IRIS – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – January 2011

Personally, I think Irises are one of the hardest flowers to photograph.  It took me many test shots in the Iris bed in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne before I achieved anything remotely satisfying to my eye.

With the old Iris bed being in an open area exposed to Melbourne’s almost constant windy weather, many of my images are not as sharp as I would like, but back in early 2011, I didn’t know anything about ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed.

This wonderful flower bed, with many different varieties and hybrids,  was dug up and re-lanscaped several years ago, so I am lucky to still have a few images from the old back-up disc I resurrected.

Some are good shots and some not-so-good, but the colours are amazing.

As I roam through my archives looking for flower images to share, time and time again, on re-checking which lens I was using, it turns out to be the 55-250mm (although I have got some nice images made with the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro of course), so I assume it must have been a good lens.  It was surprisingly sharp for a telephoto.

……..and a few more images – made with different lenses at various times over the years.

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IN THE PINK – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any flower photos (except the flowers in my potted balcony garden), but there’s always plenty in my archives to fill the gap.

Most of the images below were made in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and I believe many of the Common and Botanical names are on the images (which helps if you’re a garden lover).  If you see an incorrect name, I would appreciate you letting me know in the comments section.

They were made with a variety of lenses from a 100mm f2.8 macro, to 50mm f1.4 to a borrowed 55-250mm (which takes a really sharp shot I notice) ……to my old favourite 18-200mm lens.

JACARANDA (Jacaranda mimosifolia) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – 21st December, 2013

I remember the very moment I finished my ice-cream while sitting in the shade of this Jacaranda tree.  It is located near the gift shop and restaurant  on the eastern side of the Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

It was a very hot summer day in 2013.

I popped the last of the crisp ice-cream cone into my mouth, crumpled the paper serviette, wiped my sticky fingers, threw the waste in the rubbish bin and looked up to admire the beautiful mauve colour of the Jacaranda flowers over my head. I got my camera out of its bag and captured the blossom in two shots.

On another visit I passed a different Jacaranda tree on the green lawn next to the RBG’s perennial border.

Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifiolia)

Funny how a  photo captures a moment in time which sparks a memory many years later.

By the way, this is the Perennial Border – planted to flower at the height of Summer in  mid January, although the image below was made in December 2010 (pre DSLR days).  You can see another Jacaranda tree to the left of the old house.  This building serves as a function centre.  I’ve made many photos of this colourful border over the years, but the image below, with the lady walking briskly past, remains a favourite.

 

FOREST LILY, SAND ONION, RED HOT POKER (Veltheimia bracteata), – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – 9th July, 2011

Note:  I seem to have 2 folders with very similar looking plants, but different names, so if I have identified this flower incorrectly and it should be one of the Kniphofia species, feel free to let me know in the comments section.  I have ‘Red Hot Poker’ typed in both folders of my old iPhoto library as one of the common names.  Admittedly, I am no horticulturist or even a gardener (when it comes to common garden flowers).  I am a little more knowledgeable about English Herbs (or was in the early 1990s).

POPPY (Papaver) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – 9th & 22nd November 2010

Another kind of Poppy.   I’m pretty sure these images were made in The Herb Garden, RBG – my favourite location in the whole of the Royal Botanic Gardens and frequented during Melbourne’s long, hot summers with its cool shady seating and fragrant patches of my favourite herbs.

I haven’t been back since I moved from the area about 3 years ago and now, with the constant road construction and tram diversions on the western perimeter due to the new underground rail link, unlikely to re-visit any time in the near future.

Once again, these images were made with a little Canon point & shoot camera, not the Canon DLSR which I acquitted a month later.

Made 9th November, 2010

and later on the 22nd November, 2010…….

MARBLE DAISY-BUSH (Olearia astrolabe) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – 13th June, 2011

In the wild, Olearia astroloba is restricted to a small area (around 40 hectares) in the East Gippsland area of Victoria, near the Tambo Valley, called Marble Gully.

This is the origin of the common name ‘Marble Daisy Bush’.   The species is listed as rare, and in the wild consists of a single population of fewer than 1000 individuals.

CALIFORNIA POPPY (Eschscholzia) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives – 9th November 2010.

I was digging through my archives a short while ago and came across these lovely images made using my first camera purchased in 2010 when I took up Photography as a hobby.  It was a Canon Powershot A3000 IS point & shoot and I was reminded that you don’t have to have expensive camera gear to take a decent photo.

YUCCA

I’m thoroughly enjoying my break from daily/weekly blogging at the moment, but I have to admit the cameras are ‘gathering dust’ (not really gathering dust as I usually keep them in my camera bag or soft pouches when not in use).

There’s a narrow strip of landscaped area at the top of my steep narrow road where I walk through to catch public transport.

Among the lovely succulents and grasses there are a couple of Yucca plants and I made some photos back on the 28th March and forgot to share them.  One plant was in the shade…..

……and the other…..just caught the late afternoon sun.

Yucca is probably best known as a house plant here, but it does make a spectacular architectural plant for the garden.

Yuccas include around 40 evergreen shrubs and trees, all of which come from hot, dry deserts and plains.  Their sword-like leaves are produced in shades of mid-to dark green or blue-green.  A few have cream or yellow edges.

Towering spikes of bell-shaped, usually white flowers rise above the leaves Summer and Autumn, making a dramatic focal point in a garden or pot.

PELARGONIUM ‘Survivor’

I’ve been trying to make a good photo of this Pelargonium flower for months.

