Saturday, 30 July 2011

We're back

We’ve been visiting the family in Cairns to celebrate our oldest grandson’s 5th birthday AND to escape Winter for a while. I used to live in Trinity Beach and moved back to Brisbane for a work opportunity twelve years ago. I love being back there. I miss the relaxed lifestyle, the natural beauty of the place and the warmth of both the people and the climate.

We were in grandparent heaven

Mr 5’s kindy had a special afternoon of entertainment by a group of  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from a local school and we were invited to visit. The boys performed a kangaroo dance and a crocodile dance and the girls sang traditional songs and some familiar children’s songs in their language. The kindy kids were thrilled. They’d been learning a couple of the songs already as part of NAIDOC week and joined in the singing.

The party, of course, was the highlight of the trip. My daughter hired a playgroup hall for the day and we decorated to match the pirate theme Mr 5 had chosen for his party.

It included a gigantic sandpit complete with toys to delight any pre-schooler and a kitchen so we could prepare and serve the party food.

Throwing water balloons to knock down the ships. Five is an amazing age. Check out the concentration on the faces. There could be a future fast bowler for Australia amongst these guys.

There’s more than one way to whack a piñata.

as long as we get there in the end....

Icing and decorating your own cake is almost as much fun as eating it.

Grandpa got his face painted like a pirate by Mr 5 with a little help from his Mum. Grandpa actually looks remarkably calm given he's having an eye patch painted on.

It’s a pity Grandmas can’t fit into toy cars, it looks like a lot of fun....
and she's definitely too big for the slippery slide. That's because she's a long way past 5.

When you're 5 you can blow the candles out all by yourself.

 FIVE is definitely a great age to be.

Now we're home, it's time to catch up on the garden and the housework
and on what's been happening out there in the blogasphere.
It is nice to be home but I do love Cairns, especially in Winter.
Might check out the real estate site for a while.

Also, I'm going to join Mary at Little Red House for her Mosaic Monday.

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Mid-winter Garden

Although it may not look like Winter here to those who experience snow, it does to me. There are very few flowers around the garden at the moment so it hardly seems right to be joining Garden Blogger Bloom Day this month - but it's the 15th , and it's a wonderful way to keep a record of the changing seasons, plus I don't want to miss seeing everyone else's blooms.

For the last few days, the morning temperatures here have been sub-zero (-2C) which means frost. Our tropical plants are like me and can't stand the cold. Quite a few that are exposed to the elements have suffered frost-burn. The dead brown leaves will need to be cut back once all chance of frost is past - in a month or so.
Amidst the cold there was a wonderfully warm moment when I received in the mail a gift of yellow cosmos seeds from my blogging friend Gillian - African-Aussie  from Far North Queensland. I can't wait to sow these seeds and see the results. I hope they will attract butterfies for me too, but I can't expect to attract the same range of beautiful butterlies that visit her garden.

There are a few bright spots.
I have tried throughout the garden to create microclimates to protect the more sensitive plants and in some parts it's beginning to have a positive effect.

My favourite hibiscus is close to our cement pavers which are in full sun throughout the day & hold some heat overnight plus it is protected overhead by palms, so it hasn't realised that it's the middle of Winter and is still flowering.

and not just one lonely flower.

Another hibiscus close to the pool is also flowering. Again, it has palms protecting it.

The good old faithful climbing bauhinia STILL has some flowers. This makes it official. It flowers all year round. What a plant! ...and the only care it gets is to be cut back when it spreads too far.

It has seed pods. I've never tried to grow it from seed but I think it may be worth a try. If anyone (from Australia) would like some seed to try please email me at with your address and I can post you some pods. I can't guarantee results but we can try.

There's a few flowers in the vegie patch. They have a special charm. They turn into yummy food.
like the snap peas
The strawberries are flowering at the moment as well.
I love to see their flowers because I know what comes next.

It was too cold for me this morning to wander around the entire garden so I may have missed the odd bloom.

