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.

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TREE or SHRUBBY GERMANDER (Teucrium fruticans)

Shrubby  Germander (Teucrium fruticans), also known as Tree germander is a bushy, evergreen shrub with oval to lance-shaped, grey-green leaves, to 3/4″ long, with white-woolly underneath.

It’s native to the western and central areas of the Mediterraneun, not Australia, but I find it a lovely plant and almost wish I had one in my balcony garden, although it does like a bit of shelter and I fear it would quickly go downhill in my windy home location.  But with all the successes I’ve had in my small west-facing garden, you never know – it might just grow beautifully 🙂

The whorls of pale blue/mauve flowers are very pretty (even if they don’t have the brilliant colour of some of the flowers in my previous post).

They make an excellent hedge, and do best in moist, well-drained soil and full sun.  They make a nice clipped low hedge in a herb garden and may be cut to within 2″ of ground level in the Spring to maintain a nice compact growth habit.

The images in this post were not made in the Royal Botanic Gardens, (surprise, surprise), but against a wall in the riverside walking path near the Collingwood Children’s Garden in the inner Melbourne north-east suburb of Abbotsford,  where I lived briefly before moving to the western suburb where I currently reside.

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).

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)  😀

OLEANDER (Nerium)

The enormous Oleander (Nerium) was in full bloom (with a few spent dead heads) outside my local pharmacy yesterday and I stepped back & forth trying to work out how to get some images in the shady part of the bush.

First close-up was at an Aperture of f3.5 which I often use for flowers to get a blurred background.

Next  a shot taken at an aperture of f8.00 to get more in focus. (note: I couldn’t see on the LCD screen due to the bright light of the day, hence several shots, which I’d later keep, or delete, on seeing them on my large computer screen).

The harsh late afternoon sun made shots of other flowers on the walk to my medical appointment almost impossible to shoot.

Disappointingly, the enormous patch of Fairy Iris which I’d been hoping to photograph next to the small local park, was still at the bud stage, so no photos there.

I only scored images of the pink flowers and a Magpie sitting on a nearby tree. So glad I had 2 cameras and 2 lenses to choose from.

 

While it has lovely flowers and is extremely tough, the downside of these particular plants is that all parts are poisonous, so not a good plant to have in your garden if you have young children around.

While the leaves are generally green, I believe there are variegated leaf forms.

Flowers come in a range of colours and are sweetly scented, but I must admit I’ve never bothered to bend down and smell them (having allergies to some strongly-perfumed flowers).

The flowers appear late Spring until the end of Summer and are white, pink or crimson, with some double forms available.  Oleander is perfect for hot, dry gardens.

The only thing I find a wee bit annoying is that with the lovely flowers, there are often dead or dying blooms next to them, so it can be a bit hard too capture a fresh flower without its dead neighbour within the frame.

Doesn’t stop me trying though 🙂

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’.

PROTEA

Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants, sometimes called Sugarbushes in South Africa, but here in Australia, we just call them Proteas.

They dry exceptionally well and last for months as a cut flower (as long as you don’t put water in the vase which will make them rot and smell if you leave them long enough).  Sure, fill the vase with water if you only want them for a few weeks and don’t want the flowers to dry out.

While they’re not native to Australia, I have a lovely set of images, so this makes them worth sharing on my Nature Blog.

These 4 images were made quite by chance as I was walking towards the exit of Melbourne Zoo one day in 2013, (probably around mid to late afternoon), and surprisingly, I had my 150-500mm lens in my hand at the time.  I took 3 photos and then swapped to my 18-200mm lens to take another shot to include an un-opened bud in the background.

I’ve also photographed these long-lasting flowers in the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne, but those images were nowhere near as good (being shot on a more overcast day).

The Zoo images were on one day when ‘right time, right place’ applies, as it was late afternoon and the light was perfect for flower photography.

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).

 

LEMON BALL, GOLDEN BALL, YELLOW TOWER CACTUS (Parodia leninghausii).

Following on from the previous post featuring Cacti, I finally decided to purchase a Cacti & Succulents Plant and Identification Guide book during the week, so I can finally put some more names on my Cacti and Succulent images.  I’m one of those old-fashioned people who find it easier and more enjoyable to look at a book, not the internet (for plants and flowers).

Having re-homed about 600 fiction and many non-fiction books over the last 4-5 years and moving to smaller apartments (twice), I really don’t want any more books, but I figured one more new book wouldn’t destroy the equilibrium of my down-sized furniture and decor 😀

I’ve already got 2 Australian Plant Encyclopaedias on my bookshelf, but they are more general, in both plant and tree species. I also have a wonderful Field Guide to Weeds in Australia I bought at a sale about 25 years ago and didn’t use at all for the first 20 years it lay on my bookshelf.

