Some of my unusual plants….

After 2 weeks of intermittent but welcome rain and a total of approx. 100mm the garden has loved it. The humidity has been high and my tropical plants have thrived, while I have wilted. But today the breeze has turned South/East bringing a cooler, pleasanter temperature and I have been tempted out into the garden with my camera.

Being a Pom, born in Yorkshire, my first love is cottage gardens. The riot of annuals intermingled with roses bringing their unique beauty and perfume. Herbs and perennials scattered through. A glorious pallet of colour. That is the garden I had in New Zealand.

But that selection of plants wilted as fast as I do in the heat and humidity of a Queensland summer. So now I go with the flow and my garden is a tropical paradise. A backdrop of palms and broad-leaved plants of the rain forest. The bright, vibrant splash of colour as the various tropical plants flaunt their beauty among the many shades of green.

I will show you some of the more unusual plants and the more common ones that are flowering now.

These Birds of Paradise (Strelitzia) seem to be having a conversation

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While this Heliconia is home for ants.

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One of my favourites is the Croton. The flowers are quite insignificant, but the leaves are so varied.

This croton is called “African Bells”, if you look carefully you will see the small extra leaf formed on the end of the main leaf. I was given this shrub 12 years ago by the garden club as a thank you for opening my garden for the club to visit.

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There are many different shades of croton and they are a favourite as they always give a splash of colour.

This Bauhinia is a visitor from next doors garden. I trim it back after flowering but it always comes back.

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These variegated rhoeos, also known as Moses in the basket, make a neat and tidy edging and ground cover.

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The blue ginger is just starting to flower.

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The Banksia has long since finished flowering, but look at the interesting seed pod it leaves behind.

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Succulents are always easy care and love this climate.

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The next two unusual plants live on insects, flies and mosquitoes are tempted inside them.

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Finally I will leave you with a gallery of a few other plants in the garden.

Now the weather is cooling down slightly the next major job is pruning back the jungle growth.

Categories: Australia, garden, photos, tropical garden | Tags: , , , | 48 Comments

Crow’s capers…

Listen I can hear the sound of violently splashing water. With camera in hand I tiptoe to the window.

The recent heavy rain has filled the bird bath and this crow is having a great time splashing around.


He looks up, I wonder if he has heard me…


I keep very still, then he carries on with his morning ablutions.


Hopping out he has a shake, droplets of water slide off his glossy feathers…


Then, refreshed and glossy, he takes off for his day’s activities.


Couldn’t resist adding this to Ailsa’s glossy travel theme.

Categories: Australia, crows, glossy, photos, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 33 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Vibrant…


I mentioned in my last post how Bromeliads are the most versatile and easy care plants in my garden (See that post here)

How appropriate that Jen should choose “vibrant” as her WP theme for this week, because what I didn’t show about the bromeliad in my last post is how diverse and vibrant the flowers are.

Not many are flowering at the moment in mid summer as they are, mainly, a spring-flowering plant. So I searched through the archives to find some of the vibrant images I have of the Bromeliad in glorious flower.

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Also they carry these amazing and diverse forms of flowers for many weeks, sometimes months. When they do eventually fade the Bromeliad will slowly die, but not before it has produced a number of pups (small replicas of itself) around the base of the plant to carry on the easy care tradition.


I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016


Categories: bromeliad, photos, vibrant, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

The most abundant, versatile and easy care plant in my garden…

Pride of place goes to the Bromeliad.

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From the year 2000 to 2010 this area was in the grip of a terrible drought. Ever increasing water restrictions were put in place. No sprinklers allowed in the garden, only hand-held hoses every second day from 4pm to 7pm. Then even that small consideration was cut off. Only watering cans allowed to be used. The local dams were down to below 10% of capacity.

I was in despair for my garden. Plants were wilting and dying. But one plant thrived in these conditions. It became the plant of the decade and as other plants died I replaced them with this versatile survivor. Now the Bromeliad is everywhere in my garden.

It is an attractive and tidy edging plant.

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Attached in the fork of a Frangipani tree. It colonised it, needing no soil to grow in.

Attached to the fork of a Frangipani tree.

Attached to the fork of a Frangipani tree.

Filling in bare spaces.

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Thriving in full sun against a north facing wall.

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Surrounding the fish and lily ponds.

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Used as a feature plant in a pot.

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Even in a dark corner under trees.

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Or scrambling up trees.

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With so many different colours, shapes and sizes the Bromeliad will happily fit into any space.

All it requires, every now and again, is a small amount of water dribbled into the centre cup.

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And then it will reward you with a variety of unusual flowers.

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The drought broke in 2010 with torrential floods and it kept raining through 2011 and 2013 with more floods. As you can see the garden is still colonised with broms. They are an excellent choice for easy care and as we travelled these amazing plants just looked after themselves.

