BLUEBERRY ‘NELLIE KELLY’ (Vaccinium x corymbusm x ashei x darrowi)

 

rain falling softly

droplets on leaves

thirst quenched

 

I woke up to the steady patter of rain yesterday morning.  We need rain badly, especially as September was the driest start to Spring on record.  But the soft rain dwindled out mid-to-late morning.

IMAGE MADE THROUGH MY DUSTY WINDOWS AND YOU CAN FAINTLY SEE THE WHITE RAIN STREAKS IN THE BACKGROUND DUE TO THE SHUTTER SPEED I USED AT THAT TIME.

I’ve had an eagle eye on my Blueberry bush on my balcony.

…..waiting for the formation of fruit, so I can put the newly purchased cotton netting over it to deter birds snacking.

It’s about 15″ high and the same amount wide, although a little lop-sided as I probably forgot to keep turning it every 2nd day so it grew evenly (towards the west-facing light).

(I vaguely remember pruning a few wayward branches off too, which probably didn’t help).

“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”.

…and flowers I’ve had in the hundreds this year.

PHOTO MADE A FEW DAYS AGO TO SHOW AT WHAT STAGE I THINK THE FRUITING IS AT.  I presume those 2 bell-shaped things are the start to fruit?

But, does this mean I’ll get hundred of luscious blueberries?  Who knows.  I don’t have enough gardening experience to be certain.

My (experienced) gardener brother said my dozen or so miserable berry crop last year were probably due to the birds raiding the newly formed fruit (before I was out of bed? 🙂 ).

Some websites I read last year said Blueberries don’t fruit until the 2nd year, but I guess that depends on the variety.  When I first bought this small plant, I got about 20 berries before it had even started to grow.

I remember being quite excited at the time as I’d never grown a Blueberry bush before.

“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”

This sounds promising 🙂

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ITS TIME……….

Time for a late lunch…..and…..harvesting my lettuces.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, they looked too good to cut.


A quick wash and spin dry (so the French oil and lemon/vinegar dressing sticks to the leaves)……

Green lettuce, purple lettuce, Sorrel and Parsley from my Garden…….and voila…….lunch.

Enjoy……………..(I did).

A TYPICAL VISIT FROM THE FAIRY-WRENS

I made a point of getting out of bed early this morning with the intention of going out for some nature photography, but the sky appeared heavily overcast.

The light is low, so unless it fine’s up a little later in the morning, looks like the outing may not be worth while the taxi fare to get to one of my old photography haunts.  I’m not normally a morning person as I try to stay in bed asleep for however long my body tells me it needs rest (to recover from a disturbed night’s sleep which happens 365 days of the year).

To be honest,’overcast is good for bird photography.  It stops Australia’s brilliant sun glare bouncing off the bird’s wings and/or flares from the sun creeping through gaps in the tree foliage.

THIS SHOT WAS A LUCKY ONE IN THAT NORMALLY THE BRILLIANT SUN GLARE WOULD HAVE TOTALLY ‘WIPED OUT’ THE OUTLINE OF THE WREN, (not just those feathers on the right), BUT YOU CAN TELL IT WAS QUITE WINDY BY THE RUFFLED FEATHERS.

Bird photography using the DLSR and heavy long 150-500mm lens hand-held is not easy for me, but the long months of being pretty much housebound have given me ample opportunity to photograph the birds on my balcony with my left elbow anchored like a tripod on the armrests of my desk chair (or even have my elbows resting on my desk).

I’m gradually learning that the continuous shooting setting does not score me any more shots in focus (than the single shot setting) when it comes to photographing the fast- moving little Superb Fairy-wrens. Other slower-moving birds, or birds that stand still, are much easier for me to capture in focus.  Even the smaller juvenile House Sparrows are easier than the Fairy-wrens.

The only way to capture a bird in reasonable focus it to aim where I think they’re going pop up their little heads after each mouthful of food and then…….snap…..press the shutter button at the exact moment they’re upright (before they lower their head down to the food crop again).

