I love photographing dew or raindrops on flowers (or grass). I always think it adds another dimension to an ordinary flower image.
The Pelargonium in this post is not in flower in my balcony garden at the moment, but it was such a cheerful sight as I looked through my archives this morning (for something to post other than computer problems), I couldn’t resist sharing the image again.
……and for those interested in flower photography, brightly coloured flowers photograph much better early early in the morning, late in the day or on an overcast day. Slightly under-exposing the image helps too.
I thought it looked a very drought-hardy plant even in the flat open windy area near my local river, so looking up Coastal Saltbush wasn’t too far wrong. It brought me to a Coastal plant website. In fact, after putting the right words, in the right order, in my Google search I found the name in something like 5 minutes. Just goes to show how appropriate wording in your search can be vital in identifying local flora and fauna quickly.
I’ve often spent, quite literally years, searching for names and given up, then one day decided to try again with different wording for Mr Google and I’ve come up trumps in 5 minutes.
It’s all very well to bookmark an Australian Plant directory online (OR even look up my own 2 plant encyclopaedias), but narrowing your plant search down with carefully chosen words can be a great time saver.
Now I’ve found it, I can name the photo and put together a short post on last Saturday’s walk and bird life.
This scented Geranium is a small, compact shrub growing approximately 70cm (27 inches) wide and 70cm high. It’s so easy to grow and has a lovely fragrance and is drought and heat tolerant, so perfect for our Australian climate.
The images in this post come from The Herb Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (as you can see from the brick paved path in the background), but I’ve certainly seen it in many residential gardens also.
Have been so busy this last week, I almost forgot about my Nature Blog, but today, while looking for some photos for a friend, I came across an image of Shining Meadow Rue(Thalictrum lucidum) made in the Royal Botanic Gardens back on the 18th June, 2012.
……..and just to remind you of what The Herb Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne looks like in Summer or Spring, here’s a few images made over a number of years (below).
The circular brick edged garden falls into shadow around 4.30pm, so best to visit either in the morning or early afternoon.
(Hint: its pretty bare in Winter, so don’t bother visiting at that time).
From memory, the Shining Meadow Rue was growing just inside the entrance of The Herb Garden, one of my all-time favourite places to sit on a hot summer’s day (when I lived on the south-east side of Melbourne).
Melbourne’s long hot summer is finally over and we’ve got some more pleasant weather in which to enjoy the great outdoors this week. I was going to say it’s hot today, but let’s call it pleasantly……… very warm, instead 🙂
You don’t seem to see Gladiolus in many residential gardens in Australia these days, but they were a great favourite of my Mother in our quarter acre first home block. My Mother had a massive garden, both ornamental in the steep slope in front of our house, as well as the vegetable gardens and fruit trees in the rear yard.
There are around 260 species with thousands of cultivars and most originated in South Africa.
They should have a sunny situation protected from wind with a well-drained soil, but will tolerate periods of dryness once they’re established.
The funnel-shaped floors open from the bottom of the stem upwards and come in shades of white, red, pink, yellow, orange and some bicolour.
These images of the gorgeous GLADIOLUS (Gladiolus cardinals), a hybrid, come to you from our Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne, but I daresay are easy enough to find in any local plant nursery or online supplier if you want them in your ‘Aussie’ garden.
GREVILLEA ‘LITTLE DRUMMER BOY’ (Grevillea lanigera), or WOOLLY GREVILLEA, is one of my favourite early flower images made in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.
…..and one of the most ‘stolen’ of my flower images. I just found another 2 websites who have used this image without my permission.
Perhaps I should be flattered.
But why can’t people do me the curtesy of at least asking if they may use one of my images.
I’ve got about 7-8 images used by professional bodies (with my permission) or even a young street photographer who asked if he could use one of my B & W images as the header on his website, (which surprised me as I’d have thought he would want to use one of his own, but he was just starting a website and has probably substituted one of his own by now). I’m happy to share if people ask, but I do like to be asked first.
I do like people to at least credit me as the photographer too.