Categories: bromeliad, garden, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

The Changing Seasons, Version 2 : January

During 2015 Cardinal Guzman hosted a monthly challenge. The challenge was to choose one place and visit it every month to record the changes. A fascinating project. But unfortunately, last year I could not visit the same place every month because of my Gypsy wanderings.

Fast forward to 2016…

I was delighted to discover that the dear Cardinal has decided to continue his challenge but to add a version 2.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

Now this year is also a year of change for me. I plan to stay, more or less, put. After 5 years of roaming far and wide around Australia, I’ll be exploring the Southeast corner of Queensland and Northern New South Wales, the place I call home. No distant travels (to a galaxy far, far away) to far-flung parts of Australia.

So yesterday I went out to search for an image that says “January on the Gold Coast”. The bigger challenge being to do it in ONE photo…

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This is Burleigh Beach, my local beach, and it is the last weekend of the school summer holidays. It is hot, it is humid and the surf is pumping. Just look at the crowds, but it is still possible to find an oasis of calm with a book, a coffee and your loved one under a tropical Pandanus palm. Room for a couple of young boys to play ball and a young woman heading for the ocean to catch a wave.

In the background, just visible through the fronds of the Pandanus, the Burleigh Heads National Park keeps a majestic watch over the scene.

Thousands of years ago this was known as a favourite meeting place for the Aboriginal tribes of the area. They would gather for ceremonies and share the bounty of the sea, leaving middens of shells to tell the tale of times long gone.


Categories: #monthly photo challenge, #the changing seasons v2, Australia, Burleigh Beach, Goldcoast, January | Tags: , , , , , | 46 Comments

The most unusual plant in my garden…


Ear like bracts stand at attention above the cat-like whiskers of this unusual plant.


The Tacca Chantrieiri has many common names: Bat Flower, Black Bat Flower, Cats Whiskers, Devil Flower, Bat Head Lily, Bat Plant, Devil’s Tongue, Black Tacca, Jews Beard, Voodoo Flower.


It is a native to tropical areas of Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, and southern China: particularly Yunnan Province. Tucked away in a shady corner of my garden it bursts into spectacular flower at this time of the year as I slowly wilt in the heat and humidity that it thrives in.

Categories: Bat Plant, photos | Tags: , , | 47 Comments

The Changing Times…

How times change an area.

Go back to 1998 when we moved to Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. It was a sleepy, almost unknown suburb and houses were affordable. James Street, the main shopping street, was suffering, many shops vacant because locals were going to the Stockland shopping centre to shop in air-conditioned comfort under one roof with plenty of parking.

Tourists, especially the young back packers, flocked to Surfers Paradise for sun and fun. Families preferred to go to the many theme parks and the rich and famous frequented Main Beach with its, back then, trendy café culture. So Burleigh, with its air of shabby, old-fashioned and slightly scruffy street scape belonged to the locals. Parking was easy and shop owners despaired at the lack of customers.

That is how we left it when we took off for a years exploration around Australia in 2010.

But gradually change has come to this sleepy little suburb. It has been discovered. Empty shops have been taken over by young (or maybe even not so young) entrepreneurs and converted into trendy cafes with butter boxes for seats and op shop  crockery, or boutiques with designer everything. 2 bars are open till late. As they say “if you build it they will come” and come they have in swarms. Parking is almost impossible to find and expensive. All the shops are busy and the multitude of cafes and restaurants are doing a roaring trade.

Today we went for Sunday lunch and walked from end to end of James Street. It was buzzing.

This was just an empty arcade a year ago.

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What a delightful space it is now, but no seats so we wandered on.

Finally deciding on Govindas our favourite Hare Krishna vegetarian restaurant.

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No coffee sold at Govindas, so on to The Coffee Club, the only franchised, multi-national, along James Street.

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But what a great view it has. Right on the corner of the street. The Poinciana trees are just coming into flower and if you look carefully there is a small view of the ocean through the far row of trees.

This is, in my opinion, the best area of the Gold Coast to live in and now so many people of all ages are discovering it.

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Footnote: Main Beach is now sliding into oblivion…

Categories: Australia, Burleigh, Goldcoast, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

Phew the storm passed us by…

During the night the storm fizzled out, the wind dropped and, thank goodness, so did the temperature. It is still grey and overcast this morning and I’m hoping we get more rain. Only 2mm fell overnight. But it has refreshed the plants. Rain has magical properties that no amount of watering can supply.

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Thank you to all my blogging friends who expressed their concern. The connection and caring of the WordPress community is heart warming.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend whatever the weather and wherever you are.

Categories: Australia, garden, photos, storms, travel | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Storm warning…

Yesterday a violent thunderstorm ripped through Sydney killing a man, destroying many buildings and leaving tens of thousands of homes without power. (For more details and pictures click here) Followed by hail and gale force winds. The man died when a tree fell on his car The storm was centred in the Western Sydney area where the farm we recently cared for is situated.