It can be tedious and very time-consuming trying to identify Cacti (and Succulents), which, on the surface, without flowers (in particular), can look very similar.  Especially as I don’t have the time or eyesight to spend copious amounts of time on the computer any more.

Earlier this year, I went to Melbourne’s largest bookstore to spend some time in their Gardening section.  I was surprised to find that of the 50-60 books on Gardening (in general), most were about planting/growing/landscaping or filled with rather ‘arty’ flower images that showed insufficient detail of the whole plant.  In hindsight, I wish that I’d spent more time photographing the Cacti and Arid section plants in the Royal Botanic Gardens in full detail when I lived so close to the area.

I wish I’d photographed (every plant) in every season too.

But of course, I started out in mid 2010 being an amateur photographer, not a Botanist or Gardener.  My primary hobby is still outdoor Photography even though chronic health symptoms keep me mostly indoors these days.

Back in 2012,13 and 2014 I had a 100mm f2.8 macro lens, so was more interested in experimenting in bokeh or DOF (Depth of Focus).  I still love a narrow depth of field or interesting bokeh on browsing other nature lover’s photography websites to this day.

I wanted to capture the small details of the flowers or spines/stems and for the most part, never realised that Common and Botanical names would become important to me.

Some plants in the Royal Botanic Garden’s main site – they have 3 – had name labels next to the them which I photographed at the time of shooting the flowers and plants.

But between computer crashes, reducing my photo library volume and changing from Windows to a Mac, somehow, some of those plant identification label images seem to have disappeared 🙂

I think I was a little over zealous in my image volume reduction task, but no point ‘crying over spilt milk’ now.

Anyway, my book has been despatched from Booktopia’s warehouse in New South Wales and should arrive in the coming week, so we’ll have a few more plant images between the Birds, Flowers and anything else Nature related that I’ve shared recently on my blog.

ROUNDED NOON FLOWERS, ROUND-LEAF PIGFACE (Disphyma crassifolium subsp. clevellatum)

I spotted 2 Rounded Noon Flowers near the local supermarket on Sunday which reminded me of the magnificent display at Newells Paddock Nature Reserve I’d photographed on the 2nd November 2017.

Since the image above looks pretty ‘ordinary’ to most of us, (I only had one camera hooked to the back of my shopping trolley and couldn’t bend down low), I thought the newer followers might like to see the series of images I took last year.

If you live in Melbourne, Newells Paddock Conservation Reserve, next to the Maribyrnong River, is well worth visiting any time of the year.  But when the Rounded Noon flowers are in bloom, a visit is almost mandatory.  I don’t know whether our driest start to Spring on record, this year, might affect the timing of the display.

There’s a car park near the entrance of the general picnic area, but you need to walk from the car park (on the left side of the map above), through the tree area (image on the right) and out into the open pond area near the river, to see the Rounded Noon Flowers.

Here’s a few photos of the Conservation area near the river to give you an overview.  Have a quick read of the history of the area – it will give you a sense of this amazing restoration project.

The images (above) were made on my first visit to the area and if it wasn’t for my current exacerbated back, hip and knee pain keeping me mostly housebound in the last 6-8 months, I’d be down at this Nature Reserve every other week.  There’s just so much bird-life to see.

The whole colour scheme of the landscape changes in Autumn (above). It’s one of those places which is so damn close to where I currently live……and yet so far away when you can’t do much walking.

Last year I walked home from the Reserve once and I think it’s approximately 3.7 kilometres to my back door (via the river walking/cycling path).

….anyway back to the subject of this post….Rounded Noon Flowers.

LARGE WILD IRIS, FAIRY IRIS (Dietes grandiflora)

LARGE WILD IRIS or FAIRY IRIS – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE (this image was made with a Canon 100mm macro lens at aperture f3.5 for anyone interested).

The Wild Iris or Fairy Iris (Dietes Grandiflora) is grown in Australia in public parks, gardens, alongside office blocks and even roadsides in residential areas, (just as it is in its native South Africa).

My brother even has one growing in the corner of his horse paddock up in country Victoria (below).

They seem to almost take over whole garden plots, but their ability to withstand both drought and frost makes them a worthy addition to any garden requiring low maintenance.

While they’re considered an ‘environmental weed’ in parts of Australia (Western Australia, Queensland and Lord Howe Island), in my urban area, they spread so quickly, I’m almost tempted to call them a weed down (south) in Melbourne also.

But they do grow in dappled shade as well as full sun, so who can blame anyone for planting them to create a lovely display in Summer, when they flower in profusion.

