Saturday, 24 December 2011

The best ever

My grandson had to show us this house with the "best ever" Christmas light display. Have a look and see if you think he's right.

As we drove up, you couldn't mistake which house he meant. It was lit up with lights of all kinds. I couldn't capture them all with my camera.

There was a giant Christmas tree,

A gingerbread house in their driveway  
You could look through the windows to see the people inside with their tree. There was a larger than life Santa to greet everyone and wish them a Merry Christmas. There were trees sparkling with lights.

But the best was yet to come. . .
Around the corner you could enter the garden through a lit archway and the special magic began.

Throughout the garden were hidden the twelve days of Christmas - each handcarved and painted, lit by small spotlights. The children had to make sure they found them all.

Down a pathway, in his own grotto sat the Grinch in his cave.

A giant book told the story of the Night Before Christmas - with a tiny scene set in behind the pages.

Even at night you could tell, the garden itself was spectucular....  of course I tried to take some photos but the garden was just the backdrop and it was too dark. The real magic was happy faces, pointing, showing their parents, eyes wide as they made their next discovery, around every bend something new to wonder at.

Apparently, this couple have been opening their garden to the local children for many years. Can you image how many happy memories they have created?
I think my grandson was right.

Merry Christmas .

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Road Trip

Rather than fly, we decided to drive to drive to Cairns this time. Actually, it wasn't a case of preferring to drive - I just didn't get around to booking airfares until it was too late to get a cheap ones and it seemed a good option. It's just over 1700kms from Brisbane to Cairns. You wouldn't drive there for a weekend. 
We divided the trip into three parts - Rockhampton the first night (670km north), Townsville the next (another 720km), then on to Cairns.
John and I each chose a stack of CDs and bundled them into a bag - all our old favourites.

Leaving Rocky after the first night, the sign showed we still had a long way to go.

 We took turns with the driving, listening to our favourite music (sometimes singing along out of tune), checking out the changing scenery (lots of cows and crops and trees mainly), and sometimes chatting about life and things you may normally not get to talk about when you're busy with the usual rat race. We decided to each make a "bucket list" and on New Years Day we'll show each other.  I'm sure like most couples our dreams for the future are similar, but it will be interesting to see how they compare.

The motel in Townsville was more like a tropical resort - a huge swimming pool surrounded by tropical gardens - and the food at their restaurant was top class. Best barramundi I've tasted (and I have tasted lots).

On the third day, with Jimmy Buffett providing the background music, we arrived in Cairns - a bit tired from the drive but more relaxed I think than if we'd battled the traffic to the airport and the queues...
We've settled into our unit (which of course is surrounded by a wonderful tropical garden) are looking forward spoiling the grandkids.


The view from the balcony's obscured by trees.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Flowers for Friday

The start of Summer brought rain and cooler temperatures to South East Queensland. We've been wearing jumpers, getting back into the Winter PJs and snuggling under the blankets - weird for December.
Even though the temperature doesn't feel like Summer, throughout the garden, many of the warm weather plants are beginning to flower.
The frangipanis love this time of year.

 Most of our frangipani are grown from cuttings but now (after 5 years) can be called trees. They are one of the easiest plants to grow from a cutting and come in so many different shades, it's tempting to have one or two of every colour.

 The deep red is a bought one. I couldn't resist it when I came across it in a nursery. Even though I love the colour, I'm guessing it's some sort of hybrid because it doesn't flower as well as the old types and is the first to show signs of distress if it isn't given ideal growing conditions.




The pentas are doing well. I planted them as a "filler" but I think they've earnt a permanent spot in the garden.

 The ixora are just starting to bloom

Justica loves the rain we've been getting lately

Hibiscus are blooming throughout the garden.
They flower on and off for most of the year.

The real heat and humidity lovers are just starting to come out of hybernation. 

  the first heliconia bloom  of the season
 the first canna bloom

The shell ginger just starting....

The curcumas are coming up

The Beehive gingers are coming up too (not quite flowers yet)

Many of the bromeliads flower at this time of year as well


I love the way they form their own little water garden.

I'm joining in Tootsie's Flaunt your Flowers Friday
and

an Australian site - Friday Floral Fotos

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The new perch

John set up a solar panel to run the pump for our pond.
It's proved to be very popular.

 A great spot to check out what's on the menu.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

These guys know how to party.

Last night there was a noisy party in our backyard. Lots of loud music and singing out of tune.
John went out armed with a torch to find the culprits.

Doesn't he look innocent? He's not. 

He was on his way to the party of the year in our pond.
It was about to start raining. Usually time to head indoors - but not for these guys. There hadn't been any rain for weeks so the local frog population were celebrating with a vengeance.

  "Party at my place! Tell your mates!"

The call was going out at full volume. Notice how this green frog has taken on the colour of the pot. I'm guessing he's the host.

"Mind if I take a dip? Nice pond."

"Well hello sweetheart. Do you come here often? Can I get you a drink?"

They partied into the wee hours of the morning as the rain poured down.
It was great. Noisy, but great.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

What's been going on

Normally this would be the time of year when I spend as much time  as possible in the garden. The weather is perfect - except that we could use some rain. Luckily we have three huge tanks to water the garden and currently water restrictions have been lifted and we can also use town water, so everything should be thriving.
Many of our ornamental plants are tropical and so they sulk or go completely dormant in Winter and start to come to life at this time of year.
The red stemmed ginger has reappeared and brought with it flowers.

