Monday, 18 November 2013

The next stage - maybe?

Recently we went for a drive.

Just north of Brisbane is an island joined to the mainland by a bridge - Bribie Island. Check out the website. The mountains in the background are the Glasshouse Mountains.

Most of the island is National Park so protected environment. On the eastern side is the surf beach. It's not large surf like the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast, but a lot less people.

Standing on the beach, if you look both ways, you see miles of beautiful clean sand.

The western side of the island is separated from the mainland by a calm water passage.  I could have sat for hours under the Moreton Bay Fig with a cool drink and a sea breeze and a view across the water..... but, we were there to explore the island.

Looking back at where we sat in the shade. 

While walking along the foreshore we were both deep in thought, then John had an idea....
"Let's find a real estate office."

If we were to leave Missy's garden, a future house would need to tick a few boxes.
  • A smaller garden, but room for some vegies and favourite plants at least.
  • A small house, but with enough space for an art corner, a shed and an outdoor living area.
  • The location should be quiet, where we could go for an evening walk without the roar of traffic - with lots of trees and birds - natural beauty - maybe even the ocean nearby. (John's boat never sees the water presently)
  • Our ideal house would be in an area with a sense of community that has nice places to dine out occasionally or markets to visit.
  • It should be closer to where I work if possible.
  • Most importantly, I suppose, the new house must not cost more than we would get if we sold our present house.
A lot of our boxes are ticked.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A little rain makes a big difference

We have had showers of rain for the past 3 evenings. Not a lot, but better than no rain at all. October was so hot and dry that even mature trees were looking like they would die of thirst.
Everything in the garden looks better after some rain.
Last night the frogs were serenading each other. They must have really missed it too.

This morning I walked on cool wet grass, not the dry and crunchy stuff of a few days ago. Of course, it is still mainly brown but will soon become green if we have a bit more rain.

Some of the heliconias are already flowering.  They are lucky. They've been hand watered a couple of times a week.

 Along the side fence, the frangipanis are in bloom. Both the flowers and leaves are smaller than usual but at least they have leaves. Some of the frangipanis I see driving to work are in full bloom and have no leaves. I would guess that's because they are trying to conserve water.

The poor lemon tree is suffering. It's dropped it's fruit and many of its leaves. Clearing up the fruit is an urgent job for this weekend. In our area, fruit left to rot on the ground attracts fruitfly.

The bougainvilleas are still looking good. For them it's never too hot or dry.

This one may be the exception. It is in a pot in a corner of the garden that very rarely gets watered and, like the frangipanis, has lots of flowers but very few leaves. If it hadn't rained when it did, this plant may have not survived.

The fernery is watered regularly. The hanging baskets dry out quickly in the heat.
It has an overhead sprinkler system so watering means simply turning the timer on the tap for 5-10 mins each day or so.

It's location outside our bathroom window means that it doesn't get forgotten.

The dry hot weather has tested the bromeliads and confirmed just how tough many of them are. We have some that have succumbed but most are doing well.

Usually by now we would have regular rainfall. I hope it has finally started.

One great thing about hot sunny days - the pool has been getting lots of use (I promise no photos of me in my swimming costume) and it is pure pleasure to sit outside each evening for a drink and a chat.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Feeling the heat

A thunderstorm is predicted for this afternoon. I hope it brings rain (lots of rain) without any destruction. We still haven't had any rain and the plants are all suffering.
Time to spend in the garden is a rare commodity lately. I've been busy at work. We've moved offices and, in the middle of moving, had our 4 yearly performance audit. John is slowly recovering from his surgery, but had a major setback when he strained his back a couple of weeks ago.  My son has been working 6 days per week lately and will be until Christmas, so can only help occasionally.....and, of course, Missy is a supervisor not a labourer - so the garden is definitely not at its best. If I sound a bit depressed by it all .... well I am.

Life at present reminds me of the frog in a pot of water. It is said that if you slowly turn up the heat the frog won't notice until it's too late.
I don't believe it.
I would hope I'm smarter and I jump before it gets too hot.

We've had a real estate agent come to give advice on selling and have begun looking at options to move somewhere smaller with less upkeep.
I love Missy's Garden and don't really won't to leave, but I don't want to see it deteriorate either.
No decisions have been made yet, but the water is certainly getting uncomfortably hot.