(note: I had a couple of great photos of their mass planting at the nearby tiny park on the main road, but can’t find them and for the umpteenth time, I wish I had time to file all my photos in the current El Capital software Photo library.  

My old Yosemite iPhoto library  has about 600 folders with every image filed via name – flower, bird, park, garden, nature reserve, beach and so on and it’s a dream to find anything to illustrate a post. That library is actually where the images in this post came from).

PELARGONIUM Survivor

It’s been raining on and off all day today.

Not heavy.

Just enough to keep the lounge sliding door and windows 97% closed.  With no apartment or balcony roof above mine, the rain comes straight in if they’re open,  which is a great disadvantage for someone like me who loves fresh air……..even in the depths of Winter.

I thought it was timely to share an image of my Pelargonium which has 2 blooms at the moment and is absolutely stunning.  I nearly lost it the first year (2016) as I mistakenly watered it.  As each leaf yellowed and covered in black spots, I’d pluck the leaf off……. (and stopped watering it of course).

It nearly died, but lots of TLC brought it around and while it was decimated by about 95%, it is now well on the way to recovery and being a true beauty.

I now water it every ‘Blue Moon‘ 😀

I went outdoors between showers earlier today and took a couple of shots on the Aperture Priority setting with the white balance setting on ‘cloudy’ (for the photographers among you) – normally I leave the White Balance on Auto.  I could see on the LCD screen on the camera rear for a change and noted that the images were over-exposed and the colour much too red, so I switched to Manual Mode and did a little more adjusting in-camera – something I haven’t done for years.  I admit I can be a little lazy when it comes to the technicalities of Photography.  I love the creative side of Photography, but have little interest in the technical workings of my cameras.

2 more shots on manual mode brought me closer to the real colour, if not perfect.

I then spent about an hour fiddling with all the basic sliders trying to get a truly 100% accurate colour.  While I admit I don’t have the eyesight for finely detailed photo editing, the dull light of the day (and my lounge room), gave me surprisingly better viewing on my 27″ screen.  I actually enjoyed the challenge of trying to edit the flower into its true colour.

While I might have got sharper focus if I’d put the DSLR on my tripod, I was more than happy with the end result, even if the camera was covered with fine rain spots.

The ‘Survivor’ series  of Pelargoniums resists poor weather, extreme heat and tolerates drought.  I should have read the label again after repotting it the first time.  These bushy plants have BIG flowers which are available in a wide range of intense and pastel colours.

Flowering throughout the warmer months they are ideal for patio pots, mixed planters and hanging baskets.

I remove the spent flowers as soon as I spot them, although I must admit to forgetting about fertilising regularly as the plant label recommends.  But then…..I’m an amateur photographer, not a gardener (as some of you might think).

GIANT HONEY FLOWER (Melianthus Major)

I’ve only ever seen 2 Giant Honey Flower (Melianthus Major) plants in Melbourne.

One was in a very sheltered garden bed in a National Trust Property, Como House, and the other was in the back garden of The Abbotsford Convent, (in the inner north-east suburb of Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River).  The images below are from that second garden and thankfully, there were flowers in bloom so I could identify the plant the second time around.

It’s actually the leaves which I find interesting.  You can’t miss their distinctive shape.

The Giant Honey Flower is an evergreen suckering shrub, endemic to South Africa and naturalised in India, Australia and New Zealand.  It grows to 7-10 feet tall by 3-10 feet wide, with pinnate blue-green leaves 12-20 inches long, which have a distinctive odour.

Dark red, nectar-laden flower spikes, 12-31 inches in length, appear in Spring, followed by green pods.

All parts of the plant are poisonous.

The plant generally requires a sheltered position and may need a protective winter mulch in temperate regions like Melbourne.

BLANKET FLOWER (Gallardia)

One of the main aspects I like about Photography is the option of different lenses, camera settings and styles capturing subjects and background in a variety of ways.  Being extremely short-sighted, I find close-ups and the small details interesting.

After all, I’m an amateur photographer first (and a gardener second).

Actually, I never considered myself a gardener at all until I rented a ground-floor apartment with a balcony near the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of the city.  It didn’t get much sun, but it was fun playing around with a potted plant or two, growing a few hardy shade-loving herbs and had a lovely (shaded) strip of garden down the side path and a slightly larger space in front of the main entrance of the apartment building.

These images of Blanket flowers are from the Perennial Border in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.  Most were made in the early years of my Photography hobby.  If you’re new to flower Photography, do take the time to play around with angles, background and lighting conditions (or time of day).  It really does help you learn to ‘see’ and appreciate Photography as a creative art.

THIS IS ONE IMAGE I NEVER REALLY LIKED, BUT WHEN YOU’RE A NOVICE, YOU DO TEND TO KEEP SOME OF THE ‘DELETERS’ as well as the ‘KEEPERS’ (just to compare and look back on).

