SUPERB FAIRY-WREN (Malurus cyaneus) – Female

Silence is Golden 🙂

I don’t know who said that, but after the taxi dropped me home at 9.30am this morning, (after an overnight stay away), I couldn’t help but be struck by the silence.

It’s Saturday here in Melbourne and the usual weekend shoppers, zooming up my short steep road in their cars, were completely absent.

No walkers, joggers, cyclists or runners.

No mothers pushing prams or pushers up the steep footpath.

The unique sound of what I thought might be Currawongs filled the background.  (I have yet to share a photo of an Australian Currawong – I have a couple, but they’re not very good).

The wind had dropped and the forecast showers were absent.  It was sooooooo quiet, almost like the end of the earth, and I couldn’t help but be overjoyed at the absence of human sound.  If you’ve read my previous post you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I caught the lift upstairs to my apartment and after dropping my overnight bag on the floor, flung the sliding door open on to the balcony to let air into the stuffy room.

I heard tweets, chattering, birdsong and then a gentle whisper as a slight breeze sprung up.

The Fairy Wrens were back.

The birdsong was reminiscent of the lovely country sounds I first heard when I moved to the area in October, 2016.

SORRY ABOUT THE LOUSY SHOT, BUT I COULDN’T WAIT for a better one at that moment (in case the bird flew away quickly as they are want to do when I don’t have a camera handy)

Then one female Superb Fairy-wren dropped from the balcony fence down to the potted herbs and jumped from pot to pot and over to the bird/pest control netted hutch looking for seeds or some other tasty morsel.  She walked over the fine netting and I frantically looked for the camera case as I’d put all the cameras away yesterday and stored them in a different place (other than under my desk or beside my desk chair).

Then I spotted a male Superb Fairy-Wren scrambling around the pots under the bird control netted hutch.

So much for bird control 😀

I went out to lift the netting so it could get away as it seemed to have forgotten its entry point, then grabbed the plastic watering jug to give some of the potted plants a drink.  I hadn’t watered them before I left home late yesterday morning as it was supposed to rain this morning.

When I came back outdoors with the full watering pot, I heard frantic cheeping and a very frightened little wren.

It had jumped off the Marigold pot and got caught between the line of plastic pots and the glass fence.  It could obviously see the male wren on the Japanese Maple enjoying the sunshine through the glass, but couldn’t work out how to get through this clear (aka dirty) glass fence barrier.

I think this might have been the first time I had seen a distressed Fairy-wren outdoors at my current home.  I pulled all the plastic pots out so there was more room, but for some reason the tiny bird couldn’t work out what to do.

You hopeless little thing I thought to myself and very slowly bent down and tried to carefully catch it in my cupped hands.  This frightened it all the more.

I stood right back and silently waited.

Nope, it just could not work out why it couldn’t  ‘walk through glass’ 😀

Human intervention was obviously needed before the frantic little bird keeled over in exhaustion.

Finally,  I managed to catch the distressed little wren and slowly bring it up to the fence rail and release it.

It quickly flew to the male on the Maple tree and then the couple flew off to the other side of the road where they could rest in the thick hedge in the warm Autumn sunshine.

I feel like I’m in Heaven with the absence of construction workers and machinery noise.

Photo of a Male SUPERB FAIRY-WREN from the 26th March.

The gentle warmth of the sun was so pleasant after the long hot Summer, that I couldn’t help but think…..Thank God for Silence.

………..and the distant caw-caw of the local Ravens and the chatter of the nearby House Sparrows spread the beautiful sound of Autumn.

It’s only after incessant jarring noise (of the construction workers all week) that you truly appreciate the Silence in this unique apartment location.

I was back to my positive happy self and all was well with the world…..or at least my world.

 

……and so I asked Mr Google who had first said this phrase.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Silence is golden’?

As with many proverbs, the origin of this phrase is obscured by the mists of time. There are reports of versions of it dating back to Ancient Egypt. The first example of it in English is from the poet Thomas Carlyle, who translated the phrase from German in Sartor Resartus, 1831, in which a character expounds at length on the virtues of silence:

That fuller version – ‘speech is silver; silence is golden’, is still sometimes used, although the shorter form is now more common.

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ZUCCHINI ‘BLACK JACK’ (Cucurbita spp.)

Just for the fun of it, I bought a small punnet of 4 zucchini seedlings about 3 weeks ago to see if they would grow in my hot, west-facing balcony garden.

I’ve never grown zucchini in any of my previous balcony gardens as the plants grow too big for such a small space.

