Australia · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · new beginnings · quotes · summer · Tweed Valley

Australia Day 2021

26 January 1788

In the evening of the 26th the colours were displayed on shore, and the Governor, with several of his principle officers and others, assembled round the flag-staff, drank the king’s health, and success to the settlement, with all that display of form which on such occasion is esteemed propitious, because it enlivens the spirits, and fills the imagination with pleasing presages. ~~ Except from Journals of the First Fleet, Arthur Phillip and Watkin Tench.

And so began the development of the country – Australia – into what it is today. ❤

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. 🙂

Australia · Changes · clouds · colours · flowers · garden flowers · gardening · in my garden · Mount Warning · quotes · rain · summer · sunrise · Tweed Valley

Something Beautiful

When you do something beautiful and nobody notices, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle, and yet most of the audience still sleeps. ~~ John Lennon

When the early morning sun put on a beautiful specticle today, someone noticed. Luckily for me, I was awake to see the gentle, muted colours caught in interesting cloud patterns across the sky over Mount Warning.

Once, rising at 6:00 am seemed horrendous, yet now I look forward to seeing the changes in the sky, clouds and light as the earth awakens.

Lately, with all the rain and blustery weather we have had, there have been several mornings when the mountain hasn’t been visible at all, so I really appreciate the fine-weather mornings. The current La Niña weather pattern has sent parts of my garden into a tizz, with all the small green mango fruit blowing off the tree before it had a chance to mature, and we hardly have any frangipani flowers left. Only those flowers hidden among the leaves on the safer, northern side of the tree have survived.

Surprisingly, our hibiscus hedge is doing very well this year. We only bought one plant back in the days when we were establishing our new garden, and from that one plant, a creamy-peach colour, we grew more from cuttings. When a neighbour pruned their pink hibiscus, they were happy for us to take a few cuttings to strike for our garden, so our colour scheme was decided upon.

Some years, the excessive humidity and lack of rain bothers the hibiscus and we see few flowers. This year, the plants seem to be flourishing with the extra rain and we have a beautiful array of flowers.

Seeing the changes in the weather, which affects everything – the sky, the view, and especially the plants in the garden is what I enjoy most about spending time outdoors. In the garden, from season to season, you just never know which flowers and plants will be the star performers. And during summer, in the early morning, while much of the world still sleeps, it is the best time of day to spend time with nature. 🙂

Australia · clouds · fiction · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · quotes · reading · spring · sunrise · sunset · Tweed Valley

The Misty Mountains

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
~~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

The mist is below the mountain actually, but what a glorious sight it is! I’ve been looking forward to daylight savings so I could rise an hour earlier, which at 5:30am – in real “Earth” time, even though the clock says it’s 6:30 – is right on sunrise. It’s a magical time of day, when the valley has an atmosphere of belonging to another world at the break of day.

I haven’t heard of any dungeons in the valley or the mountain ranges, but I’m sure many “caverns old” could be discovered there.

If only the kookaburras could talk, they could tell the tales of caverns they have discovered in the valley.

Looking east towards the coast as the sun was rising, I could see the clouds catching glimmers of sunlight – more magic!

There are no dragons from Middle Earth guarding this “pale enchanted gold” at the end of the day, just the sparkling lights in the sleepy town below. 🙂