Friday, August 29, 2014

Plum Blossom

Both my plum trees have a blossom or two open today.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sweet Pea Buds

Today the friend who gave me sweet pea seeds from her garden asked if I had any flowers yet, and I said there weren't even buds yet.
But I checked when I got home, and I was wrong! Actually there are lots of buds, but I don't think there will be any flowers before spring.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


This is what the townhouses over my back fence look like now:
I'm so glad I won't have to live with this building.

This afternoon a couple of the builders were yelling obscenities at each other, which rather spoiled my plans to enjoy a quiet cuppa in the back yard.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Deep Purple Hyacinths

The "black" hyacinth flowers I posted a couple of weeks back
have started to pop open
and they are not the colour they appear on the screen! This is my usual camera problem with purple. Try to imagine the flowers in the photo above in this deep purple colour:
because that's what they look like. Wonderful! And on top of them looking gorgeous, the warmer weather over the last couple of days seems to have brought out their fragrance so they are perfuming the whole yard.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Undressed and Over 100

A trip to central Victoria to see two very different gallery exhibits.

First, a stop to change drivers and check out some trees. A lot of the small trees in the paddock across the highway started life in my backyard:
This is the land where we planted TreeProject trees I grew in 2011 and 2012.

Next stop, Bendigo Gallery for the V&A exhibit, Undressed: 350 Years of Fashion in Underwear. No photos allowed, unfortunately. It is not a big exhibition, but I had a good look around before large numbers of people began to arrive at about midday. Get there in the morning if you are going!

Stone work on a building in View St, Bendigo:
I wouldn't mind something like that on the thermal mass wall in our new house.

After lunch something completely different, Bendigo Trailers and Hardware (dud website, but amazing in real life), which doesn't sound like a demolition yard, but most of it is:
Boxes of unused tiles from around the world in one small part of the yard out the back.

Home via Castlemaine, where the gallery has a small exhibition of very moving portraits by Peter Wegner of 10 centenarians. Each work includs a few words about the subject's thoughts on turning 100, which were fascinating to read. Worth seeing if you are in the area before the end of August.

Found a nice door-handle in one Castlemaine business, and loved these hexagon tiles on the doorstep of another building:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Checking the Hives

A warm sunny day gave us the opportunity to check on the bee hives.

The first hive has two supers without a queen excluder, and the queen has been busy laying lots of new babies throughout the hive:
There is very little stored honey, as the bees have been feeding thousands of larvae. This photo shows a little stored honey around the top edge (the pale yellow cells), lots of capped brood (the darker yellow cells), and some larvae almost ready to be capped (the whitish cells towards the bottom). The dark cells in the centre are where baby bees have already emerged, and most of them have a new small larva developing in the bottom of the cell. There are lots of bees on the frame, caring for the larvae.

It wasn't warm enough today to pull the whole hive apart, but I suspect there could be some queen cells somewhere in this hive, and these bees are getting ready to swarm in spring. Today we added an empty third super above a queen excluder, to give them some honey storage space. Will that stop them swarming?

The second hive is very different. This one has a queen-excluder between the first and second super, which means the queen can only lay eggs in the bottom half of the hive. Contrast this frame from above the excluder with that from the first hive:
This one is full of honey. There are few bees on it because there isn't much for them to do once the honey cell is full and capped. The whole top super was pretty full of stored honey. We removed four full frames and replaced them with empty ones, and also added a third super with eight empty frames. So this hive now has lots of available storage space for honey. Will they want to swarm, or will they be happy filling up the hive again?

What happens to these two hives over the next few weeks will be interesting, and could influence how we set the bees up for future winters.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Spent some time today transplanting river bottlebrush (Callistemon sieberi) seedlings. They germinated over winter and are still quite tiny:
Too tiny to go and be planted with the other trees last month!

I filled up all the empty tubes where other species had failed to germinate. If they survive and grow well in spring, they can go and join the others.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yellow Hyacinth!

Another hyacinth opening, and this one is yellow:
I didn't even know hyacinths could be yellow until a couple of days ago.

