Monday, December 28, 2009

The garden

Blackberries ripening. They've been netted to prevent avian interlopers.

Since the orchard has been securely netted, for the first time in years there are no birds inside. Which has led to a slight upset to the balance of nature - insects are proliferating: gorgeously marked spiders, earwigs, cabbage moths. Cherry slug is under control though.

This morning a kookaburra became caught between the rabbit proof fence and the netting. When released it flew into a huge eucalypt nearby - kookaburras from all over the place flew in, and there was much noise welcoming and consoling - a kookaphony?

Have just discovered this rose. It's in the pump house bed, where there are many very old roses. It's hard to tell if they are on root stock, but they are in poor condition, so I'm tempted to try and propagate as they all have beautiful scents.

The kitchen garden - a haven for rabbits! Unfortunately.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh, the energy

Have just stumbled (how else do we find things on the internet?) across this blog The author plans to write daily for 10,000 days about life in Spitalfields. It's a delight.

Morello cherry jam in the making

Eight jars - but the set wasn't all that great. Yummy though.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The beginning of harvest

Morello cherries glowing like jewels. They are unbelievably luminous - I spent ages just sitting looking at the fruit, when I was supposed to be harvesting. Two plants = 2.6kg one, 0.6kg the other. And that's the extent of the morello gathering for this year.

If you look very closely at these sweet cherries you can see my reflection! Well - if you had the original hi-res image you could.

Heavily laden bee in the chestnut catkin. I spent ages trying to photograph the very busy bees, but they wouldn't stay still long enough! There were millions of bees in the lavender - but they had nothing in their pollen pockets.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Precious peony remnant

Then, not long after, I disturbed a snake which had taken up residence in netting I'd left lying on the verandah for weeks. Lesson: NEVER leave things lying around, always put them away. The next day at a bbq neighbours remarked how it had been about 20 years since the last sighting of snakes in the area. The snake wasn't all that big and seemed relatively unperturbed at being shaken out - it slithered off into the corrugated iron leaning between the shed and water tank. Wellies will be de rigueur when the iron is moved. And then there are all those ag pipes behind the shed ....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Life in the orchard

The most amazing looking spiders living in the heritage apples.

These are small red cabbages. Just wait a week or two ... The leaves have a gorgeous metallic bloom. And luscious green caterpillars, but we don't like them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Duck the architect

Found on a boundary fence on the way home from a delightful few hours at Ceres today. For those who missed a very funny article - Duck the architect was the result of translating a phrase into Japanese and then translating it back into English. Can you unravel it?

Lunch at Ceres was a must have - it's one of the few times that the much misused word "option" applied to the carnivorous and not the vegetarian menu. Ceres appears to be in a state of flux - winter weeds everywhere - just about as many weeds as chooks; buildings being constructed; and today the art of bicycle maintenance kept many quiet as they studied and repaired their bikes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The sounds of spring

Waking up before dawn to the sounds of birdsong. One of the many pleasures of spring.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Plants are such glorious things

Seemingly out of the blue:

Nature shines again.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunny Sunday in the Sydney Botanical Gardens

The Sydney Botanical Gardens and surrounding lawns and structures are an ideal place to hang out on a sunny day - even a sunny day which is rather cold.

Birds, as always, offered much entertainment. There were about 40 sulphur crested cockatoos in one location - silly humans were feeding them bread and the birds were so used to this that they sat on the donors' hands, arms and heads. It was a hard sight to take in for someone whose crops are under potential threat from these birds.

An ibis helping itself to water, in the cafe. The staff get extremely irate with these birds - an ibis landing on the table to eat scraps is not quite like having a sparrow hang around. They - the staff - are waiting with great anticipation for the day they - the staff - get netted in! Soon apparently.

