The Verge

Work on the verge, or the nature strip as some like to call it, began about a year ago. It began as a folly because our family normally call this area the dead zone. Growing a native garden under a gum tree can be difficult but hopefully not impossible with the right plant choices. We live in a frost hollow so that adds further challenges. It is winter now so not much is happening. Still, I am like an expectant mum, bursting with excitement and ready to bring home the baby. But as you know, these things cannot be rushed.

The design concept evolved over the course of the year from growing whatever would grow in the dead zone under our brittle gum, to instead targetting plants that were native to our local area (Canberra, Australia); there being quite a lot of overlap in these groups. Unfortunately my enthusiasm was not matched by my knowledge and so occasionally I planted some non-local native species in my haste to get plants in the ground before dry weather was upon us again. The definition of our local region is also very broad covering both sub-alpine temperate forests through to natural temperate grasslands on the plains.

The garden is finally starting to take shape, albeit mostly in my head. To narrow down my plant choices, I began to incorporate a number of species found growing in my nearby local park or plants that perhaps ought to be growing in the park if it had been left in its original natural state. I suspect I have over-planted but I anticipate some losses. By popular demand (a couple of people), below is a list of the plants I’ve jammed into this small space. This list and accompanying photos will be updated from time to time.

Grasses

  1. Cymbopogon refractus (Barbed-wire grass) – despite its name, very soft and beautiful but highly flammable when mature. I may need to reconsider although that choice may have been made for me as it appears to have died over winter 2022.
  2. Enneapogon nigricans (Nine-Awn grass, Bottlewashers) – a small, buxom grass.
  3. Poa sieberiana (Small blue Tussock Grass) – beautiful.
  4. Poa spp (Snow Grass) – I think I have Poa helmsii. Maybe too big? Doing fantastically well.
  5. Rytidosperma spp. (Wallaby Grass)
  6. Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass) – growing in nearby park and elsewhere in my garden.


Climbers/Groundcovers

  1. Billardiera scandens (Hairy Apple Berry) – local bush tucker.
  2. Glycine clandestina (Twining Glycine) – growing in nearby park.
  3. Convolvulus angustissimus – another species that occurs naturally at the park (where there are fewer snails!)
  4. Hardenbergia violacea (Native Sarsparilla) – limited success previously but wrens seem to like it so I am trying again. Barely survived winter 2022.
  5. Ziera prostrata – non-local threatened species. Unlikely to survive.


Shrubs

  1. Eremophila ‘Piccaninny Dawn’ – non-local but an eremophila that survives in Canberra! I’ll take it.
  2. Eutaxia obovata (Egg and Bacon Plant) – non-local. Shade-loving. Doing well.
  3. Olearia phlogopappa white (Dusty Daisy Bush) – often found locally in alpine areas and/or moist to wet forests.
  4. Pimelea linifolia (Slender riceflower) – a favourite of my son.


Herbs (Forbs)

  1. Arthropodium milleflorum (Pale Vanilla Lily)
  2. Arthropodium minus (Small Vanilla Lily) – eaten by cockatoos
  3. Bulbine bulbosa (Bulbine Lily) – fire resistant, bush tucker
  4. Bulbine semibarbata (Leek Lily) – fire resistant
  5. Calocephalus citreus (Lemon Beauty Heads) – grassland plant doing really badly.
  6. Chrysocephalum apiculatum (Common Everlasting/Yellow Buttons) – keystone grassland plant.
  7. Chrysocephalum semipapposum (Clustered Everlasting, Yellow Buttons)
  8. Craspedia variabilis (Billy Buttons)
  9. Eryngium ovinum (Blue Devil) – spiky but beautiful, dies back in autumn. Seen previously in nearby park but no longer present. Also elsewhere in my garden.
  10. Leucochrysum albicans (Hoary Sunray) – threatened species.
  11. Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides (Button Wrinklewort) – endangered, heartbreaker, ie. difficult to grow. I’ve not had much growing it elsewhere in my garden.
  12. Stylidium graminifolium (Grass Trigger Plant) – because I like them.
  13. Thysanotus tuberosus (Common Fringe Lily)
  14. Vittadinia muelleri (Narrow leaf New Holland Daisy) – growing in nearby park.
  15. Wahlenbergia stricta (Native Bluebell) – native bee loves them. Prolific.
  16. Wahlenbergia communis (Tufted Bluebell)


It is difficult to get the big picture of the garden from the small seedlings in the garden. I will post more photos in spring.

Happy gardening, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

*Photos from plants growing elsewhere in the garden.

Last Updated 30/10/2022

Lens Artists – Picking Favourites

During July, the dedicated, hard-working hosts of the incredibly popular Lens-Artists Photo Challenge take a well earned break from their hosting duties and co-opt five guest hosts to take on this important responsibility. Wrapping up the final week of the month, is guest host, Sarah, from Travel With Me. Sarah has chosen the theme ‘Picking Favourites’. She has asked that respondents pick three of their best/favourite photos, one each from three different photographic genres. Sarah has also requested that respondents outline why they chose a particular photo. Tough assignment but I’ll give it a go. Here is my response.