The flowers are gorgeous.

A sort of hot pink – almost reddish in some light.  The plant nursery identification tag just says PELARGONIUM Survivor.

Finally captured it 2 nights ago when the Autumn dusk was starting to descend over my apartment balcony and the sun had dipped behind the hill.  If you’re a flower photographer you’ll know how hard it can be to capture the details of some brightly coloured flowers in full sun.  Whether under, or over-exposed, my editing skills have never been able to ‘fix it’.  

Best to leave the dark background and slightly under-expose the shot.

The ‘Survivor’ series resists poor weather, extreme heat and tolerates drought.  These bushy plants have big flowers and mine is just recovering from over-watering or heavy rainfall.  To be honest, I suspect now Autumn is here, I won’t have to water it at all.

RIBBON BUSH (Hypoestes aristata)

From the archives – 19th May, 2013

Believe it or not, I remember where I photographed 99% of my old photos.  This one was made about 8 feet from the old Gorilla enclosure at Melbourne Zoo.  Not sure if this lovely flower is still there (all these years later), but you can see why it is called Ribbon Bush by that lovely curling petal on the top right.

PHILIP ISLAND HIBISCUS (Hibiscus insularis) – Royal Botanic Gardens

From the archives – 30th May, 2014

……and straight from Wikipedia for this description – purely and simply because I never knew this Hibiscus was so rare until I read about it on Wikipedia – hope this information is still accurate.  I know of at least 2 large bushes in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and one of the rare plants in which I know the Botanical name off by heart, but never knew the Common name.   Both of the large bushes are in deep shade most of the day.

The Philip Island Hibiscus (Hibiscus insularis) is a species of hibiscus that is endemic to Phillip Island, a small island to the south of Norfolk Island. The entire natural extent of this species is just two small clumps, and each clump apparently consists of multiple separate stems of a single genotype. It has been propagated and planted more widely on Phillip Island, but only vegetatively which does not increase the genetic diversity. Seedlings apparently have not been observed in the wild. It produces greenish-yellow flowers that fade to mauve through most of the year. Horticultural use of the Philip Island Hibiscus has greatly increased the number of plants (though not in its natural environment) but as it is usually propagated by cuttings the number of genotypes is still extremely small. This species is listed as Critically Endangered under Australian federal environment legislation.

THE ROSE GARDEN – Royal Botanic Gardens – Part 1

From the archives – mainly 2011 & 2012

 

The Rose Garden in the RBG in Melbourne is located near one of the south-eastern gates at the top of a very steep hill.  There’s usually flowers in bloom through much of the year as they have climbing varieties up beautifully shaped rusty cones as well as lower-growing horizontal spreading varieties.

The Rose Garden in Winter – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

It’s quite a windy exposed area so can be hard to get sharply focused images though. Up until I moved to this western suburb along the Maribyrnong River 18 months ago, I used to think the southern side of the Gardens was the windiest area in Melbourne.  Since it was near the street where I walked to work, I walked past many times, but it was not until I bought a camera and took up Photography in ‘retirement’ that I really gave them a second look.

Since they like sun and need about 5 hours sunlight to grow well, the location of the Rose Garden is just about perfect.

I have to say I know nothing about Roses, but they do well with soft feathery Lamb’s Ears, Catmint and Geraniums that provide a nice contrast to their bare base and have minimal watering needs similar to Roses.  Penstemons also make a nice contrast at the Rose’s base.

SEA ONION (Urginea maritime) – Royal Botanic Gardens

From the archives – 2nd February, 2015.

The images below were made with 2 lenses.   #1 and #2 with a Canon 50mm f1.4 and #3 with a Canon 18-200mm f3.5 – 5.6.   These images were some of the last photos I made when I lived 5 minutes walk from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.  Since I worked next to the RBG for some 16 1/2 years before I had to take early retirement, these gardens were my ‘back yard‘ and I used to walk in, or around, the 38 hectare site daily – sometimes 3 times a day in good weather – no wonder my poor feet are quite literally, worn out 🙂

SEA ONION (Urginea maritima)
SEA ONION (Urginea maritima)
SEA ONION (Urginea maritima)

Many of the old large black plant/tree identification posts are still intact and easy to read/photograph, but I found the tiny new metal tags tied to many of the small plants pretty much impossible to read, so spent hours looking the names up in my RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) encyclopaedia – Garden Plants & Flowers in Australia by Ian Spence, or Stirling Macoboy’s What Shrub is That?  Both books were a valuable resource for Australian species when there were no identification tags visible.

When I first bought a camera and took up Photography in 2010, the flowers were still mostly English cottage plants, but with new landscaping and the Wetlands project, many  beds were changed to drought tolerant plants from Africa, South America or arid regions and it became much harder to identify them.  The Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens on the eastern perimeter of Melbourne’s CBD don’t have these identification tags, but are still very enjoyable to walk around.

The Royal Botanic Gardens have a great collection of grass species – mainly indigenous to Australia.

To this day I can remember exactly where I shot about 97% of my archival images, although I don’t know enough about plants to remember which season they were shot without looking at the meta data.  Much of my early bird photography was also done here in 2010 – 2015 (for those interested).

At the current time, the new Metro underground rail line through Melbourne (with 5 new stations in Melbourne itself) is still being built and the tram/bus routes have changed slightly in the RBG area so I haven’t attempted to go back for more flower photography.  This tunnel is supposed to be finished in 2025 so I’ve been exploring my (new) local area in the western suburbs, but I have to say 2-3 lots of public transport take a heck of a lot longer than a 5 minute walk.

