PELARGONIUM Survivor

It’s been raining on and off all day today.

Not heavy.

Just enough to keep the lounge sliding door and windows 97% closed.  With no apartment or balcony roof above mine, the rain comes straight in if they’re open,  which is a great disadvantage for someone like me who loves fresh air……..even in the depths of Winter.

I thought it was timely to share an image of my Pelargonium which has 2 blooms at the moment and is absolutely stunning.  I nearly lost it the first year (2016) as I mistakenly watered it.  As each leaf yellowed and covered in black spots, I’d pluck the leaf off……. (and stopped watering it of course).

It nearly died, but lots of TLC brought it around and while it was decimated by about 95%, it is now well on the way to recovery and being a true beauty.

I now water it every ‘Blue Moon‘ 😀

I went outdoors between showers earlier today and took a couple of shots on the Aperture Priority setting with the white balance setting on ‘cloudy’ (for the photographers among you) – normally I leave the White Balance on Auto.  I could see on the LCD screen on the camera rear for a change and noted that the images were over-exposed and the colour much too red, so I switched to Manual Mode and did a little more adjusting in-camera – something I haven’t done for years.  I admit I can be a little lazy when it comes to the technicalities of Photography.  I love the creative side of Photography, but have little interest in the technical workings of my cameras.

2 more shots on manual mode brought me closer to the real colour, if not perfect.

I then spent about an hour fiddling with all the basic sliders trying to get a truly 100% accurate colour.  While I admit I don’t have the eyesight for finely detailed photo editing, the dull light of the day (and my lounge room), gave me surprisingly better viewing on my 27″ screen.  I actually enjoyed the challenge of trying to edit the flower into its true colour.

While I might have got sharper focus if I’d put the DSLR on my tripod, I was more than happy with the end result, even if the camera was covered with fine rain spots.

The ‘Survivor’ series  of Pelargoniums resists poor weather, extreme heat and tolerates drought.  I should have read the label again after repotting it the first time.  These bushy plants have BIG flowers which are available in a wide range of intense and pastel colours.

Flowering throughout the warmer months they are ideal for patio pots, mixed planters and hanging baskets.

I remove the spent flowers as soon as I spot them, although I must admit to forgetting about fertilising regularly as the plant label recommends.  But then…..I’m an amateur photographer, not a gardener (as some of you might think).

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GIANT HONEY FLOWER (Melianthus Major)

I’ve only ever seen 2 Giant Honey Flower (Melianthus Major) plants in Melbourne.

One was in a very sheltered garden bed in a National Trust Property, Como House, and the other was in the back garden of The Abbotsford Convent, (in the inner north-east suburb of Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River).  The images below are from that second garden and thankfully, there were flowers in bloom so I could identify the plant the second time around.

It’s actually the leaves which I find interesting.  You can’t miss their distinctive shape.

The Giant Honey Flower is an evergreen suckering shrub, endemic to South Africa and naturalised in India, Australia and New Zealand.  It grows to 7-10 feet tall by 3-10 feet wide, with pinnate blue-green leaves 12-20 inches long, which have a distinctive odour.

Dark red, nectar-laden flower spikes, 12-31 inches in length, appear in Spring, followed by green pods.

All parts of the plant are poisonous.

The plant generally requires a sheltered position and may need a protective winter mulch in temperate regions like Melbourne.

PHOTINIA ROBUSTA (Photinia x fraseri)

The white-flowering small bushes at the top of my steep road are in flower at the moment.

Although I’ve made the occasional photo at their varying stages of growth, it wasn’t until last week that I saw a plant label attached to one of them and was able to identify it.

I know little about common garden plants and have always had to rely on Mr Google images or my 2 Australian Plant Encyclopaedias to identify anything.  I even keep the plant labels of the potted plants I buy for my balcony garden as I forget the Botanical names almost as soon as I plant them.-

Photinia Robusta (Photinia x fraseri) is a spectacular fast growing dense evergreen shrub.

Dark glossy green leaves with brilliant red new growth and clusters of dainty white flowers in Spring make this an attractive hedge plant, and clipping throughout the year will flush on new growth to repeat the bright show of colour. It can be kept clipped to around 1.5 m tall and wide.

They are suitable for a full sun to part shade position, frost tolerant and requires little water once established.

There are about 4 plants in a row in front of a green-painted power junction box (which feeds this housing estate I suppose – I’m guessing).  The 2 images below were made late afternoon with the power box between the sun and the plants, throwing them into deep shade quite early in the afternoon.

