Friday, 30 September 2016

A Garden Visitor 7

Amid the bright green, ferny foliage of Queen Anne's Lace, a little ladybug is busy. Busy performing natural pest control!

Ladybugs are a welcome presence in our garden.

The orange, spotty presence of these beneficial insects indicates there's a food source for them in the garden. Closer inspection of my Queen Anne's Lace revealed quite a few tiny aphids, those pesty, sap-sucking insects that happen to be one of a ladybug's favourite foods. Rather than intervening, as many a gardener wielding a toxic spray might, I left this sweet little ladybug to enjoy its meal. As a hungry ladybug can eat many aphids in a single day, I figure things are under control. 

Have a lovely weekend.


p.s. If you'd like to attract ladybugs to your garden, you can plant Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot), cosmos, geraniums, dill, cornflowers or calendula.



Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Roaring Meg: A Native Climber

Roaring Meg is a beautiful native climber. It's planted at the base of the retaining wall that leads to our front steps and is wending and winding its way happily up and along its wire mesh trellis. In Spring, it greets everyone who visits our home with stunning clusters of tubular, magenta flowers. What a welcome!
 "Roaring Meg" in bloom this Spring.

Originally, non-natives like mandevilla and wisteria were planted where Roaring Meg is now. But they faltered in the hot, South-Westerly position where this native climber is thriving. (Yes, it's true, I even managed to kill off a wisteria vine!)

A cluster of spectacular magenta blooms.

There's so much to adore about this native climber. It's reasonably fast-growing without being too vigorous. It responds well to a light pruning once it has finished flowering. It grows well in full sun and isn't overly thirsty. It has lovely deep green leaves and, of course, there are these beautiful blooms. 

These blooms are an open invitation for little native bees.

Planted in a hedge, at the base of Roaring Meg's trellis, are fragrant Gardenias. These are all in bud and I can't wait to see the deep pink of these blooms offset by the pure white petals of the Gardenias when they open. (There's always something to look forward to in a garden, isn't there!)

With a name like Roaring Meg, I'm sure there's no way I could've gone wrong with this gorgeous native climber. Even if your name's not Meg, it could be a lovely choice for your garden too.






Saturday, 24 September 2016

Of Rain and Rainbows

Steady rain falling on our rooftop is such a beautiful noise. Even more so when one wakes up to that sound at the beginning of a new day. It feels a luxury to lie quietly, eyes still closed, and just listen to the sound of nature's tears washing the world anew. 

A day of rain offers up certainties and possibilities. Among them, the certainty of much talk about the weather and checking of radar for approaching showers. The certainty of water for the garden and water in the tanks. The possibility of walking and playing in the rain, umbrellas and gumboots or no umbrellas and gumboots. And, of course, the possibility of a rainbow when the sun comes out again. So it was on a day when rain was forecast and fell.

My boy's rain gauge, made from a recycled bottle, ready to catch raindrops.

A wet and somewhat shaggy Sir Steve dog after a walk in the rain with us.
(He was the least wet of the three of us!)
 Our little water tank is full after the rain.
(So is our big tank but it's not as photogenic as this one:)

A hand-dyed rainbow on my knitting needles .
(The closest thing to a real rainbow today.)

Have you had rain at your place of late?  Did you happen to glance a rainbow?


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Shades of Pink in September

From the lightest of pale pinks through to deep, dark hues that are almost red, there are many blooms blushing pink in our early Spring garden.

The light pink flower head of the scented Rose Geranium.

 The stunning buds and blooms of a native climber.

The gorgeous pink flower spike of a spicy Salvia.

The delicate and fragrant petals of a pink-flowering Sweet Pea.

 The ruffled pink petals of colourful Dianthus.

The beautiful colours of these September blooms clearly announce that Spring is here. Do you have pink blooms in your garden too?


Monday, 19 September 2016

Mmmm...Mulberry and Apple Pie

Fingers, mouths and toes stained purple with mulberry juice were the end result of time spent plucking delicious ripe mulberries off a friend's tree. While under that tree, my friend and I 'sampled' many berries, recounted memories of our childhood mulberry-picking days and talked of what we'd make with our shares of these Springtime berries.

Fresh mulberries from my friend's mulberry tree.

While my friend was dreaming of mulberry jam, I only had one thing in mind to make with my share of our little mulberry harvest...pie! A Mulberry and Apple Pie to be precise. Oh, my! 

 Freshly baked and delicious.

The golden pastry shell of this pie encases a delicious, not-too-sweet filling made from slices of tart apple and juicy, sweet mulberries. Just before filling the pie, the apple and the mulberries are tossed together with a little sugar, flours and cinnamon. While baking, the juice that oozes from the warming fruit is thickened a little by the flours to form a fragrant and fruity sauce.

This is the recipe that I followed to make this scrumptious pie. As always, I tinkered a little and substituted spelt flour and raw sugar and left out the cloves. I made the pastry in my Thermomix but you could easily make a simple shortcrust pastry or even use a ready-made pastry if you wanted to. What matters most are the mulberries!

 Is there anything better than homemade pie... with cream?

