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SoS, July 7: Small Bright Spots.

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Although some bulbs are making an appearance, much of the garden is having its Winter rest, so this week's post is more about small spots of colour rather than any overall abundance of the kind that Spring will hopefully produce. Most  plants need to rest at some time of the year, so I'm grateful to those that  do their flowering in the coldest months of the year, bringing pleasure and brightness to cold dreary days.

Here are some of my spots of colour this week.

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One: Violas are good value plants that pop up in many places,  happily flowering in these cold temperatures.  I don't know the names of these as I planted them before I realised it was helpful to know more about plants than their common names.

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Two:  This is Grevillea 'Lady O' who flowers for most of the year.  The spidery flowers are quite small for a Grevillea, but they are a haven for  honeyeaters like the Eastern Spinebill which frequently visits our garden and enjoys the nectar and the closely packed leaves.

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Three:  Our dwarf Calamondin x citrofortunella microcarpa is having its first fruit and they are joyous spots of colour in a wintry garden.  Most people would find the compact fruit  impossible to eat straight off the tree but it makes the most delicious marmalade.

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Four: Banksia blechnifolia.  I've posted about this Western Australian banksia before, but now it really seems to be growing some flowers.  It's quite an odd plant with its moth-feeler stems,  and I'm waiting to see if the fuzzy protuberances turn into flowers.  More soon.

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Five: A small success story.  This is Hakea 'Burrendong Beauty' which is a native to this area, having been discovered in the Burrendong Arboretum in the 1980s.  It's believed to be a hybrid which occurred naturally there.  I picked a small cutting from a garden nearby a couple of years ago, managed  to strike it and it has been quietly growing since.  This winter, for the first time,  it has burst forth into flower along the length of its branches. At first the stamens are like elbows or hairpins, but they unbend to become feeler-like as the flower completes its bloom.

 

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Six: Finally, something with very little colour.  A photo of part of the garden which shows how hard you have to look for colour at this time of the year. I hope that bulbs will spring up under those silver birches before too long.  Flora, with her cornucopia of Echeveria, is keeping a close eye on things.

If you would like to see what is happening in other gardens on a Saturday, pop over to the Propagator's blog and take a look.

Weather today:  What a mixed bag.  -0.5 to 11 C, frost, then sunny and windy, then rain.  The top was 11, but only for about half an hour.  Most of the day it hovered around single digit numbers.  Brrrr!

SoS, June 30. Winter colour

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We're in the throes of Winter now and the cold mornings seemed to arrive earlier than they usually do. I think perhaps this was due to a long dry period and lack of moisture in the atmosphere. Last Sunday  we had a low of -4.5, a white lawn and a birdbath with a thick layer of ice. After the frost, the days are glorious: clear skies full of sunshine and warm enough to be out in the garden in shirt sleeves. Later in the week we had a Rain Event which was most welcome. I have been busy cutting back my perennials for their Winter rest, working my way around the back garden.

Each Saturday, keen gardeners select six things from their garden to share with others from around the world. The Six on Saturday crowd is growing under the leadership of Mr P, and if you're interested in seeing fascinating plants and interesting ideas from all corners, do pop over to his blog here.

Here are my Six:

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One: Just coming into bloom and bringing some brightness into the garden is Leptospermum scoparium ‘Nanum Rubrum’. I think of Twiggy or a kewpie doll -if you're old enough to remember either of those- when I look at these flowers. Big round eyes and spiky eyelashes. Leptospermums are amongst my favourite natives.  They flower prolifically  for ages and at a time when much of the garden is hibernating, and bees love them.

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Two:  Coprosma repens 'Ignite' whose foliage is colourful all year round but even more so in Winter, is also creating a bright spot in the garden.  This one doesn't spread as much as some of the other Coprosmas which can behave quite thuggishly.  I like a plant I can control.

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Three:  Osteospermum.  I thought there was too much pink and blue in the front garden, so I decided, Monet like,  to add a touch of yellow, a sparkling highlight, and chose this Osteospermum, whose name I have since lost.  Most plants are finished for now, but the light shines on,  shimmering steadfastly.

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Four:  Anigozanthos, or Kangaroo Paw.  I don't have much luck with these, and after a discussion with another Sixer, Nat from depressionfreegarden, over in Western Australia, I've decided that my soil isn't sandy enough.  This is the only Kangaroo Paw that has lasted more than one season for me. More than anything, these two flowers remind me of a couple of haughty cockerels giving each other the cold shoulder. The one on the right has a much more impressive comb and is behaving quite snootily.

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Five:  Gargantua has been out.  Snorting and roaring,  our resident monster has chomped up the cuttings and turned them into usable mulch which either goes straight on the garden or is composted.