I love the glossy red leaves that contrast so vividly with the green.  Even the tight flower buds are attractive in their own way.

BLANKET FLOWER (Gallardia)

One of the main aspects I like about Photography is the option of different lenses, camera settings and styles capturing subjects and background in a variety of ways.  Being extremely short-sighted, I find close-ups and the small details interesting.

After all, I’m an amateur photographer first (and a gardener second).

Actually, I never considered myself a gardener at all until I rented a ground-floor apartment with a balcony near the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of the city.  It didn’t get much sun, but it was fun playing around with a potted plant or two, growing a few hardy shade-loving herbs and had a lovely (shaded) strip of garden down the side path and a slightly larger space in front of the main entrance of the apartment building.

These images of Blanket flowers are from the Perennial Border in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.  Most were made in the early years of my Photography hobby.  If you’re new to flower Photography, do take the time to play around with angles, background and lighting conditions (or time of day).  It really does help you learn to ‘see’ and appreciate Photography as a creative art.

THIS IS ONE IMAGE I NEVER REALLY LIKED, BUT WHEN YOU’RE A NOVICE, YOU DO TEND TO KEEP SOME OF THE ‘DELETERS’ as well as the ‘KEEPERS’ (just to compare and look back on).

Just remember the more photos you take, the more time it takes to review them on your computer, (says she who took 605 photos in one afternoon in March 2012).  First (and only) professional ‘shoot’ I’ve ever done and my computer crashed a couple of days later and I lost the whole folder.  Fortunately, I’d saved 140+ to a disc (for some reason which I can’t remember now).  I didn’t know much about ‘back-ups’ in those days 🙂

WALLFLOWER (Erysimum)

Wallflowers (Erysimum) are some of the prettiest garden flowers around and the images below, made in The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne in October 2013, show some of their lovely colour.

The Gardening Australia website says…

Wallflowers have simple, narrow, green to blue-green leaves, and are mainly evergreen. Flower stems, tall in the larger species, appear mainly over spring and summer, and also in winter in mild climates. The heads carry dense clusters of small 4-petalled blooms that are often richly fragrant. The petals are usually yellow but may also be orange, red, or mauve, and the hybrids extend the colour range further.

WALLFLOWER (Erysimum)

Wallflowers are mostly hardy, but they do best in a climate that offers cool summers and mild winters. They should be planted in a sunny open position in moist well-drained soil. Though they can be quite drought tolerant, they will reward with abundant flowers if they are watered regularly – particularly if it is done in conjunction with regular feeding, trimming, and deadheading.

This flower bed was in the back garden of The Plant Craft Cottage 

The Cottage, built in 1850/51 to house one of the Gardeners, is only open at certain times, but visit the website above and check out the images in the Header as they show the wonderful array of crafts that Craft members make.  It’s well worth a visit if you’re either a local or a tourist.  In fact, not many locals know about it.  I often used to buy small gifts or hand-made Christmas Cards there at the Gift shop (manned by volunteers) and we always had wonderful little chats about the area, history and array of craft classes taught at the Cottage.  I thought about joining, but like all things in my life, didn’t want to get up early for classes.

If you like English cottage garden plants, do visit the  The Royal Botanic Gardens Website to find out more.

Now, of course, I live too far away.  In fact, just this week, I received a Public Transport email advising that my 3 bus routes to that side of the city have been partly discontinued.  If I didn’t catch a taxi direct (which is fairly expensive), I’d have to catch 2 buses (or a tram and bus) to the city, and then…………walk down to the main south-bound tram route leading out of the city.  There is no longer a tram going past my favourite RBG entrance either.  I’ll bet the tiny group of shops and cafes near that entrance are well and truly missing the trade.

It’s not that I can’t get there, so much as, these days, I prefer not to waste half my day on public transport and then a long walk to get anywhere.  So easy when I lived and worked next to The Royal Botanic Gardens for over 25 years, but my life has changed now in retirement and after 2 apartment moves.

I like to think of it as ‘not worse‘, as many chronic pain sufferers might, merely ‘different‘.

It’s all in the Mind you see.

A finger points at the moon, but the moon is not at the tip of the finger. Words point at the truth, but the truth is not in words.

——Huineng

 

 

ARUM LILY (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

At the top of my short steep road is the back entrance to a townhouse and a clump of Arum Lilies.  It’s expanded from its original 3 flowers last year to several this year and was the first photo stop on my short walk yesterday. (note: these plants are considered a pest in Western Australia).