I have about a 1/10th of a second in most cases.

I don’t have time to change the camera settings once the birds have flown on to the balcony and/or potted plants.  Setting the ISO on Auto to allow for both sunny perches and deep shade doesn’t work either.  It takes too long for the camera to assess the light conditions and set the ISO automatically.

The best chance of capturing a shot is to put the ISO on 800, (which is about the highest my cameras will go without getting too much noise in the image), and the shutter speed between 250-320 (for you amateur, or new bird photographers out there).  I haven’t tried setting the DSLR on full auto for bird photography.

I’ve just shared what camera settings seem to work best for the tiny fast-moving wrens in my particular light conditions.  They may not work for you.  Or, you may be a better bird photographer than me.  I also seem to get better shots in the mornings before the sun moves over my apartment building.  The sun, if its going to be a sunny day, doesn’t hit the balcony until about 2.30pm.

I’ve notice that the English curly parsley is about 3″ lower than the Flatleaf Italian Parsley, so for some reason, that seems to be the Wren’s favoured ‘salad’ meal and there’s one particular juvenile male that’s become a regular grazer.  You can see him in the parsley’s green feathery fronds below.

Both Parsley varieties used to be the same height, although I did catch a Harlequin bug crawling up and over the parsley yesterday, so that got despatched by flicking it off onto the ground below my balcony.  I can’t quite bring myself to kill pests, but can flick them quite some distance away quite happily.  I wondered if it was eating the English Parsley also.

So I took 17 shots at around 9.30am this morning and this is 16 of them (below) to show you how hard it is to get one focal point of the DSLR on to the bird’s-eye through the glass window or sliding door.  It’s a bit too chilly to open the door wide this morning, which I normally do first thing on a warm day.  I had quite a few emails to read this morning so was reading, eating my breakfast and keeping one eye out for any tiny movement when the birds visited.

It’s surprising how quickly your eyes become attuned to the slightest movement, even on a relatively windy day when the plants, bushes and trees are waving their foliage around quite wildly and you’d think I’d miss the ‘action’.

So it’s a matter of keeping one eye on the parsley, the other eye on the Nemesia flowers and your ‘third’ eye, or intuition, focused on the viewfinder of the camera.  🙂

Anyway, breakfast’s finished and I sense a slight change in the overcast sky, but the speed with which the clouds are moving across the horizon might indicate its a little windier than forecast.

NOTE: Last night I was cleaning my camera lens and filters (ready for today’s intended outing) when I sensed a rattling as I ran the cleaning cloth around the rim.  I couldn’t understand where the noise came from.  I put the UV filter back on the lens (which I always keep on to protect my expensive long lens) and got my little rubber dust blower out to finish off the task.  I’d missed a tiny bit of fluff on the actual lens so took the filter off again and low & behold, a slim shallow ‘ring’ fell off the camera.  Not sure, but I suspect its part of the $1000+ lens.  Its broken.  But the filter seemed to screw back on OK and the lens cap fitted securely.

So I am left with a slim (now obsolete) ring of some kind.

At the moment, I can’t afford to take it in the Repair Department for assessment, buy a new expensive long telephoto lens or a new 86mm Promaster UV filter, so keep your fingers crossed I can ‘limp’ along without the broken ring.

PERFECTION

What is really hard, and really amazing,
is giving up on being perfect
and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

~ Anna Quindlen 

We live in an imperfect world.

That is a universal truth, but I have to say my single green Lettuce Multileaf (Lactic sativa) is the closest thing to perfection I have ever seen.

It feels like fine velvet as I let its leaves slide through my fingers.  I keep checking all its leaves – there has to be about 30 – expecting the Cabbage Moth Caterpillars or the Harlequin Bugs to appear, but my little blue plastic butterfly ‘scarecrow’ is working its magic once again (up the end near the purple lettuce). I’ve seen 2-3 white-winged butterflies across the road, but none near my garden……so far.

I don’t think I’ve grown this particular lettuce before, preferring the continual cropping of other varieties which I can cut off the outer leaves as I need them.