Fortunately, I live next to parkland and/or nature reserve and not too far away from a couple of other nature reserves or man-made wetlands.

I no longer have quick access to the Bayside Beaches to the south of Melbourne without a car, although it is still possible to get bus, tram or trains – just takes too long when the transport stops at every stop, or suburb.  I don’t have the health/energy to make long day trips.

GERALDTON WAX (Chamaelaucium) – Royal Botanic Gardens

From the archives – 2010 & 2012

These evergreen Australian plants are grown for their showy five-petalled flowers.  At least one species, Chamaelaucium uncinatum, is grown commercially for its cut flowers.

Personally, I’ve only ever seen the white or pink variety and were one of the first flowers I ever photographed when I bought a little Canon point & shoot camera and took up Photography as a hobby in May 2010.  There is also a red variety.

The first image was made by a Canon DSLR in 2012 and the last two by the little Canon P & S in 2010.

15th December 2012 – Canon DSLR & 18-200mm lens

6th August 2010 – Canon Powershot A3000 IS

COCKS COMB CORAL TREE (Erythrina crista-galli) – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE

From the Archives – 12th December 2012

The Cocks Comb Coral Tree appears with slightly different names in my Plant Encyclopaedias, so if you know it by a different name, don’t be surprised.

Coral tree (Erythrina crista-galli)
Coral tree (Erythrina crista-galli)

I came across one particular plant down near Fern Gully in the centre of the Royal Botanic Gardens which was covered, (well, at least 30-35 birds), in Rainbow Lorikeets when the flowers were fully open in the Summer.

What a raucous noise they made.  It was such an amazing sight to see so much colour.

This image was made on the day that there were 30-35 Rainbow Lorikeets on the one bush.

Further down the same path, but next to the large Ornamental Lake there was another bush right next to the asphalt path and I photographed 3-4 more Rainbow Lorikeets up close – not in the least disturbed by my proximity.  As it was very bright sunlight, I just had to wait until the birds climbed under the bush to avoid over-exposed shots.

ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Angel’s Trumpet flowers have to be one of the hardest flowers to photograph.  I think its one of those species that you have to share several photos from different angles to appreciate their lush, tropical appearance.

They come from the Andes which explains their love of cool winters.  The flower sizes vary, but to say they’re 12-14″ long would be a good guess.

Best to try photographing them after the bud starts to open as they deteriorate quickly once fully mature and rain marks the petals, (so not after a recent rainfall).  Well, this is my experience of them anyway.  Most the trees grow in the shade or semi-shade in the RBG.

ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia)

They come in several colours as my early images from 2010 & 2011 show.

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I figure since I’m stuck at home at the moment, I’ll share some of my very early images from when I lived next to the Royal Botanic Gardens from 2000-1015.  Some good, some not-so-good.

But always interesting to see the vast array of plant species among the 55,000 plants on this 38 hectare site.  Many of these images portray flowers that have now been replaced with more drought tolerant species.

AFRICAN BLUE LILY (Agapanthus) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

I’ve had great enjoyment from reviewing some of my very old images in recent days.  Some of them I can’t even remember taking 🙂

Most of the Agapanthus images below were made with my old 100mm Macro lens in the first 3 weeks of owning a DSLR back in Jan/Feb 2011.  I traded it in when I bought the Sony a6000 in early 2015 as I wasn’t using it much.

I didn’t have the slightest clue how to use a DSLR and macro lens in those days, but I do remember I didn’t have the camera set on Auto.  I’d already used the Auto setting on my little Canon a3000 point & shoot for 7 months, so I started using my first Canon DSLR on manual I think.  I do remember keeping the ISO on 800 all the time as it always seemed to handle the bright sun as well as the shade.  I think I let the camera choose the shutter speed.  I daresay I had the aperture on 2.8 also as I didn’t know what DOF (depth of field) was either.

I had absolutely no idea about the exposure triangle and the what ISO, shutter speed and aperture were all about.

These flowers looked so bright on the screen last night, I de-saturated the colour slightly, but I daresay the original colour was very bright at the time of shooting 6 years ago.

 

WATER BUTTONS, BUTTONWEEDS (Cotula sp. aff. turbinata) – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

From the archives 29th October 2013.

When I was last at Newell’s Paddock Nature Reserve and Conservation area in the western suburb of Footscray, I saw a tiny patch of Water Buttons next to the large pond.  My one shot was completely out of focus when I reviewed it at home, (although you may remember the ‘101’ pink Rounded Noon-flower images did turn out well).

So here’s an example of what they looked like (made from my time living next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne).

They are so pretty when growing in a great mass.

Since I’ve retrieved an old file off my back-up disc which contains about 14,000 images, I’ve now got a larger selection to share when I’m house-bound and not outdoors walking and doing Photography.

Spring in Footscray Park

The second half of my walk last week, (after Newells Paddock Nature Reserve and the pink Rounded Noon-flowers), was through part of Footscray Park.  I walked from the back riverside entrance uphill to the front entrance in order to catch a bus home.

Wikipedia says……..Footscray Park is one of the largest and most intact examples of an Edwardian park in Australia. The 15-hectare park is located on the south bank of the Maribyrnong River in Footscrayin Victoria. It is classified as a heritage place on the Victorian Heritage Register for its aesthetic, horticultural and social significance to the State of Victoria and was the first gardens to be placed on the register. The park is noted for its botanical collection, ornamental ponds and garden structures.

