GREVILLEA ‘LITTLE DRUMMER BOY’ (Grevillea lanigera)

GREVILLEA ‘LITTLE DRUMMER BOY’ (Grevillea lanigera) – 28th August, 2010 – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

GREVILLEA ‘LITTLE DRUMMER BOY’ (Grevillea lanigera), or WOOLLY GREVILLEA, is one of my favourite early flower images made in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

…..and one of the most ‘stolen’ of my flower images.  I just found another 2 websites who have used this image without my permission.

Perhaps I should be flattered.

But why can’t people do me the curtesy of at least asking if they may use one of my images.

I’ve got about 7-8 images used by professional bodies (with my permission) or even a young street photographer who asked if  he could use one of my B & W images as the header on his website, (which surprised me as I’d have thought he would want to use one of his own, but he was just starting a website and has probably substituted one of his own by now).  I’m happy to share if people ask, but I do like to be asked first.

I do like people to at least credit me as the photographer too.

Anyway, this lovely woolly low-growing Grevillea is a great ground-cover endemic to the eastern coast of Australia.  It’s one of the ‘spider’ flowered Grevilleas.  It flowers in Winter and Spring and has really soft grey-green foliage.  It may be 8 1/2 years since I took this image with my first little Canon point & shoot – my first camera when I took up Photography as a hobby – but surprisingly, despite my novice status, I still think it’s one of the best flower photos I’ve made which shows great detail.

There are something like 350 Grevilleas which grow in every part of Australia, but I’ve only photographed about 5 different varieties.  The other 4 varieties I’ve got in my Grevillea folder are of the ‘toothbrush’ flowered Grevilleas.  The honeyeaters love their nectar.

They’re pretty drought-hardy and benefit from a light prune after flowering.

Advertisements

FLOWER PHOTOGRAPHY

While I love my current home location, I can’t deny that it’s not as ‘colourful‘ as when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (up to May 2015).

I was also a short bus ride away from some of Melbourne’s other main public gardens and The Conservatory (in the Fitzroy Gardens) at that time.

After walking the Royal Botanic Garden’s many paths for over 25 years, it really was fun to capture some of the beautiful flowers through the seasons when I bought a DSLR in late December 2010.

While I do have a relatively small Edwardian public park a bus ride away at the current time (images above), somehow it’s not the same as the diverse range of flowers, grasses and old trees of the RBG (Royal Botanic Gardens) which was first planted in 1846.   Quite a few of those old trees were uprooted or severely damaged in a storm in 2009, but other 150+ year old trees, sourced from many countries around the world, remain a backdrop to some of the RBG’s beautiful paths and avenues.

One of the main drawcards to the RBG is the wide variety of formal garden beds, informal planting of native plants as well as a rich variety of grasses and trees.  It’s variety is constantly being updated and replanted to maintain a lovely array of foliage as well as flowers.

Melbourne is known as the Garden capital city of Australia and its many public parks and gardens are a living testament to the wisdom of some of the early settlers in the area who made the effort to surround the first white settlement with gardens.

While recent years have seem much re-landscaping from English cottage garden plants to more drought-hardy natives, South African and South American plants, some of the 55,000 plants are bound to be in flower in any season.

The Treasury Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens on the eastern perimeter of Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District) together with many National Trust Properties make for a wealth of photo subjects to entertain and enchant the Garden Lovers among you.

So to cheer up those living in the northern hemisphere, which is still under storms and/or snow/wintery chill, here’s a colourful array of some of my early flower images – mostly made between 2010 and 2013 (combined with a few butterfly images from the Butterfly House at Melbourne’s main zoo in North Melbourne).

NOTE: As always, if you see a misspelt name, blame the Auto Spellcheck which keeps changing my typing OR if you see an incorrect name, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section.  There are 3-4 flowers which have several common names, but I’ve only listed one to save space.

 

WATER BUTTONS, BUTTONWEED (Cotula coronophifolia)

Water Buttons are a native of South Africa, but naturalised in all Australian states and New Zealand.