The plant label said “A high yielding variety with dark-green skin and creamy-white flesh.  Plant in settings of two.”

  • POSITION: Full sun
  • PLANT: 75cm apart
  • MATURITY 6-8 weeks

My plastic pots and troughs were way too shallow and nowhere near large enough to plant one, let alone 4,  plant seedlings, but I stuck them in one trough and lo and behold…….they grew.

One did keel over and die on a particularly hot day towards the end of last week, so I just pulled it out and threw it in the bin.

They even had flowers within 10 days and today, when I went out to inspect the soil moisture, I noticed 2 tiny zucchini growing.

The plants did keel over yesterday and for one of the first times ever, I had to give the plants a drink mid-afternoon while the sun was still hot.

I try to never water plants during the day in the warmer months, as it can burn their fragile roots.  I prefer to water my potted plants at dusk in the summer, so the plants can drink up the moisture over the cooler night-time.

If my plastic pots are very small, I sometimes need to water first thing in the morning when I get up, (while the balcony is in full shade), as well as at dusk.  The sun moves over the apartment building and hits my balcony about 2.30pm DST (daylight savings time), so early morning watering on a hot day is not such an issue as it would be in an open sunny field.

I also bought a large pest deterrent cover.

They only had one size on the store shelf, and one packet left (in my nearby plant nursery store last Saturday).  Initially, I had it spread over all the young seedlings and I thought it was working, but my Pak Choy and Mint is STILL getting eaten.

Where in the %$@&! do these little pests come from?  Are they in the new potting soil I bought?  Are they invisible and jump on the plants before I finish potting, ‘watering in’ the newly planted seedlings and put the netting cover over? I took the cover off this morning and decided to just let the seedlings have a little more sun.

Oh well, at least the established herbs seem to be insect-free this summer.

After a lovely cool change about 10 days ago, when I hoped Summer might finally be over, Melbourne is in the middle of another heat wave at the moment – not expected to end until next Tuesday evening.

It’s OFFICIAL – Melbourne (and the rest of Australia) has had the hottest summer on record!.  Today, Friday the first day of Autumn, is hotter than ever.

SUNSET LAST NIGHT ON THE CLIFF TOP OPPOSITE MY APARTMENT BLOCK. YOU’LL NOTICE THE EXCAVATOR SITTING ON THE TOP OF THE HILL. IT’S BEEN RATHER NOISY AGAIN SINCE JUST AFTER CHRISTMAS. THE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS SEEMED TO HAVE HAD 6 MONTHS OFF AS I HADN’T SEEN THEM SINCE 26TH OF JUNE LAST YEAR. BUT THEY’RE BACK ON TRACK THIS YEAR ‘EATING’ AWAY AT THE CLIFF FACE TO READY THE SITE FOR A NEW APARTMENT BLOCK.

NO EXPLANATION NEEDED

If you’ve been following my nature blog and reading about my balcony garden exploits in the past, you’ll be pleased to hear…..

I saw a BLUE berry yesterday…….

Then I turned over leaves where I knew bundles of green berries had been hiding…….

Ate all the 6-7 berries straight off the bush……and then went to get the cotton bird netting to cover it.  Only comment I can say is that I hope the rest ripen through the netting.

…..and I hope, what I suspect is……the plant is pot-bound and that doesn’t affect the future ripening.  If the bush grows much larger, I’ll have to give it to my brother to plant in the ground up at his farm.

I suppose I should cut off a piece, but since it was a small roll of netting, I’ve just bundled the excess up with a rubber band and left it on the ground.

Whoopee! 😀

Blueberries for Christmas.

NEMESIA (Nemesia fruticans)

I bought a small pott of Nemesia in Winter to add a splash of colour to my balcony garden and its prolific flowering has been a cheerful sight for many months.

Normally I’m not a fan of brightly coloured flowers, preferring mainly blue (or white, or pastel), but I can’t deny these medium to upright plants are a winner.

 Even the Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows seem to like its young green shoots, (or I assume that’s what they’re pecking at).

We’ve had such strong winds, heavy rain (and even a dust storm last week) recently and I went outdoors between rain showers last Friday, to re-photograph the flower blooms to share online.  For the umpteenth time, I had to cut off broken branches and dead-head some spent flower blooms too.

The gusty wind is not kind in my area.

I had to wait for several wind gusts to die down to capture them in focus though.

