Australia · garden flowers · gardening · in my garden · mangoes · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · palm trees · pets · photography · recipe · spring · Tweed Valley

A Day Spent in the Garden

There is a hazy film hanging around the valley today. Apparently, a blustery storm travelled across the state from west to east – so to the New South Wales coast – yesterday, kicking up dust as it went. My guess is that this is the tail-end of the dust, and we haven’t had any rain to wash it away.

Tonight my body aches from head to foot, but I’ve had the most wonderful and productive day in the garden. I’ve done a lot of pruning with the garden shears today, so even my hands hurt! By 3 pm I decided to call it a day, but paused to look over what I’d accomplished. Up in the pecan tree I could see several Figbirds, so zoomed in on them with the camera to get a close shot. The light, or rather lack of light, wasn’t in my favour, so it’s not the best photo. If you look closely though, you might notice the ring around the eye of the bird in the fork of the tree – that’s the male, and the other bird higher up the tree is a female.

Those cheeky birds were pinching my mulberries! I went down to have a look at the tree, and some of the fruit are looking pretty scraggly now, as you can see.

I decided to go right down the back and see how the orchard is going. We’ve done a lot of clearing down there during winter. The whole area had been taken over by gamba grass, which is classified as a weed in our area, but we’ve got rid of most of it now. We have to keep a lookout for any new shoots coming through though.

My poor grapefruit tree looked pretty dismal when we found it amid the grass, but look at it now! It’s covered in flowers, and I’m so pleased to see it looking so incredibly healthy. It’s quite an old tree, I think we planted it about twenty-five years ago, and every year up until now it ends up covered in huge grapefruits. It looks like it will be the same this year too.

As you can see, the whole valley has the smoky-haze appearance today. If you look closely at this photo though, on the right there’s a bare-branched tree with more figbirds in it! I think it might be a Jacarada tree, so I’ll keep an eye on it and get some photos when it flowers.

And here are the figbirds closer up! I wonder, are they all after my mulberries?

Another tree in flower is my Pomegranate. This is a fairly new addition to the orchard, but it had some beautiful big pomegranates on it during summer. There’s quite a few flowers on the tree now, so I could be in luck again this year.

Our lovely old Mango is preparing for summer fruit too! I had a great time last summer making Green Mango Chutney with freshly picked fruit from the tree and the next day my eyes were puffy and I had blisters on my face, hands and arms. It turned out to be a reaction to a poisonous substance in the sap of the mango tree that I had an allergic reaction to! But the chutney was great. 😉

While I did my gardening, my son’s dog Forrest – who lives permanently at my house now because it’s the only place she’s settled – and my Labrador, Bronte, followed me everywhere. They are good company, but it’s very difficult to get them to sit still long enough to get a photo of them. This photo of Forrest is a tad blurry, but the best I could get.

The Figbirds often sit atop these bunches of palm tree berries and I’ve often taken photos of them, from a distance,  munching away on them. They were too busy with my mulberries today and seemed to have forgotten the berries, so I got a much closer photo of them on my way back to the house.

This is a Prince of Orange in my pool area.

And these pretty Daylilies are in the pool area too.

I absolutely love Evening Primrose flowers. They are such easy plants to grow, they are basically the plant-and-forget variety. And every summer the plants multiply, so I get even more flowers.

I love the closeup detail too, the veins through the petals and the dainty yellow carpel and stigma in the centre. (I think that’s what they are called, so correct me if I’m wrong.)

The only way I could get a photo of Bronte today was when she was on the other side of the pool fence. Every time I pointed the camera in her direction, she would run to me for a pat, so you’ll have to excuse the shadow of the fence across her fur. Actually, I’m surprised the sun shone long enough to form a shadow, it’s been such a dull day. It’s been very warm though, I think about 27 degrees Celsius, so around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a high temperature for a spring day, but cooler weather is predicted in a few days.

So that was my day today, a wander around the garden after I finished my chores there, and it was a wonderful change from sitting at my desk. I’ll have to get back into uni tomorrow, but I think I’ll feel better doing so after having a break. 🙂

blessings · gardening · happiness · mangoes · Mount Warning · spring

The Sacred Garden

A Place of Happiness and Contentment.

If I could describe the perfect weather, the weather we are having now would be it.

Every day, for weeks on end, we have seen blue sunny skies, pleasantly warm temperatures during the day, and cooling down overnight for a cosy night’s sleep, snuggled up under the blankets.

Tiny Violas, just outside the back door.

It hasn’t rained at all, which is an advantage in one way as there is no humidity, but a disadvantage as the garden is crying out for a nice long refreshing drink of water.