These hairless, low-growing, perennial herbs flower in Winter and Spring and grow on a range of soils from sandy loam to clay, but are restricted to wet soils that are periodically flooded according to Mr Google.

They generally exist in moderately saline, waterlogged soils and may form large mats over shallow water,  but the images in this post were made in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

Not sure that the patch of plants was in water-logged soil in the RBG, but they were flowering profusely all the same.

I could have chosen to photograph just one flower, but then you wouldn’t get a sense of how gorgeous they are en masse.  Their button-like flowers tend to turn throughout the day and follow the sunlight as you can see in my images.

I’ve seen them in the soggy field around the pond in the nearby Newells Paddock Conservation and Nature Reserve about 2 miles from my current home.

I tried to get down low to photograph them in Newells Paddock when I first visited this amazing restored area a couple of years ago, but I wobbled too much as I was trying not to get wet socks through a hole in my old walking shoes.  The ground was covered in low-lying water under the succulents and grass floor beneath my feet, so the images below just really give you a sense of the surroundings in that paddock (field).  Hope to get back there soon to photograph more of the bird life.  You can get a sense of the bird life here

Or, you can keep following my nature blog waiting for me to photograph them.  Not sure I can get around all the ponds and fields as the water is hidden underfoot for the most part, and I don’t have any gumboots (rubber boots).  I tend to stick to gravel or asphalt paths for walking these days as I’m a bit accident-prone (as you will know if you’ve followed my blog for a long time 😀 )

It’s been raining solidly for a couple of hours this morning and is blissfully cool, so I definitely won’t have to water my balcony garden this evening.

I glanced at the coming week’s weather forecast on the internet this morning, (as I do every morning), and it looks like cooler weather next week.

Dare I hope for a walk outdoors soon?

Is the stretch of heat waves Melbourne’s endured through January, finally finished?

Will there be enough rain to put the bushfires out?

COCKS COMB CORAL TREE (Erythrina crista-galli)

I decided to end my blogging and blog reading holiday a couple of days ago and get back into the swing of Blogging and sharing my nature photos again.

My brain was turning to ‘mush’ while on holiday from the computer.  Being mainly housebound for most of 2018 only added to my intermittent Brain Fog, Short-term memory problems and Cognitive Dysfunction.   I was putting a lot of it down to the Auto Spell-check in the latter part of 2018, but the truth is…… my fingers don’t always type what my brain tells them to. 

(if you read some weird sentence on one of my 3 blogs, don’t hesitate to point it out to me using the comments section.  Spell-check and proof-reading don’t always catch the errors).

This is not a sign of ageing, merely some of the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME)  that seems to send my normal brain function awry.  The fact that my Mindful living practice was put out of sync with some complicated family issues only added to the mix.  Hopefully these family issues have now been resolved.

I came across my Cocks Comb Coral Tree (Erythrina crust-galli) folder while meandering through my old iPhoto Library in the last couple of days.  While not an Australian native tree/flower, the tree is striking due to its unusual bark.  The difference between its Summer canopy of lush green leaves and many brightly coloured flowers and non-flowering bare tree trunk and branches, is really quite extraordinary.

There is one large very old tree near the Herbarium and one smaller tree near the William Tell Rest house.

These are located in the southern end of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

The colourful Australian Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) love it’s nectar, and in one particular small tree next to a walking path in the RBG, can be found close enough to observe and photograph.

Cockspur coral tree is just one of its many common names, and is a deciduous shrub or tree from South America. It has been commonly grown in Australia as an ornamental plant, and has become invasive along waterways in coastal NSW north of Sydney.

VERBENA or SHRUB VERBENA (Lantana)

I, finally, have to be honest.

The reason I haven’t shared many flower images from my archives recently is that I can’t decide which ones to post.

I have too many photos………still……..after deleting thousands a couple of years ago.

THIS IMAGE LOOKS A LITTLE SOFT IN FOCUS (TO ME).

I look in each of my old iPhoto flower folders, all named and identified with their common and botanical names at the top, and then, at the images and think……that’s not very good.  Or, that’s not in focus.  Or even, that’s too dark and needs the contrast or shadows reduced (or something).

