My favourite image of Borage flower buds with their fine hairy appearance
It is….. NOT…… a nice day outdoors (with the Weather Bureau forecasting 100% rain and possible hail), but just after I braved the rain to go out and cut some parsley and baby spinach leaves to include in my Sunday lunch, the rain stopped and the sun came out.
Grrrrr! (now, why couldn’t the rain have stopped 10 minutes earlier 😀 ).
Never mind – the weekend rainfall saves me watering the potted herbs and veggies growing on my apartment balcony. Despite lots of rain recently, the fierce wind rushing down my steep road still dries out most of my potted plants. So while it is Winter in Melbourne, I still need to carry out that regular watering chore every few days (unless it rains every day of course).
A fellow blogger posted an image of a plant which looked a lot like Borage (despite the lack of flowers which would have made the identification quite easy), which reminded me of the Borage images I’d taken in the RBG’s Herb Garden.
While I don’t grow this herb at the current time, I have in the past and always looked forward to the beautiful pure blue flowers, which looked lovely sprinkled in salads.
The young leaves can be added to cold drinks for their cucumber flavour and cooling effect. They can also be chopped finely in salads, yogurt, soft cheese, pickles and sandwiches.
But to be honest, I just like the flowers when they’re in bud form with their fine hairy appearance (as in the first image in this post).
I used to have a large Herb Garden which I planted at my Parent’s Home about 30 – 35 years ago. There were culinary as well as medicinal herbs and some……planted merely for their flowers or attractive leaves. I think I had close to 45+ different herbs at one time, with 5-6 varieties of Thyme. The variegated leaves were quite pretty flowing over the brick retaining wall of my Mother’s vegetable bed. My Mother used to keep it watered in the Summer months when I was away working.
When my Parents moved into a retirement village (and I changed jobs and lived closer to the city), my Mother potted up quite a few herbs to take with them. Apart from Parsley and Chives which my Mother knew well, this was the start of their using herbs more in cooking and in summer salads.
My own potted herb garden on my apartment balcony really only got going a few years ago.
Long-time followers will know I lived a couple of streets away from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne for many years and would spend many afternoons walking around the 38 hectare site, but my favourite place in Summer was The Herb Garden. This became a sort of sanctuary after I had to quit working due to chronic illness and pain in early 2010.
It wasn’t until I walked its paths through every season that I came to know what Comfrey flowers looked like as I’d never seen them before.
Comfrey can become very invasive so best to give it an enclosed space. It’s leaves are great in the compost heap too.
By the way, if you’re visiting Melbourne in Spring (Sept/Oct/Nov) and love gardens, ensure you visit the Herb Garden in the RBG, as that is the time when it’s at its best, although Summer is a good time too.
In winter the Herbs mostly die back and are pruned heavily and the deep shade can be quite chilly.
A shady seat on hot summer afternoons
A broad view with it’s central circular bed for the sun dial and a rosemary plant
My Favourite seat on a hot day. Depending on the time of year, the scent is either Lavender or the Curry plant.
The herb garden falls into shade from surrounding tall trees quite early in winter. 4.30pm is about the best time to see birds in the herb garden.
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing”
One of the advantages of leading a simple life is an appreciation of the small things that other people miss.
Late yesterday afternoon, after another brief rain shower, I stepped one foot over my lounge sliding door rail to see if there was going to be a sunset. I literally had one foot indoors and one foot outdoors. This is the only way to see directly west over the 6 foot high partition separating my balcony from the apartment next door.
Only a bright glaring ball of light reflected off the rain clouds. Since I didn’t take any photos, here’s a shot made on 10th May which reflects my view.
This bright ball of light drops very quickly to form the view below (photographed on the 22nd May) at about 4.45pm.
It’s been several days since I’ve seen some sky colour worth photographing at dusk.
I watch the sun setting nearly every night, no matter what the season. The shortest day of the year is only about 3 weeks away now, so the sky fades into darkness quite early.
Then I looked down to where I’d rearranged all my smaller potted plants a couple of days ago. I’d raised the pots up on an old painted TV trolley to catch the fewer rays of sun at this cold and windy time of year. Even on a winter day my balcony garden still gets a few hours of sunlight, despite the sun being lower in the sky……..but only in certain sections of the space.