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Six:  Thanks to Kris, from Late to the Garden Party, I have recently learnt about fasciation.  I have noticed that these echeverias have developed strange mutations, sending out shoots that divide into small florets and I wonder if this is an example of fasciation.  What do you think? I've a lot of these plants forming a border and this strange phenomenon is only present in one small section.

And that's my six for this week.  Happy gardening!

Weather today: -1 to 14 degrees C, fog then sunny.

Six on Saturday, June 16.

Here we are! It's Saturday again, and I'm joining in with the Six on Saturday crowd to see what's happening in gardens near and far. If you also have a hankering to see what's going on in other gardens,  do visit The Propagator's blog where you can also join in if you wish. It's worth it. While we, in the Southern Hemisphere head towards the coldest time of the year, in the Northern Hemisphere gardens have burst forth into glorious bloom, and  SoS pages are full of wonderful flowers, some familiar and some not so.

Here are my six for this week.

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One: Rescued from an orphans'  table somewhere recently, this Gaillardia 'Mesa Red' is growing well.  I'm not keen on the yellow ones, but I rather like this one with its bewhiskered centre and scarlet petals.

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Two:  Seeds purchased from Lambley Gardens and Nursery: Cerinthe major purpurascens, Nigella 'Miss Jeckyll Alba, Nigella orientalis 'Transformer' and  Wallflower Sunset Series 'Apricot'.  These are intended to be space fillers in the garden.  In the small packet I have Exochorda macrantha 'The Bride'. I saw Exochorda on a blog earlier this year and not surprisingly decided I had to have one. I’ve not found any online anywhere, but managed to source some seeds. I'll pot them up soon and hopefully have some seedlings before too long.

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Three: Here I have two cuttings of Grevillea 'Sooper Dooper' which has a terrible name, but is an excellent plant which flowers ALL year, and remains compact, making it especially suitable for small gardens.  In the red, there is a cutting which I think is going to fail, but in the yellow is one that has new shoots on it already.  Below is a photo of the flowers on the one that is already established in the front garden.

Grevillea 'Soopa Doopa'
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Four: Some purchases made on my trip home from Sydney earlier this week: a pretty Erica colorans 'White Delight' (flowers below) , a Pittosporum  to fill a hole in a hedge and two dwarf Rhaphiolepis to put in the spot vacated by the bay trees which were moved a week or so ago.  New larger  pots have been purchased and I hope the Rhaphiolepis don't outgrow them too quickly.  They were chosen for their toughness as the position they're going to be in is challenging indeed.

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The Five: I'm looking for help with this one.  I picked this cutting from someone's front garden, but I don't know what it is.  It had a blue flower and I'm wondering if it's borage.  It has struck very easily and quickly. Any suggestions?

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Six: Continuing the unsung hero/heroine series, this little pansy has self-seeded and is flowering happily in the cold and frost. Pansies grow well here in the winter, but as soon as hot weather arrives they throw in the towel. Fortunately they proliferate quite well and reappear when they are ready.

 

That's my six for this Saturday.  Happy gardening everyone.

Weather today: -1 to 13 degrees C; windy, cloudy and cold.

Six on Saturday, 2 June: Winter is here

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Winter has arrived! During the week we had some longed-for rain and on that day, the top temperature was only 13 degrees. Let's not become over-excited though, the rain gauge measured only 14 ml, but we were very grateful. Nothing refreshes the garden like the water that comes from the sky, and the recent rainfall means I won't have to water the garden beds for some time. A well mulched garden will stay damp for a while when the daily maximums are so much lower.

Six on Saturday is the forum where gardeners share six things from their garden with other enthusiasts from all over the world.  If you would like to see what other people have growing, do pay a visit to the Propagator to find out.

Here are six things of note in my garden this week:

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One:  The rosemary hedge has been needing a trim for a long time, but it has been flowering for about two months and the bees love the flowers.  Each day the hedge is full of a variety of humming bees going about their business while the hedge grows more spiky and disreputable. Rosmarinus officianalis 'Tuscan Blue' is the rosemary I use for my hedge because of its upright growth habit: it has a much stronger colour than this early morning photo shows.

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Two: Bay trees.  Despite warnings from a couple of concerned sixers, Mr MG (Trevor)  and I went ahead and released the two bay trees from their imprisonment.  The hole-digging exercise was tiring in the extreme as although the ground had been dampened, it was still of a concrete consistency, requiring a crowbar and back breaking stints on the business end of the shovel.  The plan is to keep these bays trimmed and not too tall.  I may live to regret this decision.  Time will tell.

