BORAGE (Borago officinalis) – The Herb Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

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).

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COMFREY (Symphytum official) – The Herb Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

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.

MARIGOLD ‘Simba’ (Tagetes patula) – MY BALCONY GARDEN

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

Camille Pissarro

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.

A BALCONY POTTED GARDEN UPDATE…..

IMAGE FROM LAST SUMMER. YOU CAN SEE IN THE IMAGE BELOW HOW MUCH THE ENGLISH AND ITALIAN FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY HAS TAKEN OVER THE POT (DESPITE CUTTING LOTS EACH NIGHT FOR DINNER).

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).

THIS IS ABOUT ONE THIRD OF MY POTTED BALCONY GARDEN – photographed 2 days ago on the 25th May.

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.

This image was shot in late 2016 and with a butterfly on the flower looked more appealing than my more recent shot.

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.

THIS IMAGE WAS MADE ON FEBRUARY 12th WHEN THE DAISY HAD GROWN A COUPLE OF INCHES FROM IT’S HALF INCH STUBBLE

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.

AN EARLY IMAGE OF THAT LOVELY PINK DAISY.
IMAGE MADE 2 DAYS AGO

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.

IMAGE MADE 2 DAYS AGO

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).

PETER THE POSSUM WHO VISITED MY SIDE FENCE WHEN I LIVED NEXT TO THE BOTANIC GARDENS 3 YEARS AGO.

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 🙂 ).

IMAGE MADE ON MARCH 13TH, 2018
IMAGE MADE FEBRUARY 12TH, 2018

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).

LADY’S MANTLE SEEDLING FROM ABOUT 5-6 YEARS AGO WHEN I LIVED NEAR THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS IN MELBOURNE.  THE PURPLE FLOWER IS LOBELIA OF COURSE

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.

IMAGE SHOT ABOUT 5 YEARS AGO WHEN I LIVED NEAR THE BOTANIC GARDENS.

SWEET BASIL (Ocimum basilicum)

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.

SWEET BASIL (note: the white smears behind the flower are bird poop on the corrugated wall – I should have moved around a bit to avoid capturing the white smear behind the white flower)

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).

This was just one morning’s 20 minute search.

CAPSICUM (CAPSICUM ANNUUM HYBRID)

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.

Asian greens which lasted months on my previous apartment balcony as I only picked the outer leaves for dinner each night.

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 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 🙂

Tomorrow it’s going to rain and cool temps also.

Was it only 3-4 days ago it was 29C (about 85F) 😕

THERE’S A CATERPILLAR IN MY GARDEN……….

Post started a couple of weeks ago……

There’s a caterpillar in my garden

and I don’t know what to do.

Should I find a toxic pesticide

or hit it with my shoe?

*

When I saw it on the baby leaf,

I tried hard to grab & ‘quash it.

But the pesky little bugger (note: I don’t normally swear online, only in my garden)

dropped down in to a narrow slit.

*

Now I can’t find any sign

but know it’s in there hiding.

Should I stick around, for a while,

or pretend I’m not really minding.

I know the Cabbage Moth Caterpillar

is on my Tuscan Kale

‘Cause there’s holes and nibbled leaves

and the stalk is deathly pale.

*

If I accidentally ate the slimy squashy thing,

I guess I’d really never know.

‘Cause I chew each mouthful many times

as my Mamma taught me so.

*

I stop and ponder a minute more

but realise nothing matters.

Except to get that pesky ‘pillar off

before it gets much fatter.

*

Maybe I’ll just leave it for a while

and photograph another pest that’s easier to see.

The Harlequin bug on my plastic pot

is running wild and free.

I’d use a Herbal pesticide (we pronounce the ‘H’ in Australia, so it’s ‘a’ not ‘an’)

but can’t remember how to make it.

Maybe it’s on my DVD or in my Gardening Book?

Detergent? Garlic? Chilli? Shake it?

*

There’s a caterpillar in my garden,

but maybe now its gone.

Should I go out and have another look,

or forget it ever was?