There is not one single flaw in this perfect green gem and I can’t bear to harvest it.

I just want to look at it every morning. (alright, I am going ‘crackers’ in old age).  For those of you with large vegetable gardens and multiple crops, this might well be your morning and evening practice anyway – walking around, watching and waiting, inspecting and expecting!

It’s purple cousin on the other side of my Perennial Basil Mint (mentha x roundifolia) is a very close second in perfection, although it does not have as many leaves.

I’ve been snipping off the tips of my Perennial Basil to use in cooking so the poor wee plant doesn’t have much chance to grow very high, but certainly replaces my cuttings with 3-4 leaves if I leave it for a few days.

I’ll have to buy another Perennial Basil that’s for sure.

Even the Mizuma ‘Red’ (Brassica rapa var nipponsinica) – bottom right in image above – is finally starting to take off despite the Superb Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows nibbling its tiny shoots.

I’ve never grown this spicy little plant before either.

The Birds are taking it in turns to feast on the 2 Parsley plants in the trough hanging from my balcony fence and the plants are starting to go to seed, so some new Parsley plants are on the Shopping List.

Actually, I need quite a few more seedlings if I’m going to grow enough for a whole bowl of salad every evening this coming Summer, (as I did in the image below made from my previous apartment’s balcony garden).  That garden was facing south and got no direct sun, but a massive about of light.

MY WEST-FACING BALCONY IS TOO HOT TO SUPPLY MANY OF THESE HERBS AND LEAVES, BUT AS LONG AS I HAVE PARSLEY, MINT, SORREL, KALE AND A FEW LETTUCE LEAVES I’M USUALLY HAPPY.

My current balcony is west-facing and extremely hot in summer.

I use so much Parsley throughout the year, that I need a plentiful supply for my dinner plate (let alone my summer salads), but I’ll leave the dwindling Parsley leaves for the Birds to enjoy.  The image above shows the English Curley Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) half of the trough, next to a new Superb Fairy-wren visitor.

Looks pretty good from this angle last week, but I can assure you, it’s really going to seed in recent days.

The Italian Parsley (Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum)in the left half of the trough (not in image) is also going to seed.

The Oregano Hot & Spicey (Origanum sp.) seems to have larger leaves than ordinary Oregano, but that might just be a Spring surprise as I’ve never grown that variety of Oregano before either.

The Japanese Maple in front of my apartment balcony is now fully clothed in Spring foliage and the birds are starting to snack on the tiny shoots at the end of each branch, but with my garden supplying much of their needs, the Maple has been keeping a lot more young foliage this year.

SORRY ITS SUCH A LOUSY SHOT, BUT WHAT CAN ONE DO THROUGH TWO THICK PANES OF DIRTY GLASS

I’d share more of the birds on the tree except that shooting through 2 thick panes of dirty glass does ‘not a photograph make.’

I have washed the windows twice recently, but I notice overnight rain last night has returned my lounge windows to their usual smeary self and it’s too cold this morning to open the sliding door its full width.

I’m now starting to recognise the individual wrens – half are the adult males in full blue breeding plumage, then there’s the occasional adult female, as well as various juveniles with varying pale blue patches, or spots, on their backs.

I’ve never been able to recognise any House Sparrows (apart from male and female of course).

Being off the computer and not at my desk through most of the last week or so, means I have got more done of my ‘to do’ list in one week, (than in the last year)!

Seriously.

My headaches have improved a bit too.  When I say off the computer, I am still turning on the computer to check emails etc each morning, but then turn it off soon after and self-discipline is growing in leaps and bounds.

I never realised how much time I wasted sitting at my desk watching the birds – well, I did, but the last week has proven exactly how much LOL 😀

You’re probably getting a bit sick of the same bird photos but when you have 6-7 Fairy-wrens visiting at the one time –  morning (9.30am and roughly 10.30am) and afternoon (about 3.30-4.30pm or a bit later), I’m sure you’ll agree they are worth the time.  What I find interesting is how they visit in groups and then, the House Sparrows join the party.