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Three: Iris cretensis 'Starkers Pink' purchased from Lambley Nursery has its first flower.  I have to confess that I'm a little disappointed with the slightly pallid colour, but if it has quite a few flowers out at once (when it gets a bit more established), I'm prepared to forgive it.  It's supposed to a very hardy plant that can deal with extended dry periods.  You wouldn't think so to look at that dainty flower, would you?

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Four: Viola tricolor also known as Johnny Jump Up, amongst other names.  There are little seedlings emerging in many places in the garden, but this is the first flower to appear.  Soon these will be flowering everywhere and will make a splash of colour during the wintry days. I think I should call this one another unsung hero.

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Five:  A garden view with the last of the Autumn leaves. The weeping silver birch behind the seat was attacked by borer early in its life. It lost a leading branch on a very windy day, and has refused to grow any taller. It’s a striking colour just now, but may be living on borrowed time.

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Six:  Two Eastern (white cheeked ) Rosellas have found the last of the seeds on the Crepe Myrtle.  It's such a privilege to have these colourful birds visiting the garden, and I never tire of seeing them.

The outcrops in the photo at the top of this post are quite typical of rock formations around our local area.  Large,  smooth boulders, some of them quite monolithic, jut out in paddocks and create lumbering shadows and intriguing shapes. You can see how dry it's been- there should be green grass where that grey ground is.

Weather today: 1 degree to 16 degrees C; frost and then cloudy.

 

Happy gardening!

SoS May 26: Autumn Colours

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This Autumn has been one of the most colourful I've seen here in the Central Tablelands of NSW. Russet, garnet, butterscotch and gold leaves bedeck trees in many gardens and lawns carry  mantles of colour. I wonder if the prolonged dry spell is the reason for all this glory.  The weather continues to be warm and sunny but distressingly dry. It's wonderful weather for being outside gardening.

Six on Saturday continues apace with gardeners showing what is happening in their plot.  If you would like to see what others are experiencing in their gardens, pop over to The Propagator's blog to take part.

Here are my six:

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  1. Following an inspirational post about geraniums from Ali over at The Mindful Gardener, I visited our local nursery and bought one.  It was the only one available, actually.  She's Geranium hybrid x wallichianum 'Rozanne' which is a long name for a tiny plant.  What an ethereal blue she is with her finely drawn darker veins. I've found a sheltered spot and hope Rozanne does well.
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2.  Unidentified Pelargonium.  I love the brilliant colour of this pelargonium which is much stronger in real life than in my photo.  When the frosts arrive, this plant will be badly affected, but is sheltered enough to survive the winter, its burnt and battered outer  leaves protecting those underneath.

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3.  I planted this Arum pictum last year having read that it is quite self-contained and sensible and won't spread wantonly.  However, it looks to me as though it's indulging in some sneaky thuggery.  You can see it's grown quite large in a short period of time and is about to lean on my Scilla peruviana which has been producing strong healthy leaves.  The flowers are interesting but the flowering period is very brief.  I wonder if anyone else has had experience with this plant?

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4. Verbena bonariensis.  Planted as an infant a  month ago, 75 cm tall and flowering already.

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5.  Late afternoon sun shining on standard Escallonia.  It has a terrible aphid infestation which seems to be common to these plants.

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6. In the front garden,  Pyrus nivalis the Snow Pear,  is clothed in leaves of gold.  This is the best colour I've seen it display since it was planted three years ago: again, perhaps the effect of our dry Autumn.

Weather today: 1.3 - 21 degrees C and sunny.

Six on Saturday, May 19th

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It's astonishing how quickly Saturdays seem to roll around. I've no sooner read everyone's Sixes than it's time to prepare another one of my own.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator. Participants are invited to show six things from their garden: flowers or vegetables, trees or shrubs, paths or gardens, successes or failures. Six things. From a garden.

Don't forget to drop in to The Propagator's blog to catch up on what other gardeners are doing.

Since last week the weather here has been glorious. Cold in the mornings, yes, but the days have been full of sunshine. People are still wearing shorts! Wonderful weather for gardening.

Here are my six for this week:

  1. Leucodendron salignum.   The label describes it as 'Red Devil' but something tells me this plant is wrongly labelled! The second picture is a different view of an older flower on the same shrub.  Various websites tell me it must have plenty of sun or the flowers won't colour. Well, sun is something it's had in abundance, so my guess is an incorrect label.
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2. Last of the Iceberg roses. They will flower sporadically until they're pruned in July, but I'm not expecting too much more from them.

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3. A garden view.  The two poor bay trees on each side of the steps have been in those pots for at least five years.  They are very sulky, and who would blame them?  They're going to be released from their misery next week, all going according to plan, and planted  in the ground.

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4.  An iris flowered! It was the only one, and who could possibly guess that this would happen?  Its time with us was fleeting: in two days it was finished.  There will be more of course, but not for a while.