An old dracaena draco was felled in May by the contrast of long drought and lots of sudden rainwater. It was interesting to see the pragmatic prognosis given by the gardeners.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island is Australia's most unusual urban park - a heritage-listed island in the middle of Sydney harbour. It's currently undergoing revitalisation and in a few years will, I'm sure, be a great place to visit. Just now it's no big deal. It's interesting to wander around the buildings

and see some amazing chunks of metal.

There are also some weird structured sleep-over opportunities!

These signs were fun - and because they were nesting the seagulls were extremely noisy, but not aggressive.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dough mojo is back

Work has been all consuming for over a year now. The downside is that there's not been time or energy for all the life-affirming activities like baking bread and growing vegetable seedlings. Hopefully that's changing (although those around doubt that).

Whatever - my dough mojo has returned, and for that I'm truly thankful.

Second proof just before baking.

Just out of the oven.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A little ray of sunshine

I'm making glacé cumquats. I'd picked the cumquats weeks ago from trees next door; then left them in the fridge because I didn't have time to make cumquat marmalade (my favourite). They had dehydrated to the point where they were pretty much just skin. Making glacé fruit takes several days - only five to ten minutes a day, but over several days as the sugar dose is upped every 18-24 hours. Each time the cumquats are boiled they blow up like luscious little orange balloons, then deflate back to sunken skin when the cold air hits them. The process is not quite finished - another couple of days before they are ready to be dried. In the meantime, I'm accumulating a vast amount of the most delicious smelling/tasty citrus flavoured sugar syrup. Next challenge - find a use for the syrup.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Not quite a Parisian rooftop

Nature is indomitable - any place, any time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I've fallen in love with Miss Kitty

Friends are kindly pandering to my latest obsession and I've been given a HUGE number of little Miss Kittys. Did you see the Japanese tattoo last night on The Chaser's War on Everything? It was Miss Kitty!

The other day while ransacking the local op shop I came across three champagne coupes - so tiny they fit Miss Kitty. Unfortunately I dropped one on the way home (forgot to take a carry bag and had all sorts of other goodies to get home as well). Any way - these survived. The fruit is yuzu - a Japanese citrus. Recipes and uses have to be discovered before they shrivel up and die.

Have searched for yuzu plants to buy (in Australia) and haven't had much luck - although a link through a forum provided info about a grower in Murwillumbah.

Look what I've just discovered at!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gleaning and beauty

Agnes Varda, director of The Gleaners, has made a new film: The Beaches of Agnes - a look over 80 years of life and 54 years of filmmaking. In today's paper she's quoted quoting pianist Arthur Rubinstein, who wrote that one should "love life for better or worse, without conditions".

These images go a long way to helping one love life!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Overheard today

At the St Kilda Farmers' Market - young boy: "quail eggs - I love quail eggs. $2.50 - but I've only got $2."

One of life's little mysteries.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Here's someone who forgot the rule about not leaving your phone in sight.

Isn't nature just glorious? These images kept my spirits buoyed during two days of meeting.

And this was the view from the meeting room - love the mix of old and new.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Can you feel the breeze?

This is an african daisy - osteospermum -

and this is the cypress hedge at the St Kilda Botanical Gardens being trimmed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Glorious green

It's amazing what 50mm of rain does to the country side.  

Spent yesterday showing Inka, a German travel agent, the glories of our region; we visited Rupertswood (Sunbury), St Agnes Homestead (Kyneton), Tuki Retreat (Smeaton), The Convent Gallery (Daylesford), Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa and 65 Main B&B with TLC (both in Hepburn Springs).

Here's the lush green at Tuki.

And here's owner Robert Jones giving Inka a 'hand to mouth experience'.  Inka had caught her trout for lunch, and Robert's presenting her with the fish cheek - "the sweetest part of the fish".

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Garden delights

Saturday afternoons in the St Kilda Botanical Gardens are always rewarding.

On the walk home I passed a garage-roof vegie patch. I've been keeping an eye on it for a few years now - it's looking a bit derelict at the moment. However, as you can see - it does have a guardian.