It’s extraordinary how one minute the balcony garden is devoid of avian life and next minute I can have as many as 10 birds dropping by now that Spring is here.  Some of my images are terrible and completely blurred.   Others which are pretty good and I have shared.

This mosaic below gives you an inkling of how much fun it is to follow the wrens as they visit each and every plant on my balcony – half the time, I have not the slightest idea what they’re eating, but presume it is the youngest shoots.  Even the multi-coloured flowering Nemesia (Nemesia fruticans) gets a visit.  The birds seem to remember all the pots I put seed in a couple of weeks ago and still visit in hope of a second feed (?), but they also walk around the balcony tiles and the back of the potted plants hoping for some spilt seed.

The images below were made in about 15-20 minutes.   The one on the bird bath is obviously a juvenile.

When I’ve finished today’s paperwork and filing, I will finally be caught up with the ‘to do’ list.  Not that I’m a procrastinator per se, merely that I take my life in enforced retirement one day at a time.  Living Mindfully amidst a bountiful tiny garden in a Room With a View has to be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable pastimes if you have Chronic Illness and Pain.

Being housebound more and more as the months go by is not to say I don’t get frustrated and feeling a little down or depressed at times (when I’d rather be out on a nature walk taking photos), but all in all, being able to appreciate the small things in life is a blessing that I’ve gradually acquired.

I will eventually get back to sharing more images from my archives, but in the meantime, time to turn off the computer 😀

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” 

Lao Tzu 

ODDS & SODS…….

I’ve been trying to stay off the computer in the interests of Health & Happiness.  I discovered how much better my chronic 20 month-old headache is for starters.

Sorry folks, but even blog reading and commenting is severely rationed.

I’ve also been trying to do some Odds & Sods e.g. sorting out old linen and kitchen wares for the charity shop.  Culling a few more books.

The remaining task of downsizing my heavy potted plants and pot-bound ones between bright sunny afternoons and rainy cold afternoons is still in progress.

Due to lack of growth, I pulled all the Spinach plants out of the big heavy veggie trough and ate them (below in the white plastic bowl).

Still can’t work out why it didn’t grow.  I think I’ll go back to Perpetual ‘cut & pick’ and Baby Leaf varieties.  They were brilliant (image on the right).

But since the Baby Leaf was in a heavy tall pot, (and don’t ask me why I didn’t put it in a small pot), I’ve eaten all that, instead of just cutting off outer leaves.  So I’ve only got Kale, mint and parsley to eat at the moment.  Even the Parsley is going to seed and might have to be replaced.

I still haven’t got back to the row of Cherry Blossoms in the nearby small park to photograph, so you get the best shot out of a couple of weeks ago.  The image below was actually from a small row of trees in front of a new apartment block.

The Gum nuts off the Red-flowering Eucalyptus near the top of my steep little road are in abundance and I can’t wait for the flowers to appear in a 3-4 months.

There are certainly lots of new shoots on the other side of the bush, but the holes and dilapidated state of their leaves continue to indicate some sort of pest or disease.

…….and for once, I wish the Developers and Construction workers would come back to the site on the other side of my road, because I’m fed up with the blown-down fences and eyesore of the half-finished excavation.  I think 26th June was the last sighting.

Well, that’s my lot for the week 🙂

Time to turn the computer off early…….. and get on with it.

PS After a week of lovely weather, its back to cold and rain with intermittent sun breaks  😀

PPS.

….and yes, I could look through my enormous photo library and find a nice selection of images to share and write about, but my photo libraries are a mess (still) and I’d end up on the computer for the afternoon and get nothing done away from my desk.

PPPS.

….and it’s probably a timely reminder, (again), for all Aussies to start wearing the highest SPF sun-block (mine is 50+), a good hat and long-sleeved shirt and try to avoid the central part of the day.

Winter or Overcast days do not protect you from the UV rays, neither does a suntan you big strong beefy men.