I love the swirling edges of the flower rim and nearly always photograph them with a very shallow DOF (Depth Of Field) or large aperture.  My Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens set at about f4.5 gives me the effect I want, but the first image in this post is set at f11 to give a bit more detail.

Sadly, my back pain precludes me from both bending down low and kneeling and twisting these days, so I had to edit the images to increase the mid-tones and give the flowers some more definition.  This threw the colour saturation a bit out-of-whack, but I haven’t the interest or time to spend on photo editing.  I can no longer always do flower photography at angles that I would like, but I know long-time followers understand my limitations.

It certainly doesn’t stop me enjoying my Photography Hobby.

For those interested, I bought this lens about 3 years ago as I could never get quite close enough with my Canon 50mm f1.4 and the Sigma’s 17-50mm gives me that little bit of zoom that covers the gap in the 4 lenses I now own.  If you put the Sigma 17-50mm on a tripod, or can hand-hold your camera very steady, you can almost get a macro, or very close to an insect, which is good enough for me. The Canon lens is extremely sharp and excellent in low light, but the Sigma is not far behind it.

The ‘nifty fifty‘ as the 50mm f/1.4 lens is often called, is rarely taken out of its soft pouch now and I’d sell it, except that they bring so little money second-hand and mine is in perfect condition.  I refuse to sell good lenses for peanuts.

I think the header image on my B & W Blog was made with the ‘nifty fifty’ and I cropped and turned it slightly to give the abstract quality and composition I wanted.

BIRD OF PARADISE (Strelitzia retinae)

I had walked to and from the local medical centre yesterday.

(is it really 1.25am Tuesday morning and I’m still awake 🙂 ).

It only took me 40 minutes to make the 10 minute journey as I had to keep stopping to photograph the gorgeous flowers along the way.  The Cherry blossoms in the tiny park near the local supermarket were the main objective in walking with a painful hip and knee, but the fresh air was so invigorating and the pain slowly receded as I discovered each new Spring bloom.

Despite feeling a little unwell, I decided to walk home again and this short journey took me an hour.  LOL  😀  How can anyone make such a short walk into such a lengthy journey?

Only a photographer of course, although I must admit when I was standing at the highest point of the river valley below me, looking at the city of Melbourne’s office and apartment towers in the far distance, it really was an interesting landscape.

There were many Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia retinae) in front of an apartment block but most were dead or dying, so it took me a while to find a flower worth photographing.  Then with a busy background I stepped back and forth trying to find a neutral background – in the end, a concrete column.

Stelitzia flowers are at their best when just opened and looking very fresh and colourful – the one above was just starting to brown off and wilt.

BLUEBERRY “NELLIE KELLY’ Sunshine Blue (Vaccinyum x corymbusm x ashei x darrowi)

If you learn to enjoy waiting, you don’t have to wait to enjoy.

Kazuaki Tanahashi

I’ve been watching the flowers on my Blueberry bush most days recently as I can’t wait for the flowers to all turn from pink to white.

I was going to go out and wash the windows before these photos, but the sky has gone quite gloomy and overcast and the light dropped a few notches (as though its going to rain), so no point.

“The Nellie Kelly Blueberry (Sunshine Blue) is a delightful, evergreen bush that grows to 1 metre, producing pink flowers during the winter and delectable fruit in late spring and summer. The bush is frost tolerant and needs to be planted in areas where overnight temperatures drop below 5C degrees during winter as this helps to promote the flowers.

Nellie Kelly Blueberries are suitable for either garden beds or large pots where they will get part sun. They will last 10 to 15 years and produce up to 4 kilograms of fruit a season. Blueberries prefer a soil pH of 4.5 to 6, so a well-drained, premium grade, acidic azalea potting mix is ideal. Keep the bush moist and feed with a slow release, acidifying fertiliser during winter and late summer. Prune the bush vigorously after fruiting, removing up to a third of the bush”.

I’ve got Osmocote Azalea fertiliser – wonder if that’ll help?

NOTE: You’ll have noticed I changed the name of my blog to Room With a View – seemed like a logical step since all I do at the moment is look out the window every day.

My excuse is that I was in hospital last week and I’m supposed to be ‘taking it easy’.

What’s your excuse for staring out the window all day?  Boring job? The Weather? Stunning view of the countryside or mountains? Procrastinating about the window cleaning chore?

Or is it purely and simply because you also have……….a Room With a View?

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Captured this Sparrow sneaking a look through the dirty window just now.  Wonder what she’s thinking?

