“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Sunday, 10 February 2013

What a world of difference....

Over the last week I've become incredibly aware of the vast differences in both season, climates and weather conditions between the Northern and South Hemispheres.
Take for instance here in Melbourne, we've been experiencing quite a dry spell and although we personally nipped off to the Canadian winter for Christmas, I believe that there hasn't been any significant rainfall here; other than a few millimetres since the beginning of December. There was a time during last month that 'they' reported that Melbourne was having its driest January since records began...but then there were a few spits and spots and that tipped the balance thus the record was broken! Personally, I think it's far better to have the rain....but only in moderation. With the extreme high temperatures accompanied with hot winds, there is  the ever present threat of bush fires and the state of Victoria has been experiencing many of these fires during the last month. It's hard to take in the fact that these fires can burn for months. 
The CFA (Country Fire Authority) are incredible hero's and have been battling against incredible odds but thankfully their expertise and a cool change in the weather means the risks have been substantially reduced. 

Whilst on the other hand ex-cyclone Oswald has wrought destruction across Queensland bringing back bad memories of the state's devastating 2011 natural disaster. Some residents are dealing with catastrophic flooding for the second time in two years, which is unimaginable. 
That's just a brief variety of the weather experienced within Australia at the moment....
I should have a warning on the next few photos because they could cause distress to the green fingered gardeners amongst you...me included! 
Here is a Magnolia that I brought from our last property...I should add here that I'm hoping for a miracle but if anyone knows what I might be able to do to bring it back to life, other than watering then please let me know...I had thought to put it out of its misery but I still can't help hoping that once the cooler weather comes to call, it will suddenly burst into life!

 And brace yourself because it gets worse....this is my beautiful blueberry bush (SOB...SOB)

But look...help is at hand...thankfully we have an 11,000 litre rain water tank that has been kindly saving all the rain water over the winter months and it has to be said it was rather a wet winter. The tank was full but it has now reduced considerably to just below the writing on its side.You can tell the water level within just by knocking on the tank with your knuckles from the top downwards. The sound changes once you reach the water level. Also I've noticed that the shape of the tank changes.

But it's not all doom and gloom in the garden...there are some very happy plants stretching tall to meet the sunlight.

The Bird of Paradise Tree (Strelitzia Nicolai) is extremely happy.

We've also a vine which has obviously resided on the premises since time began....
It has a beautiful twisting trunk that wraps itself around the canopy of the al fresco area. 
There is a slight problem here too but not due to the lack of water...we are having invations of the feathered kind. Namely the blackbirds are visiting regularly throughout the day....in fact in the photograph below there are at least three young blackbirds feeding greedily on the grapes. 
It's a kind of game of where's Waldo?

The trouble being that our outside eating area is just below this lattice roof and we are having leaves and grapes drop constantly upon the table, loungers and us!
The birds never seem to tire of this feast and it's quite incredible to see them pick a grape, then pop it whole into their beaks before they swallow it whole. 

I'm looking down here from an upstairs bedroom window in this photo...trying to capture a decent shot of the flybys! 
I have yet again spared a thought to the BBC, National Geographic and wildlife photographers out there...they have untold patience to capture the shots they do.... I knelt until my knees were numb waiting for the little darlings, but each time I gave up and went to sit below...yep you guessed it...in they would swoop. I'm sure they were watching and having a giggle at the windup!

 Again a view from above the vine....not a bad crop eh? 
And then...AH HA...there gotcha!!! (Just slightly to the left just in case you missed him too)

 This is one of the overhangs and I just loved the way the light shone on both the leaves and grapes.

 This is a little peep hole...see I'm sure they were just toying with me!

Onto another success story....
I was thrilled when we returned from Canada to find that my avocado stone had sprouted. I've tried to grown one previously but without success. I have been so impressed with this one's progress, but alas I've just read that this plant probably won't fruit....ever!
I previously had a little success after following all the instructions on how to grow avocados but then nothing happened. But this time there's a big improvement and I was so hopeful.