Just remember the more photos you take, the more time it takes to review them on your computer, (says she who took 605 photos in one afternoon in March 2012).  First (and only) professional ‘shoot’ I’ve ever done and my computer crashed a couple of days later and I lost the whole folder.  Fortunately, I’d saved 140+ to a disc (for some reason which I can’t remember now).  I didn’t know much about ‘back-ups’ in those days 🙂

ARUM LILY (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

At the top of my short steep road is the back entrance to a townhouse and a clump of Arum Lilies.  It’s expanded from its original 3 flowers last year to several this year and was the first photo stop on my short walk yesterday. (note: these plants are considered a pest in Western Australia).

I love the swirling edges of the flower rim and nearly always photograph them with a very shallow DOF (Depth Of Field) or large aperture.  My Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens set at about f4.5 gives me the effect I want, but the first image in this post is set at f11 to give a bit more detail.

Sadly, my back pain precludes me from both bending down low and kneeling and twisting these days, so I had to edit the images to increase the mid-tones and give the flowers some more definition.  This threw the colour saturation a bit out-of-whack, but I haven’t the interest or time to spend on photo editing.  I can no longer always do flower photography at angles that I would like, but I know long-time followers understand my limitations.

It certainly doesn’t stop me enjoying my Photography Hobby.

For those interested, I bought this lens about 3 years ago as I could never get quite close enough with my Canon 50mm f1.4 and the Sigma’s 17-50mm gives me that little bit of zoom that covers the gap in the 4 lenses I now own.  If you put the Sigma 17-50mm on a tripod, or can hand-hold your camera very steady, you can almost get a macro, or very close to an insect, which is good enough for me. The Canon lens is extremely sharp and excellent in low light, but the Sigma is not far behind it.

The ‘nifty fifty‘ as the 50mm f/1.4 lens is often called, is rarely taken out of its soft pouch now and I’d sell it, except that they bring so little money second-hand and mine is in perfect condition.  I refuse to sell good lenses for peanuts.

I think the header image on my B & W Blog was made with the ‘nifty fifty’ and I cropped and turned it slightly to give the abstract quality and composition I wanted.

BIRD OF PARADISE (Strelitzia retinae)

I had walked to and from the local medical centre yesterday.

(is it really 1.25am Tuesday morning and I’m still awake 🙂 ).

It only took me 40 minutes to make the 10 minute journey as I had to keep stopping to photograph the gorgeous flowers along the way.  The Cherry blossoms in the tiny park near the local supermarket were the main objective in walking with a painful hip and knee, but the fresh air was so invigorating and the pain slowly receded as I discovered each new Spring bloom.

Despite feeling a little unwell, I decided to walk home again and this short journey took me an hour.  LOL  😀  How can anyone make such a short walk into such a lengthy journey?

Only a photographer of course, although I must admit when I was standing at the highest point of the river valley below me, looking at the city of Melbourne’s office and apartment towers in the far distance, it really was an interesting landscape.

There were many Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia retinae) in front of an apartment block but most were dead or dying, so it took me a while to find a flower worth photographing.  Then with a busy background I stepped back and forth trying to find a neutral background – in the end, a concrete column.

Stelitzia flowers are at their best when just opened and looking very fresh and colourful – the one above was just starting to brown off and wilt.

BLUEBERRY “NELLIE KELLY’ Sunshine Blue (Vaccinyum x corymbusm x ashei x darrowi)

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

Kazuaki Tanahashi

I’ve been watching the flowers on my Blueberry bush most days recently as I can’t wait for the flowers to all turn from pink to white.

I was going to go out and wash the windows before these photos, but the sky has gone quite gloomy and overcast and the light dropped a few notches (as though its going to rain), so no point.

“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.

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. Blueberries prefer a soil pH of 4.5 to 6, so a well-drained, premium grade, acidic azalea potting mix is ideal. Keep the bush moist and feed with a slow release, acidifying fertiliser during winter and late summer. Prune the bush vigorously after fruiting, removing up to a third of the bush”.

I’ve got Osmocote Azalea fertiliser – wonder if that’ll help?

NOTE: You’ll have noticed I changed the name of my blog to Room With a View – seemed like a logical step since all I do at the moment is look out the window every day.

My excuse is that I was in hospital last week and I’m supposed to be ‘taking it easy’.

What’s your excuse for staring out the window all day?  Boring job? The Weather? Stunning view of the countryside or mountains? Procrastinating about the window cleaning chore?

Or is it purely and simply because you also have……….a Room With a View?

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Captured this Sparrow sneaking a look through the dirty window just now.  Wonder what she’s thinking?