Thursday, March 31, 2011

Seedling Maintenance

The root systems of eucalypt seedlings are much bigger than the bit above the ground.
I spent some time today thinning out some of the seedlings, and trimming their roots. Regularly trimming the roots like this means that damage to the root system is minimised when the seedlings are eventually planted out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Spotted while out walking - a butterfly in a butterfly bush.
More accurately, it is an Australian or Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea), on a buddleia (probably Buddleja davidii).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pumpkins & Bees

This is why bees are so handy to have around if you want to grow pumpkins:
This bee is crawling out of a male pumpkin flower after a drink of nectar from right at the base of the flower. As you can see, in the process of getting that nectar, she gets covered in pollen. She cleans it from her wings and her eyes before flying to the next flower but there is still plenty stuck to her to pollinate a female flower!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Camellia Surprise

Some time in the last week, one of my sasanqua camellias started flowering:
This one is "Showa no sakae". I have another one which I currently can't get close enough to to see if it is in bud yet, because a certain spider has blocked off that corner of the garden. And she is still catching several of my bees each day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stashbusters Sale

Took a trip with a  few friends to the "Stashbusters Sale" at the Notting Hill Neighbourhood House.

About 20 stalls were set up, inside and outside the house, with people selling off fabric, yarn, patterns and books at bargain prices. Add in a cake stall with Devonshire teas, and a plant stall or two, and it was a fun day out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Work on a UFO

Spent some time sewing these blocks together. They've been hanging around waiting for me to do something with them for quite some time, but now they're becoming quilted blocks which will be sent to Jan Mac to be made into quilts for victims of floods or earthquakes.

(UFO stands for Un-Finished Object, and I am working on reducing the projects in that category.)

PS: These blocks ended up as a quilt seen here. Wonderful to see them doing something useful instead of sitting around in my sewing room!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reply from the Museum

Last weekend I sent a message to the museum asking about my unidentified grasshopper.

Today I received a reply:

"Thank you for contacting the Discovery Centre at Melbourne Museum with your enquiry.

We have contacted the Entomologist with your enquiry, and she has provided the following information for you:

                I agree it is spur-throated locust Austracris guttulosa.  
A Guide to Grasshoppers and Locusts (Rentz, Lewis, Su and Upton 2003) notes that this locust will venture south into localities where it cannot successfully breed during outbreak years. It is found in Northern Vic according to the distribution map in the book.

I hope the above information interests you, and if we can provide any further assistance please don’t hesitate to contact us again."

So how about that?  We were right.

Meanwhile in the garden, one of my callistemons is flowering again, keeping the bees happy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Powdery Mildew

The Eucalyptus ovata (swamp gum) seedlings need some attention:

Some have started to develop powdery mildew. They have to be thinned out, but will need some sulphur spray to deal with the mildew.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gaura lindheimeri

I have three varieties of this plant in my garden.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cosmos Flower

As promised, here's something most people would find prettier than a spider.
Cosmos looking bright on a rather dull day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Look Away, Arachnophobics!

It seems to be quite a week for invertebrates. Look what I nearly walked into in my front yard today:

Actually that picture is on its side, so tilt your head 90 degrees to the left to see what I saw.

This is a golden orb weaving spider (Nephila sp.). The web is over a metre across, and the supports stretch much further than that. I couldn't get around to the other side to photograph the top of her, but here is a side view of the spider and some of the bees she has caught. (If you enlarge the picture, you can see that the silk is a golden colour - thus the name.)

I wonder if she can eat the bees at the rate she is catching them - she had four last time I looked, plus many smaller insects.

I'll have to try and photograph something pretty tomorrow!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

More Entomology

While doing some pruning and dead-heading today, I found this katydid (Caedicia sp.) in a crepe myrtle.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Visitor from the North?

This handsome creature was seen in Ocean Grove today (sitting beside a doormat).
I've tried to identify it, but what it looks most like is the Spur-Throated Locust (Austracris guttulosa), a tropical species which only makes it to the northern-most parts of Victoria in wet summers. We have had a wet summer, but Ocean Grove is about 300km south of where the spur-throated locust has been identified, so maybe this insect is something completely different. Anyone know?

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Succulent

I was given this succulent yesterday. It is labelled "Tradescantia sillamontosa", but a Google search for that only has 5 hits (I guess there will be one more now), 4 of which are one person's flickr picture - which doesn't look like this:
The other is eBay pretending they've got this listed, but they don't.