Meanwhile the pinky-mauve ones that opened first are looking big and beautiful:
Although they look a bit pinker in the photo than in real life.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hexies for the Link-Up

Afternoon tea with some quilting friends, and I attached the last pieces to my version of Geta Grama's Flower Ball as we talked and "tea-ed":

So here it is:
There are still a few little seams to do here and there before I start joining the larger chunks together. Once I start it will become much harder to carry the project around with me. The chunks all fit in an A4 plastic box, but joined together they won't. I don't want to take the card pieces out just yet, so will have to think about how to transport the whole thing.

I'll be linking this post to Sarah's "HELP for Hexie-aholics" link-up once she puts it up.
Added later: Here's the link-up! Check out the other projects from around the world.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

White Hyacinth

Several pinky-mauve hyacinths have opened, and now here is a white one starting:
No movement from the "black" ones yet; they are keeping me guessing about their real colour.

Friday, August 15, 2014


I have avoided Pinterest until now, but today I succumbed:
It seems like a useful tool for collecting products and ideas for the new house.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Home Show

I haven't been to the home show in years!
It's big, but the product range is much narrower than in the shows I remember from years ago.

There are about 20 to 30 stands selling "investments". There are the usual stands selling all the products that are only ever sold at these shows: the mops, painting gadgets, vege peelers, drills and secateurs that for some reason aren't available in shops. And if you want to re-model your kitchen, there are half a dozen or more people to sell you new cupboards. But there is very little lighting, almost nothing for the garden (a bit of sculpture, and stupid floating crocodile heads), no furniture, and only one stand with floor coverings. Some of the things I was hoping to see weren't there, but I did get to check out the haiku fan, solar hot water, and the particular type of windows we need for our new house.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nearly Done

Or am I?

Choosing fabrics for the last two flowers:
But I'm thinking of re-working a couple of areas. Also playing with ideas for the background.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Happy Birthday

This iteration of the wood-working apron might be more successful:
Denim instead of vinyl, denim straps instead of polypropylene. This one was completely sewn on the treadle machine. And I just realised as I looked at this picture that I left off one of the pockets the original had!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dog Jumper

The main sewing I've done recently is of three polar-fleece jumpers for Sam. They are based on this pattern, but I left off the leg binding. They seem to be helping keep her snug and warm on these cold days.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


If you want to object, you've got 20 more days.

Elsewhere on the block:
Power has arrived!

It's getting a bit exciting.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hyacinths Opening

The first of my birthday hyacinths is opening:
This one is a lovely pinky-mauvey colour. But I'm very curious about some of the others which look almost black:

Monday, August 4, 2014

More Frost

Another frosty morning!

This is one way to keep cats out of the birdbath:
It's frozen over!

Siberian kale in the vegie garden obviously doesn't mind a bit of frost:
In fact the frost should just sweeten its taste.

But the poor crinum bulbs really didn't need a second dose:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Not Happy

There was a bit of frost this morning, and it seems that the crinum lily isn't happy about it:
The leaves have flopped and are discoloured. They look and feel as if they have been lightly steamed.

It is interesting that a bulb which doesn't emerge until winter seems to be not at all frost tolerant.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What's in Flower - August

Here's my second-last monthly post of the flowers currently in my garden.

First rose of spring:
Unidentified deep red rose.

Cymbidium orchid - Peter Pan X Snow Eagle "Malcolm":
These flowers are looking a bit sad, but still hanging on.

Vireya "Princess Alexandra":

Grevillea "John Evans":

This one has only a couple of flowers at the moment, despite being a fairly large plant.

Lemon tree:

Another callistemon:
This one has a few flowers, but mainly on a branch which has been broken in the wind.

Thickleaf aeonium, Aeonium arboreum:
A little bit of a cheat, as none of the flowers are actually open yet. But the buds are getting ready to pop. The flowers will be yellow.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon (yellow gum) 'Eukie Dwarf':
Has lots of buds, but this was the only flower I could find open. It looks like it has been bashed around a bit by the weather though.

Crassula ovata:


This one is absolutely covered in flowers.

Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha):

Bethel sage - Salvia involucrata 'Bethelii':

Fringe flower, Loropetalum chinense var rubrum:
 Violets (Viola odorata):
 This one looks a bit ratty!



Spring really is coming, and here's proof - jasmine flowers (Jasminum officinale):