CALAMITY, catastrophic caterpillars.


Oh dear what a disaster and disappointment. Overnight the kale crop has almost been decimated by dozens of greedy green caterpillars.

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How did they infiltrate through the netting I so carefully put in place?

I’m devastated. Carefully I pick as many off as I can find and feed them to the fish.

Look at the lettuce.

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Despite all my loving attention they are bolting off to seed.

Then I walk round to the back garden and my lovely big Cycad is in tatters. A small blue moth has laid its bugs which are now powering through the fronds.

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With all the rain we have had and the heat and humidity the garden is a breeding ground for all kinds of voracious bugs and beetles.

But there are still some highlights to bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

Look at the sunflowers…

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I can see a little ray of sunshine peeping out of the green foliage. So far so good.

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The bat plant loves this hot humid weather and has rewarded me with this amazing flower. 

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In the shade of the frangipani tree the Hoya winds its tendrils around and today I noticed this delicate beauty. The first of the summer display.

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Another Heliconia has come into flower. This is a dwarf variety, I think it is called Red Christmas. It only grows to approximately three-foot where the other varieties tower up to six-foot and over.

Gardening is always a mine field of ups and downs. Challenges and rewards that make gardening an endlessly absorbing addiction.

Finally I would like to show you this strange-looking flower. Can any one identify it for me?

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In August 2012 we stayed in a camp ground in a small town called Pine Creek in the central out back area. As we walked round the town I noticed a lady watering her garden and we hung over her fence chatting.

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It was a riot of colour and stood out from all the other dry, dusty out back gardens along the street.

I commented on the strange-looking red flower growing profusely around her garden and like all generous natured gardeners around the world she gave me some seeds.

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I carefully carried them back home and eventually the seeds were scattered in a pot, then moved into the garden and true to what that generous lady told me, they grew like weeds and are now spreading all over my garden. I did take a note of their name but that bit of paper disappeared.

Can anyone help me?

Thanks to Toni , one of my blogging buddies, I have found out that this plant is cocks comb. this is what Google says

“Cockscomb flowers are also known as Wool Flowers or Brain Celosia, suggestive of a highly colored brain. The flowers belong to the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. Cockscomb blooms with a compacted crested head 2-5 inches across, on leafy stems that are 12-28 inches long. The flower’s name is suggestive of a rooster’s comb. The Cockscomb flower blooms from late summer through late fall. The Celosia plant is an annual dicotyledon.” (For more information click here)

Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, Northern Territory, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 53 Comments

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53 thoughts on “CALAMITY, catastrophic caterpillars.

  1. Pingback: My Queensland garden on the first day of winter… | gypsy life

  2. Pingback: Have you ever tried kale? | gypsy life

  3. Yes Celosias. They grow here in West VA too. Meanwhile we are freezing our patootsies off here so I really really love this Post!! Yay…! Beautiful beautiful gardens. I just love it Thank you.


    • Love the word “patootsies” Sue, not heard it before. Thank you for the lovely comment. Wish I could send you some real sunshine.


  4. I love gardening and have an almost English style large perennial garden. I have lots of Daffodils in the spring and mums in the fall with a slap riot of color in-between. When I look at photos of Oz gardens I am mystified….it is a whole other world. Your bat plant…amazing bloom.


    • Your garden sounds so beautiful I love cottage gardens and the riot of colour in them. I had a cottage style garden in NZ, roses, lavender, perennials, herbs all intermingled. Over here most of those plants do not like the heat and humidity so I grow with the flow and garden with tropical plants that love this climate.


  5. poppytump

    They really have done a demolition job Pauline 😦 Would make many lose heart … Glad you can do a daily de caterpillar and hopefully make some progress . The Sunflower must come through !!!
    Isn’t cockscomb perfect .. I was trying to think what it reminded me of 😀


    • I’m still madly de-caterpillaring and getting to eat some of what they have left!!! The sunflowers are still heading for the skies and even though they haven’t opened yet the flower buds follow the arc of the sun every day. Nature is amazing.


  6. Your garden is always an interesting place to wander, Pauline. That bat plant flower is simply amazing! 🙂 Bad news about the caterpillars but nature is always playing tricks, isn’t she?
    I saw the horrendous bush fires blazing on TV last night. That must be horrifying.


    • I think I have won the war against the caterpillars Jo, at least for the time being. Those fires are terrible, it is so hot over here at the moment. Thank you for youe concern

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lot of interesting comments Pauline.
    The response shows what a good blog you have.
    Toni got the prize for the flower quiz.
    Has Prior seen your post with the Black Rushen tomato, we sampled, house sitting in Malanda, she would love that one.
    Sue’s comment about the ugly veggies and wast, reminded me as a child I lived on double you’re eggs and bird pecked fruit. Ripened on the tree back then and the birds pecked the best.
    Tell womansview the fish know the best is fresh and organic.😀


  8. wow – sorry about the kale – and the bat plant is cool – and I really enjoyed learning about the Cockscomb flower!! what a sweet lady that was to share 🙂 – and the action photos are great!

