Category Archives: garden stuff

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.

One day in the garden

Here is a list of all of the intriguing  things I noticed in one day in my garden. I hope you also find them interesting.

Owning two young cats means that I do get a bit of a snapshot of what’s moving about in the garden. Skinks are really commonplace, Lulu and Umeko bring them in, and I take them out. Not that easy as they are fast movers. Just as I was taking this one out I noticed the tail.


This elegant little fork in the end of the tail is the result of the tip being damaged, but not dropping off. A new tail has grown, so now it has two.


The case moth the cats brought in yesterday is enjoying the new home I gave it on a Banksia integrifolia that grows in a pot. When I checked this morning it was happily munching on a leaf, but ducked back in while I was getting the camera.

That was when I noticed this big hairy caterpillar on the step rail, right near the cat flap. I know that it is best to keep away from hairy caterpillars, and this one probably gave a cat naturalist a bit of discomfort. I carefully removed it away from the house. It is the caterpillar of the Black and White Tiger Moth Spilosoma glatignyi. The hairs are not venomous, just very fragile and irritating.


As I now had camera in hand I went to check on the first ever bunch of flowers growing on my quandong tree. They are just opening. I hope they go the full cycle and form fruit, although the harvest will be very small.

I stopped to water a few pots at the front of the house, and noticed a very busy buzzing insect. It was moving fast and darting back and forth, so I just clicked in the general vicinity and managed an in focus shot of a Blue Banded Bee Amegilla cingulate. This Australian native bee feeds on blue flowers, but most of the ones on the Dianella were not open.IMG_7525

By mid afternoon it was about 35 degrees. From an upstairs vantage point I have a clear view of a kookaburra nesting box, currently occupied by two adolescent brush tail possums. Obviously finding it a bit hot inside, one has its tail and paws out on the balcony.


Near miss and a wonderful sight

A creak and a thump heard yesterday just after the cool change passed through provided the direction for an afternoon walk today. It didn’t take very long to find out the source of the ominous sound. It was just across the road and down a short path into the reserve. Luckily the top part of a tree that came down missed the recently installed park bench, and most fortunate that no one was sitting on it at the time. At least I hope not.IMG_7473

Out the other side of the reserve and through to the road I was dazzled by a tree I am sure was not in flower last week. This Illawarra Flame Tree Brachychiton acerifolius is a small specimen but it packed a punch. I think this is the first time it has put on a show, I am sure I would have noticed as they are a rare sight in Melbourne. Equally stunning was a flowering street tree, probably Corymbia ficifolia, that  I came across as I headed home. It was pulsating with hungry bees that were diving deep into the blossoms.

The best sighting by far was a large mob of kangaroo on both sides of the road that is the divide between the urban and rural zones. In an easement for a future road that will probably never be built were lots of mothers and their young with at least two of them carrying a large joey in the pouch. On the other side, under shade trees in a horse paddock, were what appeared to be the larger males. Maybe it was yesterday’s 40 degree heat that has brought them all closer in. I often see a small group here, but not this many.IMG_7484IMG_7486


Mystery progress

Just to get started here is the first bloom on my small pomegranate that has a hard life in rocky dirt near the base of a very large eucalypt. I took the picture yesterday, it may no longer be there due to wind and extreme heat. For the last few years the number of buds has increased, I counted five this time, but none have made it through to fruit. I thought the colour a most appropriate introduction to this post.


Steps 4 and 6 combined – went together very easily thanks to ‘Mary’s Triangles’ with no chopped off points in sight.IMG_7444

Step 7 – the joining together of two flying geese. I am not doing all of them as yet. It may become necessary to deviate from the mystery instructions if I go with a different block layout.IMG_7467Step 8 – joining the units to make a block. I am just laying them out at this stage. And I have put in sashings and corner stones.IMG_7460

The proposition that has been put to me is that the design would look very interesting if the flying geese all went in the same direction as the goose in the sashing, just as it is in the block above. Because the sashing is between blocks, the alternate ones will have their geese flying the other way.

Here are the two ways I could set out the blocks using the mystery quilt instructions. Geese flying with sashing towards the centre (left) and towards outer four blocks (right). There are turquoise setting triangles and some sashing missing, but you get the idea. I plan to keep the Mary’s Triangles intact on the outer sides rather than leave out the orange. It is a further variation from the pattern but is necessary if I am to have any secondary blocks..

These are the eight variations with geese flying in the direction of the sashing goose.

So all I have to do now is decide which layout I like best and put everything together.


Stop reading here if you don’t like eight legged critters.





Remember the pretty jewel spider. She has had babies!

This morning the wattle near her web had lots of tiny, perfectly formed webs and I could see pinhead size spiders in some of them. One has even caught breakfast.

Not at all easy to photograph in the morning sunlight. The new webs are between three and five centimetres across. You need to click on the image to see anything.