Two weeks ago I had one suspicious spot removed from my upper left arm which turned out to be a Basel cell carcinoma (the slow-growing skin cancer, but still the potential to spread externally and internally)  – stitches out tomorrow.   I’ve got another one to be removed from my right upper arm tomorrow.

Then a full body and scalp check at a Skin Cancer Clinic in about 4 weeks time.

Gee, they sure remove large pieces of flesh with these biopsies.  But what’s a few stitches and scars if it stops the spread.

Neither site has seen sun for about 30+ years, but my lower forearms DID get seriously sunburnt in the first 2-3 summers of my Photography hobby (despite sunblock) – 2011, 2012 & 2013.

Pleeeeeease heed my warnings.

 

THE ENEMY HAS LANDED…………

I was admiring the lovely streaks of rust-coloured bark in the Eucalypt(?) trees at the top of my road yesterday when I suddenly spied some movement.

I realised the enemy, HARLEQUIN BUGS (Dindymus versicolor), were in the start of mating season and if I wanted to have any semblance of a Spring Garden I’d really have to take more serious  action this year and stop admiring their colourful backs.

THE BUSH OUTSIDE MY FRONT ENTRANCE 3 DAYS AGO.

Not only did they eat just about every leaf in my balcony garden, they even ate every single Sage leaf – all 100 to 120 or more.  The pungent leaves of Sage are meant to deter pests, not attract them.  Sage was the only one of my herbs to not recover this past winter and I’ve thrown it out.  I’ve also thrown the enormous Rosemary bush out.  It was potbound and had been cut in half twice with the gusty winds, so I’ve decided to replace it with a more prostrate variety.  Rosemary flowers were also on the Harlequin Bugs dinner menu to my surprise.

These bugs must be very hardy indeed.

Kate at Achievable Gardens had some good advice.

I’ve already posted this shot of my Pink Argyranthemum last week, but it was more the interest in photographing a small insect with my 17-50mm lens, than acknowledgement of the savage pest onslaught to come in the near future.

Today and tomorrow are going to be superb Spring days so I’ll be taking the opportunity to plan something new.  A couple of weeks ago I found the heavier potted plants TOO heavy for my fragile back and hip pain, so a redesign is necessary (and if I’m honest, keeps me amused).

I’m just getting over another virus (the 2nd this year) at the moment, so I don’t feel up to going too far afield.  I don’t normally catch flu type viruses and this year has been highly unusual.  But then I rarely mix with the Homo Sapiens in the area, preferring Flora and Fauna for company, so it was probably last Tuesday’s lengthy foray in the nearby Shopping centre, with its 500+ stores, that caused me to come in contact with Human bugs.

 Or maybe I’m just getting old. 😯

I often wish I lived in the country with just four-legged friends for Company………. maybe in my next life 🙂

 

SHOT OF THE DAY

Yesterday was very windy (just as the other 360+ days of the year are around my outer western suburban apartment 🙂 ).

But my Shot of the Day shows there’s never time for a ‘make-up and hair session‘ before the day’s bird photography session.   So with feathers flying this way and that, here was the shot.  Can’t remember if it was through the glass window I’d washed the day before, OR simply, right angle, right time of day with no reflections or marks on the glass.

Probably the latter.

SUPERB FAIR-WREN (female)

I’d spent most of the afternoon in my balcony garden the day before and soon discovered all the larger pots are now too heavy for me to move around.  I suspected many were pot-bound and in one rather ground-breaking, (and somewhat sad), moment, made the decision to dismantle and ditch all large potted plants (including the 3 now-empty) pots  meant for this summer’s tomato crop.

Not sure that the next size pots I have are deep enough for a tomato plant (as shown in last summer’s tomato crop below).  You all know how excited I was in anticipation of another bumper tomato crop.

When I cut off all the tall Rosemary branches into small pieces and tipped out the plant/soil, I was shocked to discover just how pot-bound it was.

I couldn’t see any shred of soil left, only a basket weave of tightly woven roots in the shape of an elongated square.  I should have photographed it as, you gardeners out there would never have believed your eyes.

