn't much when the temperatures have been in the 30s most days and quite often into the 40s.  It's been a battle there for both home and professional gardeners.

I recently visited  Dubbo and dropped in to the Japanese Gardens.  They are part of the Dubbo regional Botanic Garden along with a Biodiversity garden, a Sensory garden and Oasis Valley, a showcase of dry  'rainforests'.  A dry rainforest sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s merely a term which differentiates this forest from a tropical rainforest. You can find out more about a dry rainforest here

The Japanese garden was opened on November 23rd 2002 on the 153rd anniversary of the founding of Dubbo.  It was my intention on this warm Autumn day to see how the gardens have fared in difficult conditions and hopefully to enjoy a pleasant morning in the sun.

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I read that 'Shoyoen', the name of the garden,  means 'strolling and refreshing garden'.  I was there as soon as the garden opened (9 am)  and it was indeed refreshing to be there before the heat of the day and I did stroll around. There is certainly evidence of herbaceous struggle, but on the whole I was pleased to see many trees and shrubs flourishing in this garden which is maintained with hard work by local people,  as well as gardeners from Dubbo's sister city Minokamo in Japan.

I had a short conversation with a gardener at the beginning of my visit who told me how difficult it has been to keep the cherry trees going: some of them have already been replaced twice, because  unfortunately their trunks get sunburnt and this causes cracking and eventual death of the tree. The gardeners have now wrapped wadding around the trees' trunks to alleviate the problem of sunburn, as can be seen in the photo below.

The cherry tree on the right has wadding protecting its trunk.
The cherry tree on the right has wadding protecting its trunk.

The garden is centred around a lake containing an impressive selection of multi-coloured koi which smartly rise to the surface when a person passes,  their mouths gaping in expectation of food. Winding around the lake, a gravelled path takes the visitor past plantings of  cherry trees and ornately twisted Japanese pines up to the tea house on top of a small man-made hill.  From the summit  there's a view over the top of a waterfall to the lake and its surrounding gardens.

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My visit to these gardens was a delight. I enjoyed wandering along the meandering pathways, the sound of the waterfall in my ears.  It's a peaceful location in which to spend a morning.  Gardeners have worked very hard in adverse conditions to keep plantings alive, and indeed healthy, there were birds enjoying  seeds and waterways,  and the sun shone brightly but not too strongly.

 

If you would like to read more about the Japanese Garden in Dubbo, you can link to the website here

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