One of the Marigold plants, Marigold ‘Simba’ (Tagetes spatula), was hiding between my 2 Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilica) plants and I thought how pretty the flowers looked. The golden yellow glowed intermittently as the bright sun moved in and out behind the rain clouds and while I couldn’t capture the flower heads glowing with light in a photo, I thought to share this simple plant/herb.
It’s cheerful and uplifting colour is a beacon amidst the rest of the white and mauve flowers in my green space.
The Basil plants are still hanging on from the summer and despite a few burnt edged leaves (from the frost??) and slightly wilted appearance, they still give me leaves for culinary use.
Earlier in the afternoon, I noticed that one of the two remaining Capsicums was almost ready for harvest.
I’ve been closely monitoring its change of colour, surprised to see it ripening at this late stage of Autumn.
While this Capsicum ‘Redskin’ (Capsicum annum hybrid) had a poor crop (compared to what I had read about online and on the back of the plant nursery label), and the 2nd crop minimal, I noticed yesterday that there was 1 new white flower (as seen in the top right hand corner of the image below (to the right and below the remaining green Capsicum). Those with small laptop computers may have to zoom in to see it.
Does this mean I’m getting another fruit with winter only a couple of days away?
Note: the blurred line towards the centre of the image above is the where the lounge window forms a right angle (enabling me to see what’s happening in the southern area of my balcony without actually going outside. Handy way to keep an eye on the potted veggies and herbs, especially when its raining.
Despite urban apartment living, sometimes I feel as though I’m sitting in the midst of a garden while seated at my desk.
Winter is just around the corner and you’d think my apartment balcony garden would be heading into hibernation mode, but you’re wrong.
It’s still looking a bit like summer, but greener and fresher.
(NOTE: This post is mainly for the new followers who aren’t aware of my small balcony garden).
The Harlequin Bugs and voracious appetites of the Cabbage Moth Caterpillars and other pests certainly made their mark, but I kept cutting back and removing the dead, or dying, foliage regularly. I couldn’t bear to spray the pests and contaminate my culinary herbs and while I bought several Marigolds to see if their pest repellent properties would help, the PESTS carried on regardless.
I suppose you could say, they were laughing their little heads off at my feeble attempts to keep them at bay. I might buy a couple more pots and potting soil to plant some garlic. I was reading recently that works as a repellent. I usually ended up with 3-4 Harlequin bugs walking up my lounge room wall next to my desk and across the carpet most days.
Isn’t it about time they flew north for their ‘annual holiday’?
The Harlequin Bugs had a veritable picnic on my few Rosemary flowers, but didn’t touch the woody spiked leaves.
The hot sun, (turned into a little microclimate by the four walls surrounding the balcony space), browned and wilted my pink Argyranthemum (Argyranthemum frutescens), so I pruned that back hard to 1″ stubble too.
Today, it is about 8″ high, bushy and bearing lots of tiny flower buds. It is looking stunning and positively beaming with good health, so I suspect I might get a new array of pink daisies in the near future. It’s supposed to flower in Spring and Summer, but the micro climate of my balcony meant it flowered almost since I planted it in Spring 2016. I kept dead-heading the spent flowers and it kept on flowering, except for the hottest days of Summer in my west-facing space.
The blue Bacopa (Sutera cordata), looking more a pale mauve at the moment, IS STILL FLOWERING! I kid you not! So, except for the 4-5 days when I didn’t water it, (incorrectly thinking the rain would suffice), and all the flowers dropped off, only to reappear a day or two after a thorough watering, that Bacopa plant has flowered since I planted it in late Spring 2016.
THAT IS A WHOPPING 574 DAYS – 4 days = 570 DAYS IN FLOWER! Its flower heads look like drowned little blue galoshes when it rains, but spring back to normal shape after the rain stops.
My Spinach Baby Leaf (Spinacia oleracea), protected by its blue plastic Butterfly ‘scarecrow’ was an ingredient in my occasional lunchtime omelette for many weeks, but I left it alone for about 2 weeks so it can grow some more leaves. I ate the rest. The 4 baby spinach plants were never touched by any pests at all, but one of the plastic blue wings has fallen off I noticed yesterday (as seen below). I will try and glue it back on. Already there are enough leaves to eat (as seen in the image below). My goodness, how fast it grows. Only 2 weeks and its ready to start re-harvesting.