I didn’t.

I’ve never seen such a pot-bound plant……even on my favourite TV gardening show Gardening Australia where presenters have shown how to re-pot a plant that is pot bound.

If you’ve followed my balcony gardening efforts through recent years, you will appreciate what a hard decision this was.  But the recent heart scare and short stay in hospital re-inforced my thought process.  I have to be more sensible in lifting weight with (inherited) Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

Anyway, back to the garden…….

When that gorgeous Nemesia (above) is finished that large pot will be emptied.  Well, its supposed to be an annual, but with my micro-climate, it may bloom for some time yet.

I’ll keep the white Alyssum and Kale pots until the flowers/vegetable are finished and then empty those, although I hope to get some decent potting soil out of the lower half of those pots, being more recently planted and much more shallow-rooted.

I’ve already eaten all the baby leafed Spinach which I’d kept going for many many months, only plucking off the outer leaves each time I harvested a handful of leafy greens for lunch.

And, I’ve got a brilliant idea for those 6 large square pots.  They will be washed, dried and turned upside down to place the smaller pots on.  That will make 6 small pots easier to water and much easier to check for pests without having to bend over.

There’s always something good to come out of something less than desirable in my life.

There are always options.

You just have to be creative and imagine other possibilities when faced with less favourable decisions which have to be made.

Yesterday I had the thrill of the year when both a male Superb Fairy-wren in full breeding plumage and a female flew down to the garden at the same time.  I was so excited I couldn’t hold the heavy camera & 150-500mm lens still enough.  But apart from that bad camera shake, the clean windows didn’t offer any clear shot anyway.  But I’m still going to share the shots so you can get some idea of the adult blue feathered male and the plainer female together.

Since I’ve scattered birdseed in between many of the herb and spinach plants yesterday, hopefully I’ll get another photo opportunity when the sliding door is open on a warmer day.

Funnily enough, I’d been planning on going out and still had my jacket on.

I decided not to go out, but finish the article I was typing earlier and an hour and a half later, when the sun was lower in the sky, I got lucky and a tiny male Fairy-wren chick landed on the Sorrel pot which was further up the balcony space, closer to my desk.

If you look carefully in the second image below, or zoom in, you can see a faint pale blue tinge to the feathers.  This tiny wren was definitely a baby boy.

How strange that many of the birds visited this particular pot during the day, as I had no bird seed scattered around it and Sorrel (Rumex sanguineus) leaves, like the Mizuma ‘Red’ (Brassica rapa var nipposinica) up near the lettuces, are a bit peppery, or have a sharp tangy acidic flavour.

Anyway, I’ve put some bird seed around the Sorrel plant and moved it to a position where I hope there is no glass reflection this morning.  The House Sparrows have found it, now for the Fairy-wrens.

I’ve had several Superb Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows visiting already this morning, and at one stage, 5-6 birds at once.  For a change, I just sat at my desk watching all the birds visit every herb, flower and vegetable pot in turn and didn’t attempt any more photos.  Anyway, I think a trip to the archives is necessary as we’ve had enough balcony bird shots in recent weeks.

Today, the winds are even more gusty and storms forecast, but doesn’t it always rain when you’ve washed the outside of the windows 😀

Maybe that’s a tip I should share with other apartment dwellers trying to have a small Balcony Garden.

Wash your windows and balcony door – once a week at least.

PS I forgot to mention…….the Harlequin Bugs are back in town.

 

 

CAUGHT YOU…..

Well, not quite.

I’d been watching the House Sparrows wandering around my garden looking for birdseed or young green shoots to eat this morning.  Occasionally, I sprinkle some seed in the Spinach long trough or around some of the white Alyssum plants.

This morning I became aware they actually eat the parsley leaves on the balcony fence plant(s) too.  But a reflection on the (now-closed) sliding door prevents a clear image of that bird.

I caught one House Sparrow diving into the Blueberry bush, but by the time I picked up the camera it had moved and all I captured was a grey blur (shown in the centre bottom of the frame below).

