Gardening SOS – 28 May 2022

I thought I might do some garden posts since, well, it cheers me up. Today I am making my first contribution to Six on Saturday, a weekly gardening get-together hosted by The Propagator.

1. As some readers will know, I have been taking advantage of our extended La Niña event to establish a new garden with plants native to Australia on the front verge. The plants are tiny and as yet there is very little form or colour to the garden to give it depth and interest. So I whacked up this old gate that I had lying around out the back and hung my mosaic on it for the kids to enjoy when they walked past. The gate will also provide a frame for the climber, Appleberry, Billardiera scandens (not shown), that I have planted in front of the gate.

2. I have also planted a variety of native grasses in the new garden, including barbed-wire grass (Cymbopogon refractus) pictured above. A friend told me that barbed-wire grass is beloved of blue wrens and red-browed finches. I’ve not seen red-browed finches in our suburb so barbed-wire grass might be a grass to plant in our nearby reserve once we get rid of some of the dreaded African love grass.

3. For the last few winters, the Australian National Botanic Gardens has been showing off Qualup Bells, Pimelea physodes. It grows in Western Australia. When I saw it at the local nursery, I couldn’t resist it and brought it home with me. This plant has been grafted making it possible to grow in Canberra (which is located in eastern Australia). Mine is planted in a pot. It is covered with buds that are poised to open (above). I can’t wait.

4. Speaking of pots, I took a cutting of the pink salvia, Salvia microphylla (above), growing out back. It is now established in this pot out front. The Eastern spinebills love it. Winter frosts will inevitably knock it back. When that happens, I hope the spinebills will be tempted by the Qualup Bells.

5. In the backyard, it is a shower of autumn leaves. This coral bark maple, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ (above), has a few leaves that have not yet been washed away by today’s deluge. This tree was originally a rescue plant. We had to lop it as it did not have a central leader so it is unlikely to grow more than 3 or 4 metres. I really enjoy this tree, as do the little birds who swoop in to gather the fine sticky branches for nesting material.

6. And finally, a pink camellia (species unknown) peeks out from between the salvia and chocolate vine which are attempting to overwhelm it.

Happy gardening, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Ravenous

Ravenous is a great word, don’t you think? There is something quite primal, urgent and debased about it. Or at least, that was its historical context but, at least outside of the bedroom, it is a word that has now attained some respectability and simply means very hungry. According to Mirriam-Webster, the noun “raven” (black bird) and the verb “raven” (from which the adjective “ravenous” is derived) are unrelated. They are homographs, which is a shame because I have a ravenous raven story. This is your chance, squeamish readers, to skip this story.

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The Changing Seasons – April 2022

Canberra (Australia) – Autumn delivers and April visitors.

I haven’t contributed to The Changing Seasons since December 2021. A lot has happened over the past four months, including health issues, poetry, completion of a major mosaic project and the start of a new front garden. Apart from the health matters, the garden has taken priority because we have to get it in now ahead of the next, inevitable, drought. In the regular garden, we had to abandon the tomatoes and beans to the rodents this year. They have been very hungry (we caught three and Makea, our dog, caught one). Nevertheless, we still managed to harvest three pumpkins from vines we did not plant. The fig tree went bonkers and produced two huge bumper crops. The rodents got stuck into the first crop but we managed to score some figs from the second batch by securing Elizabethan collars around the trunk of the tree to prevent the rats from climbing up the tree. I also collected a small tub of feijoa today, our first ever crop in more than two decades that we have lived at our house in Canberra.

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Coloured Red

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you. But first, a poem.

The vine grows tangled on bough – gnarly and proud.
Pride, gnarly pride – whether of nations or race –
wins not war, wins not peace, wins not submission.

Vines tangled on thorns of bloodied resistance,
trapped in a fog of remembrance, the glory.
Ignominious defender of empire

Lost. Dark and broken. Quells peace. Cruel tsar to none,
hero to one. The vine grows tangled on bough.
Wins not war, wins not peace, wins not submission.

Tangled vines lash all to the yoke of sorrow.
Wins not war, wins not peace, wins not submission.
The vine grows tangled on bough. Its rose blooms red.

Perhaps there is only one road for those devoid of imagination and courage? Maybe peace is something that requires practise? You know, fake it until you make it? Who knows? It seems that some of god’s apparent emissaries can give some pretty shitty advice. Shall we listen to Loreena McKennitt’s song, Dante’s Prayer, in the hope of something better?

Take care, everyone.
Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Colourful Expressions, specifically a red rose for Anne as it is her favourite colour, plus
NaPoWriMo #22 challenge is to to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a sound, a word, a phrase, or an image, or any combination of things.

Consuming Passions

Photo by elif tekkaya on Pexels.com

Consuming Passions
Long slender legs to her armpits;
beautiful eyes flashed her carnal intent.
He had been looking for her his whole life.
Their eyes locked,
bodies swaying together in lovers’ embrace.
A question hung between them.
He: “What do you want?”
She: “To devour you.”
And then he lost his head.

This poem was inspired by two mating praying mantises I photographed last week. Sometimes the female mantis, the smaller of the two, eats the head of the male mantis during copulation. The male is able to continue the deed without his head for a short time as apparently he has a separate mini-brain in his abdomen. Talk about being ruled by the little head! I confess that I had to look away.

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge was to write a poem that anthropomorphises a kind of food, and ask yourself how the food feels about it.

Alrighty, gruesome.

Bon Appétit, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

NaPoWriMo #20
For information on the copulating appetites of praying mantises, here is an article from The Guardian.