The poppies are going well, but need watering every day.

Every afternoon I give some of the garden a watering, keeping it to just the plants that I know will suffer from the lack of water, such as my potted poppies and orchids, and the vegetable garden.

Garden tools are never far away.

This week I have devoted each day to giving my garden a “spring clean”. It’s more than just pulling out the weeds and pruning a few plants, and my mission is to have all the tidying up completed before the heat arrives.

New flowers are beginning to open on the Alamanda.

Yesterday’s chore of pressure cleaning the pavers at the back of my house had to be aborted, due to our four-month old pressure cleaner blowing a gasket! It has gone to the pressure cleaner hospital for a few days, and will be home again next week, so I can finish the job then.

Mount Warning, the Overseer of All Things Sacred.

Meanwhile, plenty of plants and trees have been pruned, old tatty plants have been removed, today I have added some new topsoil in the gardens where necessary, and before breakfast this morning I had a huge truck load of mulch delivered!

We all know how I will be spending the day tomorrow!!

Little Miss Tibbs, my helper, who is never far from my side.

I haven’t been alone in the garden either. Little Miss Tibbs has been right by my side, “helping”. No day in the garden is complete, without having your hands grabbed as you pull out weeds, legs jumped on as you move along the garden bed, and of course, everyone knows that a freshly weeded patch of dirt simply has to be rolled in!

Gardening can be exhausting!

She really is such wonderful company. If I don’t pay her enough attention I hear her little meow, and next thing she is rubbing up against my legs (or arms, or whatever body part is handy at the time!)

My sore muscles and aching “gardener’s back” are really of no consequence, when I think of the pure and absolute pleasure I feel when I’m out in the garden. If there is a place in the world that I could call my “Sacred Place”, that would have to be my garden.

The Mango Tree is covered in new growth.

New buds are forming, showing signs of the promise of beauty yet to come and my mango tree is positively covered in little blossoms! If we don’t have too many windy days (the wind can blow the tiny mango seeds away, leaving us with a bare tree) then we are in for a bumper crop of mangoes this year!

Tiny blossoms everywhere!

This afternoon, when I went right down the back garden to take photos of the mango tree, I spotted a Bush Turkey, just outside the back gate. He seemed tame enough, so I went closer to take his photo. Unfortunately he didn’t smile for the camera though, as he was more interested in finding his lunch.

“No, I can’t look up, I’m eating!!”

Some regular visitors to the garden, the magpies, who have dropped in for a chat and a meal for a few years now, were here for their usual afternoon scrounge around, and when they left the garden they headed for the very top of one of the tallest trees around, a Norfolk Pine.

The magpies balancing act!

I zoomed in on them to get a photo of the pair, looking quite ruffled, as the two of them tried to keep their balance and the tree swayed in the breeze!

The lemon tree is fruiting and flowering beautifully.

Everyone should have a “Sacred Place”, somewhere that you can go to, where all the cares of the world are guaranteed to be washed away in an instant.

Do you have a “Sacred Place”, or even a person who pacifies your mind and soothes your soul?

Tess plays her role of watch-dog, while Miss Tibbs and I are gardening.
gardening · gratitude · herbs · lemon · mangoes · pecan nuts · summer

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Abundance.


This past week has been a rather hectic one for me, with an abundance of work, mostly paper work, taking up most of my waking hours each day.

As a result I have missed out on posting anything here for quite a few days. I’ve even missed the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for last week!

Now, where in the rules does it say a photo can’t be posted a couple of days late?… No where?… That’s what I thought!

So here I am with my photo, which represents last week’s theme ~ “abundance”.

This photo was taken last year, when our garden produced a massive abundance of extremely tasty food; tomatoes, lemons, limes, mangoes, pecan nuts, chillies, and a number of my favourite herbs, including rosemary, basil, sage, parsley and thyme.

This time last year, the planets must have aligned perfectly, giving us a bumper crop of absolutely everything we grow! The right amount of rain and just enough sunshine, with the right amount of heat beating down upon the earth.

This summer, however, Mother Nature has not been quite so kind to us. Luckily, I have my photos from last year, showing my garden in all of its lush glory with an abundance of edibles, with which to reminisce, until the perfect weather conditions return again.

And the perfect weather conditions will return. Mother Nature is kind that way. 🙂

Australia · freedom · gardening · mangoes

Batty About Bats!

“Birds and fruit bats prefer native fruit. If they have native fruit they’ll leave yours alone” ~ Jackie French

I’ve had bats on my brain for the last day, fruit bats (or flying foxes) to be precise.