But, the best part is that the last 2 green Capsicums are still growing and one fruit is starting to turn red, despite the chilly Autumn mornings. I can see about 3 tiny buds as well. Does this mean Winter harvesting Capsicums? Surely not. This was the 2nd crop after 2 main branches were snapped off (by night critters, such as possums I suppose).
So while the plant is looking a little sad and half the size, it is still surviving. I read up on this never-planted-before vegetable and it seems that I can leave the plant in the pot and it will keep cropping. I didn’t know that and since it took so long to grow, (12 weeks from seedling), I was going to throw it out soon and replace it with a faster growing vegetable.
My tiny white sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima ‘Sugar crystals) seedlings have taken over their pots and crowded out the blue Lobelia (Lobelia erinus).
Yesterday, I rearranged all the pots so I could access the empty ones to plant some new leafy food crops, but as I sit at my desk to write this post on a cool overcast Sunday afternoon, I can see the arrangement is not covering the gaps in my privacy ‘hedge‘ (being so close to the road and footpath), so some re-arrangement is necessary I think.
I finished eating my Tuscan Kale plant and had to pull out my Bok Choy as the cooked vegetable was inedible – quite bitter – must have been the wrong potting soil mix?
I’ve actually had more failures this past summer than ever before.
The Japanese Maple (growing in front of the left hand side of my balcony fence), has changed colour to Russet now and will soon drop its leaves. The image below was made a couple of weeks ago. Soon, on sunny winter days, I’ll be able to spot the House Sparrow population once again.
I’ve seen no other birds in my area lately and suspect most of the tiny wrens, finches and larger birds have left the area to seek better shelter in Frog’s Hollow Nature Reserve (located 100 feet from the rear of my building). I feel as though I’ve missed the whole of Autumn this year (being stuck indoors).
When you’re often housebound (like me these days) with chronic pain and other debilitating health symptoms, a balcony garden full of flowers, herbs and leafy veggie greens is both uplifting and a feast for the soul……….. (and birds 🙂 ).
I could do with a bit more mint and other fragrant herbs though. And, I want a pot of Lady’s Mantle and a Lemon Verbena. I love the way rain drops sit on the Lady’s Mantle leaves and the smell of Lemon Verbena is gorgeous (let alone the tea made from its leaves).
Perhaps a short ride to the nearby Hardware and Plant Nursery warehouse is worth a visit tomorrow. I haven’t been for a while. The last 3 times I went to the Plant Nursery they didn’t have any Lemon Verbena, but the Nurseryman said they were ‘getting it in soon OR next week.’ I don’t know whether they get it in and some one buys it before I get there, OR they just didn’t get Lemon Verbena seedlings from the wholesalers due to lack of demand.
While I’ve had Sweet Basil growing on and off many times in the last 35 years, I’ve always used all the leaves in cooking before it flowers.
My 2 current plants were decimated by caterpillars this past summer and I was all set to throw them in the rubbish bin, but decided to cut all the damaged leaves off (about 97% of the plants) and amazingly, they have recovered and I now have 2 flower heads.
This is the first time in my life, I’ve actually seen Basil flowers outside one of my Herb books.
I think I’ve mentioned in a prior post that my balcony garden seems to have a sort of micro-climate (despite the frequent strong, or gale-force, winds that race down my steep short road).
I’ve grown many plants that haven’t survived in other balcony gardens in previous apartments.
BUT……………this past summer has been the worst ever for pests. It seems as though the bugs and caterpillars like the micro-climate too 😀 This is the first time I’ve ever had dozens of Harlequin Bugs on my herbs and flowers.
Normally it’s the Caterpillars that leave their mark.
For a good example, count how many ‘pillars I picked off plants (in my first balcony garden when I lived near the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne).
If you’ve been following my nature blog for a while, you will know that I planted a red Capsicum(Capsicum annuum hybrid) for the first time in my west-facing balcony garden.
My younger brother had warned me they were a slow grower, but I persevered and waited and waited…………………and waited.
My idea was to have sufficient green salad and herb leaves (as shown on the right), or green leafy vegetables, to pick during the summer so I didn’t have to shop so often. All other vegetables keep well enough in the fridge when properly stored so it doesn’t matter if I miss a weekly shopping expedition. I did well with the Asian greens during Winter in my previous balcony garden (below) too.