I noticed the strelizias were still flowering although on closer inspection some of the flowers were looking a bit singed by the frost. They are tough and don't seem to mind the odd cold spell.

The driveway hedge is making progress dispite the weather, but if you look closely at the new growth, there are a few frost bitten leaves. I have no doubt, they'll recover and by Summer it will look like a hedge again.

To see many more gardens (much more interesting ones with lots of blooms) visit May Dreams Gardens for Garden Blogger Bloom Day.

Monday, 11 July 2011

A lazy weekend

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.
Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne

Saturday was cold but a beautiful sunny day and just perfect for gardening. There’s so much to do we didn’t know where to start.
The vegie patch needs attention. Plants don’t stop growing here just because it’s Winter.
While Ros sat and thought about where she’d start, I checked out how the vegies were doing...

It's looking a bit like a jungle at least from my level.

lots of chillies

The new red lettuce are doing OK.

plenty of snap peas

The carrots are growing well - not ready to harvest yet - and the bok choy looks healthy

 still plenty of beans

The potted herbs are happy in the sunlight but I noticed there are so many weeds growing around them, it's looking a bit messy.
I think I'd better tell Ros to start weeding.

She's not sure..... There is so much that needs doing...
If you start a job, should you finish it before you move to the next?
What if it’s a big, never-ending job like weeding?
The weeding will take so long there won't be time to do all the other jobs. It's a dilemma.

Sitting in the sun drinking coffee and looking at the garden doesn't get the work done either.

In the cycle of life that is our garden one job creates another. When you start  weeding you will notice a plant that needs trimming and that leads to pruning leads to shredding leads to composting leads to mulching leads to weeding (before spreading the mulch to suppress the weeds) …..
and then Ros goes inside and gets the camera and I can tell she’s thinking “I might start that weeding tomorrow”.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Surprise Tomatoes

When you're not as organised in the garden as you should be there are always surprises. Some good. Some not so good.
I started some tomato seeds in trays a while back. There were 6 different varieties. Those that did well were transplanted to the garden. I did label them in the tray but in the transplanting they may have got mixed up. There were also quite a few volunteers that sprang up from last year's crop. As they've started to bear fruit I'm trying to work out what I've got. So far there's a few different types.

These guys are the real surprise. This is a self-seeded plant and looks suspisciously (to me) like a cross between a Roma and the grape tomatoes. Both were planted in that bed last year.
I'll just have to wait and see how they ripen.
A couple still haven't started to bear fruit yet. I wonder what they'll be.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Good Dog / Bad Dog

I've had a visitor. I don't get many. Usually I have people visit my garden, not dogs.
Don't tell anyone, but I'm actually a bit scared of bigger dogs. I pretend I'm not and I bark at them through the fence to chase them off.
This dog just walked into the house with her human like she belonged here. Ros told me she was a good dog and we could be friends.
After I got over the shock I decided she was a good dog and maybe we could be friends.
 We did a bit of stereo begging.

I showed her around my garden like John and Ros do with their human friends.
 (Of course I was careful to avoid the places where bones were buried.)

She was really interested in the ladies. Once she saw them she didn't want to do anything else but stare at them. I tried to interest her in a game of chasey, but she was focussed on the ladies.

She told me ladies taste like chicken - which is just silly. How can family members taste like something that comes out of the refrigerator? I know what chicken tastes like and there are definitely no feathers.

She said if we worked together we'd be able to get into their pen and she'd prove it to me.

She even tried to lift the lid to the egg box.

The ladies were not impressed. They didn't want to play with her at all.

John and Ros weren't impressed either and called her a bad dog.
They chained her up and that was the end of our games.

I'm confused - what makes you a good dog or a bad dog?

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Have you seen the price of saffron?
Hopefully I'm going to have my very own some time soon.
I planted the bulbs a few weeks ago and so far they are looking good.
Very exciting!

All I have to do now is learn how to harvest the saffron once it flowers.


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