Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Out Of Hospital

My mother has improved so much that today she was discharged from hospital, and is now in a rehabilitation centre to gain strength and movement so she is ready to go back home. Thanks to everyone for your concern over this rather stressful time!

Today I tested another part of my Hottie idea
but it is back to the drawing board for this section. I'll save this idea for a different project as the scale is too large for this one.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Back To The Machine

This is the first time I've spent at the sewing machine for over a week. I'm testing a concept for my entry in the Hottie Challenge.
I need to get moving on this - some people have finished already!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bird-Netting Update

The bird netting has done its job keeping the sparrows away from the ripening persimmons, but it has also caught all the leaves as they have fallen
Most years the persimmon leaves turn beautiful red shades before dropping. This year, when the autumn colours have been wonderful everywhere else, it seems the persimmon isn't bothering! At least the fruit are autumn-coloured.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Earlier This Year

Last year the zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata) flowered on my birthday.
This year it has already been flowering for about a month.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ballarat Birthday

First I unwrapped all these goodies:
What a bunch of lovely surprises!

Then I caught a train in Sunshine. Amazingly it is $10 cheaper to take a bus to Sunshine to get the Ballarat train, than it is to take a tram into the city to catch it.
Notice lack of actual sunshine. The beanie and gloves from the first photo came in handy straight away!

In Ballarat I received a wonderful birthday present; my mother's confusion has passed — she knew who I was, she knew it was my birthday, we conversed normally. What a gift!
There was even some real sunshine. I had to stop and get a shot of this beautiful tree glowing in the sun as I headed back to the train.

Home again, I found birthday wishes had arrived from far and wide, then had a wonderful dinner (with each dish adorned with candles).

Thank you everyone for a wonderful day!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How The Seedlings Are Growing

Here's how all the Tree Project seedlings are going.

The manna gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) are the most advanced. They have grown very quickly, and are now mainly 25-30cm tall and looking very healthy:

The swamp gums (Eucalyptus ovata) are not doing quite so well. Some are about 12cms tall, but others are still quite little. They are very susceptible to powdery mildew, which is surprising for a species which apparently prefers a swampy environment.
They really look like they could do with a few straight days of sunshine, rather than the grey drizzly days we are having. They got another dose of lime sulphur after I took the photo.

The third lot of eucalypts are meant to be candlebarks (Eucalyptus rubida). However, there is such a variety of forms in this box that I really wonder if they are all the same species:
Apart from the long slender red-leafed ones and the round grey-leafed ones, there are a few others with larger, broader leaves which look more like pictures on the internet of immature candlebark leaves. So I suspect that there may have been some seed contamination in this batch.

The blackwoods (Acacia melanoxylon) are the smallest, averaging only about 4cms tall at the moment. In fact they are still germinating, three months after they were planted.
They are all healthy, despite being slow to get going.

Lastly, there are the wirildas (Acacia retinoides). Some of them are starting to grow their adult-form leaves:
The tallest is about 20cm tall, but most are still at the baby stage, and only about 4 cms tall.

They all have a few months to grow before they are planted out. Then I'm hoping to participate in the planting day and see where they will all live!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ballarat Again

This time by train.
It is a pleasant journey. If you travel out of Melbourne in the morning, and come back in the afternoon, the trains have very few passengers.

My mother looks much better than she did on Sunday, but she is confused. We don't know if this is just due to the shock, the pain, the pain relief, the anaesthetic, the unfamiliar environment... In other words, she has a lot of physical and emotional reasons to be confused, but tests haven't shown any medical ones. However, only time will tell if she gets back to her old self.

Monday, May 23, 2011

More Orchids

The second flower spike on the orchid I was given last month is now open,
and today I realised there is a third spike forming, so I could be enjoying orchids for a while.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Waiting and Wondering

Today I've been to Ballarat to see my mother, who last night fell and broke her hip. She went into surgery at 3:00pm, and as I write this she is still there, as far as I know.

While in Ballarat I visited a beautiful nursery with a wonderful autumn display.

Rows of ornamental pears for sale:

A section devoted to Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), and carpeted in fallen leaves:

Glowing red Japanese maple:

Delicate Japanese maple "Emerald Lace":

A large Berberis looking stunning, but its thorns are not so inviting.

It is a beautiful nursery, that I will definitely visit again. But right now I'm just wondering when I will hear how Mum is.

PS - I've now heard that she is safely out of surgery and back on the ward.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hard Rubbish Time

It is hard rubbish time again in this suburb. Streets are looking messy.

This year seems to have been the year of the couch, but the piles are mainly rubbish. It all should go on Monday, so still a bit of time to do some fossicking.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


A little touch of bushland

Quite close to the city
After a crazy day, a walk around Yarra Bend park was a lovely way to unwind.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Hottie Challenge

My entry kit for the Hottie Challenge arrived today courtesy of Ms Curlypops. This is a fund-raising challenge to benefit the Margaret Pratt Foundation, who support research to improve the outcomes for heart and lung transplant recipients.

