Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Head is Spinning

I have spent the last two days in this room, marking assignments. About seven hours yesterday, and another ten today.
Trying to be consistent and fair is a difficult task, and it becomes more difficult as the hours go by.

Now I feel drained. It's an emotional process. I worry if very poor work is produced by a student who doesn't care, or if they will be devastated when they get their result. I am upset when a student has completely missed the point of the questions. Was it a language problem? Why didn't they ask for assistance or clarification? Why didn't they even discuss it with a friend and thus discover they were wrong? And then I get angry at students who don't seem to have put much effort into it, but ask that they be marked leniently.

I'm glad it is over. (Almost, anyway. I have one more to mark which has such major problems I don't know how to approach it.) Of course, once the students get their results, there will be requests for re-marking. Sometimes that is wishful thinking on their part, sometimes there are mistakes in the marking. We are all human.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spring in May

In June last year I commented that my jonquils seemed to bloom earlier every year, and here they are even earlier this year:

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Because it was a special day, I got to do whatever I wanted today. I chose a trip to the zoo.
I hadn't yet seen the baby elephants, even though they are a couple of years old.

Fortunately they take a while to reach full size, so they are still obviously young and quite cute.

After a lovely day enjoying the animals and the gardens, it was home to dinner and some cake:

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Took a train to Mount Waverley to see the Waverley Patchworkers quilt show at the Waverley Community Centre.
This lovely purple achillea is in the garden of the community centre.

The show was interesting and worth seeing if you can get there tomorrow. 

I bumped into a friend there who offered me a car ride home.
But the heavy traffic and the rain made the trip a little less pleasant than on the train.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Here Comes The Tram

Alone on the tram stop as I head home after my last day of work in the city.
For now?
For ever?

Sunday, May 20, 2012


A surprise "thank you" gift from a friend.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bee Workshop

This morning I attended an interesting bee-keeping workshop at Bee Sustainable in Brunswick. There's always new things to learn, and today as well as getting some ideas for preventing a repeat of last year's swarms, we prepared frames for the hive.
This is a very handy jig for stringing wire through the frame to hold the wax foundation.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pastel Morning

7:16am: sunrise with tree dahlias and next-door satellite dish.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Random Remembering

Sometimes knowing a bit about computers comes in handy. This morning it got me a bunch of freebies (toothbrushes, toothpastes, fluoride rinse) and some dollars off my dentist bill!

The dentist couldn't access patient records on the computer in his surgery. The assistant and he messed around with it for quite a while, getting nowhere. Then perhaps he remembered something I'd told him previously, because he said to me, "You don't happen to work with computers, do you?"

Perhaps I do. Or did.

This is the first flower on my vireya "Clare Crouch". It is described on its tag as a "medium sized shrub with largish pale pink flowers, 5 or more to a head, and mid green leaves; Flowers: Summer/Autumn; semi shade". I bought it at the Growing Friends plant sale last year, and then nearly bought another one at this year's sale. But I remembered in time, and got a different one instead.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shaggy Fungus

As I was heading off to work this morning, I noticed this fungus emerging from a nature strip. This one was about 20cm tall, and there were a couple of smaller ones about 3 metres away, presumably part of the same organism.
It's not in my book of Australian fungi, but the internet tells me it is probably an introduced species, Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). Even though it's not a native, it appeared on an Australian stamp in 1981.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Twelve Diamonds

I made these diamond shapes this afternoon. The colour is not as dull as they appear here. They will go between large sunflowers in a quilt I'm working on. As I made them it occurred to me that I could make mirror images, then have a couple of different options for joining them into stars.
So now I need to decide which I prefer.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Before visiting my mother, I spent some time at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (1 hour and 40 minutes, according to my son who was waiting in the car). There are some amazing trees in the gardens, but not many people on this cold and showery day. Quite a few of the trees are listed on the National Trust's register of significant trees.

Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii)
The trunk looks like a giant elephant's foot.

Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus)
Looks small in the photo but is a giant tree.

Black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)
Beautiful autumn colour. This one was planted by the US Marine Corps to mark the time they spent in Ballarat in 1943.

Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Part of the garden's "Sequoiadendron Avenue" planted between 1863 and 1874. It is difficult to photograph such huge trees.