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5.  Crepe Myrtle.  Unlike last week's crepe myrtle, this one is a shrub which was given to us as a house-warming present.  I don't know its name as it began as a cutting from the friend's garden.  It's looking rather autumnal with its tiara of berries.

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6.  This week's unsung heroine is Alyssum,  (it was Lobelia last week, you may remember),  another flower that will brighten our garden during winter with splashes of pink, mauve, apricot, purple and white. There’s even a yellow one, although I have never seen it. Alyssum self seeds readily, filling small spaces in a very obliging manner.

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Weather today:  0 -19 degrees C and sunny.  Of course!

Happy gardening everyone.

Six on Saturday, May 12th

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Autumn is finally well-esconced in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, and in fact even Winter made its looming presence felt yesterday with a blast of cold air  bringing us a little rain, strong wind and snow to some places. The maximum temperature here was 11 degrees C and that was only for about five minutes. It was a day for settling snugly by the fire and doing indoor things. The weather  was better today, but even so, Winter is prising the fabric of the days apart with its icy fingers and threatening an imminent arrival. You can feel it in the sneaky chilly breeze.

Six on Saturday is the mushrooming meme hosted by The Propagator. To see what other green-fingered folk have happening in their  gardens,  drop in to his blog where you'll find inspiring gardens and ideas.

As the season comes to a close, it's becoming more difficult to find six things in my garden on a Saturday, but here are mine for this week.

 

  1. Agastache 'Sweet Lili' is having a last pirouette before closing down for the Winter.  She has flowered constantly since last October.  A star performer who has danced through the summer despite everything the season threw at her.
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2.  Caught re-handed!  A King Parrot helps himself to olives.  As a consequence the few olives we had were harvested soon afterwards.  I wonder that the parrots can eat olives off the tree as they taste very bitter. Needs must when the drought bites.

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3,  The flowers of Erica melanthera 'Ruby Shepherd'.  It's a winter-flowering shrub, so should bring  brightness to the garden when many other plants are dormant. It's a very recent addition to the garden and only very small, but I like it so much I've decided more must be found forthwith.

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4. Lobelia flowers.  An underrated plant, lobelia will flower for most of the winter here. The flowers are like indigo butterflies.

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5. Banksia blechhnifolia. This is a Western Australian native.  Plants from WA can sulk a little over on this side of Australia, but this one has been behaving quite well.  These furry growths are at the end of the stems and they remind me, in close-up,  of moths'  feelers waving inquisitively.  So far there has been only one flower on this plant and I'll have to wait until about September to see some more.

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6.  Crepe Myrtle 'Natchez'.  Here are the beautiful Autumn leaves.  It's only a small tree but is so hardy and beautiful in every season.

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Weather today: Cloudy.  6-16 degrees Celcius.

Happy gardening everyone!

Six on Saturday, May 5th

The last two weeks have seen us touring around Victoria, and SoS wasn't possible during that time. I wondered how the garden would look after a fortnight, but all was in order upon our return. Our watering system did its work well, as did a friend who kindly watered pot plants.

Six on Saturday is a meme hosted by The Propagator and if you are interested in seeing what other people have in their gardens, drop in on his blog to find out what's been happening in the past week. Horticultural delights await, I can assure you.

Here are my six on Saturday:

  1. Leptospermum scoparium 'Kea' bloomed in our abscence. It's a dwarf plant that will keep on flowering for weeks and has an abundance of petite white flowers whose stamens look like sea anemone tentacles in miniature.
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2. The olives ripened while we were away and now must be picked and pickled.  I think they're Manzanilla: they're very large and healthy.

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3. Correa pulchella 'Ring-a Ding Ding' (I won't take responsibility for the name), also known as Australian Fuchsia, although they're not related.  What a star this plant is: covered with flowers which also last for weeks, tough: drought and frost hardy.

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4. Rosa 'Climbing Pinkie' has been rampageous in her climbing habit, although not in flowering, but I managed to capture a slightly blousy cluster of blooms.

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5. After a very dodgy start that involved much yellowing and dropping of leaves during the summer, my dwarf Meyer lemon has decided to behave itself and is flowering its socks off.

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6.  My little group of plants purchased from Lambley Gardens. Iris cretensis 'Starkers Pink', Erigeron glaucus 'Seabreeze', Ceratostigma, Erica 'Ruby Shepherd', Sedum 'Postman's Pride', Salvia microphhylla ‘Ribambelle', Salvia 'Celestial Blue', Tulipa 'Queen of Night' and Tulipa 'Menton'.

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Weather today: Sunny and perfect, 0.4-21 degrees C. Frosts are coming soon!

Happy gardening everyone.

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