The display of Peruvian Lilies near the front entrance was quite striking.

Last week there were many flowers that had wilted, (Rhododendrons in particular), OR were still in bud, so another visit is needed I think.  Next weekend, and maybe the following weekend, should be about right.  Many of the flowers need some more time to mature.  We’ve had strong winds and a few harsh storms so maybe that why the fragile Rhododendron flowers looked so forlorn.  I saw a pale soft pink one and a bright pink one that had survived.

There were only 2 very young Canna lily flowers just starting to open last week.

The colourful display of Alstroemeria, or Peruvian lilies, near the front gates seemed to last much longer.  They flower from Spring through Summer to Autumn.  I’ve never been there in Winter so I don’t know if they flower then. Being low ground cover, they would have survived the wind and storms far better too.

I had the use of a Sony 35mm f1.8 prime lens for a couple of weeks last Autumn and to be honest, I felt my flower images were far better at that time.  Perhaps it was the overcast skies in Autumn.  Bright summer sun is usually unkind to most red, yellow or white flower petals.

I always say it’s the Photographer than makes the images, but when it comes to flower photography, good light (preferably slightly overcast in Australia as our Summer sun is too bright when I go for my nature walks early afternoon) AND a good sharp prime lens makes a big difference (as you can see in the older images below).

In general I prefer to get up close and just capture a few flowers within the frame, instead of a whole bush, but occasionally, photographing the leaves and whole bush can make identification easier.  In these days of digital photography it’s probably better to make a 7-8 images of each flower from all angles and chose a favourite image to share on reviewing the day’s shooting.

There’s a lovely small pond down in the lower part of Footscray Park surrounded by thick shrubs, near the Maribyrnong River, which certainly needs many more visits to try and work out how to photograph it.  I didn’t visit it last week as I was heading for the bus stop via the Park, not spending the whole afternoon in the Park.

It’s hard to access with the surrounding foliage blocking some of the pond bank when I first saw it last Autumn.

I couldn’t get close enough to the water lilies at the time so used my long telephoto 150-500 lens to get a close up of a water lily flower.  I didn’t have a tripod on the day either.  It would be interesting to see if there are any pink water lilies in this small pond or just pale lemon (as seen below).

Did I tell you about the Noon-flowers?

While we’re on the subject of Noon-flowers, I figured I may as well go to Newells Paddock (as well as the Jawbone Nature Reserve walk a few days previously), to see if the squishy bed of succulents I had walked over on previous visits in Winter was the same as the bright pink Rounded Noon-flower I have photographed on my walks along the Maribyrnong River.

You can read the background behind Newells Paddock Nature Reserve here and its worth reading about as well as viewing the second image in the link, to gain an appreciation of what a unique area it has become.  The article is not too long.  The Friends of Newells Paddock, with the help of the local council, are ensuring the return to wetlands and nature reserve continues as an ongoing project by the planting of hundreds of indigenous trees and plants.  

Yesterday it was truly magical and I’m not sure that the ‘101’ photos I took do it justice.  In fact I was so moved by the beauty of the scene, I literally had tears in my eyes.

Last night I tried to reduce the number of images down, but in the end I still have about 25 to share.

When I entered the picnic area, I walked over to the trees and found one or two Noon-flowers in an enormous carpet of green succulents and wondered if it would be a ‘no-show’ and a wasted trip.

This tiny area looked gloomy and rather forbidding on such a cloudy day with poor light in general (for photography).  Looks like a large tree has fallen in a storm (below).  No doubt the council will clean this area up soon.

After walking through this tree area, I was taken aback to see not  a little, but a sea of pink sprinkled between patches of green and other native grasses.

After taking about a hundred photos, I walked to the back entrance connecting with the river path and the sun came out.  There was no way I was going to go back and re-photograph the flowers in the improved light conditions.  As it was, I hated walking over the flower patches and squashing them in the first place.

A few more images to share in another post……..not Rounded Noon-flowers.

Another shade of Red

I passed this gorgeous red flowering bush near the end of my walk yesterday.

I haven’t got the slightest clue what it is, but I love the way the flower splits into feathery fronds.  It looks like an Australian native, but I’m only guessing, as many of the plants in the formal landscaping on the western side of the Maribyrnong River are native grasses, so I imagine that the flowering bushes are too.

If anyone knows what it is, please let me know in the comments section so I can update this post.

BOTTLEBRUSH (Callistemon)

A lovely specimen of red Bottlebrush was growing opposite the front door of the local Pharmacy yesterday.   I wished I’d taken the time to walk off the boardwalk to the other side where the light was better, but my long river walk and then bus trip up the steep hills had left me wanting to make only a quick stop before the supermarket and then, the walk along the main road home.

I must say it was a beautiful patch of colour in a (mainly) overcast day.

POLYGALA (Polygala myrtifolia x oppositifolia ‘Poly Ball” ) – my balcony garden

The Polygala I’m growing on my apartment balcony is in full bloom at the moment and I can make a close-up photo with my 150-500mm lens by leaning my elbows on my desk.   Very handy and saves carrying the heavy weight outdoors.

(this is not the first time I have shot a good flower close-up with a long telephoto lens which goes to show it doesn’t always have to be a short or a macro lens for close-ups).

and just to give you an idea of how lovely my view is from my desk at the moment……….

The two rows of trees on the upper right of the frame hides tiny birds like Splendid Fairy-wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters, House Sparrows and tiny finches (I think they’re finches – I don’t know their names).