(Have you ever noticed, that wind gusts, like waves down at the beach, drop or change approximately every 7th? gust or wave.  Seriously.  If you like photographing flowers and live in a windy area, watch carefully and you’ll be able to work it out).

Like many of my herbs and other plants, it seems to love my west-facing balcony with hot sunny afternoons, but did well in overcast Winter days also!

This morning I was reading Nemesia is a genus of annuals, perennials and sub-shrubs which is native to sandy coasts or disturbed ground in South Africa and there are quite a lot of hybrids around.

I haven’t bent down to smell them, but the plant nursery label says they’re lightly perfumed.  They come in a range of colours from white, pink and magenta to dark blue and purple.  They’re ideal for garden beds and borders, pots and containers, can take full sun or partial shade, but do need well-drained soil.

I’ve a mind to buy some more in different colours now that I’ve down-sized my garden to much smaller pots.  I’ll wait and see if the Harlequin Beetles are attracted to them this Summer before doing so though.

(The pests demolished almost every leaf on every plant last year – even, the pungent or bitter-leafed herbs).

Note: I upgraded to larger pots in the last 2 years, but found the need for about 6 heavy watering cans to water my garden every evening, (even in Winter), tedious, so now have down-sized pots (as well at reducing the plant pot number) this past Spring.

I tend to be a little over-ambitious when it comes to gardening, but next year, I need to sit down and think more seriously about just how much time and energy I want to put into my green oasis.  Living in a rented property means scrubbing the seepage stains and bird poop off regularly to maintain the balcony tiles and fence to what a rental contract and most Landlords require (in the ‘neat and tidy’ clause)  😀

WAITING…..

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

Kabuki Tanahashi

Waiting for my Blueberry fruit to ripen has been one of the longest waits in recent years.

It has so many berries on such a small bush.

In the meantime, I’m still buying punnets of blueberries at the nearby supermarket which are cheap enough,  just not the same as growing your own 🙂 , especially as this is my first attempt at growing this plant on my west-facing apartment balcony.

I keep imagining going outdoors to pick some berries for my breakfast and can’t seem to get the image out of my head.

The photo below, made when I first bought the tiny plant, (when it was only a few inches high), was dated the 19th December, 2017, so I figure I have at least 3 more weeks to wait…..maybe less?   That tiny plant yielded about 20 berries in total, which surprised me at the time,  as Mr Google says most blueberries take 2 years to bear fruit.

1st sign of blueberries 19th December, 2017

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.

 

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.

 

 

31st August, 2018 – SOME MORE SHOTS FROM MY NATURE DIARY

No wonder I never get anything done around  my home. I’m too distracted by bird-watching.

Shame I had the sliding door closed again today.   Cold and rain are not welcome if the sliding door is open wide.

I can also see a white, (probably Cabbage Moth) Butterfly across the road so will have to be on guard duty in case it finds my lettuce and herb seedlings to lay its eggs.  I think that sighting of those fluttering white wings, which show up so well against the dark green of the hedge, is the first of this coming Spring season.

I was attempting to catch up on my blog reading and lo & behold, a little Superb Fairy-Wren popped into the corner of my eye gaze again (as it did yesterday).

Bird photography on my balcony takes precedence over Blog Reading so I’m getting further and further behind, so if you haven’t seen me around your blog lately, bird watching is my excuse.

Since it was raining all morning, I hadn’t remembered to get the cameras out of their soft storage bags.  The Sony ‘mirrorless’ was the closest on this occasion, so I slowly leaned down to the floor and pulled it out, slipping the lens cap off at the same time.  To be honest, I take better bird photos with my Canon DSLR (despite the Sony’s 11 f.p.s) as I can keep it against my eye and change the focal points, ISO etc without moving.  I’ve never been able to do this with the smaller Sony.

THE SUPERB FAIRY-WREN JUMPED DOWN TO THE BALCONY TILES AND THEN WENT UP TO INSPECT THE HAIR-CUT I GAVE MY BLUE BACOPA PLANT THE OTHER DAY. ALL I COULD HEAR THE BIRD SAY IS “you missed a few bits – its crooked”. ALL I COULD REPLY WAS “if you think my pruning is so crooked – do it yourself.”  I must move that blue-covered book which is reflecting on the door too.

As usual, I dare not waste time checking the camera settings, just aimed and chased the tiny wren around the new seedling trays.  Next minute it jumped down onto the balcony tiles and disappeared, only to pop up again right in front of me.

IMAGE MADE 27TH AUGUST – MY CURRENT, ONE AND ONLY, TUSCAN KALE IF USUALLY ENOUGH FOR ME TO HARVEST THE OUTER LEAVES AS IT GROWS.