Perhaps I just need a bit of a rest.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Some Random Shots of the Garden

Thought I'd share a few random photos around the garden, in case you're wondering whether it's still there or not. It's lucky (for the neighbours) that our garden is screened by plants. I'm sure most people would think I was mad taking photos of plants so early in the morning in my PJs.... but I know garden bloggers understand.

 Recently the temperatures have been almost the same as mid-summer with quite a few days in in the high 30s, but we haven't had rain for many weeks. Tropical plants like moisture with their heat, so quite a few of them are not looking their best - but I know they'll survive. They've seen weather like this before and they are tough.

The tree ferns hate the dry heat. They got scorched on the first hot dry day but as long as we keep some water up to them they'll bounce back quickly once it rains.

The fish thought I was there to feed them.

Golden candles is covered in blooms. We have a few of these in the garden and they seem to do best when they get morning sun but  shelter in the heat of the day.

 Bougainvillea LOVE hot dry conditions. This is their favourite time of year. They are one of our few plants in flower at the moment. I keep my bougainvillea in pots to control their growth. If they were in the ground they would go berserk.

 In most gardens, particularly in temperate regions, Spring is the time for an abundance of blooms. For us, a hot dry Spring is more a time of keeping plants watered and mulched so they will survive until the Summer rains appear.

There are a few water features around the garden, as well as the pool (which has been getting quite a bit of use lately). Ponds and water features help with keeping some humidity in the air. Shade, of course, helps as well and as our garden matures and the trees grow taller there is more and more shade.

Bromeliads may look like they would be a fussy plant but are actually very tough. I'm sure though, like the rest of us, they would like it to rain soon......please!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Maybe give it a rest for a while

I spent Sunday morning cleaning out the veggie patch.
These are the BEFORE pictures. There are no AFTER pictures yet. I didn't get it all finished.

Not the prettiest view of the garden you've ever seen, due to a combination of change of seasons, heat, no rain and lack of time to spend in the garden.
 In the picture above is a lovely selection of dead or dying Italian parsley, carrots and basil, broccholi and spring onions  - all were ripped out.

Here we have dead chilli plants, a few lonely beetroot the size of baseballs (and just as hard) eggplants and capsicum that are suffering from neglect. I left in the asparagus. It needs to be trimmed back and fed but will survive. I also left the sweet potato, but cut back a lot of excess vine. Apparently sweet potato thrives on neglect, so I've discovered. We are harvesting as we need them.

 The snow peas died off and collapsed as soon as the warm weather hit, so needed to be removed and the coriander bolted to seed. Even the tomato plants and quite a few of my herbs withered.

 There's some parsley and mint in this section struggling to hold on.

Generally by now I would have the Winter crops out and the Spring/Summer crops started but there hasn't been enough time lately. Other parts of the garden can get by without too much attention, but vegetables require regular care.

This year I've decided to take time out from the veggie patch and once everything is cleared, it will be covered in a thick layer of mulch and given a six month vacation. I love growing vegetables but unless I can give them the care they need there's no point planting more.

I've firmly decided - Better to have empty beds than dying plants.

Of course, as a woman, I reserve the right to change my mind.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Little Golden Wyandotte (and friends)

How old would you guess this young lady might be?
She's a golden lace Wyandotte.
Last November we bought three new chickens to add variety to our flock. - an araucana, a speckled hamburg and a golden wyandotte.  At that time they would have been between six and eight weeks old so they are almost a year old now. She doesn't look one year old.
The other two are almost the same size as the older ladies but this little girl is still small and hasn't developed her comb yet. She has recently started to lay. 
She lays most days and seems quite healthy. She is just so much smaller than our other hens. Because she's the smallest, she is definitely at the bottom of the pecking order but seems to get enough to eat. She's very good at darting in between the other hens to steal special treats.
I'm not worried - just puzzled. From what I've read Wyandottes are usually large chubby looking birds.  She is tall and thin.