In fact I did extremely well with my garden, located to the north-east of Melbourne, which had no direct sun but plenty of light (below).
My previous balcony garden to the north-east of Melbourne.
I even expanded indoors (having wooden floors in the lounge).
Perpetual Spinach cooked or raw.
My second Capsicum crop here in the western suburbs started with 11 thumb-sized fruit only a few weeks ago and being the end of Summer, I wondered if they would grow at all. I didn’t know they would produce more than one crop in the Summer, having never grown this vegetable before. Two fell on the ground attached to a large branch, which I presumed the possums had jumped on and broken during the night. That left only 6 fruit, from thumb-size to about 3″.
(Don’t know what happened to the missing 3).
I was surprised to see one turning partially purple earlier in the week and very quickly jumping to the red stage yesterday.
I lifted the leaves up with my left hand intending to make a one-handed shot with my right and was dismayed to see my Capsicum had ‘company‘ yesterday.
Hope they don’t eat it. They can have the leaves. I’m happy to share them.
(I’ve even had Harlequin Bugs in my lounge room and the little blighters have proved hard to catch and despatch outdoors, but somehow, I still can’t bear to kill them as they’re so attractive).
Only baby spinach, 1 Tuscan Kale and 2 kinds of parsley (English curly and Italian flat-leaf) are left now (besides the regular Rosemary, lemon Thyme, sweet Basil, Marigold herbs and other flowers).
The Sugar snap Peas only yielded one pea pod, LOL, with the Harlequin Bugs sucking the sap out of all the leaves of the 10 seedlings climbing up the bamboo frames. Those plants got pulled out a week ago.
One pea pod doth not a meal make.
I have several empty pots now.
The Sage was completely decimated by bugs and I pruned it down to 1″ stubble. Bitter sage leaves are supposed to be bug-resistant and was even recommended for growing as a deterrent. It’s now got about 50-60 new baby leaves on it. But Sage always dies back in Winter, so that will probably only last a couple of months.
I pulled the Bok Choy and baby Broccoli out as they were half-eaten (by the ‘pillars), and the meals I did have from them, were fairly bitter.
One Kale leaf and several baby spinach leaves are perfect for the occasional vegetable omelette in the meantime.
Next Spring I might invest in a covered raised garden kit for my low-growing veggies or invest in more blue butterfly scarecrows.
Or, maybe just have flowers 😀 (says she who just despatched another Harlequin bug crawling across her Canon Printer). I think the bugs get in via one of the large Rosemary branches which is lying next to my open lounge louvred windows, although I do have the sliding door fully open on sunny days.
I’ve even found the odd Cabbage Moth caterpillar crawling across the carpet 😮
Between you and me, I’m getting tired of hand watering every night. Especially as the time I usually water around 6.30-7.00pm (about 4-6 trips with the large watering jug from the kitchen sink tap) is the golden hour and might be better spent down the local river doing some photography.
After my initial enthusiasm with long hours of afternoon sun from the west, I’m gradually finding the temperatures too hot and the pests overwhelming.
I normally water my garden at the end of the day so it has the cooler night time to soak in to the soil. In our hot Australian summer, watering in the morning or midday has the potential to burn the roots of plants.
It’s only 13 degrees C (about 56F) at the moment and pelting down with rain, so looks like no hand watering needed tonight 🙂
One day there are buds on the branches, then the tiny feathery fronds of foliage appear and next minute………………..a young tree full of leaves a couple of weeks later.
My little friend Mr House Sparrow and I looked over the scene today and agreed…..Spring really is the best time of the year.
I beckoned him to come down to look over the last couple of days of hard work I’d put in. (Not really days per se, afternoons are about as much as I can manage when it comes to re-potting and bending over with a bad back).
Well, it took two days plus some intermittent showers.
Italian Parsley, of which I had far too much a few weeks ago, has been replaced with one of the new Tomato Plants.
The English Parsley had grown so well all through the winter, I’d had to give it a haircut several times.
The pink Argyranthemum had been tossed around by the winter storms, but continues to bloom since it was planted on 4th November 2016 – wouldn’t it be grand if it bloomed for ever & ever. We’ll see.
The Lemon Thyme had died back and I’d cut it down to 1/2″ woody stubble, but today, it was back and well and truly on the way to the height of Summer.