Anyway, this lovely woolly low-growing Grevillea is a great ground-cover endemic to the eastern coast of Australia. It’s one of the ‘spider’ flowered Grevilleas. It flowers in Winter and Spring and has really soft grey-green foliage. It may be 8 1/2 years since I took this image with my first little Canon point & shoot – my first camera when I took up Photography as a hobby – but surprisingly, despite my novice status, I still think it’s one of the best flower photos I’ve made which shows great detail.
There are something like 350 Grevilleas which grow in every part of Australia, but I’ve only photographed about 5 different varieties. The other 4 varieties I’ve got in my Grevillea folder are of the ‘toothbrush’ flowered Grevilleas. The honeyeaters love their nectar.
They’re pretty drought-hardy and benefit from a light prune after flowering.
Shrubby Germander (Teucrium fruticans), also known as Tree germander is a bushy, evergreen shrub with oval to lance-shaped, grey-green leaves, to 3/4″ long, with white-woolly underneath.
It’s native to the western and central areas of the Mediterraneun, not Australia, but I find it a lovely plant and almost wish I had one in my balcony garden, although it does like a bit of shelter and I fear it would quickly go downhill in my windy home location. But with all the successes I’ve had in my small west-facing garden, you never know – it might just grow beautifully 🙂
The whorls of pale blue/mauve flowers are very pretty (even if they don’t have the brilliant colour of some of the flowers in my previous post).
They make an excellent hedge, and do best in moist, well-drained soil and full sun. They make a nice clipped low hedge in a herb garden and may be cut to within 2″ of ground level in the Spring to maintain a nice compact growth habit.
The images in this post were not made in the Royal Botanic Gardens, (surprise, surprise), but against a wall in the riverside walking path near the Collingwood Children’s Garden in the inner Melbourne north-east suburb of Abbotsford, where I lived briefly before moving to the western suburb where I currently reside.
Water Buttons are a native of South Africa, but naturalised in all Australian states and New Zealand.
These hairless, low-growing, perennial herbs flower in Winter and Spring and grow on a range of soils from sandy loam to clay, but are restricted to wet soils that are periodically flooded according to Mr Google.
They generally exist in moderately saline, waterlogged soils and may form large mats over shallow water, but the images in this post were made in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
Not sure that the patch of plants was in water-logged soil in the RBG, but they were flowering profusely all the same.
I could have chosen to photograph just one flower, but then you wouldn’t get a sense of how gorgeous they are en masse. Their button-like flowers tend to turn throughout the day and follow the sunlight as you can see in my images.
I’ve seen them in the soggy field around the pond in the nearby Newells Paddock Conservation and Nature Reserve about 2 miles from my current home.
I tried to get down low to photograph them in Newells Paddock when I first visited this amazing restored area a couple of years ago, but I wobbled too much as I was trying not to get wet socks through a hole in my old walking shoes. The ground was covered in low-lying water under the succulents and grass floor beneath my feet, so the images below just really give you a sense of the surroundings in that paddock (field). Hope to get back there soon to photograph more of the bird life. You can get a sense of the bird life here
Or, you can keep following my nature blog waiting for me to photograph them. Not sure I can get around all the ponds and fields as the water is hidden underfoot for the most part, and I don’t have any gumboots (rubber boots). I tend to stick to gravel or asphalt paths for walking these days as I’m a bit accident-prone (as you will know if you’ve followed my blog for a long time 😀 )
WATER BUTTONS MIXED IN WITH THIS CLUMP of GRASS in the main pond. Too wet to kneel down and get a close-up.
NEWELLS PADDOCK CONSERVATION AND NATURE RESERVE main pond. Melbourne city in the far right background.
NEWELLS PADDOCK CONSERVATION AND NATURE RESERVE IN AUTUMN
It’s been raining solidly for a couple of hours this morning and is blissfully cool, so I definitely won’t have to water my balcony garden this evening.
I glanced at the coming week’s weather forecast on the internet this morning, (as I do every morning), and it looks like cooler weather next week.
Dare I hope for a walk outdoors soon?
Is the stretch of heat waves Melbourne’s endured through January, finally finished?
Will there be enough rain to put the bushfires out?
I decided to end my blogging and blog reading holiday a couple of days ago and get back into the swing of Blogging and sharing my nature photos again.