The 2 images below had such a dark background, they almost looked black.  I lightened the backgrounds this morning.

I’m my own worst critic.

In recent times, on reviewing many of those early archival images, they ALL seem terribly dark.  Must have been something to do with the lounge room where I had my desk and computer, which, while lovely and cool in the summer, fell in to deep shade for all but 2-3 hours in the middle of the day.

I must have altered the exposure on the computer images to fit what seemed right in the dim night-light when I did the reviewing.

I lived 2 streets away from the Royal Botanic Gardens up to May 2015 and that dark living space must have influenced my photo editing to some degree.  I’ve mainly done a little cropping or ‘tweaking’ the exposure, contrast, sharpness and colour saturation (until I set up a Custom Picture Style in-camera).

In Winter, the room was even darker.

NOTE: I do even less editing these days.  I usually just press the AutoCorrect button in the El Capitan photo editing section of my Mac Pro – Exposure AutoCorrect, Sharpness AutoCorrect and the Autocorrect button for Definition.  Sometimes I reduce the colour saturation a wee bit as my Custom Picture Style on my 2 DSLRs can make colours too bright depending on the light of the day and season.

Melbourne (and the rest of Australia probably) has very bright harsh sunlight in the warmer months.  Something to do with the hole in the Ozone layer over the country I suspect.

I never get up early enough to catch the soft early morning light.

I’ve tried a few of the different Picture Styles on the Sony a6000 e.g. Autumn Leaves, but don’t like their over-saturated colours much.

I LEFT THE BACKGROUND DARK FOR THESE WHITE LANTANA FLOWERS.

On the other hand, maybe I discovered very early on in my flower photography that most flower blooms had better definition if a little under-exposed with a dark background.

Either way, I now live in a light, bright space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a relatively large, hot, sunny west-facing balcony.

I can now get a better sense of exposure on my large computer screen.

But, dare I say…….. I’m always hot these days  😀  (after living in what my friends used to call ‘freezing’ cold).

USING YOUR IMAGINATION…..

I’ve just spent the last hour watching 3 Superb Fairy-wrens hopping through the shady branches of the Japanese Maple growing in front of my apartment balcony.

I have so many birds coming to my little bird bath (hanging from my balcony fence) which I can’t share online as the birds move so quickly, take a sip or two, then fly off to ‘greener pastures’ OR, my camera is out of reach OR, the lens cap still on.  (I live in a windy, dusty area and I suspect the dust, continually appearing on my furniture each day, is from nearby building sites – hence the reason for leaving the camera lens cap on much of the time).

So……………. you’ll have to start using your imagination (for this post).

It was a fun and entertaining morning.

Here’s the scene……….(and this is a couple of female House Sparrows photographed last year of course).  Even though the photo was made through 3 panes of glass, I managed to fiddle the contrast and exposure enough so you can see what I see (now the Maple has its full cloak of Summer foliage).

After a heavy (dust-filled) rain, it’s almost impossible to see the birds in this tree from my desk chair  indoors.

……and here’s the male Superb Fairy-Wren below (so those new to my nature blog know what a tiny Fairy-wren looks like).

This image was made on the 2nd December.  I’ve cropped it down a fair bit as the blur of the black window frame was caught in the photo.

In recent days, I’ve seen lots of juvenile House Sparrows land on the balcony, take a drink from the bird bath and fly into the Eucalyptus on the right hand side of the balcony (visible over my the top of my computer screen).

This young sapling’s height was lower than the balcony fence when I moved here 2 years ago.  Today, it is about 3+ foot higher than the fence. If it grows at this rate, I’ll have a shady balcony garden, instead of a hot balcony garden in 2-3 years.   There are 8 trees planted in front of this side of the building in this 5-year-old housing estate and my tree is the only one that has grown wider (and not taller as the other 7 trees).

Does Mother Nature know I need a shady tree for my Avian Photography subjects?

THIS TREE FILLS MY VIEW AS I LOOK OVER MY COMPUTER SCREEN THROUGH THE FLOOR-TO-CEILING LOUNG WINDOWS. THE TREE ON THE RIGHT OF THE FRAME IS MUCH TALLER BUT HAS FAR LESS WIDTH AND FOLIAGE (COMPARED TO MINE).