 Hopeful...that was until I read an article that told me that the seedling needs to be grafted with a fruit producing tree in order to produce fruit...plus it would take 5+ years even if it had all the correct temperature and conditions. So basically I think I'll be getting my avocado from my local veggie shop for a few years to come! 
(The avocado (persea americana) is a tree native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit of the tree which alas I'll never see on this plant!)
....and it looks so healthy too... :-(
So on to a little success story now...don't you just love happy endings?
My strawberry plants are doing great, although I suspect that a few feathery boozy birds might have their eye on them. I'm going to need to bring in reinforcements....ie netting soon if I want to enjoy the fruits of my labour!

And finally....(as the BBC news broadcaster used to announce for the last item of the news) for everyone in the grip of winter and desperate to see some colour...here's a little something from my walk this morning!
Don't worry I hear that autumn is coming on 1st March which means you'll soon be into spring. 

 Just a thought after mentioning the winter chills...

We've all heard the latest reports of the severe snowstorms that hit parts of Canada and the America's north-eastern region in the last few days with hurricane force winds...I'd like to take a moment to pass on to everyone whom may have been affected, my sincere best wishes. Stay safe and warm.

And on a lighter note....finally finally.....
Today is the most important day of the traditional Chinese holidays....it is Chinese New Year
In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival.
This year it is the year of the snake, which is the sixth sign in the 12 year Chinese zodiac and stands for "steady progress and attention to detail".
A signifying feature of the year of the snake will be the need for attention, commitment and focus!
"Ancient Chinese wisdom says a snake in the house (which would be the last thing I'd want, quite frankly) is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve", 


 Jong xi fa cai


  1. Australia's weather does always seem to be somewhat extreme....but then I suppose our country is so big that we're bound to have many different climate :-)

    1. You can say that again...I keep being surprised by just how big this country is!
      We've had the perfect temperature here today and I've made sure I made the most of it. ;D
      I hope your Monday has started the week off well and continues to even better!
      Thanks for stopping by Sarah and I apologise for taking so long to reply to you.

  2. Hi Denise,

    Some good news and some not so good. About the blueberry... mmm, not looking at all good. The magnolia might just get going. Some gentle tip-pruning might releave it of the burden of keeping the extremities alive. Keep some water to it, and maybe some liquid seaweed (Seasol is good). The seaweed is a tonic. If you feed it at this stage it will put on a spurt and then konk out. The grapes, strelitzia, avocado - all good news.

    Lovely post, great catch-up.
    Take care,

    1. Hello Ros,
      I realise that the blueberry might be a gonna! Which is a shame really because I was quite excited about it. I had seen a few berries on it but the birds beat me to it! It certainly is all a trial.
      I've seen and heard good things about Seasol, so I'll definitely buy some next time I'm out. ;D
      Thanks for the tip. I'm keeping my fingers crossed with the avocado.

      I'll send a seperate email soon. In the meantime have a great week.
      Take care and enjoy the perfect temperatures just now. :D

  3. My heart goes out to all who have experienced such loss in the floods and drought in Australia. Well, we had our blizzard here in the Northeast and it was a big one. Tomorrow we will be having freezing rain which only adds to the mess. Your garden especially your grapes are lovely. The birds are having a feast.

    1. Hello Susan,
      I saw your photos earlier and that was some blizzard wasn't it?
      Brrr....I don't like the sound of freezing rain either. I hope you are coping okay and that normality resumes very soon.

      I love snow but it can soon out stay its welcome! ;D

      Thanks for stopping by....keep cosy and give Bella a gruff from Muffy!

  4. If only Mother Nature were more fair when doling out the weather. Our summers are so very hot here that not much can survive. The past two winters have been very mild, so you would think things would grow really well, but for some reason, the plants on my balconies aren't as green as they should be. They are surviving but not really thriving. And soon the heat will return. My mother grew an avocado plant once - I remember we moved one summer and she proudly placed it in the car so it would survive the trip. I do love avocados -- too bad they aren't easier to grow. Have a great week. Tammy

    1. Thanks Tammy for leaving such a lovely comment.
      It was wonderful to hear the tale of your Mum and her precious plant! ;D

      When we lived in Qatar, I had the best veggie plot and hanging baskets because we had copious amounts of water with no restrictions, due to the desalination plant. I just had to ensure that when the hottest time of year came, the few plants that were still growing went under the shade and out of the intense sunlight.
      Also I threatened my gardener so he wouldn't forget to water in my absence. It's amazing what the posibility of a little gift can produce!