My brain was turning to ‘mush’ while on holiday from the computer. Being mainly housebound for most of 2018 only added to my intermittent Brain Fog, Short-term memory problems and Cognitive Dysfunction. I was putting a lot of it down to the Auto Spell-check in the latter part of 2018, but the truth is…… my fingers don’t always type what my brain tells them to.
(if you read some weird sentence on one of my 3 blogs, don’t hesitate to point it out to me using the comments section. Spell-check and proof-reading don’t always catch the errors).
This is not a sign of ageing, merely some of the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) that seems to send my normal brain function awry. The fact that my Mindful living practice was put out of sync with some complicated family issues only added to the mix. Hopefully these family issues have now been resolved.
I came across my Cocks Comb Coral Tree (Erythrina crust-galli) folder while meandering through my old iPhoto Library in the last couple of days. While not an Australian native tree/flower, the tree is striking due to its unusual bark. The difference between its Summer canopy of lush green leaves and many brightly coloured flowers and non-flowering bare tree trunk and branches, is really quite extraordinary.
These are located in the southern end of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
The colourful Australian Rainbow Lorikeets(Trichoglossus haematodus) love it’s nectar, and in one particular small tree next to a walking path in the RBG, can be found close enough to observe and photograph.
Cockspur coral tree is just one of its many common names, and is a deciduous shrub or tree from South America. It has been commonly grown in Australia as an ornamental plant, and has become invasive along waterways in coastal NSW north of Sydney.
The reason I haven’t shared many flower images from my archives recently is that I can’t decide which ones to post.
I have too many photos………still……..after deleting thousands a couple of years ago.
I look in each of my old iPhoto flower folders, all named and identified with their common and botanical names at the top, and then, at the images and think……that’s not very good. Or, that’s not in focus. Or even, that’s too dark and needs the contrast or shadows reduced (or something).
The 2 images below had such a dark background, they almost looked black. I lightened the backgrounds this morning.
I’m my own worst critic.
In recent times, on reviewing many of those early archival images, they ALL seem terribly dark. Must have been something to do with the lounge room where I had my desk and computer, which, while lovely and cool in the summer, fell in to deep shade for all but 2-3 hours in the middle of the day.
I must have altered the exposure on the computer images to fit what seemed right in the dim night-light when I did the reviewing.
I lived 2 streets away from the Royal Botanic Gardens up to May 2015 and that dark living space must have influenced my photo editing to some degree. I’ve mainly done a little cropping or ‘tweaking’ the exposure, contrast, sharpness and colour saturation (until I set up a Custom Picture Style in-camera).
In Winter, the room was even darker.
NOTE: I do even less editing these days. I usually just press the AutoCorrect button in the El Capitan photo editing section of my Mac Pro – Exposure AutoCorrect, Sharpness AutoCorrect and the Autocorrect button for Definition. Sometimes I reduce the colour saturation a wee bit as my Custom Picture Style on my 2 DSLRs can make colours too bright depending on the light of the day and season.
Melbourne (and the rest of Australia probably) has very bright harsh sunlight in the warmer months. Something to do with the hole in the Ozone layer over the country I suspect.
I never get up early enough to catch the soft early morning light.
I’ve tried a few of the different Picture Styles on the Sony a6000 e.g. Autumn Leaves, but don’t like their over-saturated colours much.
On the other hand, maybe I discovered very early on in my flower photography that most flower blooms had better definition if a little under-exposed with a dark background.
Either way, I now live in a light, bright space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a relatively large, hot, sunny west-facing balcony.
I can now get a better sense of exposure on my large computer screen.
But, dare I say…….. I’m always hot these days 😀 (after living in what my friends used to call ‘freezing’ cold).
I bought a small pott of Nemesia in Winter to add a splash of colour to my balcony garden and its prolific flowering has been a cheerful sight for many months.
Normally I’m not a fan of brightly coloured flowers, preferring mainly blue (or white, or pastel), but I can’t deny these medium to upright plants are a winner.
Even the Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows seem to like its young green shoots, (or I assume that’s what they’re pecking at).
HOUSE SPARROW in the Nemesia bush.
Female Superb Fairy-wren
Another female Superb Fairy-wren surveys the meal potential.