On my side of the road next to the footpath there is also a row of similar trees, but I can’t see them while sitting at my desk.

Can’t complain about not living on the rear of my apartment block overlooking Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River when I’ve got a view like this.

RED-FLOWERING GUM (Corymbia ficifolia) – beside the Maribyrnong River

I’d barely walked past Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve on to the Maribyrnong river path when I spotted this Red-flowering Gum in the middle of a calf-high grass field this afternoon.  I believe its Corymbia ficifolia (originally called Eucalyptus ficifolia).

Feel free to correct me in the comments section if I’m wrong.  I know nothing about indigenous flora.

If it is this species, the one I saw was a baby at about 7-8 foot high, as it can grown up to 10 metres (or about 30+ feet).  It was gorgeous, even from some distance away when I made this first photo with my long 150-500mm lens.

With the same camera lens, I got a bit closer, but there were so many flowers, I couldn’t isolate one particular one.  I suppose I could have cut off some surrounding foliage, but that’s not my thing to do when walking in nature.

I prefer to see images of the real plant with no disturbance of its natural habitat if possible.

This red-flowering eucalypt is often used as a street plant in residential areas due to the profusion of flowers, but this specimen was definitely the most colourful I’d ever seen.

I stretched what is essentially a 30 minute walk to Maribyrnong Wetlands into a 2 hour stroll, (slower than snail pace), in the Spring sunshine.  But was glad of my light windproof jacket as the breeze was cool, despite the heat of the sun.

Some more images of that beautiful Wisteria in Pipemakers Park

I think this might be Wisteria ‘Caroline’ (Japanese Wisteria), but I am only guessing.

I had a dream the other night

When all was quiet and still

I dreamt of flowing masses

Wisteria on my window sill

Nature blessed my tranquil hours 

With curling, tangled vines

She sent the fragrant blossoms o’er

To fill the long dark hours.

Next morning I awoke refreshed

With lingering visions from the past

Of last week’s images photographed

From within Pipemakers Park.

AUSTRAL INDIGO (Indigofera australis) – Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong

Success!

(well, sort of).

I’ve tried to photograph this gorgeous small pink native flower half a dozen times, but the fine straggly branches bend and sway in the slightest breeze.  I finally identified its correct name from a fellow blogger’s site the other week though.

Austral Indigo is a slender shrub of the Pea family found in all states of Australia, varying in size, habit and colour.  I’ve seen this flower in the north-western end of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and it was obviously pruned and more compact than the straggly 3-4 bushes in Pipemakers Park near my home.  As its name suggests, the leaves can also be used as a dye.

I’ve tried high shutter speeds, high ISO (well, up to 800), apertures from 3.5 right up to 11.0, but being in mostly shade this is the best I can do so it seems.

NOTE: Bruising and swelling has gone down on my injured thumb, but the more I ‘cup’ or ‘curve’ it, the more it hurts, but at least I can use my homeopathic Arnica Cream more now it’s not in a ridiculous cast and swathed in bandages up to my elbow.  Seriously, the herb Arnica, is the best thing since ‘sliced bread’ when it comes to injuries, sprains, bruises etc.  It also helps with pain.  

The 2nd (more senior?) emergency physician I saw the other day said the cast was definitely ‘overkill’ and they took it off and re-Xrayed my thumb and all other digits.  As an aside, apparently I have quite a large bony ossicle on/near my second thumb joint right where I hold my cameras and this is now hurting more than the upper bone which was directly hit.   In turn my wrist is also ‘playing up.’  

Grrrrr! 

I can’t use scissors or computer mouse easily, but can type for about 20 mins and then it gets sore.  

So I’ll press on with blogging regardless…………….albeit at a much slower pace.  I seem to remember when I broke a small (non-weight bearing) bone in my elbow, the head of the fracture clinic at the local hospital said light use encourages blood flow and helps with healing in these small hairline fractures, (or something like that).

I think it’ll be some time before I can use my heavy long ‘birding’ 150-500mm lens, but I’ve been having a bit of trouble holding the weight before now anyway.  It doesn’t take much to set off a new series of pain locations for days/weeks/months, (or even years), when you have Fibromyalgia.

WISTERIA (Robinia) – PIPEMAKERS PARK

The Wisteria growing over the small rotunda and an arbour in Pipemakers Park is almost as breathtaking as the yellow Lady Banks rose I shared in another post this week.

The only way to get a good view is to shoot facing into the sun, roughly facing North, as there’s too many other trees, plants and bushes forming distractions from the other side.  This is not ideal for any photograph in general, but I suppose I might do better on an overcast day.

But Tuesday of this week was sunny and you can’t tell the Sun to go away after so many inclement days for the first month of Spring.

Besides I need more sun for my freshly planted Tomatoes on my apartment balcony 🙂

Here’s an image made on the 21st August to give you a comparison.

The Wisteria in the Royal Botanic Gardens near the lake restaurant is all mauve/purple, whereas the petals of each flower in Pipemakers Park are whitish with a mauve/purple tip.

TASMAN FLAX-LILY or TASMANIAN FLAX-LILY (Dianella tasmanica)

Yesterday I found my very first Tasman Flax-Lily in this suburb.  It was beside the pond (located between Pipemakers Park and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve).

TASMAN FLAX-LILY or TASMANIAN FLAX-LILY (Dianella tasmanica)

These tiny blue flowers, appearing in Spring and Summer, are followed by bright violet globular berries.  I’m not sure which is prettier, the flower or the berry.  But I do know they’re a delicate little flower and quite hard to photograph in the ever-present wind we seem to experience in Melbourne and surrounds.