The Sage…..well, I almost thought it was dead over winter, but today, the leaves are fighting for space and I’m wondering if it will burst out of the pot.
My mediocre Rosemary which never really grew in the (mostly) shade when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens, nearly split in half during last week’s wind gusts. I’ve been waiting for a few branches to get near to the black top of the balcony fence, but about 15 branches are now about 2-3″ above the fence line.
The Polygala is almost in full bloom, despite being blown over with the wind a few weeks ago.
Remember the gale force winds a few weeks ago. The 3 big pots which were blown over will need to be well watered to weigh down the pots in future, despite the fact that the Rosemary prefers dry(ish) feet.
A closer shot of the Polygala flowers.
The Sorrel is doing much better since I removed the Perpetual Spinach which shared its pot.
This will be the only Mint I’ll keep as it grows like wildfire.
The Blueberry ‘Nellie Kelly’ was lovely a few weeks ago, but I suspected a House Sparrow had snacked on its flowers?
Not a good shot, but the Blueberry is covered in flowers. I wonder if they’ll all set fruit? I’ve never grown a Blueberry before.
The Rosemary which nearly split in half with the gale force wind was released from its corset of twine and bamboo stakes today to let it breathe.
The blue Bacopa was looking its best today, but I think it needs a wee haircut. As I mentioned in a previous post, it has bloomed non-stop since the 4th November 2016, although there were a few battered blooms amidst the good ones in the gale force winds Melbourne has been having.
Pelargonium ‘Survivor’ had many crops of toadstools during the winter and some sort of leaf rot so hopefully these new leaves and some hot sun will dry it out.
The Red Capsicum which I’ve never grown before was a tiny seedling when I bought it last Sunday, but already has several new leaves. I only staked it just in case the wind blows it over.
Yesterday I planted one ‘Patio’ Tomato and today, the other two. Unfortunately, I broke a few leaves in re-potting them in to the final resting pot, but hopefully they’ll recover.
Another shot of that Sage that had so many new leaves, they are fighting for space.
….and another shot of the Polygala.
Note: none of these plants need staking, but with our ongoing fierce winds in Melbourne in the past few months, I figure I may as well put the bamboo stakes in now and tie the trunks loosely just in case of another gale.
No new nature images to share this week, only a few photos I shot on Monday from the Princes Bridge (overlooking the Yarra River) on the southern perimeter of Melbourne and some shots from my archives.
I’ve had the good fortune to live in various locations near/next to a major river, parkland, nature reserve or the Royal Botanic Gardens for most of the time since I returned from a 2 year working holiday in the U.K & Europe in 1978/79. I’ve moved several times due to job changes or my rental property being sold and me having to move. In one case I shared a house with a work colleague and we had to move out due to demolition of the whole residential area to construct a new south-bound freeway.
For those interested, the map below gives you some idea of the many public parks and gardens in and around Melbourne’s inner suburbs, The grid of streets and lanes in the centre of this map shows where the Central Business District (CBD) and main shopping area in Melbourne. The Yarra River exiting the bay and running from the lower left of the frame, winds its way across the centre of the map and then north-east for many miles.
The Maribyrnong River (which is 5 mins walk from my current apartment) enters/exits the Yarra River mid left of the map frame and heads north-west of Melbourne (city).
As you can see, we are lucky to have many public parks and gardens in Melbourne and its surrounding inner suburbs as shown by the green patches on the map – the 38 hectare Royal Botanic Gardens (shown below) is just one of many gardens for locals and tourists alike.
Note: all the images below are from my archives as I haven’t been to the Royal Botanic Gardens to do any photography since I moved from the area in April/May 2015.
A November public holiday brings out all the families near the Royal Botanic Garden’s Oak lawn.
WILD ROSE (Diplolaena grandiflora)
Cactus flower from “Guilfoyle’s Volcano” – a hillock with a water catchment pond on top and a superb array of Cacti & Succulents around its rim.
Steps leading up to Guilfoyle’s Volcano.
A summer’s day is always a good day in the RBG
The northern edge of the large Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens. (note: that large tree has now been cut down and removed – don’t know why, but probably diseased).
North-western side of the Royal Botanic Gardens (location next to the road beside the Yarra River).
Barrel Cactus flower from “Guildoyle’s Volcano” – a raised water catchment pond in the south-east of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
A family of Australian Wood Ducks in this same location.