JAPANESE ROSE (Kerria japonica)

 

Japanese Rose (Kerria japonica), the sole species in the genus Kerria, is a deciduous shrub in the rose family Rosacea, native to China, Japan and Korea.

(The scientific genus name is also used as a common name Kerria).

Kerria japonica grows  to 1-3 metres (or 3.3 – 9.8 feet) tall, with weak arching stems.  In the wild it grows in thickets on mountain slopes and the flowers are golden-yellow with 5 petals which appear in Spring.  Best grown in shade to avoid blanching the flowers, this particular bush, I photographed in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, was in very deep shade I distinctly remember……..and was one of the double-flowered cultivars and relatively pale.  Just as well the bush had a name plaque in the ground at the base, otherwise I would have mistaken it for an ordinary Rose.

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NOTE: I had to download an app. to print a medical referral from gmail yesterday and along with that app. came some sort of virus/intruder that not only changed all my ‘favourites’ and shortcuts, but a few other weird things.

To LIKE or COMMENT on some of the blogs I follow, I am having to log on to WordPress with my password (again).   So if you don’t see me on your blog for a while, I hope you’ll understand I’m bogged down a wee bit at the moment.

It also allowed a ‘guest user’ to infiltrate.

Fortunately, I checked my Firewall (OK) and Users/Security (not OK) first, which highlighted the intruder almost immediately.   My computer files are a bit of a mess, but I’m slowly beginning to re-sort, reconnect and clear out some of the Trash.

The app. was a common one used to print medical files and as a technology-challenged blogger, I’m totally mystified as to what went wrong.

Today (and tomorrow) are perfect sunny Winter days, so I’m torn between indoor and outdoor tasks.

I think Outdoors might win.

“Make hay while the sun shines” is my motto.  Well, at least take the camera over the other side of the road to photograph that gorgeous Purple Coral Pea up close.

PURPLE CORAL PEA (Hardenbergia violacea)

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.

Camille Pissarro

 

The Purple Coral Pea (Hardenhergia violate) is in bloom.  I wonder if any person living in my road has even noticed.

….and how do I know…..I just stood at the window watching the plants and young saplings being blown nearly double by the strong winter wind and looked across the road between the 2 hedges.  There, nearly 35-40 feet long, is the faint hint of purple.

It’s a very long patch of intertwining vines.  One can’t really see much (in the image below), but I know it’s there and what the flower is.  It’s blowing a gale today and much too inclement to go outdoors to get a close-up shot (after sitting in a heated room most of the day), but you can get the idea by the image below.  Much too far away for a hand-held shot – even with a 150-500 mm heavy lens (which was the closest camera out of it’s bag).

…….and for  those who don’t know what this gorgeous intertwining vine looks like, here’s some images made over recent years.  Most of these were made at the end of the day, hence the rich blue-green tone of the leaves – the blue hour.

Hardenbergia violacea, Purple Coral Pea or Native Sarsaparilla, is a well-known climber with twining stems.

The leaves are glossy green, with prominent veins and up to ten centimetres long.  The flowers are pea-shaped, up to one centimetre across, purple, and violet and rarely pink or white. They are carried in large clusters from late winter to early spring.  Blooms are both profuse and conspicious. They are followed by pods that carry a number of black, hard-coated seeds.

H. violacea could be grown as a ground cover if it is denied access to other plants or objects to clamber over. (The vine across the road is starting to climb up one of the Cypress trees in the top hedge).

The Purple Coral Pea occurs in all eastern mainland states including Tasmania and South Australia.

GOLDEN RAT TAIL CACTUS (Cleistocactus winteri)

This particular plant image hails from the slopes of a water catchment in the Royal Botanic Gardens called Guilfoyles Volcano

The sloping ground leading right up to the water catchment is covered in either cacti, succulents or low-water plants and well worth a look if you’re visiting Melbourne.  (Or just a local and hadn’t realised this wonderful section of garden existed).  When living on that south-east corner of the RBG, I used to pass it regularly and while not a fan of cacti, the waist-high beds, as you walk up the spiral path, make for wonderful photo opportunities.

I seem to remember this was one of the 1st areas I took my new DSLR and Macro lens in early 2011.

Today, with a flawless blue sky, I’m inclined to go to the plant nursery (via taxi again) to choose some herbs for my planned new indoor mini Herb Garden.  Being Winter, my spinach and other leafy crops seem to be at a standstill in their growth and the cruel winds over the last few days have almost split my large Rosemary bush in half (again).  I’ll have to give it a new twine and bamboo ‘corset’ to hold it together again.  I only took it off this past Summer.

