Sunday, September 30, 2012


A trip to Ballarat for my mother's birthday, with a side trip to Lal Lal.
Tiny unidentified fungi amongst the moss.
Snake wattle (Acacia aculeatissima) in flower, if a little rain-bedraggled.
Sundew (Drosera sp.) about to flower.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Apparently there was some football game on somewhere,
but there were a few people at the wholesale nursery checking out the new plants for spring.

And that make three years of pictures on this blog.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


My pink bluebells are looking cute:
I just checked to see if I have posted them before, and I have. On the same day in 2010!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


First of the seeds I planted ten days ago peeking through the soil:
It is one of the kiss-me-quicks (Centranthus ruber).

Monday, September 24, 2012


A happy patch of orange in my back garden.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Unusual Plants

Spotted in gardens while walking home today:
Forest lilies (Veltheimia bracteata) seemingly thriving on neglect, growing in gravel in front of a block of units.

One I haven't seen before, but I think they are Portuguese squill (Scilla peruviana). I'll have to look out for them next week to see if I can catch them fully open.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Last Chance Elephants

The elephants are leaving the city on Friday, and I'm working in the suburbs on Thursday and Friday. Today I caught these five before my lecture:
Sparkly gold "Ranee" by Gillian Forbes, appropriately outside the Treasury Building. Apparently Ranee was the name of Melbourne Zoo's first elephant (also "Queen" in Hindi).

At the Sofitel, "Neo Composite" by Jacqueline Gwynne:

"Lotus" by Kelly Spencer in Gordon Place:

"Mali's Crimson Song" by Mia Rappel in the Fitzroy Gardens:

And "Spot" by Steve Monk in the Treasury Gardens:
To that makes 35 elephants visited. It would have been nice to see them all, but it has been a busy time lately.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gum Blossoms

First opportunity to try out this pretty umbrella.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Plant Names

Seen while out walking, a sweet pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum) humming with bees. I love the smell of these flowers, and used to call it the "perfume tree" before I knew its name. I know it is considered a weed!

Today I sowed the strobilanthes seeds (Strobilanthes gossypinus) I collected in January, and some other seeds gathered from various gardens I walked past last summer. They are from a plant my mother called "kiss-me-quick", but which is apparently more widely known as red valerian (Centranthus ruber).
It will be interesting to see what comes up!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Swarming Again

Just after 1:00pm, the roar of bees came from the backyard. Outside, bees were streaming out of the hive that swarmed 11 days ago, and circling above:
I don't think a still photo can ever capture how amazing a swarm in motion is. After about 15 minutes, they settled on the garage roof:
That didn't look like a good place for them to stop, but at least they weren't somewhere where we needed to deal with them.

A few hours later they had settled for the night:
Up high in a tree where they won't bother anyone. Too high to be retrieved. They can stay there until they find a new home for themselves and fly away, which should happen in a day or two.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three More

A detour on my market trip yielded three more elephants, bringing the total to 30:
Two elephants at the entrance of the zoo. Here Today... by Elise Martinson (closer to the camera), and Gabriel by Jacqueline Le Souef.

This elephant is inside the new Royal Children's Hospital:
Pond Dreaming by David Higgins.

And speaking of ponds:
This large aquarium (with sharks) is also inside the hospital.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Spring seems to have been happening without me this year. Here's what the quince tree has been up to while I've had my head buried in virtual books:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Angry Bees

I suppose it had to happen some time. Today I was stung by several of my bees.

After one of the other hives swarmed on Tuesday, we thought we better check on all the others and see if they were about to do the same. Today was warm and still, so a good chance to open mine and see what the bees were up to.

Top super - bees busy cleaning up the frames, and building comb. Looking good.

Middle super - lots of honey and brood. Very healthy looking.

Unfortunately there was evidence that the bees were going to swarm; quite a lot of queen cells. That's what the blobby, lumpy thing is in this picture:
There were queen cells in the middle and bottom supers. We removed the ones we found. As we got further down into the hive, the bees became angrier and angrier. They were attacking in force, although I wasn't worried until a couple got inside my suit. One stung me on the nose, and another on the ear. The one on my nose was the worst, and hurt for a few hours.

The bees kept attacking even after the hive was reassembled and we moved to the front yard. In fact more kept arriving to keep up the attack. I was stung another four or so times through my suit, although there were many, many stings that were stuck in the suit and didn't make it through to my skin.

Lessons learnt today:
1. Always, always do up the zips on a bee suit in the mirror, to ensure they are really correctly closed and there are no gaps!
2. The smell (?) of squashed bees attracts other bees, who then attack.
3. If under attack, don't hang around outside trying to get all the bees off yourself. It is a hopeless situation. Retreat inside and deal with the handful that come in with you (a vacuum cleaner helps).
And maybe:
4. If the bees want to swarm, let them. A cloud of angry, attacking bees is a lot worse than a swarm who just want to be on their way.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Tonight I happened to look up at my kitchen ceiling, something I obviously don't do often enough.
That is the pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) making its way into the house through the exhaust fan. I've mentioned before what a weed it is, and that it would pull down the house if left to itself. In the last year I've had it growing through a window, through an aircon unit, and now this. I will have to ask someone to go up into the ceiling and deal with this bit; I am no good at climbing ladders.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Golden Bees

I didn't know until today that Napoleon adopted the bee as a symbol. But his coronation robe was covered in them, as are many items in the exhibition "Napoleon: Revolution to Empire" at the National Gallery of Victoria that I visited today. Here's the bee on the water-window at the gallery:

Not far from the gallery, at the base of the Eureka Tower, is this sculpture:
"The Queen Bee" by Richard Stringer. Yesterday was the first time I had ever seen it, but the internet tells me that it has been there since 2007!

In other bee news this week, one of the hives swarmed on Tuesday. That wasn't meant to happen; there are enough bee hives around here! Our first warm spring day, and they took off. We could have just let them go, but they settled in a neighbour's lemon tree. After work I helped collect them, but although I had my camera in a pocket of my bee suit I got caught up in the action and forgot to take any pictures. I hope none of the other hives decide to do the same.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Heffalump Hunt

Another trip to the city, another chance to hunt down a few elephants:
Tiger Mali by Andy Murphy above, and Elephantasy by Elise Martinson below. Also below is Mali's Self-Portrait, which I saw in the Myer windows in June.

Mali as Dame Edna! It's Spooky Possum Mali by Pippa Makgill:

For Sally Heinrich's Humangerie, below, the artist used pictures drawn by dozens of school children as the basis for her design:

Faunaphant by Sarah Hogan:

And the last one for today, Urban Jungle by Jake Latimer:

That makes 27 of the 50 so far. They will only be around for another two weeks, so tracking down all of the remaining 23 might be tricky!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Saw this rather sad specimen while out for a walk. It has no leaves at all, just these fruit. Are they pawpaws (papaya) or something else?