Close to the north-eastern gate of the RBG (near the Yarra River)
The Royal Botanic Gardens punt shelter shed.
A more rustic view of the Ornamental Lake.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne in Winter
The Herb Garden
Grevillea ‘Little Drummer Boy’
Part of the Herb Garden where I’ve sat in the shade on many days of Melbourne’s hot humid summer.
Nankeen Night Heron shot from my favourite secret slippery lake bank when herons & ducks often sunbake.
The rustic path from which my secret Heron-watching spot is located.
ARUM LILY (Zantedeschia)
Coral tree (Erythrina crista-galli)
Rainbow Lorikeet on an Eythrina or Coral tree.
This is the first photo I ever took of The Perennial Border in the Royal Botanic Gardens. I’ve taken many more since with better lenses and skill, but I rather like the figure striding along the path in this shot.
The last rays of daylight touch the tips of the Rosemary plant on my apartment balcony.
Since I made this photo 3 days ago, several more branches of the plant are coming into flower.
So strange to see the flowers in mid-winter. But since my pink daisy and blue Bacopa are still covered with flowers, one can only assume there must be some heat generating from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in my apartment to create some sort of micro-climate? The Sage, Lemon Thyme and Oregano have all died back for the winter as normal, but my English & Italian Parsley, Mint and Rosemary are still growing as though it is Spring. I was reading an article the other day which suggested that Australia actually has 6 seasons and we’d be better off planning our gardens that way. Personally, I think Melbourne has 365 seasons and the weather bureau forecast still can’t get their daily/weekly forecast right 🙂
Have been off the blogosphere and blog reading for several days this past week as I’m feeling all ‘blogged-out’ and except for half a dozen photos made of the sun going down, my camera is starting to gather dust again!
Still, I did read a whole book in that time which is most unusual for me as I find the eyestrain tiring and reading difficult these days.
I think I mentioned to a commenter/new follower recently that I had deleted most of the 4000 images I made when living in Abbotsford on the north-east side of Melbourne (including all the corresponding WordPress posts to make room on this blog and reduce my massive Photo Library on my Mac Pro laptop). I did keep all the sunrise/sunset images and about 30 other images of the walking trail to Dights Falls and the Collingwood Children’s farm (located next to the Yarra River).
BUT (silly me with the intermittent Brain Fog all us Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers have to live with), forgot that there are about 3300 images still in my WordPress Media Library.
So for the benefit of a new follower, Angus, who is now living in Abbotsford, here’s a few images from along the river and from my south-facing 3rd floor apartment balcony from May 2015 – October 2016.
I used to wash my floor-to-ceiling windows every week, ever in winter, so I could photograph the sky colours as they changed from dusk to sunset (and sometimes even dawn if I woke up early enough). Every night I could sit at my desk (placed to face the windows) and watch the sky change colour and then disappear into night.
The Yarra River Trail looking towards the apartment blocks (mine’s not visible – its at the back)
The Yarra River trail is at its best in the summer.
Purple tube flowers (forgotten their name) trail over the high side of the walking/cycling path.
Looking towards Dights Falls.
2 Rock Doves sit beside the lookout deck near Dights Falls
Canoeists train on the rapids just below Dights Falls.
Further around the walking/cycling track near the Johnston St Bridge
then under the Johnston Street Bridge (which is the main thoroughfare leading out of Melbourne to The Eastern and North-eastern suburbs).
Bougainvillea trail over the fence line near the Collingwood Children’s Farm
Along the path next to the Children’s farm cafe there is an enormous Passionfruit vine trailing along the fence. If the number of flowers are anything to go by, this vine will have a ‘bumper’ crop of passionfruit.
Then I walk….past the little possum next to the fence……
….into The Abbotsford Convent Bakery Cafe – that’s Artisan bread made with Beetroot, not red bread on the background shelf)…
The Abbotsford Bakery Cafe has very Yummy food! Very tart and lemony, the ‘mousse in a jar’ was a favourite treat.
Dusk rolling into Sunset as seen from my 3rd floor balcony looking south over the rooftops
A lone Rock Dove (or Pigeon) sits on the restored warehouse roof across the laneway.
The Spotted Turtle-doves were regular visitors to my water and seed bowls and one became so tame I could fill the seed bowl 6″ away from where it stood.