‘Right in front of me’ means the pot of white Alyssum and Kale about 3 foot in front of my computer screen.  Couldn’t stretch up enough to photograph the wren without the top of the Mac laptop blurring the bottom of the frame though.  At least I had the Sony in my hand with the shorter telephoto lens.  The 150-500mm DSLR lens would have been far too long.

Maybe next time.

What does help is that the windows are still dirty, so the bird can’t see me.

Then it flew up to the balcony fence to see if there was a pathway through the parsley.

The left hand side of the tray is English Parsley and the right side Italian flat-leaf Parsley.  The little pathway is actually between the 2 plants.

The sparrows often do this.  Not sure why.  Do they think the Osmocote fertiliser pellets are seeds?

The long bookcase and armchair have now been removed from this corner of my lounge room permanently, so I need to place the tall Rosemary bush in the left rear space where the black plastic cover is over my soil/compost mixing tub at the current time.

When I clean the windows inside and out, garden and bird viewing will be easier.  Unfortunately, most of my polarizing filters which erase ‘reflections’ don’t fit my current lenses (only the old lenses – now sold).  I used these old filters mainly down the beach to photograph seaweed and other things in rock pools, or at low tide.

Actually, I just remembered that I might have a polarizing filter for my 150-500mm lens, I’d better go and check now before I forget.  (my short-term memory is getting worse and worse in recent months).

I bought a new larger brown door mat to provide better shoe-wiping too.  It’s not always convenient to slip shoes on and off when your hands are full, stepping in and out from balcony to pale lounge carpet etc.

30TH JULY ?

Is it really only 30th July?

I thought it was Spring and time to plant my Summer herbs and lettuces  😯

The new Mint bush had 10 new leaves in 24 hours after I planted it.
It’s an invasive plant so best to keep it separate from other plantings.

But seriously, in my constant attempts to keep myself amused indoors this past Winter, I decided to do a little experiment.  I’d try an indoor garden to keep the Harlequin Bugs and Cabbage Moth Caterpillars at bay  😉 …….well, for the next month or two  anyway.  I found another 2 Harlequin Bugs on my Rosemary bush on Saturday – that makes 3 little insects that over-wintered in my Herb Garden.

I actually bought my seedlings last Wednesday and despite being short of potting soil, planted my indoor garden on Saturday.  With the wall heater set on fairly low, it should be warm enough indoors for the next 4-6 weeks for a growth spurt.

I bought my old blue painted TV trolley, (used as a potting bench outdoors normally), indoors after a good clean of winter cobwebs.  I removed the centre shelf to allow ready access for the light on the lower shelf.  I’ll rotate & turn all 4 planters so they get an even share of light.

Of course when the heat of Summer casts its spell over my west-facing balcony, my indoor garden will probably have to be moved outdoors.

I pull the block-out blinds down from about 2.30pm when the sun moves over my apartment building in summer and turns the lovely cool space into a sauna, (or hothouse).  The air conditioner will probably be too cold to raise summer crops also, as I have it set on 16C (60F).  I feel the heat terribly in Melbourne’s hot Summers and of course, being very fair, get badly sunburnt in about 10 minutes outdoors in the hot sun, despite repeated applications of Sunscreen when taking photos in the Botanic Gardens back in 2011,2012 & 2013.

…..and I do need to get a clear hard floor mat to catch any accidental watering spills too.  I put a folded tough green garbage bag on the carpet, but that looked too unsightly.

Anyone want to place any bets on the success, (or not), of my indoor garden?

NOTE: By the way, if you see any misspelt words/plant names, it’s that damn WordPress Spellcheck that keeps overwriting my typing, not actual typos.

BALCONY GARDEN UPDATE…..

After the loss of many leaves and some turning yellow, I thought I might have lost my Blueberry “Nellie Kelly” (Vaccinium x corymbusm x ashes x darrowi) and I did some frantic searching through the internet in recent weeks wondering if my variety is the one that loses its leaves.  No real answer found, but 2 days ago I went to inspect it again and found the bush is flowering.

Such a relief to this amateur gardener that I am.  This is the first time I’ve grown a blueberry bush in my balcony garden and I hadn’t been through the annual seasonal cycle and really didn’t know what to expect.  Anyway, there are so many flower buds on the bush, that I’m hoping this represents a ‘bumper’ crop this year.  I bought some cotton netting from the local Hardware/Plant Nursery (Bunnings) yesterday, so am hoping this will deter the birds as I only got a dozen or so blueberries last year.