So, if you have a mulberry tree, or you have a friend who does, go pick yourself some mulberries and make yourself a pie. Serve yourself a slice, with a generous dollop of thick cream, and then savor every bite. See if you can stop yourself at just one piece!


Monday, 12 September 2016

Here & Now 5

The warm sun came back out today. The day dawned, fresh and new, with nature's greens just that touch brighter and deeper after being 'polished' by yesterday's rain. Spring rain that drummed on our rooftop, filled our water tanks and soaked into our soil. Welcome rain that I hope falls regularly throughout our Spring.

Our here and now days are Spring days, hopeful days. Just as I have responded to the new warmth that September brings, so too have many of the plants in my garden. Just look at our mandarin tree:




Loving //  The song, Blessed,  off the new album from the amazing Australian singer/songwriter,
                 Deborah Conway and her partner, guitarist Willy Zeiger.
Eating //  A few beans here, a couple of snow peas there, as I munch my way around the garden.
               (It's a wonder there's anything left to bring in for a meal!)
Drinking // Lemony cordial
Feeling //  'Happy tired' after a late night out with one of my close friends.
Making //  Hand stamped wrapping papers for gifts.
                 (Flower stamps in black ink on recycled brown paper.)
Thinking // I want to plant some Zinnias soon.
Dreaming //Of the freedom of no-school holiday days with my boy.

For those of you who would like a little listen to the amazing voice of Deborah Conway, you can click on this link which will take you to a list of video clips on her website. Blessed isn't among them but I hope you'll find another song there that you'll love.

Over at Sarah's blog, Say, Little Hen!, there are lots of photos to love. You can pop over there to find the links (or add your own) to posts from others who have their own here and now-s happening!

Have a lovely start to your week.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

New Growth

While we turn the pages on a calendar to herald a new month, and sometimes a change in season, it is the first leaves, emerging on bare branches, that are a Plane Tree's way of signalling the warming temperatures and lengthening days of early Spring.

A new leaf unfurling on a Plane Tree.

As the Spring days unfold, so too will more and more of these bright green leaves. Soon, the tree's silvery branches will be covered in a mass of fresh, maple-like leaves.  

This new growth, to me, is this tree's own celebration of the coming of Spring. A time, in one of nature's intriguing cycles, for renewal.




Sunday, 4 September 2016

Rocket Flowers

At the beginning of Spring, it is the simple white flowers of leafy, spicy Rocket (Arugula) heralding the change to a warmer season in our garden. Cross-shaped blooms, four veined petals in each, sway in the breeze atop the long, thin flower stalks these salad greens are sending skywards. These beautiful blossoms are edible and, just like the plant's dandelion-like leaves, they add a pungent peppery "kick" to salads.

The simple, beautiful and edible blooms of Rocket.

It isn't their spiciness attracting our native bees to these flowers though. Rather, these simple, unruffled flowers give them easy access to pollen and nectar.  After finally cutting back the basil "supermarket" our native bees had been foraging in, letting the Rocket flower and go to seed has provided an alternate feast for these tiny, busy little creatures.

 A little native bee gathering pollen from a Rocket flower.

After these pretty flowers are spent, plump, bright green seed pods form. Encased within are the developing seeds.  When these pods are dry and brown, I will pick them and collect the little brown seeds hiding within. Then, I will have free Rocket seeds to store and share and scatter next year.

Plump seed pods form after the flowers.

Saved seeds mean more rocket next year. More rocket means more of these simple, sweet flowers which means more seeds and then, again, more rocket and in turn more flowers. Our native bees (and me) will be happy indeed:)


Friday, 2 September 2016

Grow what you Eat

The first little cherry tomatoes have been picked and more will ripen progressively as the new season unfolds. A handful of these round, red delights will be tossed into the healthy salads we eat during the warmer months. 

 Tiny tomatoes in a tiny basket.

We grow these delicious tomatoes because we eat them and, in growing them, we save money because we don't need to buy them. There will be no tomatoes on my shopping list for a while! There is little point in growing what your family doesn't eat. One year, I planted eggplant even though we are not big eggplant eaters here. While I  loved watching the aubergine globes forming on the plants, and felt quite joyful that I had actually grown something edible, I think back now and I know that space would have been put to better use growing the vegetables and fruits my family actually eats. (Our friends loved our eggplants though!)

 I can't wait to harvest this produce!

When I visited the nursery last weekend, I chose some seedlings that will produce fruits and vegetables that we'll use in our salads. We already have an abundance of lettuce and cherry tomatoes so I selected cucumbers, spring onion, capsicums and zucchini. All of these grow well in our veggie patch and all of them will save us money when we begin harvesting them.

I have planted out these seedlings now and I can't wait to see their growth take off in the warmer Spring weather. With sunshine and water and nourishment (The wonders of seaweed solution, worm tea and lucerne mulch can't be underestimated!) they'll soon be thriving and providing us with healthy, nutritious food. Then, it won't just be tomatoes and lettuce that I can cross of my salad shopping list!

What you are planning on planting at the start of this new season?