Sunrise from my balcony
Early mornings produced some good shots of the hot-air balloons high above my apartment complex.
Another glorious sunset
As the sun went down, the last rays of golden light catch the circling doves before they settled down to roost on The Convent roof for the night.
Walking past the Collingwood Children’s Farm, you enter a short bushland trail.
The Long Walk 14th March 2016, when I walked past the Children’s Farm, across the walking bridge, and back towards home via the high clifftop path/road.
I was surprised to hear shrill laughter and chatter from the other side of the river. Amazing. The acoustics of the river in the deep valley were so surprising and I could see the brown cow wide awake and interacting with the crowd.
Sunrise was clearly visible when I leaned over my balcony fence and looked left towards the Yarra River
My balcony garden. No direct sun, but wonderful light and I even grew a tomato plant.
The first crop of summer herbs and salad greens I collected every night for my dinner through the Spring/Summer and early Autumn.
For a while, I even had some plants growing indoors next to the floor-to-ceiling windows in my lounge room.
The Spotted Turtle-doves thought it was a wonderful garden too!
Workers cottages from the early settlement when Abbotsford was a hub for the factory and flour mills in the area.
Street art on a house side near my laneway.
And now, I still have a folder of some hundreds of sunrises, sunsets and cloud formations seen from my 3rd floor south-facing balcony
……and while my current 1st floor apartment is located on the western side of a building half-way down a steep hill next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve in the western suburb of Maribyrnong, I can still see the occasional sunset high up on the hilltop.
It’s been raining overnight and I’ve woken up to a rather chilly day.
While the first month of winter – June – is nearly over, we’ve had surprisingly little rain so far in Melbourne. It’s been mainly light showers in the western suburbs (where I live) for this last week, but enough to stall my efforts to get outdoors for some walking and fresh air (and/or nature photography).
More frequent showers are forecast for the next few days though. I have to be honest and say that at least 2 days this week, I’ve spent most of the day watching my favourite Italian detective DVD series with the sound turned off, reading the subtitles only and a hot pack on the back of my neck. Seems to be the only thing that truly reduces this long-running severe headache. Earlier this week, I received a referral to a Neurologist who specialises in migraines, but when I got a quote for his initial consultation, I silently said “Ouch” and put the heat pack back on my neck. Gee, some of these specialists cost more than my food budget for 2 months. Maybe I’ll try some acupuncture, as at least that’s partly covered by my private health insurance. I’ve only just realised (in my foggy brain pain state) that the wonderful Chinese Doctor and Acupuncturist who I used to go to (in early 2010) is only a tram ride away. Now why didn’t I think of her 5 months ago, I ask myself. All I can say is that I’m forgetting lots of things these days.
My west-facing potted garden on my balcony is still thriving, despite the intermittent nature of Mother Nature’s rain drops. I gave all my herbs and flowers another massive haircut a week or so ago and the flowers have spread their colourful petals even more. Will this blue Bacopa and pink Argyranthemum ever stop flowering, I’m wondering? Herbs love a good prune regularly and although its winter, only the Sage, Oregano and Lemon Thyme have really died back for the season. My Rosemary, Mint, English and Italian flat-leaf parsley are surging ahead with the speed of a ‘Road-runner’.
For the first time, I’m growing Sorrel and Tuscan Kale. Both are looking rather lively, although the Tuscan Kale seems to be rather slow to start (for my dinner table). Apparently, Sorrel tastes a bit like Spinach, so I’m keen to give it a trial run in my limited balcony space.
NOTE: all the images in this post were made yesterday.
I’ve had 3 meals from my perpetual spinach and this morning, I added a few chopped leaves to my scrambled eggs with a generous amount of English Parsley.
My Bok Choy is almost ready to start harvesting outer leaves. By using only the outer leaves from the 4 plants, it should last for about 4 months.
….and Tuscan Kale, well, I’ll wait a bit longer before starting to harvest the outer leaves.
My Sorrel is coming along nicely and should be ready to start harvesting in 2-3 weeks. I prefer small leaves, hence harvesting while its still young and tender.
Even my Rosemary has got new blue flowers on one spike.
Yesterday afternoon was just as glorious as the previous day (and mentioned in the previous post) and a fine promise of the lovely Autumn weather to come (over the next few weeks).