All the bright green leaves in the image (above) are this year’s growth and the tree has filled out with heavy thick foliage making it a haven for birds on the hot summer days, but quite hard to photograph through.  Yesterday was 37C degrees in Melbourne (about 100F) and very hot and muggy right up til midnight, so when I got home from my appointment on the other side of the city, I could hear rustling of several birds in its depths.

Right now (11.20am Saturday), the air is filled with an amazing array of bird calls and you’d be forgiven for thinking I live in the country.  Early evening I hear Frogs croaking (from Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my building).  Soon, as the summer weather heats up, I expect to hear the nightly clicking and chirping of Cicadas calling to attract a mate

I refilled the bird-bath with cold water and a few tiny cubes of ice ‘for the little fellas’ to cool them down this morning.  They seem to appreciate this cooler water on a hot day.

The light is dull, a little dreary and the skies heavily overcast as we’re expecting rain, but it’s still hot and muggy like yesterday – actually quite good photography weather.

The bushfire season has already started in my state, with a fire threatening houses on the outskirts of a large country town during the week.  Fires were already ignited in another state the previous week.

……..and I ate another 6 ripe blueberries when I watered the garden last night.  I fear there will be no blueberries for Christmas Day as I keep eating them every time I see a few ripening.

*********

The (first) consultation with the Orthopaedic Surgeon yesterday confirmed what I already knew – I needed a total right hip replacement.  I can only walk with considerable pain and even swivelling in my desk chair is starting to hurt (this past week).  Operating days vacant were in February and in March – methinks I’ll ring back on Monday and book the earliest.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll all continue to enjoy images from my archives.

I think we might have a flower week this week starting with some lovely Camellias from The Camellia Walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

Camellia japonica ‘Somersby’

When I photographed the various Camellia varieties over the years, I tried to photograph some of the name plaques at the base of the bushes, so I do have a few names for the gardeners and flower lovers among you.

PERUVIAN TORCH CACTUS (Trichocereus peruvianus)

I received the Cacti & Succulent book I’d ordered in the mail the other day and I’m labouring my way through the photos trying to match some of my unidentified cacti images (made in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens) with the book.

I was very disappointed to find that there are no Common Names mentioned.

How extraordinary I thought to myself.

Both my Australian Plant Encyclopaedias  and Weeds in Australia book list the Common Name first (with the Genus, species and family second).

All I can say is that at least it might give me some clues to narrow down my cacti identification without labouring through multiple websites.

In the meantime, my photos of the Peruvian Torch Cactus (Trichocereus peruvianus) were already identified from a name plaque at the base of the plant in the RBG.  Not only are the flowers stunning on this fast-growing columnar prickly cactus, but the flower buds are equally interesting.

I’ll leave you to look up more about this plant if you’re interested, as this blog is about Nature Photography, not Gardening or Botany per se.

Melbourne’s RBG (Royal Botanic Gardens) were only 5 minutes walk away from where I used to live and work on the south-east side of Melbourne’s main river for the benefit of those new to my nature blog.  So when I had to take ‘early retirement’ due to ill-health in 2010 and bought a camera and took up Photography as a hobby, it was initially my main source of photo subjects.  But I already knew the RBG intimately BC (Before Camera), as I walked in and around its many paths for something like 25 years.  When you live in a small apartment, who can complain about having no garden or backyard of your own, when a 38 hectare site with some 55,000 plant is on your ‘doorstep’.

PINEAPPLE LILY, PINEAPPLE FLOWER (Eucomis comosa)

Pineapple Lilies (Eucomis comosa), native to South Africa may look exotic but they’re quite easy to grow (apparently).

The common name, Pineapple lily, refers to the interesting topknot of foliage that sits atop the flowers, reminiscent of a pineapple in appearance.

While there are 15 species in this genus, new strains and cultivars appear regularly ensuring their continued popularity.  They last quite a long time as cut flowers and while I haven’t seen them in local residential gardens in my area, there’s alway a lovely patch (of them) in the Perennial Border  in the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne (where the images in this post were made).