The frangipani have their leaves back and are starting to bloom again.

Bromeliads are flowering all over the place.

The only problem is that I've been "a bit crook"....well actually more than a bit.... so everything has been neglected. I've discovered that all sorts of weeds REALLY love this time of year as well.  I took some photos of the garden beds overgrown with weeds so I can post some before and after shots when I eventually get them back in order again. (for some motivation)
Missy has been doing her doggy duty and has kept me company. In fact, I think she's enjoyed having me home and she doesn't mind the odd snooze on the bed or the couch.

In the vegie patch, most things are looking rather unwell too. There are shivelled strawberry plants, giant tough carrots that should have been harvested weeks ago and lettuce that's long ago gone to seed...and many wonderfully healthy weeds.  
There are a few things doing well however.


The corn and beans are looking after each other and ears are stating to appear. In the background (right) are some tomatoes on a very scrawny vine.
I didn't notice until I looked at the photos, that others seem to be appreciating the corn as well. Hopefully they won't do too much damage.

A pumpkin vine that self-seeded from the compost is very healthy. I don't eat pumpkin, but I'm sure I will be able to find someone who loves them.
Another doing well are the eggplants  - not bearing yet but looking healthy with plenty of flowers.

The chillies are doing well also. They love the heat.

So, even though it's being neglected, the garden seems to be doing OK without me.
Maybe I need it much more than it needs me.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

October's Flowers

It's Spring so there should be flowers in the garden. Much of our garden is trees, shrubs and foliage plants. I don't grow the traditional Spring annuals and I've had visitors ask me why I don't grow flowers - but if you wander around the garden there are quite a few making an appearance.

The giant Strelizia is impressive but as the plants get bigger many of the flowers are up high or wedged between stems.  These plants need a LOT of room. They grow to over 3m tall and have almost filled the corner behing our Balinese hut. We (well actually John, with me pointing and saying "That one") chopped out quite a few to thin them out a few months ago.
This is a longer shot just to show how tall they are. You can see they are much higher than the roof .

and if you look closely, there is a big blue and white flower up in the centre of the leaves.
This is it up a bit closer.

Bromeliad flowers are scattered throughout the garden. There are such a wide variety of broms; there always seems to be a few flowers throughout the warmer months. Of course, with many of the broms, their leaves are more colouful than their flowers. I bought a couple of pots of these variagated ones at an open garden last year with the intention of using them as a border along a pathway. They're still sitting in their pots near the pathway waiting patiently.

Poinsettia flower throughout Winter but the flowers on this large double seem to last longer than the singles. Most of our poinsettia have been cut back and we have cuttings waiting to root so we can give some to a friend.

They are easy to grow from cuttings. You just let them dry out a bit and put them in a free-draining mix until roots form. We cut the tops on an angle so we know which end is up.

 Acalypha reptans makes a great ground cover. It's growing in light shade here. It would probably flower more with more sun.
I love Bouganvilla flowers but the plants can quickly become rampant when planted in the ground, plus they have very nasty thorns. I keep them in pots and chop them back a couple of times a year to keep them under control. Because they are so hardy, they forgive me if they don't get watered so fit right in here.

There are dozens of colours available these days. They create splashes of colour around the garden.

I pruned most of the hibiscus back by between a third and half a few weeks ago - late Winter. They have lots of new growth and are just beginning to come back into flower.

Golden Candles has more flowers than leaves at present.

Geraniums or are they Pelagoniums. They grow in pots in the kichen garden area to add a bit of colour amongst the herbs.
Pentas fill a few empty spots around the garden with a splash of colour as well.

The Seaside Daisies just keep growing and spreading. They've even escaped the garden bed into the lawn, where they are mowed down but quickly shoot back to life. Since it seems to be so resilient, I think I'll dig some out and transplant it around other areas that could use groundcover.

Another ground cover I love is the common nastursum. They are great to use as a "green" manure to improve the soil (which is why I originally planted them). - but what I've discovered is - They self seed and come back each Winter / Spring when many of my other plants are dormant, then they die back in the really hot weather so get pulled out & added to the compost bin.... to return next year and start again.


The climbing bauhinia flowers to some extent all the time, but by the number of buds, it's getting ready to burst into full bloom.


A bit exciting - The avocado is starting to flower. It's still fairly young so I hope we get fruit this year. Last year tiny litle avocados formed and fell off before they matured.

As I went looking, I discovered quite a few other trees are currently flowering.

Native franjipani

The white cedar is in bloom.

The callistemon are loving the weather at the moment and the local birds are loving their bottlebrush flowers.

The Mongnolia Grandiflora has flowered for the first time and I almost missed it. There are quite a few buds yet to open so I'll be keeping a closer eye on it over the next couple of weeks.

Best of all - the Powderpuff Lilly Pillys Syzigium Wilsonii are flowering. They are a native rainforest tree. John propogated 12 trees from seed and they struggled for their first couple of years because of the drought. This is the first year they've flowered. The blooms are so large and heavy they are weighing the branches down. I had to hold it up to take its photo.

For more flowers visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens . She hosts Garden Bloggers Blooms Day on the 15th of each month.

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