Autumn and Spring are my kind of weather with warm sunny days, cool breezes, intermittent rainy days to refresh the earth/air AND………… in my mind, excellent walking weather.
(we won’t count today which is overcast, cool and intermittent spots of rain on my balcony floor so far, hence me being indoors writing and uploading this post).
Since the lower mosaic show a smiling image of the sun, I might suggest the missing upper circular mosaic might have been one of the moon?
I decided to go back to Pipermakers Park to take some photos of the wonderful mosaics to share with you. Yesterday I walked along the western perimeter of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and straight through the landscaped area up-river to the Park. For a change, I walked the shortest possible route without stopping to do any photography on the way. It took exactly 10 minutes from my back door to the Park’s Colonial garden ruins.
I decided to make this another long post and include some of Pipermakers Park’s history, as I find the whole idea of manufacturing companies making a herb and vegetable garden and building bluestone cottages for their workers in the mid 1800s, absolutely fascinating.
The mosaic below is enormous (about 15 feet across?) and filled with interesting colours and details.
Sadly, the 12 bluestones worker’s cottages from the mid 1800s are no longer visible (well, not that I saw in my walks around the area), only a couple of bluestone factory buildings and garden ruins. I notice the garden paths have been raked and some of the dead grass in the herb garden replaced with bark mulch on Wednesday’s visit. This is only a tiny segment of the work and money required to restore such a vast site to its former glory.
The Herb Garden looked rather stark with its empty beds, but at least you can see some of the mosaics a little more easily. and some bluestone rock wall ruins (which may have been the worker’s cottages at one end of the garden???). The information office seems to be open on a Tuesday, so I’ll drop in sometime soon to see what else I can discover. My knowledge of the history of the area is certainly very sketchy at best.
These herb garden mosaics were in particularly good condition as i saw when I swept the dirt and twigs away.
This is a very large piece of mosaic on the floor of a rotunda and hard to photograph in the bright sunlight.
This mosaic under an old luncheon table and bench looked almost as though it had been laid last week, not 150+ years ago.
I took a hand brush over to the park yesterday to clean twigs and small stones from some of the mosaics and it was interesting to see how well some of the colours and patterns have withstood the test of some 150+ years.
At the risk of making this post far too long, I’ve summarised the early history from a couple of Mr Google’s websites.
Pipemakers Park is an eight hectare reserve located on Van Ness Avenue on the Maribyrnong River in Maribyrnong. It is located in the Maribyrnong River Valley and includes flood plain and a steep escarpment along the Van Ness Avenue boundary.
Prior to European settlement, the Marin Balluk were the people of the area occupying land extending to Kororoit Creen to the west and Sunbury to the north.
They were part of the Wurundjeri Tribe and members of the Kulin Nation. Archaeological evidence further upstream has proved the presence of Aboriginal people in the Maribyrnong River Valley for more than 40,000 years, however no archeological evidence has been found of Aboriginal activity in the reserve itself.
The river was a valuable food source, and the escarpment offered good viewing points of the valley, however the area was probably not a major camping site due to the tidal nature of the river, it lacked a fresh water supply.
The area was explored and settled early in Victoria’s European history, with survey and land licences occurring in the 1840s. Pastoral activity quickly gave way to industrial uses with Raleigh’s boiling-down works established in 1848.
The Melbourne Meat Preserving Company occupied the site in 1867 followed by Australian Frozen Meat Export Company in 1880.
The Hume Pipe Factory occupied the site in 1912 and production halted in 1974,
In 1978 the area was purchased by the Melbourne Board of Works. A Bicentennial grant of $2 million in 1987 supported development of the site and in 1988 Pipemakers Park was opened.
The Melbourne Meat Preserving Co. pioneered meat preserving by the vacuum process, as the Australian Frozen Meat Export Co. pioneered bulk freezing and is credited with the first successful frozen meat export in the world.
Since my bookshelf has a couple of books (and the TV series) of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s (1874 – 1922) early exploration of the Antarctic and mentions the tinned meat he carried on the ship ‘Discovery’, I wondered if those cans had originated from The Melbourne Meat Preserving Company? Who knows? Perhaps it’s not a stretch of the imagination to think that many early Antarctic voyages included tinned meat from this site?
And this is enough typing for this Easter weekend break.
(alright, I didn’t type it all……. I did cut and paste much of it from Mr Google)