Australia · garden flowers · gardening · in my garden · Mount Warning · palm trees · photography · quotes · subtropical weather · summer · Tweed Valley

Nature Journaling


Hands-on experience at the critical time, not systematic knowledge, is what counts in the making of a naturalist. Better to be an untutored savage for a while, not to know the names or anatomical detail. Better to spend stretches of time just searching and dreaming. ~~ Edward O. Wilson.

My mind is not wired for science, and consequently the anotomical detail of plants has me bewildered. I’m more of a searcher and dreamer as I wander around my garden, taking photos, and I even feel completely comfortable if anyone wishes to regard me as an untutored savage. My garden brings me so much joy, and I love experimenting, wondering if plants will grow, and how they will grow if they survive my sometimes erratic subtropical climate. Will the new plant reach or exceed the suggested height on the label? Will they survive our dry, mild winters, or get ‘wet feet’ during our rainy season, summer?

Today when I walked around one of the first areas we established in the garden twenty-six years ago, admiring the plants we planted back then that have survived – and flourished – throughout the test of time and seasons, I realised just how little I know about these plants. The pink flower is a hibiscus, but what variety of hibiscus? I found plenty of weathered hibiscus flowers on the hedge, but do they always develop new buds in January? Perhaps the wind and rain, which has many of the flowers looking battle-weary, has encouraged the plants to bloom again. I’m not sure.

I must document these changes I see in my garden, for future reference. I noticed today that the western end of the hibiscus hedge still has a few unblemished flowers left. It is also on the western end – an area protected by a solid fence nearby – where more new buds are growing.

This is the eastern end, an area more exposed to the elements. Here I found unidentifiable dried debris, littered with fallen frangipani flowers, and even a small branch broken off the frangipani tree. This discovery led me to wondering if I will see a second burst of flowers blooming on the frangipani before the cooler weather arrives, seeing as the tree lost most of its flowers during the recent powerful gusty winds we had? So many questions …

My photos often feature the palm trees we planted many years ago as tiny saplings. Now their massive leaves tower above me when I stand beside the hibiscus hedge. I couldn’t tell anyone what variety of palms they are. I can safely say, however, that when the palms grow seeds, I see birds stopping by briefly each day to check the seeds. I assume the birds are waiting for the seeds to ripen, because eventually I see flocks of birds excitedly clamouring over one another, hopping from bunch to bunch, until they find seeds to their taste.

These days, when I plant something new, I try to remember to make a note of the name of the plant. I have contemplated the idea of nature journaling for several years, but I always hesitate at the thought of drawing pictures of my finds in the garden. Is my drawing ability up to scratch? I used to love drawing, but haven’t drawn anything since … I can’t remember when.

Maybe I could start by drawing something easy, like this plant that has sprouted out of a low rock retaining wall amid the moss. I wonder can anyone identify it for me? Is it a spaghorn? There are a few growing along the wall, and I wonder how big it will grow?

Before I went down the garden, I closed the gate on Brontë and Forrest, but not the gate Forrest is peeking at me through! That naughty dog must have climbed the chainwire fence near to the house, run along the outside of our garden and up through the broken fence at the bottom of our garden. The gate she is behind in the photo leads to the rear boundary of our yard, where the orchard is. She certainly knows how to get my attention, that girl!

I love looking across the valley from the lower end of our garden towards Mount Warning. Today the weather cleared again, and if we don’t get any rain overnight we will mow the lawns tomorrow morning. I told husband I will slash the edges while he does the main mowing with the ride-on mower. Even if my gardening chores take up all my time and I don’t have time to take photos, I have plenty more to share from today’s garden walk. 🙂