Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our First Day of Spring Downunder ... and Our National Wattle Day!

Tomorrow ... September 1st ... is the first day of Spring downunder ... and on this day every year we celebrate National Wattle Day!!

Wattles ... Acacias of course being their botanic name ... have a very special place in the heart of all Aussies.

Let misers hoard and hide their gold;
Here there is treasure-trove untold,
In yellow blossom, mass on mass
Spread out for wayfarers who pass
With hearts to feel, and eyes to see
How lovely is the wattle tree.

One of our native wattles (seen on the left) - Acacia pycnantha or the Golden Wattle - is our national floral emblem  ... and, of course, our national colours ... green and gold ... were inspired by the Acacia.

Towards illimitable skies
From the earth the trees arise:
Givers of Joy, their gold and green
Against the blue of Heaven is seen.
A symbol of man's destiny
Is the blossoming the wattle tree.

(Selected verses from Dora Wilcox's 'The Wattle Tree')

Acacias welcome in the Spring in many parts of Australia ... although there are many species that bloom at other times of the year.  There's over 1000 different types of Acacias ... Australia has around two-thirds of the entire world's species.  There are some that are metre-high shrubs ... and then others that are trees reaching to 15 metres tall!!

I am in no way an expert in Acacias, despite being an Aussie, as so many just look identical to me and I find it hard to tell them apart. But putting my lack of expert knowledge aside, I shall attempt to share some of the Acacias that surround me here ... there are a couple of varieties out in the bushland around my home and a number of these have sprung up on my property.  I thought I'd join in Noel's Hot, Loud and Proud meme and show some of these magnificent Acacias with you ... the names are just educated guesses!  (Please correct me if you think I'm wrong ... my shoulders are broad!)

An interesting fact about the flowers of Acacias is that there are two types - rod-shaped and ball-shaped.  There are examples of both of these flowers on the Acacias that grow here.

Here's the first Acacia that's a common sight out in the bushland. 
I think it's Acacia simsii, commonly called Sim's Wattle.

It has ball-shaped flowers.

It has seed pods that look like this ... pods alternately raised and depressed over the seeds inside.

There is also this beautiful Acacia that has bright, golden yellow rod-shaped flowers. 
This could be Acacia auriculiformis ... the Northern Black or Ear Pod Wattle.

The common name Ear Pod Wattle can be attributed to the look and shape of the seed pods.

Then finally, there is this wonderful Acacia with its grey-green foliage and creamy lemon flower spikes. 
I think this one is Acacia holosericea, commonly called Silver Leaf Wattle.

This Acacia has the most remarkable heavily curled and twisted seed pods.
These pods eventually turn brown and will stay on the tree long after the seeds have been dispersed.

As I mentioned earlier, not all Acacias bloom in Spring ... and mine don't!!!  There are no gorgeous wattle flowers out in the bush or on my property right now ... all these varieties bloomed back in Autumn.  There are seed pods on both the Ear Pod and Silver Leaf Wattles ... but that is it.  So to end this National Wattle Day post, here's a few more photos taken earlier this year.  Enjoy the green and gold on this first day of Spring.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Inside Out Garden View.

Inspired by Shrylene's recent post Garden ramblings on a rainy Sunday which then reminded me of a post I read a little while ago from Cyndy Window Views, I spent this morning appreciating the garden views from inside my house.

I started to realise that many of the views are of the bushland, rather than my garden ... like this view from one side of our main bedroom ...
and this view from one side of our Lounge Room!!!!

So I realised I will need to put a few things into perspective, before I continue with this post.

My house is situated on the side of a rocky hill.  The front of our house, with its long verandah, has a southerly aspect and looks over a large, rather desolate expanse of (for want of a better word) 'grass' onto the surrounding bush.

This grassy area in our front yard separates the house from the surrounding bushland ... important in possible bushfire areas such as ours.

One side of our house is single storey ... to the left of the photo above ... and sits nestled into a wall of rock.

The other side of the house, facing to the east, is double storey ... and the large 'grassy' area continues around to this side ... again to keep some distance from the bush in case of fire.

This side of the house also looks out over the surrounding bushland.

It's also important to note that the property is primarily bedrock covered by a very thin, thin ... and I mean 'thin' ... layer of decomposed granite ... so there isn't a garden view from absolutely every window because most of the property around our house is simply not suitable for creating garden beds ... unless we win big in the Lotto!!!!!!!

Aside from the little garden beds in front of the house, many of the garden areas are located in amongst all those trees you can see in the photo below at the back and side of the house.

 So, given all this ... let's take a look at some of the window views.

I'll start with the room I'm sitting in right now ... the study / spare bedroom ... which looks out over the Courtyard Garden through this window ....
... and onto our coconut palms through the other window.
The Dining Room, just outside the office, also looks out over the Courtyard Garden ... although it gives a slightly different perspective ...
... as does the view through the Dining Room door ... a.k.a. one of our back doors.

Moving over to the Music Room which runs alongside the Dining Room and Lounge ... you get a great view out over the Shadehouse/Greenhouse Garden.

Through the Music Room doors ... those enormous ferns, the Giant Sword Fern in the background, cover a wall of rock.
... and another view through the Music Room windows.
Now into my lovely kitchen where I get fabulous views of both the Shadehouse/Greenhouse Garden ....
 and the Courtyard Garden.

Glimpses of the Courtyard Garden can also be seen from one side of our main bedroom.

These two garden spaces ... the Courtyard and Shadehouse Gardens ... are the most important garden spaces on my property primarily because they are areas that are constantly viewed upon from various vantage points in our house.  They really are the focal point of my gardening endeavours ... the other areas such as the driveway garden beds are rather like the adult children who have left home .... whilst you love them dearly, you don't get to visit them often!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Calliandras - the striking Powderpuffs.

Just as the flowering Poinciana screams 'Summer!' here in north eastern Australia, nothing quite says 'Winter!' here in the tropics like the blooming evergreen Calliandras ... or Powder Puffs.

I have two beauties that are wonderful showy shrubs growing on other side of my front gate and when they are in flower, they make an eye-catching display.  They grow to around 3 metres high with the same spread.  In my part of Australia, they begin flowering at the end of Autumn (in May) and will be in full bloom through our early to mid-Winter (June and July).

Here they are ...  showing off as I drive into the property.

The common name for these shrubs is Powder Puffs - because the long, long stamens cluster to make a puffy looking flower.

Here is my red Calliandra haematocephala.  You can see the raspberry-like buds to the right of this bloom.  That little bud is packed with many long, long stamens.

It's amazing to watch the little buds open and see the stamens bursting out.

Finally the deep red stamens are out in all their glory!

Here is my pink Calliandra haematocephala.  This one has gorgeous watermelon pink powderpuff blooms.

A fascinating feature about these shrubs is that the leaves will close up at night.

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