*

I really can’t bear the thought,

of my one and only plant

of Tuscan Kale (Brassica oleracea sp.)

dis..a..pearing off the planet.

Tuscan Kale (and friends) BC………….Before Caterpillar

The label says it’s SuperFood

which I need as much as he.

Assuming that the ‘pillar

is a boy (and not a she).

*

Decision made, I go back outdoors

into the hot and blazing sun.

Can’t find a thing on any leaf

so the ‘pillar’s  on the run.

*

I come back indoors and shut the roller blind,

pretending I really don’t give a damn.

Fresh herbs for lunch, but definitely not the Kale,

Lunch is only Tomato…..Parsley….. Eggs & Ham.

PS.  Ok, so there was no ham in my omelette, but nothing else rhymed 🙂 🙂 🙂

***************************

It’s now 2 weeks later

and I really needs some hints.

The ‘pillar holes are everywhere

especially Basil, Sage and Mint.

*

The Bok Choi has a different bug

that leaves creepy crawly lines.

I’ve forgotten what that pest is called

just know that pest is mine.

*

Today’s luncheon omelette was made with

eggs, onion, herbs and Kale.

But be assured the Kale was bought

at last week’s Queen Vic. Market sale.

*

My easy grow Snow Pea seedlings

are finally climbing up.

With fine green threads around the frames

that I’ve made from Bamboo ‘stucks’.

(I never said I could spell).

*

My Italian and English Parsley

are among the very hardy Herbs,

that are free from creepy crawly critters

and don’t require rhyming words.

*

I better upload this WordPress post

before it gets too long

And followers go to sleep,

or break out in raucous song.

*

Perhaps I’ll ask Mr Google

what to use on all those pests.

And finally stop this tedious post

and put the matter to rest.

*

PS I almost forget to mention

my second crop of fruit.

Green Capsicum babes are growing

from the end of green-leafed shoots.

PPS  The Broccoli Patio Baby Bunching

is growing soft leafy greens.

It produces small sweet tasting delicate heads,

of veg. I’ve actually never seen.

PPPS.  I forgot to mention the flowering

of the Rosemarinus officinalis plant.

At least that is free from pests –

‘Pillars, bugs, slugs, worms and ants.

THE END (phew!)

 

 

Hope that keeps you amused until the next WordPress Post.

 

TASK #1 – Balcony Garden

Spring never ceases to amaze me.

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).

A quick drink and then he turned around to see what he could see.
Mr House Sparrow agreed that the sore lower back I earned from my Spring gardening work on my apartment balcony was well worth the effort.  He surveyed my finished and re-configured garden late this afternoon.

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.

 

MELBOURNE…..

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.

Most of the river cruises leave from this dock (where the ferry in the lower right of the frame is situated). I’ve been meaning to catch one of the tourist cruise boats for years, but never got around to it. Some 35 years ago when I worked in the centre of Melbourne, we did have our annual office Christmas party on one of these pleasure boats in the middle of the Yarra River though.
On the south side of the Yarra River, all the Rowing clubs have their boat storage sheds and club rooms. Some are very old from the mid to late 1800s and other club houses are much more recently built in the 20th century. Going by the dark-looking storm clouds in the sky, there must have been heavy rain in the outer eastern suburbs.
On both sides of the river, there is a walking/running/cycling track shaded by large trees and you can actually follow the river trail for many miles to the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

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.

LAST LIGHT

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.

 

ABBOTSFORD

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.

……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.

 

BALCONY GARDEN UPDATE……

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.

Even my Rosemary has got new blue flowers on one spike.

 

A ‘second’ PERFECT AUTUMN DAY

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).

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.

 

The colours of the map of Australia (with the tiny island state of Tasmania on the lower right side) are the 3 colours of the Aboriginal Flag………… Black – represents the Aboriginal people of Australia…….. Yellow circle – represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector……. Red – represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land.  The colourful array of flags around the map I presume are all the nations in the early settlement?

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.

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)

Phew! 😉  🙂  🙂