We’ve had such strong winds, heavy rain (and even a dust storm last week) recently and I went outdoors between rain showers last Friday, to re-photograph the flower blooms to share online. For the umpteenth time, I had to cut off broken branches and dead-head some spent flower blooms too.
The gusty wind is not kind in my area.
I had to wait for several wind gusts to die down to capture them in focus though.
(Have you ever noticed, that wind gusts, like waves down at the beach, drop or change approximately every 7th? gust or wave. Seriously. If you like photographing flowers and live in a windy area, watch carefully and you’ll be able to work it out).
Like many of my herbs and other plants, it seems to love my west-facing balcony with hot sunny afternoons, but did well in overcast Winter days also!
This morning I was reading Nemesia is a genus of annuals, perennials and sub-shrubs which is native to sandy coasts or disturbed ground in South Africa and there are quite a lot of hybrids around.
I haven’t bent down to smell them, but the plant nursery label says they’re lightly perfumed. They come in a range of colours from white, pink and magenta to dark blue and purple. They’re ideal for garden beds and borders, pots and containers, can take full sun or partial shade, but do need well-drained soil.
I’ve a mind to buy some more in different colours now that I’ve down-sized my garden to much smaller pots. I’ll wait and see if the Harlequin Beetles are attracted to them this Summer before doing so though.
(The pests demolished almost every leaf on every plant last year – even, the pungent or bitter-leafed herbs).
Note: I upgraded to larger pots in the last 2 years, but found the need for about 6 heavy watering cans to water my garden every evening, (even in Winter), tedious, so now have down-sized pots (as well at reducing the plant pot number) this past Spring.
I tend to be a little over-ambitious when it comes to gardening, but next year, I need to sit down and think more seriously about just how much time and energy I want to put into my green oasis. Living in a rented property means scrubbing the seepage stains and bird poop off regularly to maintain the balcony tiles and fence to what a rental contract and most Landlords require (in the ‘neat and tidy’ clause) 😀
The enormous Oleander (Nerium) was in full bloom (with a few spent dead heads) outside my local pharmacy yesterday and I stepped back & forth trying to work out how to get some images in the shady part of the bush.
First close-up was at an Aperture of f3.5 which I often use for flowers to get a blurred background.
Next a shot taken at an aperture of f8.00 to get more in focus. (note: I couldn’t see on the LCD screen due to the bright light of the day, hence several shots, which I’d later keep, or delete, on seeing them on my large computer screen).
The harsh late afternoon sun made shots of other flowers on the walk to my medical appointment almost impossible to shoot.
Disappointingly, the enormous patch of Fairy Iris which I’d been hoping to photograph next to the small local park, was still at the bud stage, so no photos there.
I only scored images of the pink flowers and a Magpie sitting on a nearby tree. So glad I had 2 cameras and 2 lenses to choose from.
While it has lovely flowers and is extremely tough, the downside of these particular plants is that all parts are poisonous, so not a good plant to have in your garden if you have young children around.
While the leaves are generally green, I believe there are variegated leaf forms.
Flowers come in a range of colours and are sweetly scented, but I must admit I’ve never bothered to bend down and smell them (having allergies to some strongly-perfumed flowers).
The flowers appear late Spring until the end of Summer and are white, pink or crimson, with some double forms available. Oleander is perfect for hot, dry gardens.
The only thing I find a wee bit annoying is that with the lovely flowers, there are often dead or dying blooms next to them, so it can be a bit hard too capture a fresh flower without its dead neighbour within the frame.
I received the Cacti & Succulent book I’d ordered in the mail the other day and I’m labouring my way through the photos trying to match some of my unidentified cacti images (made in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens) with the book.
I was very disappointed to find that there are no Common Names mentioned.
How extraordinary I thought to myself.
Both my Australian Plant Encyclopaedias and Weeds in Australia book list the Common Name first (with the Genus, species and family second).
All I can say is that at least it might give me some clues to narrow down my cacti identification without labouring through multiple websites.
In the meantime, my photos of the Peruvian Torch Cactus(Trichocereus peruvianus) were already identified from a name plaque at the base of the plant in the RBG. Not only are the flowers stunning on this fast-growing columnar prickly cactus, but the flower buds are equally interesting.