Dianella tasmanica was first described in 1858 by eminent English botanist and explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker. I first saw the plant in the Royal Botanic Gardens and thought that it was just a weed of some type, but apparently many people grow them in residential gardens.

They are found in the wild from southern New South Wales, through my state of Victoria and down south in the island state of Tasmania on the south-eastern side of Australia.

I’ve only seen the one plant in the year I’ve lived in this western suburb of Maribyrnong, but hope to see some more in the coming days.

 

LADY BANKS’ ROSE (Rosa banksiae ‘lutea’ ) – PIPEMAKERS PARK

This vine-covered arbor was just stunning in Pipemakers Park.

UPDATE: Thanks to Susan in the comments section who kindly identified this beautiful climbing rose for me.  I’ve now updated the heading and my own photo library.

This vigorous climber also comes in white – Rosa banksiae ‘alba’.

Spring! Spring! SPRING!!!!!

Yes, I thought the Title would get your attention.

Today was a perfect Spring day and after my last feeble walking effort down in Williamstown and Jawbone Arboretum, and exhaustion later that evening, I decided to stick close to home base.   I made do with a mini walk outdoors and thought I’d see how I felt.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that at the present time, I actually feel UNFIT! (note the capital letters 🙂 )………..for the first time in years.  I always have to walk slowly, but I used to walk for 3-5 hours a few years ago.  Now I seem to be restricted to short walks of 1-2 hours only.

So a quick walk around the perimeter of Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve, across a grass-covered area where the Red-rumped Parrots and Splendid Fairy-wrens graze, and then, Pipemakers Park.

The sun was glorious and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute outdoors.  In fact I only came home from the Historic garden ruins early (10 min brisk walk if one takes the short cut), because my water bottle was empty and my hands filthy from pulling a few weeds in one of the outer garden beds.  I only had my lightweight Sony a6000 camera and 55-210 lens, no gardening tools or hand wipes.

I almost…….got……hot 🙂

And wouldn’t you know it – I saw so many birds.  The variety of bird song was amazing, so I guess the avian life made the best of the Spring day also.  I did see some Red-browed Finches, but without a long telephoto lens, I just had to restrict myself to photographing flowers for the most, (or trying to – it was still a wee bit windy and I take better flower shots with my Canon DSLR to be honest).

The Tuesday morning gardening group have done a massive amount of work, but there’s still a lot more to be done.  After a chat with an old acquaintance from previous walks in the area and a few quick flower shots, I couldn’t resist pulling a few weeds……..which grew into quite a sizeable pile.  I didn’t have my hand gardening tools, or a rubbish bag, so left the weed pile for the Park Ranger and Tuesday Morning Volunteer Gardening group to dispose of.  I took a few more shots and then came home as I was so thirsty (and no matter how much you squeeze an empty drink bottle, it’s impossible to produce a single drop 🙂 )

NOTE: I could have looked up all these flower names in my Plant Encyclopaedias but I decided a guess would do for tonight.  Gone are the days living near the Royal Botanic Gardens when I wouldn’t dare upload a flower image without an accurate identification – Common & Botanical name.

A SIMPLE LIFE

For those of you who have followed this blog for some time, you will know I lead a simple life in retirement (from full-time office work).  I eat, sleep and do what most people would consider ‘a lazy life of nothing much in particular.’  The truth of the matter is that my life is filled with Mindful attention to every small detail, especially Nature.

From my desk each morning, I notice each new leaf or avian visitor to my apartment balcony garden.  I hear the many calls of nature from the variety of bird life in the area to the whistling and howling of the wind in the treetops (let alone down my steep laneway and through my balcony garden).

The occasional Magpie or Crow flies overhead scattering the House Sparrows, Honeyeaters and tiny Finches which call this area home.

A dog is barking endlessly up on the main street.  Being the weekend, I hear an occasional car in the background, but it’s the wind and bird life which is prominent.

Living next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve is a precious gift, let alone the nearby parkland and Maribyrnong River, which winds its way gently through the remaining suburbs out into Port Phillip Bay, with Melbourne city at its northern tip.

A lone aeroplane flies over my airspace heading towards Melbourne’s main airport which is located only a few miles away.  It’s not loud and intrusive, merely a faint back ground noise (if you choose to listen for its passing).

About 15 minutes ago, the wind dropped and there was not a leaf stirring.  The Sage has grown about 5 inches in the last 2 weeks.  It seems like yesterday it had died down to ragged brown remnants and looked almost dead.  The various Mint bushes, which I’d cut down to 1/2″ stubble at the beginning of winter have grown about 6″ in 7 days.

Seriously – the growth rate in the last 7-14 days is mind-blowing with all this rain and intermittent sunshine (struggling to gain a space in the sky).

The Cherry blossom trees may not have their full load of flowers on the main street, but they’re well on the way now.

My English parsley which I’d thinned out by half, has grown back it’s 50% haircut and is so lush and green that it begs to be cut and eaten at nearly every meal.

Image made through the rain yesterday from my warm lounge interior, hence the bookcase reflection. I don’t have a polarizing lens for my Sony a6000 (which would reduce this).

I think it timely to have some more images from my archives from around this time of Spring, over a period of several years……mainly when I lived on the south-eastern side of the city next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

In between rain showers yesterday I went out to stake and tie up the Rosemary which the strong gusty, (read gale force), wind had almost split in half.