By the way, the Perennial Border is planted by the Garden Staff to be at its best in mid January (if you’re visiting Melbourne as a tourist in the Summer months).

 

LACE CACTUS (Mammillaria elongata)

I’m not a fan of Cacti……..or…….Succulents.

Well, maybe I do like some of their flowers.  I’ve also had the experience of leaning too close to a Prickly pear and been pierced on both arms and stomach with dozens of hair-like prickles…….twice…..even through thick jeans.  Spending ages removing the prickles would make you think I’d learned my lesson not to lean too close, but it took 2 lessons to learn that.

I prefer soft dainty flowers (in general).

But ‘When in Rome’……..or Guilfoyle’s Volcano or the Arid Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, one may as well take photos of them…..especially as they stand still and don’t wave around in the wind 🙂

LACE CACTUS (Mammillaria elongata)

These 2 plant areas are located in the south-east corner and close to where I used to live, so when I took up Photography, I walked past them every Garden excursion and got lots of practice with my, then, 100mm f2.8 Macro lens.  I traded this lens back in 2015 as I didn’t use it much and wanted to buy the lightweight Sony a6000 (which was way above my gear budget at that time).  I’ve also taken lots of images with my 18-200mm lens (which eventually died after 80,000+ images in 2015).

Needless to say, I seem to have an inordinate amount of Cacti images, many of them in unlabeled folders.  One of these days I must look them all up via Google images and put names on the folders instead of just……..CACTI.

The Lace Cactus (Mammillaria elongate) is one of the few which is identified.

 

INSECTS ON FLOWERS

When I lived (and worked) next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, it was a sure bet that on buying a camera after I had to take early retirement, my main photography subject was going to be flowers.

(Bird photography came some time later).

I think I’d walked in, around, or through the gardens on the way to work something like 8,000-10,000 times and that is no exaggeration.

The Royal Botanic Gardens was my home-away-from-home OR, as I called it, My Backyard and I learned more about flowers in the first 5 years of photography than I had ever learned in my whole adult life.

I rarely notice small insects on flowers, being very short-sighted (and back to wearing thick glasses after some 40 years  of wearing contact lenses doesn’t help).  My ‘walkabout’ glasses  are ‘distance‘ glasses.  But I notice on cruising through my archives that I do actually have quite a number of flower images with insects on them.

Here’s a variety of both – large and small.  I guess you can easily tell which insects were the main focus of the image and which insects were just lucky additions to the main flower subject.  There are a couple of images which were made elsewhere, but that’s not important.

I won’t take the time to look up the insect names as that would take all day and I’d never get the post done 🙂 but most of the flower names should be correct.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section if I’ve got one wrong.

Enjoy…..

BELL MINER (Manorina melanophrys)

The Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys) is a medium-small, olive-green honeyeater and makes a high-pitched ‘ting’ sound closely resembling a bell (hence the nickname Bellbird).

I daresay most Australians even think its real name is Bellbird 🙂

Like the Australian Magpie, this tiny bird’s distinctive sound is evocative of the sounds of the Australian bush.  You can’t miss it.

ONE OF THE MANY BRIDGES LEADING TO A LARGE ISLAND IN THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE WHERE I WOULD STAND FOR ABOUT 20-30 MINUTES ON A HOT DAY IN THE SHADE OF THE TREES LISTENING TO BIRD SOUNDS..

The image (below) was made above a small boardwalk weaving through a rustic area in a path (to the left of the iron-railing bridge above).  Here, the branches are usually bare with the foliage growing at the top so you have a chance to spot these tiny honeyeaters.

Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys)

The Melaleucas, or Paperbark, trees form a shady umbrella over a small boardwalk in the Royal Botanic Gardens in the upper right side of the image (below).

Around 4.30pm on a sunny day you are almost guaranteed to see Bell Miners hanging from Eucalyptus trees sucking the nectar (almost upside down) or swinging to & fro in the breeze in the very centre of a tree at the end of the bridge (first image in this post).

