Silent, but not still

Me, that is.

I haven’t posted for a few days, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything. It’s just that repeated posting about the same project with only small increments of change can cause reader-enjoyment fatigue, I think, unless there’s real, visible progress. Today, I thought there was something for you to look at ūüôā

Although I do have progress to show on the Hatbox quilt, I’m going to break it up with some pretties from my back yard. There’s still beauty happening out there, despite the total absence of rain, the hot, dry winds and the unseasonal heat.

So, nearly two-thirds of the quilt joined up. One modest seam to do and it will be two-thirds. It’s going well and easily, and I don’t want to rush through it.

In the back yard, the three baby pineapples are growing. This one’s nearly twice the size it was last time I showed it two weeks ago.

The bananas are getting bigger and bigger, and I’m keeping an eye on them to make sure the fruit bats and possums don’t start paying them too much attention.

They have a ‘banana bag’ over them to protect them from animals and from getting too scorched by the sun.

And in the orchid house, this lovely is flowering. It has at least 10 more buds, so when more of them are out, I’ll show it again. So pretty…

Sadly, the grass is all brown and when Mouse does his daily zoomie up and down, he’s kicking up clouds of dust. The amaryllis, or hippeastrums, all bright scarlet, are flowering like it’s going out of fashion ‚Äď which it may indeed be, if we don’t get some rain soon.

It’s a thing with plants, isn’t it?¬† If they’re stressed, they flower like crazy to get in one final try at reproducing themselves.

I think I may have to bring that orchid inside, out of the orchid house, so I can give it some personal attention and admiration. Flowers that pretty shouldn’t bloom unseen.

Right, back to the hand stitching. Before I know where I am, it’ll be time to bind!

The Gardens of Chiconia 40: Bathtime

In the very dry winter/early spring weather we’ve been having in the lead up to summer, it’s not only the garden that has suffered.

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The birds have been going thirsty, and apparently, unwashed!

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 4.55.49 pmWe have got into the habit of providing water for drinking and bathing, and since the dishes went out onto the bird feeder, they are rarely empty of bird life. It can be hard capturing the action out there, but the lorikeets are the boldest, noisiest and by a long way, the splashiest.

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The dwarf mango tree we planted some weeks ago is loving its new position, and has rewarded us by blossoming, at least a year before I would have expected it. I don’t know if the flowers will come to anything, but if they do, I’ll be pleased and impressed. This tree began its life in northern Queensland as a baby, a slender wand about 40cm high. It’s now a good 2m tall, with a sturdy trunk. Given the lack of rain, we are watering it carefully by hand, using the water condensed out by our living room air conditioner.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 4.57.16 pmThe lychee is also signalling that spring has arrived with the most gorgeous display of new foliage¬†in¬†glossy shades of pink and bronze. All the new shoots it has put out have increased the canopy of the little tree by about 30%, and I think it may be time to consider finding it a new home in the ground rather than in the tub it has occupied for a few years. The avocado, which flowered a few weeks ago, has had its new shoots and most of the flowers eaten by the blasted grasshoppers, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing any fruit there, but again, it’s increasing in size and should be transplanted. I have potted on my angel trumpet cuttings and my custard apple seedlings, and they are enjoying life in the sunporch until they’re large enough to go into the garden.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 4.57.54 pm Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 4.58.11 pmThere’s some lovely colour showing itself: orchids, petrea and so on, but mostly things are looking very brown and crispy.

The garden is waiting with bated breath for the start of the Wet. Won’t be long now. And when it starts, you’ll almost be able to see everything growing!

The Gardens of Chiconia 39: Winter colour

By now, most of you know that here in Chiconia, our experience of winter isn’t quite as chilly as it is in temperate climes.

It’s downright warm and sunny, in fact. I walked around the back yard with my camera and discovered all sorts of signs that spring is on the way, whether it’s flowers or a bit of action on the part of the fruit trees.

Come and take a tour with me. ¬†First the flowers…

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Little pink trumpets twining round the frog pool

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Pink silk pompoms

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These buds will become tiny yellow and brown spotted orchids

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It’s been a stunning year for the hibiscus

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Buds on the white phalaenopsis

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White silk pompoms

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First flowers from the petrea, lots more buds coming on

And now for the vegies and fruit trees…

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Blossom for next year’s mandarins

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Tomatoes enjoying mildew-free weather

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Giving the mulberry’s neighbours a haircut has obviously done the trick!

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The passionfruit, twining obediently along the fence. For now…

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That tiny round thing in the middle is a baby mango…

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Mango blossom, and green ants playing havoc with it.

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My dwarf avocado is flowering for the first time.