I’ll leave you to look up more about this plant if you’re interested, as this blog is about Nature Photography, not Gardening or Botany per se.
Melbourne’s RBG (Royal Botanic Gardens) were only 5 minutes walk away from where I used to live and work on the south-east side of Melbourne’s main river for the benefit of those new to my nature blog. So when I had to take ‘early retirement’ due to ill-health in 2010 and bought a camera and took up Photography as a hobby, it was initially my main source of photo subjects. But I already knew the RBG intimately BC (Before Camera), as I walked in and around its many paths for something like 25 years. When you live in a small apartment, who can complain about having no garden or backyard of your own, when a 38 hectare site with some 55,000 plant is on your ‘doorstep’.
It’s probably timely to feature one of Australia’s most flamboyant trees (after the Protea in the previous post).
I hope I’ve got the identification correct as its slightly more fiery in colour than the red Waratah which is the national emblem of the state of New South Wales (above my state of Victoria).
Most Australian trees are quite modest in their flowering, but this particular one is truly spectacular and when in flower, at full-grown height of 18 meters, must be a wonderful sight indeed.
This species originated in the Atherton Tablelands near Baldy Mountain Forest Reserve in Queensland.
Its scarlet-red, nectar-rich, bird-attracting flowers are abundant on the tree.
The images in this post come from Melbourne Zoo’s landscaping, just in front of the lion enclosure, not far from the Proteas featured in the previous post.
(Interruption to this post to say I just saw a House Sparrow on my Blueberry bush which I’d placed on top of the air-conditioning outlet about 3 feet off the tiles of my balcony, right in direct view above my computer screen. The bush is about 4′ in front of my direct view over the screen so I could keep an eye on it. Unfortunately, I only had the 150-500mm lens on my desk with the lens cap off and the bird was too close to get in focus.
Looks like time to get the cotton netting out to protect all those lovely berries from the bird life that visit my balcony each day
All I can say is that I hope the still-green berry was tart and put the Sparrow off from having another snack).
Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants, sometimes called Sugarbushes in South Africa, but here in Australia, we just call them Proteas.
They dry exceptionally well and last for months as a cut flower (as long as you don’t put water in the vase which will make them rot and smell if you leave them long enough). Sure, fill the vase with water if you only want them for a few weeks and don’t want the flowers to dry out.
While they’re not native to Australia, I have a lovely set of images, so this makes them worth sharing on my Nature Blog.
These 4 images were made quite by chance as I was walking towards the exit of Melbourne Zoo one day in 2013, (probably around mid to late afternoon), and surprisingly, I had my 150-500mm lens in my hand at the time. I took 3 photos and then swapped to my 18-200mm lens to take another shot to include an un-opened bud in the background.
I’ve also photographed these long-lasting flowers in the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne, but those images were nowhere near as good (being shot on a more overcast day).
The Zoo images were on one day when ‘right time, right place’ applies,as it was late afternoon and the light was perfect for flower photography.
Pineapple Lilies(Eucomis comosa), native to South Africa may look exotic but they’re quite easy to grow (apparently).
The common name, Pineapple lily, refers to the interesting topknot of foliage that sits atop the flowers, reminiscent of a pineapple in appearance.
While there are 15 species in this genus, new strains and cultivars appear regularly ensuring their continued popularity. They last quite a long time as cut flowers and while I haven’t seen them in local residential gardens in my area, there’s alway a lovely patch (of them) in the Perennial Border in the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne (where the images in this post were made).
By the way, the Perennial Border is planted by the Garden Staff to be at its best in mid January (if you’re visiting Melbourne as a tourist in the Summer months).
Following on from the previous post featuring Cacti, I finally decided to purchase a Cacti & Succulents Plant and Identification Guide book during the week, so I can finally put some more names on my Cacti and Succulent images. I’m one of those old-fashioned people who find it easier and more enjoyable to look at a book, not the internet (for plants and flowers).
Having re-homed about 600 fiction and many non-fiction books over the last 4-5 years and moving to smaller apartments (twice), I really don’t want any more books, but I figured one more new book wouldn’t destroy the equilibrium of my down-sized furniture and decor 😀
I’ve already got 2 Australian Plant Encyclopaedias on my bookshelf, but they are more general, in both plant and tree species. I also have a wonderful Field Guide to Weeds in Australia I bought at a sale about 25 years ago and didn’t use at all for the first 20 years it lay on my bookshelf.