I received this e-mail from Deidre (who with Kim are the farm owners))…

“I’m glad we were home when this storm hit – we took a direct hit, a bit of hail and wind like you can’t imagine. Power went off of course.  But we have been very fortunate.  A tree that could have hit the house has been stopped by the dead tree (to the south of the dog pen). That tree should have been taken out after a lightening strike last year, but the contractor never turned up to do it!  Branches fell off, one hit the very corner of our bedroom but only bent a gutter that needs replacing anyway.  There is a big part of tree near the dog pen, but it fell between the wheelie bin and the gate, so if we crawl under we can still lock them up.  Other small stuff down all over, but the driveway OK.  The rented house had a tree fall between the carport and a shed, it damaged an old trailer. Andy and Raylene had a tree fall between structures too.  And, miracle of miracles, the power, phone and internet all came back on very quickly. That is a first.  (Neighbours said trees pulled down power lines locally, so I guess it was a relatively easy fix).

 Thought you might hear stories of storms in Sydney, and wanted to let you know we are OK.”

I was so relieved to hear they were ok, and thankful we never had that terrifying experience when we were in charge.

Now the storm is heading our way, 70 km per hour winds are presently buffeting our area and rain is forecast for later tonight. Fortunately the intensity has decreased so hopefully we will get some rain but not as bad as Sydney.

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I biked down to the end of the street just before the rain started to capture these images of the storm clouds rolling in.

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This sensible duck had bunkered down off the water for the night.

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The garden is in need of a good soaking rain. I didn’t do any watering today…

Categories: Australia, ducks, Goldcoast, photos, storms, Sydney | Tags: , , , | 49 Comments

The Benefits of Local Knowledge…

I enjoy house sitting, Airbnb accommodation and Couch surfing for many reasons, one of the main reasons is the information a local person can give you. 

A prime example of this was when I was deciding which way to come home after our recent farm sit.

“Have you heard of Putty Road?” Asked Kim.

The answer was “No”. So I Googled it.

The 174-kilometre (108 mi) Putty Road is very historic, closely following the Bulga Road (named after the Bulga Creek), first explored by John Howe, Chief Constable of Windsor, being the first road to link Sydney to the Hunter Valley. It was opened in 1823 and was initially a popular cattle-rustling route.[2]

Today, the road is fully sealed and from north to south, after leaving Singleton, passes through the settlements of Bulga, Colo, Milbrodale, and Putty. The Putty Road is bounded to the west and east by protectednational parks – the Wollemi National Park to the west, and the Yengo National Park to the east – both part of the UNESCOWorld Heritage–listed Greater Blue Mountains Area. The road is narrow and winding in places and very scenic. Wikipedia information 

Now that sounds like my kind of journey.

The start of the Putty Road section was Windsor and it was market day. Windsor is the third-oldest place of British settlement on the Australian continent. Settlement at the location was first established about 1791.

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It was a grey and drizzly sort of day and not many people around.

But this enterprising barber had customers waiting.

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We had an interesting chat with this bloke as he sat making clay models using clay from his own property. Notice the 2 mailboxes next to him, the old and the new.

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It is starting to rain again so time for a coffee before tackling Putty Road.

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Putty Road rolls along with the bush of 2 National Parks on each side. Narrow and winding it follows the contours of the Blue Mountains. This is a motorbike enthusiasts dream road as it twists and turns sometimes almost turning full circle back on its self. At regular intervals hoardings warn motorcyclist of the danger of speed and inattention. I feel like a rally driver, but lament the fact that there is nowhere to pull over for photos. The scenery is stunning, occasional glimpses of a stream following the road then disappearing into the thick Aussie bush.

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As we get to the other end of the road the bush gives way to fertile farm land. It was known as the “bread basket”, and in the early days of settlement it ensured the survival of the starving colony.

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A steady rain is now falling, not really photography weather. The storm clouds are gathering.

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As we neared the end of the Putty Road this poignant memorial tells of the dangers for truck drivers of this very tortuous road.

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A final stop is made in the small township of Kurri Kurri

This was a major coal mining area, but now only one mine is still operating. The town’s economy today is largely based on the surrounding wineries now that the aluminium smelter closed in 2012.

The monument below was erected about the neighbouring town of Cessnock. I’m not sure why they put it in Kurri Kurri.

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This pub is testament to the hey days of the mining, I can imagine all the miners making the pub their first port of call after knocking off work. Back then it was 6pm closing (known as “6 o’clock swill) and the blokes would swill down as much beer as they could before the call of “last drinks” rang out. Then stagger home with perhaps another dozen under their arm.

Today is Sunday and the town is deserted.

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What really caught my eye and made me stop here was this giant kookaburra…

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Nearing the end of our drive and the rain is now torrential and we learn later that the Putty Road had been closed  just after we got through, due to slips and dangerous conditions.

I found this old 4 minute video on You Tube. A small part of history in the making…

Categories: Australia, Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, photos, Putty Road, travel, Windsor | Tags: , , , , | 39 Comments

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