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Custard apple seedlings in the sun porch, waiting to move to larger quarters.

It’s starting to get lighter in the mornings and evenings, and the time will soon come when I won’t be able to work outside in the middle of the day. I have some post-winter tasks to take care of, like transplanting some things, tidying up edges and fallen palm fronds and leaves, weeding the patio paving and starting some seeds.

My most important jobs in the next couple of days are potting on my Angel Trumpet cuttings, which have ample roots and are outgrowing their accommodation, and cleaning and clearing Frogtopia, which is becoming a frowsy nest of dead leaves and bits from the palm and acacia above it. I have to clear the dead vegetation, take out all the rocks, empty the pond, clean it, flush and clean the pump and then put everything back and refill it, ready for the return of the froglets in spring. The huge elephant ear taro growing above the pond have died back a bit in the cooler, drier weather of winter, and I need to cut them back and clear out the dead stuff there too. It’s quite a big job, but it’ll look so much better when it’s done!

Thank you for visiting, do come again!

The Gardens of Chiconia 23: hidden treasures

Today I have been mooching around the garden again with my camera.

Yesterday it was birds and frogs. Today it’s the turn of the plants. Time for some pictures:

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An orchid, casually being fabulous on a palm tree….

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Mandarin blossom

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I have no idea what this is, with its weird lilac spidery flowers and orangey red globular fruits. Any ideas, anyone?

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White silk pompoms….

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Pink silk pompoms. That’s a bud on the left, which will shortly explode into something like the thing on the right!

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Mulberries ripening. I wonder if I’ll get to them before the birds…

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The mulberry tree, a little tottery but still willing

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The poinciana. It needs a lot of dead wood cut out of it.

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Chookonia. In need of a little renovation, but I don’t believe the Girls will be too fussed about how it looks.

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The free range area, left side

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The free range area, right side. It’s about a quarter acre.

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Froglet Heaven. There’s water in there somewhere…

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… and in case you thought I was exaggerating, those are green ant nests in just part of just one of the mango trees. Seriously, that one closest in the shot is the size of my head and the tree is swarming with the little buggers.

I haven’t managed to get a great deal done; there was a visit to the doctor, an x-ray and an ultrasound on my sore hip. Results tomorrow; it’s either the arthritis spreading, or bursitis. Both are painful, and I’m grateful for the tasty new drugs I’ve been prescribed. On the plus side of the balance sheet, I did laundry, put up a blind to keep the morning sun out of our eyes in bed, gave the huge gas oven a test run (full marks on the splendid roast chicken), and unpacked three boxes of baking equipment in readiness for my next GF order.

Time to go and deal with the vegetables, which won’t steam themselves – even in this climate!

50 shades of Autumn

I know all you northern hemisphere people are coming into Autumn/Fall (call it what you like, the days get shorter and colder…), so I thought I’d have a little gloat and point out that down here, it’s Spring. ¬†Longer, warmer days (OK, in our case, bloody hot days), flowers, things peeking out of the soil in the garden, and the sun beating on the back of your neck as you do the weeding. ¬†So to celebrate our difference, I’m giving you an image of what autumn colour looks like in the cooler parts of Australia. ¬†Damn, I’m going to miss that…


Up on the New England plateau in northern NSW, we get cool autumns and an amazing range of colours. These leaves were all picked up in my garden.

We’re having an unusually hot and dry spring. ¬†Some fairly old records have been broken. ¬†The farmers are happy because it has mean the sugar content in the cane is high, and they’ve been able to get the crop in without the harvesters getting bogged. ¬†Already many of the harvested fields have been cleared and ploughed, and there are rows of little cane billets happily sprouting away. ¬†They’re going to need some rain soon… ¬†Inland, the fire risk is through the roof, and the cattle country is officially in drought. ¬†They’re doing it tough out there. ¬†For us, it’s meant having to start irrigating the garden and running the air-conditioning much sooner. ¬†Strictly urban hazards. ¬†I count myself lucky.

Nothing new to report from the Gardens of Chiconia, but my two phalaenopsis orchids certainly know it’s spring, and are flowering heavily. ¬†They sit on the windowsill in my study/sewing room (aka the Black Hole of Calcutta for its propensity for swallowing things up, never to be found again). One is white and one is a rudely vivid shade of purple with a speckled heart. ¬†I could probably move them outside, but it might be a bit hot and bright; they like filtered light.

Note to self: I have GOT to start carrying my camera around with me more. ¬†We had a picnic lunch at the beach today, and I spotted a beautiful group of paperbarks twisting and twining around each other. ¬†I may have to go back tomorrow, because I can’t get the image out of my head.