I had to tie up my Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis I think?) again, as the gusty winds have played havoc with the long branches recently

The Rosemary flowers have been spectacular in the last couple of weeks.  Trust this variety of Rosemary to give some cheerful colour for these cold winter days.  I DID find a Harlequin Bug in their midst yesterday.

I thought the Harlequin bugs had “flown north for the winter” – looks like some little bug got left behind and decided to over-winter in the large Rosemary bush.

I’m planning to re-arrange my lounge furniture slightly so I can keep more of an eye on the garden from my desk chair.  You’ll notice in the first (rainy day) photo above, that there is a line down the left hand side of the photo.  This is where my lounge floor-to-ceilings window turns back in towards the south side of the lounge in a sharp right angle.  From looking at the other apartments on my side of the building, I think I am the only tenant that has this extraordinary wrap-around view from their lounge window.  The backdrop of what looks like corrugated concrete in the 1st (rainy day) image above is actually the lift & stairwell for the building.  I think that surface is what is absorbing the sun and making a bit of a greenhouse effect to my garden.

My Spinach Baby Leaf (Spinach oleracea) is still cropping and providing leaves for my weekly omelette.

….and my large veggie trough of 8  X Perpetual Spinach (Beta vulgaris) seedlings are finally starting to grow some more leaves.  The soil must be warming up I think.

We are only 2/3 of the way through Winter, but it doesn’t take much to signal that Spring is on the horizon, although August is often our wettest month here in Melbourne.    The 2 spinach varieties may look similar to you at this stage, but hopefully the ordinary spinach will grow big and strong.  Since I don’t know much about vegetable gardening, only herbs, all of these vegetables are experimental on this west-facing balcony.

I’ve had such great success with green leafy vegetables in the past – but the previous apartment balcony was south-facing and had no direct sun, only lots of light on that side of the building in the inner north-east of Melbourne.

This current apartment is the first time I’ve had lots of west-facing hot sun in summer.

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

INTERVAL here.  There are House Sparrows tweeting and calling for some more bird seed.

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Part of the right-hand side of my balcony doesn’t get sun in Winter, so most of the potted plants are crowded up the southern or left hand half of the balcony.  I need to find some room for some more Tomatoes plants too.  After last year’s bumper crop from the 3 Tomato Patio (Lycopersicon esculentum) plants I bought, I’m eager to have another go at growing tomatoes.

I’ve left the Capsicum Redskin (Capsicum assume hybrid) in the pot, but it’s looking kind of sad and droopy since the Possums(?) attacked and broke off 2 large branches.  I don’t know anything about Capsicums, so not sure if it’s an annual or perennial.

I gave a few of the plants some fertiliser yesterday and you’d be amazed how perky they’re looking this morning.  The blue Becopa (Sutera cordite) in particular.

……and of course the pink Argyranthemum (Argyranthemum frutescens) was burnt brown and looked half-dead at the end of last Summer, so I cut it back to about 2-3″ stubble and it is now about 8-9″ high and covered in pink flowers again.  I notice some of the flower buds seemed to be stuck together and on prizing them open, discovered some sort of worm-like pest crawling out of the centre of the flower.  Don’t know what this is, so I am pruning any sticky-looking closed flowers off the bush, in the hope of eradicating any trace of the pesky little critters (without pesticide use).

The photo below was taken yesterday.  Would you believe it was completely brown and dead-looking only 3-4 months ago !

So that’s all folks.

I bought more herbs, lettuces and Pak Choy yesterday, but that story will be found in another post.

(I can see this WordPress Template Theme doesn’t offer enough width for writing much, so this Nature Blog will have to be changed to a different Theme.  I may put it on ‘private’ while I change it over and re-position the widgets again).  Gosh, if only seems like yesterday, I changed the Theme and started afresh.

So, all you inner suburban apartment dwellers, remember………if you want to grow plants…. even some of the faster growing leafy green vegetables and herbs, (and have a reasonable balcony space and the safety fence is not too high), as long as you’ve got enough sun/light and a bit of protection from the wind, give it a go.  It may take a bit of trial & error, but cutting fresh herbs or leafy greens for each night’s  dinner is truly a joy.  Especially if you’re single like me and end up wasting half a bunch of herbs bought from the supermarket.  As to Spinach, if the supermarket bunch is too big, it usually gets made in to Spinach, (or Spinach & Watercress), soup for my freezer.