      We've had perfect weather here today and I've made the most of it. ;D

      I hope your week has started well and continues to get better with each day. :D

  5. Very interesting post. I hope your magnolia makes it once the weather cools down. Glad you were able to finally get a shot of one of those silly blackbirds. I can imagine it could get rather annoying to have them keep dropping things on you below. Good luck with your avocado. I've only had luck one time with getting a seed to grow to that size...then...the dog ate it down to the soil line. :-( Hopefully, by March first, you'll start seeing some relief to the intense heat and dryness. Happy Chinese New Year! :-)

    1. Hi there,
      Well the temperatures dropped, but I think it'll be some time and a miracle for my magnolia to show any life! I'll keep you posted.

      You certainly had it right about those pesky birds because I spent some time brushing and washing down all the al-fresco area of the fallen leaves and grapes, but as soon as I had finished they were at it again!
      The grapes are being squished now when they land and the wasps are coming for the juice! Grr....

      I can't believe that your dog ate the avocado!!! Mufftypup better keep well away. Actually she's never chewed or eaten anything she shouldn't...mainly because I don't think she thinks she's a dog! ^..^

      It's been a great day here with perfect temperatures...I just hope we keep this for a wee whilie :D

      Have a great week whatever you have planned. :D Have fun!

  6. I didn't know that Avocados stones would produce sterile trees. How do the trees normally propagate themselves, I wonder?
    I share your frustration concerning Blackbirds. They are a right PITA, causing a lot of damage to seedlings and small plants in my garden.

    1. Hi Mark,
      I think the best way is by grafting or having another fruiting tree nearby according to all the articles I've read, but then this method has been successful for some so I'm remaining hopeful. The temperature has to be just right too. So they are pretty temperamental.
      It can takes years and I'm not sure we'll be here for that long to wait to see if there's any results!
      The blackbirds are definitely PITA...especially today as I tried to brush and wash down all the debris from above, whilst they were peeking down and bombarding me!

      If they get my strawberry's I'll not be a happy bunny! ;D

      Have a great week planting your seeds...I had a peek earlier but will revisit soon. :D

  7. does that mean they eat the snake!!!!!

    Your beautiful grapes at least are being enjoyed by someone! Its amazing for me just to see plants with foliage, its so cold here and soooo much snow, your photos warm my heart,

    1. Hmm...I think they might along with lots of other things that aren't on my usual menu Laurie! ;D
      I'm glad to hear that my photos brought a little comfort and colour across to you. I've been checking the weather reports so know that you've been in the thick of it.

      Take care and wrap up warmly until I send you a little more sunshine :D

  8. Hey Neesie....just checking in since I haven't left you a note in a while. The whole global warming thing is sure playing havoc with weather/disasters everywhere...

    I've been give some new duties at work and increased hours so now my computer play time and blog visiting has been greatly impacted. There's just not enough hours in the day. And my art projects are starting to pile up and clutter my brain...sigh. I'm still reading and following along with all your activities, just may not be able to pop in and say hi as often....

    1. Hehe...it's always great to see you Terrie,
      It's a shame when life/work gets in the way of our art! I'm struggling so much to try to find a balance. I decided to make a list yesterday to get all the jumble out of my head and I had 9 ticks at the end of the day so felt much better although no artwork was part of that list :(
      Don't worry about stopping to comment...its just nice to know that you're there. I certainly wouldn't want to add to your list.

      Have a great week and try to find a little time to relax and let the creative juices flow! See you soon :D

  9. Hello, my Dear! I've come to you from The "Grow Your Blog" party...it was over before I knew about it, but it was so nice of Vicki to leave the list up! Anyway, I always welcome new blogs to enjoy, and yours is delightful! I am now following you ~ please come and visit me if you get a chance!
    So nice to "meet" you!

    1. Hello Anne and welcome,
      Thank you so much for popping into my place and deciding to follow me...plus leaving a lovely kind comment.
      I've been meaning to go back into the party to visit some more party people, but haven't had the chance this week. But I will ;D

      It's great to meet you too...see you soon :D
      In the meantime have fun with the hop.


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