It has been very cold and windy lately.  Great news for skiing up in the Alpine Regions of the State, but most unpleasant if you don’t have a warm car to go out in (down in the lower elevations).  The thing is that Melbourne, with its generally temperate climate, is not used to extreme cold.

 

BIRD OF PARADISE (Strelitzia reginae)

Strelitzias are evergreen herbaceous perennials that can become quite large and the most commonly grown one is Strelitzia reginae and to be honest, this is the only variety I’ve ever seen.  I think its one of those plants/flowers you love, or you hate.  All I know is that it has flowers that look like the head of a bird with a bright orange “cocky’s crest” of feather-like petals at the top and to photograph them successfully, you’ve got to catch them just after the bud opens and before it starts to wilt and brown off.

The other tip is to try and isolate one or two blooms from the end of the 3 foot stems, not the whole mature plant, otherwise your photo gets too busy with multiple blooms.  They appear year-round in most gardens according to my plant encyclopaedia, but I never found this in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne where the photo in this post was made.  I often walked past the same intersection of paths, waiting for just the right day (of the season), to photograph them.

Apparently, this plant has a giant cousin,Strelitzia nicolai which has foliage more like a banana palm and up to 15 feet tall!  The flowers are very large also.  I don’t remember ever seeing one, but that doesn’t mean to say our Botanic Gardens doesn’t have one among its 55,000 plants/trees.

ROUND-LEAF or FAIRY FANFLOWER? (Scaevola)

Not sure whether this unusual flower is a ROUND-LEAF FANFLOWER  or a FAIRY FANFLOWER, but I do know it’s genus is Scaevola.  I just hate it when my encyclopaedias and the internet have conflicting information as I’m just an amateur when it comes to gardening and don’t have the time, or inclination, to spend hours trying to work out what is right, what is wrong OR even……..whether its just a flower/plant with various Common Names.

If I had a real in-ground garden, instead of 12-15 potted plants on a tiled balcony, this is one plant I’d grow.  Gosh, I could even grow it now (in a container), but at the moment, I grow mainly Herbs and a few leafy green vegetables (plus a couple of long-flowering plants).  After last summer’s highly successful tomato crop on my west-facing balcony, next Spring I might even try some other sun-loving vegetables that can be successfully grown in containers, but I do prefer the quicker yielding leafy crops.

I love blue or purple/blue flowers and this became a favourite after I made the first photos some years ago.

Scaevolas are fan-shaped Australian flowers in shades of purple-blue, lilac or blue and I love the profusion of blooms that cascade over the waist-high rockery area near The Plant Cottage in the north-west corner of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne  

They’re great ground-covers and really do look pretty.

GREVILLEA ‘MOONLIGHT’

GREVILLEA is a diverse genus of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants, native to rainforest and more open habitats in Australia.  I believe this variety, which I photographed at Melbourne Zoo, is called GREVILLEA ‘Moonlight’ and is one of the most popular (as it flowers all year round).  The flower is gorgeous and very attractive to birds, honeyeaters in particular.

I managed to capture a LITTLE WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera chrysoptera), a large, slim, rather dull Honeyeater, on one of the Zoo bushes, not far from the back entrance/exit.

GREVILLEA ‘Moonlight’ is tough and adaptable and great as a feature plant, but also makes an effective informal screen or hedge.

 

BLUE DAISY, BLUE MARGUERITE, KINGFISHER DAISY (Felicia)

This blue daisy has to be one of my favourite blue flowers.

It has several Common Names – Blue Daisy, Blue Marguerite, Kingfisher Daisy (Felicia amelloides), but also comes in white, mauve or lilac.  It has masses of pure blue flowers from Summer to Winter and the patch in the image (above & below) is from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

Originally from South Africa, its dazzling display makes it popular for bedding and containers, including hanging baskets.  This is another flower that I’d have in my garden if I had an in-ground one (instead of plastic pots on an apartment balcony).

I say plastic, because most of my ceramic pots got stolen off my balcony fence when I lived near the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of Melbourne, so now, I just stick to plastic pots (wherever I live).  What hurt the most is that I had just planted them out with Spring seedlings and fresh potting soil which cost a fair bit of money all up.

Felicias are generally treated as short-lived perennials and form substantial bushy plants with a maximum height or spread of 30-50cm (12-20 inches), so I presume the one in the RBG is more than one plant as you can see how far it’s spread in the image above.  The plentiful tiny leaves are grey or mid-green in colour, those of Felicia amen ‘Variegate’ have bright creamy white edges.