Aura – It’s All A Blur

Some thoughts on bokeh for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This is not a tutorial on bokeh.

I once thought “bokeh” referred to the circles, sometimes sparkly, that you often see in the background of a photo taken with a macro or telephoto lens. I’ve moved on from that and I now like to think of bokeh as the aura surrounding the subject of the photo, the bokeh being that little bit of voodoo magic performed by the camera to blur out the background so that the subject has centre stage. That is purely my artistic view and not a technical definition. I prefer my bokeh soft and calm and not swishy/choppy, but this is easier said than done. The exception to that is when the bokeh is being used for creative effect. If for any reason it is not possible to achieve the effect desired, I would rather take the photo “as is”, and enjoy what I’ve seen. Hence, you will see less than perfect bokeh on my site. Hopefully, the photos will still be interesting.

A messy background, my position and camera shake affected the quality of the bokeh/aura in my photo of this kookaburra below. The bokeh is not to my taste but how could you not love a face like that?

Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Australian National Botanic Gardens

Now for my photography partner’s photo. He was further up the hill than I was and his extra height meant that he was able to access a much nicer background, and hence, lovely bokeh.

Kookaburra – Australian National Botanic Gardens

Look! Even with my little camera, I can still achieve a lovely blurred background if I am lucky to find myself close to my subject and there is a reasonable amount of separation between it and the background.

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) in the Canberra suburbs

It is difficult to capture that lovely blurred background effect with fast moving little birds. A really fancy camera or lots of patience is required. I therefore like to see what my little camera can make of plants. Trees in sheltered spots are great for this. The filtered light provides a beautiful tonal calm backdrop to the bark of this Pinus canarienis at Canberra’s Lyndsay Pryor Arboretum. The dark colour of the bark is a result of being burnt in the 2003 bushfires.

Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis), Lyndsay Pryor Arboretum, Canberra)

And below, I couldn’t resist the combination of the young eucalyptus leaves against the muted yellow plants in the background (probably paper daisies like those in the foreground), which were themselves set against the darker green of the heavily shaded area in the far back. I wouldn’t classify this as bokeh or an aura, but without my camera to see this stunning plant against the blurred background, it might not have caught my eye so. My botanist son’s best guess is that the tree is a native of Western Australia, Eucalyptus macrocarpa. WA plants are always show stoppers. What do you think, WA readers? Did my son guess right?

Mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) tbc – Australian National Botanic Gardens

And, finally, this creamy milk chocolate background is a perfect complement to the fungi growing in fallen timber. Photography can be such a time waster but there are worse things we could be doing.

Thanks for reading this far, everyone. I have a couple more photos of the kookaburra that I will share soon. In the meantime, take care and take photos.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

In Your Likeness

Photo by Johannes Havn on Pexels.com

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you. But first, a poem.

In Your Likeness
What do you see when you look into your soul?
Bloodshed, torture and depravity?
Is this your version of humanity?
Not fit unless made in your likeness.

Today I’ve chosen Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby, composed by Javier Navarrete for Guillermo del Toro’s film.

Take care, everyone.
Kind Regards.
Tracy

NaPoWriMo #8

This Ain’t No Teddy Bears Picnic

Be afraid, be very afraid. (NaPoWriMo #5)

In Australia, there are whispers of a murderous cabal of people-eating koalas. Known colloquially as “drop bears”, their location is known only to Aussies, who avoid them for dear life. The modus operandi of the drop bear is to drop down from the trees onto unsuspecting visitors. That’s when things get gruesome. But times are a-changing, ladies and gentlemen. Survival of our respective species, of the planet, means we will all need to reduce our meat consumption. Let’s see how that goes. Gather round.

Blood red eyes, dagger claws, give lie to that sweet furry body and button nose.
“To our sacrifice and to yours!” The leader of the Drop Bears includes the captive in her hypnotic gaze. Then, in a booming bark, she projects to the crowd, “One last time. For tomorrow we turn vegan.”
The crowd blanches, then tentatively at first, begins to chant, “Flu-ffy. Flu-ffy.”
“But tonight. Tonight, Sisters. Tonight, Brothers. Tonight, there will be feasting on more meaty prey.”
“Flu-ffy. Flu-ffy.”
Silence falls – or maybe drops – as the throng gathers to feast.
Finally, a shout rings out. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we dine on the Infidel.”
The crowd roars. “Flu-ffy. Flu-ffy.”

A Vegetable’s Nightmare
The silence ripples.
Beyond the shadows,
beyond the adulation,
in gardens across the country,
the infidels quiver in their beds.

If you are a visitor to Australia and plan on visiting koala habitat, best do that during the day. Koalas and their kin, the drop bears, are nocturnal and feed at night. There’s no telling if the drop bears will honour their resolution.

Day 5 of the NaPoWriMo challenge was to write a poem about a mythical person or creature (drop bears are more secretive than mythical) doing something unusual – or at least something that seems unusual in relation to that person/creature. I made a slight deviation from the brief, but near enough is good enough.

Stay safe, everyone.
Kind Regards.
Tracy.

PS. I had rather too much fun setting up the photos. I’ve had the koala toy since I was a baby.

Round The Bend

There has been many a twist and turn, and a few curve balls thrown at us over the last few weeks.

My mother and step-father visited from up north, skirting the floods that have left thousands homeless on the east coast of Australia. It has been over two years since I had my hair cut. My mother plaited it for me. The plait was a bit wonky, so perfect for me.

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