It can be tedious and very time-consuming trying to identify Cacti (and Succulents), which, on the surface, without flowers (in particular), can look very similar. Especially as I don’t have the time or eyesight to spend copious amounts of time on the computer any more.
Earlier this year, I went to Melbourne’s largest bookstore to spend some time in their Gardening section. I was surprised to find that of the 50-60 books on Gardening (in general), most were about planting/growing/landscaping or filled with rather ‘arty’ flower images that showed insufficient detail of the whole plant. In hindsight, I wish that I’d spent more time photographing the Cacti and Arid section plants in the Royal Botanic Gardens in full detail when I lived so close to the area.
I wish I’d photographed (every plant) in every season too.
But of course, I started out in mid 2010 being an amateur photographer, not a Botanist or Gardener. My primary hobby is still outdoor Photography even though chronic health symptoms keep me mostly indoors these days.
Back in 2012,13 and 2014 I had a 100mm f2.8 macro lens, so was more interested in experimenting in bokeh or DOF (Depth of Focus). I still love a narrow depth of field or interesting bokeh on browsing other nature lover’s photography websites to this day.
I wanted to capture the small details of the flowers or spines/stems and for the most part, never realised that Common and Botanical names would become important to me.
Some plants in the Royal Botanic Garden’s main site – they have 3 – had name labels next to the them which I photographed at the time of shooting the flowers and plants.
But between computer crashes, reducing my photo library volume and changing from Windows to a Mac, somehow, some of those plant identification label images seem to have disappeared 🙂
I think I was a little over zealous in my image volume reduction task, but no point ‘crying over spilt milk’ now.
Anyway, my book has been despatched from Booktopia’s warehouse in New South Wales and should arrive in the coming week, so we’ll have a few more plant images between the Birds, Flowers and anything else Nature related that I’ve shared recently on my blog.
I spotted 2 Rounded Noon Flowers near the local supermarket on Sunday which reminded me of the magnificent display at Newells Paddock Nature Reserve I’d photographed on the 2nd November 2017.
Since the image above looks pretty ‘ordinary’ to most of us, (I only had one camera hooked to the back of my shopping trolley and couldn’t bend down low), I thought the newer followers might like to see the series of images I took last year.
If you live in Melbourne, Newells Paddock Conservation Reserve, next to the Maribyrnong River, is well worth visiting any time of the year. But when the Rounded Noon flowers are in bloom, a visit is almost mandatory. I don’t know whether our driest start to Spring on record, this year, might affect the timing of the display.
There’s a car park near the entrance of the general picnic area, but you need to walk from the car park (on the left side of the map above), through the tree area (image on the right) and out into the open pond area near the river, to see the Rounded Noon Flowers.
Here’s a few photos of the Conservation area near the river to give you an overview. Have a quick read of the history of the area – it will give you a sense of this amazing restoration project.
NEWELLS PADDOCK NATURE RESERVE main pond. Melbourne city in the far right background.
Slightly to the right of the previous photo shows the city in the distance.
NEWELLS PADDOCKS NATURE RESERVE (from the walking path)
Hard to believe this was a rubbish dump at one time
One of the few images I’ve got of the bird life on one of the islands.
I was so busy looking into the distance, I didn’t notice a White-faced Heron had walked up to about 10 feet away from where I was standing.
The images (above) were made on my first visit to the area and if it wasn’t for my current exacerbated back, hip and knee pain keeping me mostly housebound in the last 6-8 months, I’d be down at this Nature Reserve every other week. There’s just so much bird-life to see.
The whole colour scheme of the landscape changes in Autumn (above). It’s one of those places which is so damn close to where I currently live……and yet so far away when you can’t do much walking.
Last year I walked home from the Reserve once and I think it’s approximately 3.7 kilometres to my back door (via the river walking/cycling path).
….anyway back to the subject of this post….Rounded Noon Flowers.
NEWELLS PADDOCK NATRE RESERVE (with the ramp leading to the viewing platform in the background)