THE GREY BLUE OF A HOUSE SPARROW CAN BE SEEN AT THE CENTRE BOTTOM OF THE FRAME IF YOU ZOOM IN A LITTLE. As you can see, the bush is loaded with flowers.

I’d raised the flower-covered Blueberry bush up higher on top an upturned empty pot to try and capture some more light.  This also enables me to see better at which stage I need to get the bird netting out to cover it.

Last night I was reading up on growing Blueberry bushes and it seems you’re supposed to pull off the flowers for the first 2-3 years to encourage thicker growth and deeper roots – neither of which I want, as it’s only in an 8″ pot and I don’t want any larger, heavier pots in my balcony garden after my recent heart scare and 4 days in hospital.

There were 3 Sparrows visiting me this morning and it seemed that they, like the Fairy Wrens, are quite partial to nibbling a bit of the young seedling leaves I’d planted about 3 weeks ago indoors.  The plants, while initially liking the warm room, eventually called out for some fresh air and I had to put them outside.

THIS IS ABOUT 95% OF MY CURRENT BALCONY PLANTS AND YOU CAN SEE A COUPLE OF TERRACOTTA-COLOURED PLASTIC POTS AGAINST THE CORRUGATED SURFACE OF THE FAR WALL READY FOR TOMATO PLANTS.

At this stage of the season, only about 65% of my balcony gets much sun in the afternoon.

Later, probably in about 6 weeks or so, most of my balcony receives the hot sun as it creeps across my apartment building and heads for the west.  No matter how hot the day in mid-to-late summer, even over 40 degrees C, my balcony lies in deep cool shade up until about 1.30-2.30pm and is blissfully cool.  When the sun hits my floor-to-ceiling windows, it is very hot outdoors and like a sauna indoors.

Down come the block-out blinds and on goes the air-conditioning.  Unfortunately this means while there’s cool air indoors, the blast from the air-conditioning outlet on the north-western end of the balcony, projects a strong blast of hot air all afternoon and I need to keep most of the plans to the south-western end and/or all other plants on the edges so the hot air goes down the centre of the 20 foot space and dissipates into the air.

Needless to say, I had a bumper tomato crop last summer from the 3 plants against the wall and I’m keen to repeat the process.

Not sure whether I can get the same Tomato variety from my nearby branch of Bunnings Hardware warehouse (hope the linked photos work ok, they weren’t the best, but at least they showed the size of the store and plant nursery outdoors) and Plant Nursery, but after my medical appointment today, I can catch a tram direct to the store and make some enquiries when I get another bag of potting soil and a couple of other things.

Thankfully, the larger bag of potting soil fits exactly into my shopping trolley.  Not sure I’m up for the walk home, so taxi it might be again, but I do want to get some tomatoes in before too long.

I’ve now rearranged some of the plant pots so that the Rosemary is next to the Louvre bedroom windows (on the off-chance what I’d read about Rosemary repelling mosquitoes and spiders is effective).  The bedroom window is to the left of the Rosemary outside the frame of this image below.  This window provides the light in my bedroom, but I only sleep there so who cares if its good light or bad light.

I’ve still got the scars from last summer’s mozzie and spider  bites and one bite, from goodness knows what species, has turned nasty, so after some antibiotic ointment which made it worse, I’ve reverted to my good old-fashioned Lavender, German Chamomile essential oils mixed with some Vitamin E cream and it seems to be slightly better.  If it doesn’t get better, some minor surgery at the local medical centre is on the cards as its been hanging around for too many months now and I don’t know what caused the bite – can’t be the little spiders and I fear it might have been the large black spider whose body I found next to my bed pillow one summer morning.

That was about 6 months ago.

Spiders are not to be trifled with in Australia as we have several deadly ones as well as a few flesh-eating species.  Neither of which I would expect to see in my bedroom, but I do sweep the dead leaves and all the cobwebs off the windows fairly regularly – just in case.