Echeveria x imbricata making a colourful garden bed:

The fernery would be lovely on a hot day:

A tiny orange fungus, possibly Jafneadelphus ferrugineus:

My third botanic garden in eight days!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

TreeProject Seedlings Update

Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) - one full box:
They are looking good, and some look almost big enough to plant out now.

Wirilda (Acacia retinoides) - one full box:
Some are getting their adult leaves, while others are still quite small.

Swamp gum (Eucalyptus ovata) - one full box, although a third of them are transplants:
Some are a good size, but others are still small. Many have a touch of powdery mildew, but I know from last year that this seems to just be a fact of life for this species when they are small.

Manna gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) - four boxes, although a bit under a quarter of them are transplants.
Again, a lot of variation in size. But compare those above with the transplanted manna gums below. The transplants are far less advanced than those which are growing where they germinated.

It will probably be three or four months until the seedlings are planted out, so hopefully these babies will catch up with their siblings a bit over winter.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


This was the first chance I've had to spend time at home during daylight hours for a week.

I found that my tree dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) is in flower, and that the bees are enjoying it too:

The flowers on the Bethel sage are opening nicely:

I spent some time in the sun doing some maintenance of the TreeProject seedlings. This one is a black wattle (Acacia mearnsii):
There is no sign now of the reddish tinge they had when young. I trimmed roots that were growing through the bottom of the tubes, and ensured there was only one tree in each tube. The sunshine this week seems to have spurred a few seeds to germinate. I hope we get more fine weather on the weekend, as I have a few more boxes to do.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Last time I photographed this sculpture, the trees were white with blossom.
Today, they have their autumn colours, and instead of visiting an exhibition of 300 years of wedding dresses (the link in my previous post no longer works), I was there to see Grace Kelly: Style Icon.

The exhibition was interesting, but far more crowded than I would have liked. The lighting level seems extremely low, or perhaps it was just because I couldn't get close enough that I had trouble reading the labels. There are large-print booklets of the labels available, but they were all in use when I was there. Fortunately you can wander anywhere once you get in, so I jumped ahead to the later rooms where the crowds were a little thinner, then came back to the beginning later. But I didn't enjoy the experience as much as I enjoyed the wedding dresses last year. Perhaps the trick would have been to go in the first week; many sessions are completely booked out now.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guilfoyle Centenary

Today the Australian Garden History Society held a seminar to "celebrate the creative vision and horticultural skill of William Guilfoyle – the Director of the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens (1873–1909)". The morning consisted of addresses by various speakers on Guilfoyle's life, achievements, and legacy. But the highlight for me was the guided tour of the botanic gardens after lunch.  I joined a group taking the "long tour", and spent the whole afternoon enjoying a new perspective on the gardens.

Of course we visited the well-known spots, such as the Temple of the Winds erected by Guilfoyle to honour Governor La Trobe. Inside, looking up:
Surely there's a quilt design in that?

And it goes without saying that there were lots of wonderful plants to enjoy:
Flower of the "wild rose" (Diplolaena grandiflora), not a rose at all, but glowing on a rainy afternoon. The rain was enough to keep crowds away from the gardens, but not enough to dampen our enthusiasm.

The best bit of all was getting closer to this building, and seeing what is behind the hedge:
Gardens House, which was Guilfoyle's home while he was Director. He used the private gardens around the house to demonstrate his ideas for the whole botanic gardens. They are not generally open to the public, as the house is used for private functions.

Approaching the house, which was built in 1856:

Curved garden beds, and views to the next patch of lawn:

Always a touch of red.

What a great day out!

Friday, May 4, 2012


Some time last year I was walking home from work and found myself in a street I'd never walked along before. It was quiet and lined with plane trees, which made for a very pleasant walk.

A few times since then I've tried to find that street again, without success.
Until tonight!

Now I know exactly where it is (and where I've gone wrong in my previous attempts), so I'll be able to walk this way again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bethel Bloom

I have no idea why Blogger thinks this photo should be oriented this way. Or why Picasa will not let me rotate it.
Anyway, this is the very large bud of my bethel sage (Salvia involucrata 'Bethelii'), just starting to open. It was planted in January this year, so this is the first time it has flowered. It is pretty impressive! I don't know how long it will take for the flower to completely open, but it will be fun watching it happen.