Being checked out by the ladies back in November when they first arrived
We get a real variety of shapes, sizes and colours each day. We often get 7 eggs from 7 hens so they are all laying regularly.  Lots of omelettes and quiches for us.
Our Isa Browns lay the large brown eggs
 This lady (an Australorp, I think) lays the large white ones
The speckled Hamburg lays small white ones and the gold Wyandotte lays small pale brown eggs.
 The Araucana lays the bluish green eggs. We definitely know when she's laid.
It's hard to get a longer shot of them when I'm in their pen because they come up to me to see what I've got in my hand  - might be food. Most times when I go into their pen I have kitchen scraps or treats from the vegie garden so you can't blame them.
They are quite a mix. All quite happy and content. I am puzzled about our little girl though. Have other people had chickens that are slow to grow?
Also, we can't let her out of the pen because she can fly like a wild bird.
Speaking of wild birds - The bird feeder is just outside the pen so the ladies get to check out the visitors. This scrub turkey is a regular at the moment. I know I shouldn't speak too soon, but it's been well behaved so far and hasn't destroyed anything. They have a reputation for wrecking gardens.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A cool dip

Not a bad way to spend a warm Sunday afternoon - having a drink with a friend and a dip in some cool water.

Not bad at all.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Spring, you are most welcome

Yesterday was the first day of Spring.
What a beautiful day it was - with the promise of many more beautiful days to follow.

The white wisteria knew Spring had arrived and burst into bloom to welcome this most wonderful of all seasons.

Last weekend there were only buds and a few tentative blooms. How did it know?

The pool looked inviting but it's much too cold for me to venture in just yet. I'm a Queenslander and the temperatures need to be up in the 30Cs before I'll be diving in for a swim.

For those of you who have snow covering your garden each Winter I must seem like a terrible weakling.  We had a couple of mornings this year where the temperatures dropped below zero but no frosts (thankfully). In the sub-tropics Winter is really a series of cold snaps and chilly mornings, but I'm glad it's over and the days are getting longer. Packing away the jumpers is a time for celebration.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

For the birds

Missy's Bird Cafe is open for business. We've haven't put out food in the bird feeder lately. There's been no need to. The trees are providing more than enough food for the local bird population.

Seeds from the palm trees and nectar from blossoms are the most popular items on the menu. The cafe opens from dawn to dusk and patrons come and go all day. As well as our regular visitors we have had a few new ones. Please excuse the poor photography. Without a telephoto lens I had to rely on patience and stealth to photograph the visitors. I've tried to identfy everyone with the help of the Birds in Backyard website but could be mistaken.

 Mr Currawong and his friends were spotted enjoying a feast.
They became quite roudy at times and the management were concerned they may frighten the other guests. They have been known to prey on smaller birds according to some sources.

Miss Wattlebird ate a selection of fruit from the palm tree buffet before choosing a dessert of flower nectar.

This is one of the Honeyeater family I think.

He tried the palm berries but seemed to prefer the calliandra nectar. The small birds love the calliandras - not only food but protection and shelter as well.

There seems to be a few different honeyeaters visiting at the moment. They are all tiny timid and flighty so hard to photograph. They can be noisy though, calling and chatting to each other.
It's exciting to hear a new call, then try to find which bird is making the sound.

A Brown Honeyeater not much bigger than the flower it's feasting on

This seems to be a different honeyeater - It has more white on its body and a greenish tinge to the wings.
I must apologise for the photography again too. I'd never make it as a paparazzi .  I just put the camera on full zoom to get as close as possible and hope that the little square on the screen means it is in focus, then I crop the shot.  I know the result is not great photography but if I try to get too close they fly away.

There are a few different small birds that are Honeyeater shape but with different markings and colour.
A quote from Birds in Backyards - "The White-naped Honeyeater is similar in size and shape to the White-throated Honeyeater, Melithreptus albogularis, which lacks the orange eye crescent and has more white on the throat that reaches the bottom of the bill. Other similar species include the Black-chinned Honeyeater Melithreptus gularis and the Brown-headed Honeyeater, Melithreptus brevirostris, which both also lack the orange around the eye, along with other differences."
No wonder I can't tell which is which.

Only one visitor has been chased away. I heard a ruckus one day and went outside to find Mr Hawk checking out the other patrons, so he was asked to dine elsewhere. I didn't even try to get a photo just shooed him away. He may have been beautiful, but bird is not on the menu in Missy's Bird Cafe.


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