I’ve also moved the Mint, Lemon-Thyme and Nemesia to the same small 3 foot square corner off the main balcony to keep the Rosemary company.  I’d never used this 3 foot space before as the rain doesn’t reach it and I have to remember to water the pots regularly – even in winter.

THE NEMESIA, AFTER A DIFFICULT BEGINNING WHEN I THOUGHT THE STRONG WIND WOULD BREAK ITS FLIMSY BRANCHES, IS NOW STRONG AND FLOWERING EXTREMELY WELL, BUT THE COLOUR IS MERELY A STOPGAP UNTIL I GET A PERENNIAL OR ANOTHER VEGETABLE TO TRY OUT.

In recent days I also managed to catch a few images of one of the House Sparrows in the young Eucalyptus tree.  I’ve heard so many rustlings and cheeps and tweets, I was sure there were a few young birds in the tree.

The 3 images below are about the best out of 6 made, but do keep in mind that if they look a little faded, it’s merely the dirty window through which they were shot (from my desk chair.  I’ve deepened the contrast and reduced the dark shadows in post processing to enable you to see the bird a bit better.

It’s dark in the depths of that tree.

It’s grown about 3 feet since I moved here 2 years ago.  I can remember a time in the early months when I was waiting for its branches to reach the height of the balcony rails, and then, it started growing steadily and is now 3 foot higher than the balcony fence.

If this growth keeps up it will eventually block part of the new Apartment Construction Development starting across my tiny road.

For those who read my early post of the development, I haven’t seen any more machinery or work for about 5-6 weeks I think. Or maybe more.   Perhaps they’re waiting for the warmer weather and the soil on the cliff face to dry out OR, like many construction sites, Developers move various machinery and workmen around from site to site.

These 2 images were taken while sitting at my desk, so in the first shot you’ll be able to see that that young Eucalyptus sapling in the lower right of the frame will eventually hide half the development as it grows.

Just found some images – it was 26th June that the construction workers were last here.  You’ll notice in the 2nd shot, that there are some big rocks to crack and break before moving.

Now….THAT…..WILL BE A VERY NOISY WEEK WHEN THAT HAPPENS.   I don’t mind the sound of the excavator early in the morning, but the rock cracker attachment is deafening and I might be forced to temporarily take a folding chair and sit down near the back step leading to the path near the nature reserve for a couple of hours each day.

That is not as bad as it sounds, as the view is quite refreshing.

I’m enjoyed the peace in the mornings, which are now back to being filled with birdsong on the sunny afternoons.

Funny, what little changes you notice in such a small area when you’re often housebound.

Note: I’ve just come back from my kitchen and sat down to see a tiny Superb Fairy-wren visiting.  The Sony camera was the closest to my hand, but since the bird was initially right in front of my desk, it was hard to capture an image of it. (see centre of shot below).

Apologies for the lousy shot, but if I’d stood up from my chair, it would have seen me and flown away.

I did manage another image when it moving over to the new seedling trays, but these wrens move very fast and I’m a better bird photographer with the Canon DLSR using one central focal point (than the Sony ‘mirrorless which was still against my eye as I followed the tiny wren around).  I’d also closed the balcony sliding door as it was getting too cold, so you get reflections on the image.

Surprising how good a shot you can get sitting on the ottoman pulled up close to the window and with elbows resting on one’s knees.  I have a much steadier hand and no camera shake for a hand-held shot.

I’M QUITE MYSTIFIED AS TO WHY THE LITTLE SPINACH SEEDLING ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THIS IMAGE IS NOT GROWING. THE OTHER 7 ARE DOING PRETTY WELL SO FAR.
CATCHING THAT DROPLET OF RAIN WATER ON THE PAK CHOY WOULD BE HARD FOR ME WITHOUT THE STEADINESS OF RESTING MY ELBOWS ON MY KNEES. THERE’S NOT REALLY ENOUGH ROOM TO MOVE A TRIPOD AROUND MY TINY LOUNGE SPACE INDOORS.

THAT’S ALL FROM THE ROOM WITH A VIEW and MY BALCONY GARDEN for this week.