I place the blame on Kathy, over at “Lake Superior Spirit”, who wrote a most interesting and entertaining blog post yesterday, “Bat Event Today”.

Here in Australia bats are a common sight, especially so during the summer months. We regularly spot them gliding through the air at night fall. No doubt they have just woken from a day of slumber, being nocturnal mammals, and are preparing to raid the juiciest fruit available from the trees of suburbia.

Many years ago, whilst living in Sydney, we grew a lovely big pawpaw tree just outside of our back door. Each night after dark, the local fruit bats would make a feast out of our beautifully ripening fruit. Not wishing to be greedy, we would occasionally remove a pawpaw from the tree during the day for our own use. There was plenty to share!

One night I managed to take a photo of our cute little batty friends, although you will have to look carefully to spot the little fellow, right in the centre of the photo, who just happened to look straight at me as I photographed him.

Fruit bat in the pawpaw tree

This really isn’t the best of photos. But not to worry…I searched the web and have come up with some real beauties, taken by those with both better cameras and better photography skills than my own.

This photo of a bat in flight I found at

Bat in flight

These beautiful bats were at I can resist their cute little faces!

Beautiful Bats

This is a great photo, especially for my non Australian friends. It shows bats hanging from a Hills hoist, or clothes line. (I will write a post on our Aussie clothes lines; it’s quite an interesting story!)

Photo credit ~

We have a large mango tree growing just outside our bedroom window and during last summer all of the local mango trees produced fruit in huge quantities, the likes of which we had never seen before. I wrote about my “Delightful Mangoes” and also added a recipe for “Green Mango Chutney” during last summer. I made so much chutney we are still enjoying it, and it is delicious!

Over a period of around two to three weeks last summer, every night at around midnight, we were awoken by the unmistakable squeaky sounds of multiple fruit bats, feasting away on the ripening mangoes just outside our window. These little guys really must have felt they had hit the jackpot, as they continued to party, night after night, constantly returning until the last ripe mango was devoured.

Each night, when their tummies were suitably filled they would all fly off together, with a massive whoosh of their wings. The following morning I would check with my husband to see if he had been awake to hear the flying elephants taking off! I’m yet to learn how such tiny creatures can create such a massive wing sound!

According to Australian author Jackie French, if the trees you plant in your garden produce fruit which is more appealing to the local wildlife, such as native fruit trees, they will leave the human-preferred varieties alone.

I’m sure Jackie French’s theory would apply in all countries. Simply find out what the local wildlife wish to munch on and supply it to them. They’ll leave your treasures alone!

Whilst searching through photo albums for my fruit bat photo, I discovered another old photo, again taken in Sydney, of a couple of regular visitors to our window sill. These birds are called Rainbow Lorikeets, and are simply beautiful, not only in their colours but also their friendly personalities.

Lorikeets in Sydney

Don’t forget to drop by Kathy’s site, “Lake Superior Spirit”. You’re sure to enjoy her bat story, just as I did. 🙂

cooking · mangoes · recipe · traditions · Uncategorized

Green Mango Chutney

Green Mango Chutney
Green Mango Chutney

With my beautiful mango tree producing fruit like crazy this summer, Green Mango Chutney was a certainty. I also knew exactly which recipe I would be using.

For the last goodness-knows-how-many years I have been hearing about my husband’s grandmother’s famous Green Mango Chutney recipe. It has just about become folklore in our family!

I must admit that I have made a couple of variations to the original recipe, but only ever so slight. To change anything too drastically would be sacrilege! Grandma’s recipe uses ground ginger, where I have used fresh. Also, Grandma added salt to all of the other ingredients, whereas I sprinkled salt over the raw mangoes and left them standing overnight.



1.5 kg green mangoes, peeled & sliced (For 1.5 kg of mango flesh, I used 6 whole mangoes.)

50 g freshly ground sea salt

2 cups white wine vinegar

700 g (approximately 4 1/2 cups) brown sugar

150 g sultanas or raisins

150 g fresh ginger, chopped, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 – 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or 6 dried red chillies, chopped)

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

METHOD – Toss mango thoroughly with the ground sea salt in a large stainless steel bowl or saucepan and leave to stand, covered, overnight.

Tip mangoes into a colander and drain well.

Place well drained mangoes into a large stainless steel saucepan or stockpot and add all of the other ingredients.

Bring pan to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

When pan is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Bottle immediately in clean, warm, sterilised jars and seal tightly.

This chutney is best left for a month or two to mature, but tastes great immediately if you can’t wait that long!

Enjoy!! 🙂

Green Mangoes
Green Mangoes