Did I tell you Melbourne has had very strong winds recently 🙂

………and it doesn’t take much to get me excited.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is more than a little promising, but since the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) is often wrong and Melbourne’s weather is predictably UNpredictable, dare I get my hopes up for a Nature Walk tomorrow.  I think I’ll double-check the walking/photography weather 1st thing before I set out.

Sunday 10 September

Summary
Min 6
Max 17
Partly cloudy.
Possible rainfall:    0 mm
Chance of any rain:    0%

Melbourne area

Partly cloudy. Light winds.

WATTLE (Acacia)

Wattle (Acacia) is in bloom everywhere at the moment and while there are 1350 species world-wide, at least 1000 varieties are indigenous to Australia.  No wonder the Golden Wattle is Australia’s national flower.

There are also pale cream flowering  varieties like the one below which was located close to the pond in Pipemakers Park.

On the way to, and from, Pipemakers Park on Monday, I passed many trees and several varieties.  I left home after a morning of rain showers so it was still overcast walking along the river path (which meant I should have changed the White Balance on my camera, but completely forgot).  On the way home, I took the shortcut through the picnic area which leads directly to the western path (and then gravel access road), around Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

On the way home, the sun was out, but the nature reserve had pockets of deep shade which form as the sun goes down behind the hill (on which my apartment block is built). So while I had plenty of time, now that the shortest day of Winter is past, the light can fade very quickly after about 5.00pm.

I was reading up a little on Wattle as I’m embarrassed to say I know very little about it, except it makes many people sneeze and although I don’t usually get too close to the flowers, it can make my nose a bit itchy.  I was reading an article, some of which I’ve reprinted below, which indicated it can be eaten – I never knew that.  But then, I know a lot more about (mainly) English herbs, than indigenous plants in my own country, Australia.

All parts of various Acacia species have been or are used by people for one purpose or another.

The seeds from some specific Acacia species provide a valuable food source. Mostly the seeds are ground into a flour and cooked like damper although some are eaten raw or made into a porridge. The gum from some species is also edible.

Various extracts from the bark and the leaves or phyllodes have been and continue to be used by Australian Aborigines for a wide variety of medicinal purposes such as relieving toothache or colds or applying to wounds and burns. Green leafy branches of some species may be used to ‘smoke’ someone who is suffering from a general sickness.

The wood of various species has been used to make clubs, spears, boomerangs and shields. Some species, such as Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood), are used to make fine furniture.

Tannin has been extracted from the bark of a number of species for use in tanning including Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle), A. mearnsii (Black Wattle) and A. pycnantha (Golden Wattle).

Boomerang made from the wood of Acacia melanoxylon
A boomerang made
from the wood of
Acacia melanoxylon

Note: for those new to my Nature Blog, I currently live in a large modern apartment block cut into a hillside overlooking Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River in the western suburbs of Melbourne.  The building is located about 100 feet from the rim of the nature reserve and about 6-7 minutes walk to the river………if you’re a brisk walker…….I’m not.  

I also have a Black & White blog located here (which is mainly street photography and not used so often these days) and a Sunset/Sunrise blog located here (which is mainly about the sunsets from my previous 3rd floor apartment to the north-east side of Melbourne).  This sunrise/sunset/cloud formation blog is not going to last much longer as I don’t see the sunsets as much in this current hillside location, despite my apartment balcony facing west.

COMMON MALLOW? – FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE

I walked over to Pipemakers Park on Monday looking for Spring.

On the way down to the river path (for I was going the long way round via the river), I spied this glorious patch of colour on the fence between Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and the river walking/cycling path.  A Mallow perhaps?  And while Frogs Hollow is still looking rather Wintery, this patch of colour looked so cheerful I was tempted to pluck a few cuttings off and plant them all the way along the fence.  But I know the Council in charge of the area are cutting out all non-indigenous trees, so I daresay they would not appreciate me spreading this non-indigenous flower.

Now that the weather is starting to improve a bit, I’ve been trying to get out for a walk more often.

I was rather shocked to find myself more breathless and fatigued than usual when down at Jawbone Conservation Reserve last Sunday.  That was the first time since I took up Photography 7 years ago that I actually felt really unfit.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

I planted this pink Argyranthemum in a pot on my balcony on the 4th November 2016 (according to the dates on my fist photo) and it has flowered non-stop through the extreme heat of Melbourne’s Summer and the wild winds of recent Winter weekends – some gale force.

I’ve been dead-heading, (cutting off the wilted or dead flowers), continuously and today the 21st August, close to Spring 2017, it is still flowering.

I’ve never grown this brilliant pink daisy before.  It this a record?  Or is this normal?

I don’t know.

I’ve just moved it closer to the lounge window so there’s a space to observe the bird’s nest (I spotted the other day) from my desk chair.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR…….

From the archives – 15th August 2016.

After moaning about the wild and windy weather lately, I thought to check out  what I was doing this time last year.

(well, 15th August, 2016 was close enough).

It appears I was in the Royal Botanic Gardens doing some flower photography.  The dark background suggests it was on a dark overcast  Winter day, but it didn’t stop these lovely pink flowers shining.  I’ve had a ‘senior moment‘ and can’t remember what they’re called 🙂    Uhmmmm…..Japonica….Flowering Quince?).  At least I remember where I made the image.  It was next to a blue rubbish bin, 50 metres up the path from the Rose Pavilion, which was located on the hillside above the large Ornamental Lake).