In other searches I've found what appears to be this plant listed as Tradescantia tomentosa, but that doesn't get many google hits either. Tradescantia sillamontana gets lots of hits, but most of them don't look like this plant.

So I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it is cute.

PS: Thanks to Dee,  for helping out again with identification!  Her information lead me to find out more about Tradescatia and Cyanotis (or ...tus), such as this page. So I have a Cyanotus somaliensis - and it has very cute flowers; I will look forward to seeing them one day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Council Quilt So Far

This is where the Council quilt is up to at the moment.
It had three rows before the session on Tuesday, and now it has four. Enough blocks were made to complete it, I just need to find the time to assemble them!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crepe Myrtle Two

My dark pink crepe myrtle has left its run very late this year. The leaves are starting to turn red, but the flowers have only just started opening:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Council Week Two

Not quite as big an afternoon tea:

Not quite as many participants - although we did have one male this time:
(Note the magic scrap basket peeking in on the left.  I think the level might actually be dropping finally!)

But a bunch more blocks were completed.  I forgot to photograph the quilt so far - I'll have to do that in the next few days.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Progress shot as I put together the blocks completed at the council session last week, ready for the second session tomorrow.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Might Be a Lovely Cushion

Spent some time this rainy afternoon working on this block while watching recorded episodes of Martha Stewart.
It's the first block of Esther Aliu's latest BOM. If you want this block, you'll have to be quick and download it here, because block 2 will be released in a day or two (and block 1 will disappear). On her blog Esther suggested that some people might be intimidated when they see the next block and stop at this one, but at least they'll have a lovely cushion.

I'm not intending to make the whole quilt. This block is my contribution to a project several others are working on. I hope it will be more than a cushion!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Magic Basket

This scrap basket is related to Albert, the Magic Pudding.

I half-filled it with fabric strips for the first QAYG working bee at the Sussex neighbourhood house. You can see it in the linked post, nowhere near full. Since then, there's been a second working bee at Sussex, various people have taken strips from it to use at home, I've made multiple blocks from it, and on Tuesday it went to the IWD quilting session at the council chambers, where about 20 blocks were made. And now it is fuller than it ever was!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Attractive Flowers

I'm not the only one who likes these sedum flowers. Today they are covered in insect life.
Either a Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), or its cousin the Salt and Pepper Moth (U. lotrix).

One of many bees.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good Year for Hydrangeas

The hydrangeas have really enjoyed the weather this year. They are still looking lovely, although their colour has changed from the clear pinks of December to these more dusky tones:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Flax Lily Fruit

The Flax lilies (Dianella longifolia) which were flowering in November still have the occasional flower, as well as a few bright purple fruit:
You'll have to believe me about the colour; as usual the camera is turning them blue.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

IWD at the Council

To mark International Women's Day, my local council had an afternoon tea and quilt-making session.  I found myself there to show people how to make the QAYG blocks for the Oz Comfort Quilts appeal.

About 15 council employees, who ranged from beginners to experienced sewists, plus women from the Multicultural Women's Sewing Group (who provided the machines) had fun making blocks. In fact they were so engrossed that the yummy afternoon tea went almost untouched!
(My council rates at work.)

I'll show you the results next week, when a second session is planned.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Autumnal Grape Leaf

Sun shining through a leaf which is already starting to turn:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Little Bit of Stitching

Spent a little time this afternoon working on some appliqué.
This is the centre block of Esther Aliu's latest BOM. I'm not planning another complete appliqué quilt, but I really liked the look of the centre block, so I'm making it for another project (more on that later).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flutter-by Again

In December I managed to get a photo of the male Heteronympha merope, the Common Brown Butterfly, and today here is the female:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Leaves

The various seedlings are starting to grow their first sets of leaves after the cotyledons (seed leaves). Here are the Eucalyptus viminalis (manna gums). Their cotyledons were quite large and kidney-shaped, but their leaves are longer and slimmer:
The cotyledon of the Acacia melanoxylon (blackwood) was not distinctive, but the leaf more obviously belongs to a wattle.
The first leaves of the Eucalyptus ovata (swamp gums) are more rounded than those of the manna gum:
They will definitely have to be thinned out soon.  They have had a huge germination rate, although strangely there are 4 tubes where none have come up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The figs are ripening up:
Although this is how I usually discover they are ready:
Birds or fruit bats get there first.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Agave Flower Aftermath

The Agave attenuata which was flowering way back in July now looks like this:
The whole flower stalk, which did keep the bees busy gathering nectar for months, is now covered in plantlets. Amazing!