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Public Menace?

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.

Yesterday I was as mad as hell when workers down the road parked on my new garden. So I spent a good five minutes looking for some lipstick to write on their windscreen. But I decided against that and instead stormed down to where they were working and asked them to move their, ahem, vehicle off my, um, garden, or words to that effect. No really, I was very polite. Unfortunately, there was a fatality.

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Backyard Bandits

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new night vision camera. We occasionally get bats eating our figs in the backyard. We will be ready to capture them on camera next summer should they decide to pay us a visit. Of course, they are not the only animals that help themselves to our produce at the night market. Here is a taste of our backyard fauna.

The brushtail possums are frequent, noisy visitors. Normally, there is a furore after sunset when the possum exits our garage/shed. The dogs go crazy. However, I didn’t really expect the possum to stop by at 2am in the morning.

This photo was taken a couple of years ago. My neighbour has a much better shed but the possums prefer to slum it with us.

Mr Possum, that is not your best angle.

The rodents have been a huge problem over the last few years. We have caught quite a few in a snap trap that my True Love designed. The trap is placed in what is effectively a tunnel. This is the culling method that is preferred by the (Australian) Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (see here). Unfortunately, the rats are very canny and after a successful night trapping, the trap must remain unset for several weeks until the rodents get hungry enough to try their luck again.

Our fig tree fruited prolifically this year, but it seemed none but the rodents would enjoy the fruit. We tried collaring the tree with an Elizabethan dog collar to prevent the rodents ascent. It worked.

Here is a short clip of one of the little bastards. As yet, we have not worked out a way to keep them from our tomatoes.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the backyard antics. Perhaps we will set up the camera in our banksia rose hedge. It appeared to shimmy with movement this afternoon.

Thanks for joining me.
Kind Regards.
Tracy.

The Changing Seasons – May 2022

May in Canberra (Australia) – Moments in May, momentous May, May in triptychs. But first, a poem, a kind of triptych of course.

May Change

Filaments of May morph and coalesce
‘twixt pearlescent rain and golden light,
while rising power bills outstrip inflation.

Leaves and pamphlets flutter in the breeze.
People power in technicolour. Rejoice!
Winter is upon us and Australia is infectious.

Sadly, little bird flies the coop. Man in repose,
rises. Listen, do you hear that?
Tick-tick, tick-tick, as we turn the corner.

What does it all mean, I hear you ask? Autumn finished slowly. It rained on and off, but the sun broke through often enough to dally with our affections. Jack Frost flirted, adding impetus to deciduous trees still reluctant to toss aside their colourful costumes. The wildlife has begun jockeying for power and has cleared out the pantry in preparation for next Spring’s bounty. There was, nevertheless, time for bathing. Speaking of bathing, a national election was held. The government changed amid pledges of a new, kinder, more collaborative polity in the future. My True Love survived his surgery. Our canary, Pan of the Wild Music, died. I got hearing aids today. I wish I could have heard Pan sing one last time. Apparently, I still don’t listen to my husband.

Triptych – black and white theme for the magpie juveniles who still haven’t left home.

Triptych – Crimson theme for crimson rosellas bathing.

Triptych – multicoloured mixed feelings.

Winter is now upon us. As I returned from my hearing aid fitting, the Brindabella range was shrouded in snow clouds. Rain hammered loudly on the windscreen. We’ve definitely turned a corner. It sounds like tick-tick, tick-tick.

This is my response to The Changing Seasons photo challenge, jointly hosted by Ju-Lyn (Touring My Backyard) and Brian (Bushboys World). This post is also doubling as my contribution to the triptych themed Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

Goodnight, everyone. Be well, be kind and try to listen.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

About the Photos:
The last photo in the first two triptychs were taken by my True Love. I snapped the rest.

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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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.

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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Oddly Enough

For the Lens-Artists Photo ChallengesA Special Place and Odds and Ends.

I have been rather quiet over the last few months living my ordinary life in extraordinary times. Ordinary does not mean dull or insignificant. Such is life in these days of extremes. I have spent an inordinate amount of time at my special place, ie. home. It might not be perfect, posh or pristine, but it has everything we need. Every window has a view of the garden and its inhabitants.

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Hello Darkness

The theme for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is Low Light. I thought I would join in. I enjoy low light photography. The words moody and dramatic spring to mind. It’s the realm of the arty farty, don’t you think? I like that word. Realm. I like arty farty too. Anyway, today I have four photos. The first three were snapped by my True Love (TL) and I took, and mucked around with, the fourth one. Please note that we don’t do mornings.

Kangaroo mob in the late afternoon.

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