Did I ever mention that I’ve walked around and through the Royal Botanic Gardens between 8-10,000 times in my adult life.  I even walked to/from my office on the southern perimeter of the RBG for some 16 1/2 years.  It’s a beautiful part of Melbourne and well worth a visit.

The Royal Botanic Gardens I mean, not my old office 🙂

PURPLE CORAL PEA (Hardenbergia violacea)

This week I noticed that the Purple Coral Pea is in bloom.

I had already spotted several low-growing bushes opposite my apartment block, but the local council has planted it in various locations between new apartment blocks at the top of my laneway’s steep hill.

I bent over and fired off a few shots on the walk home from the local chemist/pharmacy on Monday.   As the bright sunlight was too harsh, I put my body between the flowers and the sun to create a shadow and the flowers showed up much better.  I only had my Sony ‘mirrorless’ with the 55-210 lens in my shopping bag, but I’ll try and go back with my Canon DSLR and my new(ish) 17-50mm f2.8 lens which will take a much closer and better shot.  I love that DSLR lens, but when I’m in a hurry, I usually grab my lightweight Sony ‘mirrorless’ a6000 on the way out the front door, not a heavy DSLR.

This lovely pea is a vigorous climber growing up to 20 feet so Wikipedia says, but I’ve only seen it growing low on the ground to about 20 inches high.

Wikipedia also says……

Hardenbergia violacea syn. H. monophylla is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to Australia from Queensland to Tasmania.[1] It is known in Australia by the common names false sarsaparilla, purple coral pea, happy wanderer, native lilac and waraburra (which comes from the Kattang language).[2] Elsewhere it is also called vine lilac[3] or lilac vine.

It also comes in white, pink and other colours.

 

WINTER ROSE

From the Archives – 13th June 2017

I hate walking along the main road to the nearby Shopping Centre.  (In fact I usually catch a bus, tram or taxi).

It’s so boring.

The roads.

The cars.

The car exhaust fumes.

The traffic sounds.

So back in mid June I set myself a challenge to see how many flowers I could photograph in residential gardens, (or next to footpaths), along the walk.  It worked.  By the time I’d found the last flower on the journey, I had arrived.  And I didn’t even notice how long it took.  Here’s a couple of images I shot along the way.

………and I wasn’t bored one little bit 🙂

 

BLUEBERRY “Nellie Kelly”

My potted blueberry is flowering.

On re-reading the identification tag from the plant nursery tonight, apparently it produces red flowers during winter.

I’ve never grown a blueberry before, let alone in a pot on a west-facing balcony, and was surprised to see the flowers at this time of year.

Looks promising for a good crop next Spring/Summer.

BACOPA (Sutera cordata)

I’ve photographed the lovely flowers of this blue Bacopa several times since I planted the seedling some time last year (?).  It has grown so well on my west-facing apartment balcony and was a delight to see every morning when I got up and sat down at my desk (which is facing the window and balcony garden).  A few weeks ago I give all my herbs and flowers a fairly aggressive haircut, especially the mint and Bacopa which was almost trailing on the ground from the top of the 10 inch pot.

The nursery label, which I’ve kept, says it has an abundance of flowers from Spring to Summer, so I fully expected it to lie a little dormant through Autumn, especially now that Winter in Melbourne is approaching.

Within days of the haircut, (about 8″ off the long tresses and a crew cut on top), it started flowering again and my image, made yesterday, shows a healthy show of colour once again.

I’m now wondering if it will flower all winter…..miracles do happen in my potted garden from time to time.

(and my 3 pots of Mint, which I use a lot in salads in summer, cut down to about 1″ stubble, is almost 5-6″ high in each pot again).

SHADES OF PINK

 

Grevillea ‘Little Drummer Boy’

 

NEWELL’S PADDOCK WETLANDS RESERVE & FOOTSCRAY PARK

Last Friday, I finally got back to doing a long walk.

The forecast cloud cover faded just after I caught the bus to Footscray Park and the cool wind picked up as I walked through the formal entrance down the steep pathway towards the Maribyrnong River.   When the sun came from behind the clouds, the downhill trek became a real treat.  I love walking in Autumn and Spring with a cool wind on my face.

I made some lovely shots of the flowers in the Park and surprisingly, there were some stunning Autumn flowers out in full bloom, but getting down low to photograph the ground cover Peruvian Lilies (or Alstroemeria) was a real pain.  I bent down low and used the tilt screen of the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ but the sun reflected off the LCD screen so it was really hit or miss whether I got the low-down shots in focus.

I then kept walking quite some way along the Maribyrnong River to Newell’s Paddock, entering the Wetlands from the rear riverside gate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was one of those days when the river held hundreds of sparkling ‘stars’ of sunlight as though there was a path of diamonds across the water surface.  Really pretty and made up for the lack of interesting landscape either side of the river in this green belt along the river.

There was a real change of colour to be seen in most of my photos of Newell’s Paddock, from various shades of green a few weeks ago, to tinges of Autumn orange and russet throughout the grasses and succulent ground cover in the conservation area of Newell’s Paddock Wetlands.  The golden rays of the sun made some of my images look like they’d been photoshopped, but no, the warm colours were definitely for real.  I’m pretty sure I had the White Balance on Auto also.

But my favourite shot of the day was looking over the fence at the most eastern pond and surrounding greenery (below).  I stood there for ages just enjoying the view of this green oasis in the middle of suburbia.  How lucky we are in Melbourne’s inner suburbs to have such wonderful parks and gardens amidst the residential housing estates.