    and I do not really have any pest control tips – and for me, well I have modified to adapt to my yard. For some reason, I cannot grow zucchini or squash without stink bugs taking over. It is horrible and even with being vigilant (like daily checking of the leaves – and using a touch of DE – but only a touch to not hurt the bees) well, I juts can;t grow them anymore. they always get attacked. this is sad because my first two years of growing these items were awesome – and we even accidentally missed a green zucchini that grew to over 20 inches long – and share fit with a neighbor, but no mas. The headache was not worth it – so I stuck to what grows well – tomatoes – peppers, and misc. things like one eggplant. mmmm
    anyhow, the Heliconia is also a beaut! 🙂


    • That is a sad story about the stink bugs, we get them here too, so far they haven’t found out that I am growing veggies. I love zucchinis but they do not like our humidity and get a bad case of mildew and do not set fruit, so I don’t grow them. That 20 inch zucchini was a whopper, well done.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry for your disasters, but I think the bat plant makes up for it. I have never seen anything like it, what a fantastic name.

    Happy new year from the old dart!


  10. Sorry about the caterpillars – I have seen the havoc that these pests can wreck. Apart from the intruders, I just love your garden. It is bursting with color. It is photos/blogs like yours that make me yearn for a garden of my own. Have a great year!


  11. What a seesaw gardening is, and you document it so beautifully with those magnificent photos.


  12. Oh no! Caterpillars!! Poor thing. But your floeers are beautiful, I love that sunflower just emerging…


  13. “Oh Calamity!!!” Do you read Lainey Moriarity?? She’s your fellow Aussie!


    • No I do not know Lainey Moriarity Cindy. Is she another blogger or an author? I googled the name but could not find her…


  14. Yes we are always doing duals with Pesky pests.. but then that is the world of gardening.. 🙂 And it looks like you have many Magical Blooms to make up for the chomping caterpillars,,,, Amazing Flowers.. Thank you so much for sharing Pauline..

    Happy New Year to you too.. _/\_ Sue


    • It is a battle field out there Sue. I often wonder how commercial growers manage, especially the organic people who do not use copious amounts of chemicals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I was also watching a program with Jamie Oliver yesterday Pauline.. You know the Chef?… He is trying to start a campaign of getting people to buy ‘Ugly Veg’.. Meaning the ones like carrots and parsnips and potatoes that do not conform to the supper markets spec’s…

        I was horrified to find that only 40% of a farmers carrots went into the food chain for supper markets, as the other 60% if over or under size or were split or had knobbly bits on.. were deemed unfit for human consumption..

        The rest went into animal feeds or landfill… Now think of that Huge amount of food waste each year.. this was also to green veg too..
        So he took a pile of Ugly Veggies and got Asda supper market to put on a stall at reduced prices.. and asked customers what they thought..

        All said they would buy them.. as they all got chopped up anyway… and nothing wrong with their nutrition value.. I hope it gets something going.. Many farmers were saying they would soon go out of business, as the wet and dry seasons affected the appearance of crops.. Supermarkets and the EU have a lot to answer for in their stupid regulations of the size and shape of food.. Even bananas have to be a certain shape,, .. These things make me cross..

        We do not spray on crops in the allotment…. We plant marigolds around a lot of our crops as many bugs do not like the odour from them.. But the year before last our cabbages were inundated with caterpillars.. But we got the nets up earlier this year. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I grew kale in our Canadian Autumn (sept-nov) and the same thing happened. The little buggers love kale!


    • They have not touched the silver beet that is growing right along side the kale. I guess they know what is good for them, super foods and all that!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. The ups and downs of gardening! You have some delightful colourful tropical plants. Not sure I’d bother with kale and lettuces, but I do like to grow my own herbs. Thankfully it is too cold for anything to eat what’s left outside here now 😉


    • In the past, when I was at home more, I did not bother with veggies in the summer, only growing them in Autumn and Winter. I’d forgotten how much hard work it is in our heat and humidity.


  17. Oh my! What a midnight feast those naughty caterpillars had with your lovely kale. 😦 The hoya is really beautiful. My mom used to grow these out on her porch. The cocks comb flower looked very familiar to me, but I never knew what it was called. Thanks, Toni. 🙂


  18. I’m glad you have identified the plant Pauline as I would be of no help! Your garden looks lovely despite the caterpillars and moths doing some damage – as you say the hot humid weather will be an ideal breeding ground but it certainly looks to be helping some of the other plants and flowers to flourish! 🙂


  19. Well, the caterpillars had a partying good new year. At least briefly … I love the bat plant and the hoya. When I was growing up, with cold New England winters, my mother used to grow a hoya in a big southern window and we would be thrilled on the rare occasions it bloomed. Lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Can’t help at all with tropical flowers but good for you for having such a healthy attitude to gardening. Losing plants after so much work is so disappointing but finding the positive – what lovely things are left – is great. And bet those fish are happy!😃

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Toni

    are they a type of cocks combs the flowers


    • Thank you Toni I put cockscomb into Google and up came a photo of my plant. “The cockscomb flower is an annual addition to the flower bed, commonly named for the red variety that is colored similar to the cock’s comb on his head.” (Google information)…

      Liked by 2 people

  22. great post and pics, those darn caterpillars!!


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