Category Archives: garden stuff

A secret garden

A quick ferry ride to Milsons Point and a stroll along the broad walk to Lavender Bay brings you to Wendy’s Secret Garden. The story behind this public but community maintained garden can be read here. It was created by Wendy Whiteley in reaction to Brett Whiteley’s sudden death.

The walk goes round Luna Park and is also the site of Comic Walk, lots of little sculptures of popular fictional characters. Of course May Gibbs Banksia Man was among a variety of banksia plants.

The first thing you see when your climb the stairs up to the garden is a huge Morton Bay Fig.

The whole site is threaded with narrow paths and steep stairways.

Hidden statuary and found objects.

Very welcoming but also very personal. The cupid fountain is from Margaret Olley’s garden.

Thatching of the arbour is the living bamboo.

I was surprised to see so many Angel Trumpet trees in a public space. So beautiful, but highly poisonous.

The garden stretches below the Whiteley house in what was infill land created when the railway was built. Now there are moves to create the Sydney Harbour Highline along this little used line.

After a lovely time exploring this garden I climbed up to Blues Point Road and then down to McMahons Point for the ferry back to Circular Quay. From this side you can see where the garden lies, right in the middle.

Then off on another ferry to Manly for the afternoon and back after sunset to see Vivid from the water. If you are going to be in Sydney, then a day on the harbour is a must.


Vivid Sydney

First another hotel view. The lift. An over the top interior.

Tuesday evening I headed out to see Vivid. I thought I would just visit Vivid in the Gardens, but they way it was organised, the one-way lighted path started near the Opera House, so I spent time at Circular Quay as well. A mild evening had lots of people out and about including a lot of children. But it was not overcrowded. The light show was everywhere and totally mesmerising.

The gardens had illuminated plants and a sequence of installations but all sorts of artists,  who I cannot acknowledge as I didn’t pay attention to the information pillars. I think they are all listed on the Vivid Sydney site.

Trees taking on new personalities

Some spooky things

Following pathways

Reflections in water

Huge paper lanterns

and birds were singing in the gazebo. Many many more amazing things to see, but one of my favourites was a projection designed by TAFE students on the facade of Government House. Not possible to get a reasonable photo unfortunately.

IMG_9649Finally the view from Cahill Expressway, from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Opera House.

Autumn colour

It has turned cold. At last. And it has rained. At last.

Umeko and Lulu and I went out during a brief spell of sunshine to do a quick survey after last night’s rain. I don’t have many deciduous plants, and it is too mild here to have anything like the spectacular shows you see in the mountains. But there is a little colour.

Evidence of rain, the birdbath is nearly full. The smoke bush Cotinus coggygria adds some pretty colour. Leaves on my ornamental pear is just beginning to turn.

The ginkgo captures every bit of light and the yellow fruit on the white cedar Melia azedarach nearby will be enjoyed by the birds in a few more weeks. Meanwhile the leaves on the Judas Tree Cercis siliquastrum that have survived the heat and insects are also turning yellow.

Blueberry leaves turn red.

And much to my surprise, considering how many times this potted plant has been scorched over summer, Vireya ‘Golden Charm’ is covered in buds and the first cluster has opened.

Under construction

After many many hours of driving I finally made it to the last destination on my two day Wimmera Road Trip. Much of it was spent thinking and learning about the past, so it was a refreshing change to see the future being made. And I received such a friendly welcome with tea and cake to boot.

The place? A very famous garden in Lal Lal, to followers of Weed n Stitch that is.  There was lots to see, so much had grown in the year since I was here last. And lots of new developments too. Vireya documents all this very well but in case you haven’t got the full picture here are one or two.

First one of the beds that can be seen from the living room windows. A lovely shady place to sit and plan the next garden task.

And next a wide view of the compound from one of the high sides. The house nestles between two slight rises that have been left as natural bushland (minus weeds). In between the house and the shed with all the solar panels is the formal walled garden which is slowly taking shape. The infamous pizza oven is front left, still getting final coats at this time, but now, cooking up a storm. The veggie garden and orchard are way across the other side along with all the roses that line the drive. It is quite a magical place.

Thank you Vireya and Graeme for your hospitality. I look forward to seeing further changes on my next visit.

Caterpillar tête-à-tête

The Papilla anactus caterpillars on my lemon tree are growing. I count them daily and so far no losses.

This morning these two were enjoying the same leaf.

And this is what happened when I bumped it while taking a close up.

Update:  For those interested these pictures were taken with an iPhone 5 with a clip on Struman macro lens.

Should they stay or should they go

Some little caterpillars are eating the new leaves on my lemon tree. It took me a while to identify them as they are an early instar, quite different from the later form.

They are the larva of  Papilla anactus, the dainty swallowtail. A very attractive butterfly. There was one slowly flying through the garden last week, although I didn’t know its name at the time.

The orange and black stripe and the spikes will disappear as they grow, but these are not the only defences.

When disturbed a reddish-orange coloured osmeterium comes out from behind the head and releases a secretion composed of butyric acid and smelling of rotting oranges. It will have this feature through all larval stages.

The caterpillars will grow to about 35mm in length and as they eat the new leaves of the lemon tree I am a bit worried about their appetite. There are only about 10 of them, but my tree is small. For now, they are too interesting and the butterflies too pretty for them to be banished.

What the cat saw

Picture this. You are on the phone to your daughter. You notice the kitten outside on the stair rail very excited about something. You go out into 40 degree plus heat to check it out. Still on the phone, you want to take a photo, remove the kitten – oh and figure out how to use FaceTime so you can include your daughter in the drama.

Well, I got the photo, removed the kitten and daughter face timed me so she could see.


A ringtail possum out in the day time. She may have been too hot in her nest or out searching for water. She was moving carefully through the bottle brush keeping a close watch on the kitten.

Once the Umeko was inside, and the phone conversation concluded, I checked on possum again.

She had moved into the lemon scented gum and Lulu on the path below had woken and was taking some interest. So time to move cat number two.

The possum did not appear to be heat stressed, certainly a possibility and a reason to be out and about. I thought of giving her a light spray from the hose, but she had already moved on. Hopefully back to her nest in dense shrubs just the other side of the carport.