So what do I have to do? Create a cover for a hot-water bottle — it doesn't have to be functional, but it does have to look good when it is displayed in the OpenDrawer gallery in July!

So how to make my cover? The template shape is about 20cm x 30cm. I have all sorts of ideas running through my head. Something pieced? Appliqu├ęd? Knitted? I'll need to pick one and start work, as there's only about a month to get it done!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Checking the Seedlings

Did a little more seedling maintenance today; transplanting some Acacia melanoxylons which have just germinated despite the cold grey weather, trimming roots, and checking for pests.

The manna gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) are about 20cms tall now, and are developing branches:

Also turned down a request to have the local paper come and photograph me with the seedlings!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Anti-Sparrow Net

I hope this will protect the remaining persimmons from the sparrows.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tree Dahlia

The buds I showed you in April are opening:
Tree dahlia (Dahlia imperialis).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rare Planetary Alignment

From about 5am today, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter were aligned in a way they haven't been since 1910, and won't be again for another 50 years or so.

So was it worth getting up early and braving the pre-dawn chill to see this rare sight? If you slept in, don't worry - the sky was covered in cloud, and drizzly rain was falling when I went out at about 5:30am. No chance of seeing planets.

An hour or so later, with the help of some technological wizardry (Google Sky Map on someone else's phone) here's what we can't see behind the clouds:


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Think This One Is Ripe

I was watching the birds in my backyard from my sewing machine, when I noticed some sparrows doing something in my persimmon tree. This is what I found when I went out to investigate:
One hollowed-out persimmon.

Looks like I need some more bird-netting.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recent Bargain

I picked up a couple of Agastache mexicana "Summercrush" plants from the markdown table at a nearby large hardware retailer. My bees were enjoying the flowers there, although I haven't noticed them on the plants since I brought them home.
I do like the combination of the pink and orange.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Flower I Didn't Want To See

At least not just yet. I planted this Strobilanthes gossypinus in October 2009. In researching it on the internet I found that the plant dies after flowering, so I was hoping it would be a few years before it flowered.
It is an attractive hairy-leaved plant which has grown quite well over this summer; it is gradually filling out the space I put it in. But now, I fear it will be gone by next summer.
I've seen one other of these in the local area - I will have to walk past it tomorrow and see if it is flowering too.

Edited to add:
Here's that other example - in bud and about to flower.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Big Day Out

Headed off early with a list of interesting places to visit; a new quilt shop, a quilt display, some junk places. Scheduled in afternoon tea with my folks, and a trip to Lal Lal to check on everything.

Had fun visiting everything on the list, and a few others beside, but all the photos are from Lal Lal.

The weather this year has been great for insects, and now the birds are having a great time. The block was full of the sounds of birds. I think we saw at least 6 different species of "little brown birds", but I didn't manage to photograph any of them. The birds moved quickly as they chased insects high in the trees, and the light level was very low. Here's the best I could do; some variety of fantail darting about high overhead (and you can see how dark the sky was).

Other forms of wildlife are also enjoying the insect boom. The golden orb spider at home has gone, but here's one alive and well:

It has also been a great season for plant growth. This tree I always think of as the "duck tree", because a duck nested in one of its hollows the first year we owned the block. Since then it has lost a lot of branches, but this year is covered in new growth:

Unfortunately the weeds are loving the conditions as well.
This bluebell creeper (Sollya heterophylla) is one of many that have shot up this year. A major effort is required to get rid of all of it, but we noticed that a neighbouring property has huge uncontrolled clumps, so it will keep coming back.

In autumn and winter clumps of snow lichen (Cladia retipora) appear through a lot of the block. You can see some of it in the picture of the duck tree above, but here's a close-up of its delicate structure:

Isn't it lovely?

Fungi push their way up through the leaf litter:

It was a lovely day, except for the last five kilometres of the trip home.  Freeway roadworks caused a huge traffic jam that took an hour to negotiate. It was a relief to finally get out of the car!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Your Doorway to the World

Seen while out walking.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finished Wall-Hanging

All finished, and hanging on the wall in my loungeroom:
In real life the colours look a bit warmer than this picture. The design was adapted from a quilt project published in Down Under Quilts (Issue 139, p 80) designed by Sue Manchip. That project was 2 metres square, and all done in batiks. Mine is about 80 x 100cm.

And look what arrived today, all the way from the USA:
Total including postage - $10.68. Such a small price to pay for something that will be so useful!

Monday, May 2, 2011


In between things today I managed to get a little of the binding done on this quilt:
I'm about half-way round, so I hope I can show you it finished and hanging on the wall soon!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


"My" golden orb weaver spider has gone:
I don't know if she has become a tasty dinner for a bird, if she has moved to a more desirable residence, or if she has gone off to lay her eggs somewhere, but today she is missing and her web already has holes in it.

I'll miss seeing her every day.