They might be easy to hear, but sometimes they are hard to spot, as they blend into the foliage quite well when you stand on the iron railing bridge.

The second image in this post was made in the tree tops at the top of the frame in this image where you can see 3 wooden steps leading from the jetty to the small boardwalk.

I just found this superb YouTube with many other bird sounds as well to give you a taste of what thick Australian bush often sounds like – made by Marc Anderson (north of Sydney).

Do take the time to listen to it as it’s a superb capture of the sound.

Some mornings, especially on a hot sunny day in Summer (on a Sunday), when there’s little road traffic noise in the background of my current home area,  I get a small taste of Australian bird sounds.  Unfortunately, I don’t get the sound of Kookaburras included, (as I did when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of Melbourne), but I do get the addition of Frogs croaking as I live next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

Here’s a little courtship I caught on camera in the RBG (and have shared before on one of my blogs).

THIS IMAGE WAS SHOT NEXT TO THE YARRA RIVER IN ABBOTSFORD, AN INNER NORTH-EASTERN SUBURB OF MELBOURNE.  The Yarra River runs from high in the hills/mountains down to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, through the southern side of the city and out into Port Phillip Bay (on which the city of Melbourne was built at the northern end in the mid 1830s).
I THINK THIS IMAGE MUST HAVE BEEN SHOT IN THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS AS I DON’T RECOGNISE THAT PARTICULAR TREE AS HAVING BEEN NEXT TO THE YARRA RIVER IN ABBOTSFORD.

Yes, I can usually recognise by one tree where I shot the bird or flower image.

AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK (Chenonetta jubata)

GOING BY THE DATE OF THE SHOT, THIS JUVENILE FEMALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK MUST HAVE BEEN ON THE MARIBYRNONG RIVER
A YOUNG MALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK – RINGWOOD LAKE, RINGWOOD (AN OUTER EASTERN SUBURB OF MELBOURNE WHERE I WAS BORN……ehrr IN A SMALL PRIVATE HOSPITAL (now demolished and replaced with a massive shopping centre), NOT IN THE LAKE.

The long neck and upright posture gives the duck the appearance of a small goose.  The male has a brown head with substantial drooping crest, chestnut-speckled grey breast, grey body and black rump, tail and under tail coverts.

ORNAMENTAL LAKE, ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE
JUVENILE FEMALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK – TREASURY GARDENS, MELBOURNE

The female has distinctive stripes above and below the eye on a brown head.

NOT MUCH WATER LEFT IN THE MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS AT THE END OF SUMMER, 2017.
THIS FEMALE WAS CLEARLY INTENT ON SCARING ME OFF WHEN I GOT TOO CLOSE TO HER LARGE BROOD OF DUCKLINGS.
THIS SHOT FROM THE TREASURY GARDENS IN MELBOURNE CLEARLY SHOWS THE DUCKLINGS HAVE THE STRIPE ABOVE AND BELOW THE EYE,  DENOTING FEMALES.

I haven’t followed this up, but every tiny duckling I’ve ever seen, (and I’ve seen and/or photographed many), seems to have the stripe up and below the eye.   So I’m not sure whether all ducklings have this and the males head feathers change to all-brown as they grow OR, I’ve only ever seen female ducklings 🙂

I ASSUME THIS IS A TEENAGER ABOUT TO SHED ALL ITS SOFT DOWNY FEATHERS. THIS IS ONE VERY UGLY DUCKLING.
MORE TEENAGERS IN THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE

JAPANESE ROSE (Kerria japonica)

 

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

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

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

*********

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

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

It also allowed a ‘guest user’ to infiltrate.

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

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

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

I think Outdoors might win.

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

GOLDEN RAT TAIL CACTUS (Cleistocactus winteri)

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

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

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

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

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

 

BIRD OF PARADISE (Strelitzia reginae)

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

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

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

ROUND-LEAF or FAIRY FANFLOWER? (Scaevola)

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

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

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

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

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

BLUE DAISY, BLUE MARGUERITE, KINGFISHER DAISY (Felicia)

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

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

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

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

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