Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Greetings! to GTS members and fellow bloggers

This is our garden's offering of Christmas colours. It's Eucalypus "Summer Red" a hybrid between E. Ficifolia and E Phytocarpa. May everyone enjoy a wonderful and blessed time this Christmas with family and friends, and may 2007 be safe, happy and prosperous for all,
All the best, Roy larraine and family

Monday, December 04, 2006


For my GTS post this week I thought I'd introduce our terracotta ram "Roger". We originally bought this to grow Mustard and Cress in, the idea being that you fill it with water and sprinkle the seeds in the grooves and you have a hairy green ram. Unfortunately it didn't quite work for us, and since then we'd tried a few different things to grow in it. Finally we've found that succulents look happy growing in there. He looks quite happy with his new hair do don't you think?

Friday, November 10, 2006

GTS... Hoya Survey

For Green Thumb Sunday this week I thought I would conduct a little survey about Hoyas, also known as wax plant or porcelain flower (in reference to the delicate nature of the beautiful flowers.) I first became interested in Hoyas about two years ago. Our first plant was given to us by Larraine's mum Mary, it was a Hoya Carnosa which is probably one of the most common and best known of the Hoyas.

Hoyas are mainly tropical or sub-tropical plants and the majority are epiphytic. It is said that there could be up to 300 species, some of which are still being discovered. They range in size from miniature to very large plants and vines. The flowers are just as varied, many of them highly fragrant. Pictured here are just a few of those that have flowered in our garden, clockwise from the top left are Hoya C.V. Minibelle, Hoya Lacunosa, Hoya Heuschkeliana and H. Pachyclada.

Some of the most avid collectors of Hoyas are the Swedes, they grow beautiful Hoyas and about 80- 90% of websites about Hoyas seem to be Swedish. Here are some you may like to visit...

Hoyas etc.
Hills' Hoya Page
Diane's Place
Hoya Garden (me)

My Hoyas
The Hoya Page
Swedish Hoya Society

I'd like to conduct a little survey with Green Thumb Sunday visitors this week...

1. Have you heard of Hoyas before?
2. Do you own a Hoya?
3. Having read this post, are you curious to visit the Hoya blogs and websites to find out more about these plants?

If you would like to participate please leave your response in the comments section, thanks for stopping by and taking part.

Have a great week,

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lots of tomatoes

A good friend of ours told us that the best tomato plants are the self sown ones. How true she was. This particuliar plant is a baby off one of three we had planted last season. There are more tomatoes on this plant than the total crop of the three plants last year. Our little grandaughter who loves the garden had the privilege of picking the first ripe ones

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Green thumb Sunday

Well.... for this weeks GTS our Irises that are growing in the pond have decided to put on a show. They certainly add that extra touch of colour to the garden at the moment.
Our little Eastern sedgefrog population have taken over the large water bowl ( photo 3rd down rh. side) they are making plenty of noise, but no babies yet. A really good downpour would definately do the trick. It's probably worth a click for a larger view on the Iris shots.
Enjoy your week and Happy gardening!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Green thumb Sunday

Thank you for the invitation to join Green thumb Sunday.
Well.... our dear old heritage green watering can has gone into retirement. We decided that with the imminent introduction of level4 water restrictions ( which means restricted use of w/cans and buckets on alternate days) we really needed a more efficient watering can. The old chap looks quite happy housing the geraniums don't you think? Well one thing about the drought it's going to give us lots of exercise if we want to keep our gardens alive. Fortunately we've got our water tank as back up if we get any bad heatwaves. We think we'll probably plant more geraniums, being mediterranean plants they seem to cope well with hot dry conditions.
Happy gardening!

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New pot stand

I recently bought a couple of interesting plant pot stands from a local nursery. So I thought I'd share the idea with fellow garden bloggers. For plant lovers with limited space or people with patios, balconies or decks they could be ideal. The collage shot will give you an idea of the set up. The triangular formed galvanised mesh is concreted into a large plastic pot. In my case I got them to concrete 2/3 up so I could plant in the base (it's got a Hoya Australis planted in it) and I just drilled holes in the side for drainage. The centre upright has right angled swivel hooks attatched at various points and my terracotta pots fit in to the formed galvanised hangers. Of course you can just put plastic pots with hangers on if you wish. The benefit I found with the galvanised hangers was you can shorten them if necessary to create a staggered look. With the heavy weight of the concrete the stands are quite stable. The original height was about two metres which was a bit too tall for me so I cut 300mm off and screwed them onto my garden arbour. More places to put plants I'm such a garden tragic! The bottom shot is the stand planted with hoyas, It should look quite good once the plants grow and hang down and the base plant grows up the centre. I think the idea has merit for people with limited space who want to grow herbs or succulents etc, you can have a dozenplants concentrated in a small area.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Toowoomba prize winning gardens

As you can see some of these gardens were an absolute delight to visit. The climate in Toowoomba suits a lot of plants that we couldn't grow in Brisbane because of our humidity so we were a little envious when we saw the beautiful Rhododendrums and Daphne growing.
A visitor to my previous post kindly pointed out a mistake I'd made. The water provided to residents in the garden competition was bore water not recycled water, my apologies. I hope you will enjoy the beauty and colours of these gardens as much as we did.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Queens Park Toowoomba.

Just a few shots taken in Toowoomba during their annual "Carnival of Flowers" It's a real credit to the town that they where able to put on such a fabulous display. This was taken a fortnight ago, the district is now on level5 water restrictions now which means no outdoor watering at all. The residents have been preparing for this for some time and it seems most people have got either bores or water tanks. To ensure the carnival went ahead the council went around filling peoples water tanks with recycled water. When you see gardens like these it really is hard to imagine the area is facing such a crisis. I'll post some of the prize winning gardens in the next day or so. Take lots of deep breaths and enjoy the Spring (or autumn)

Friday, September 22, 2006

The frog prince.

The frog prince was perched over the pond last night calling for his princess.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Steve Irwin 1962 - 2006

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How good are your eyes?

The other morning I could hear a Sedgefrog happily chirping away somewhere in the midst of our " Powder puff" Lillypilly. It took me ages to spot it but then thats why they are green I suppose. Camera-flarged. Groan..........

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Our Petrea volubilis vine.

Our Petrea volubilis is in full flower at the moment, I thought I'd do a post on it for those not familiar with the vine. It's a native of Central America and it has quite a few common names, Queen's wreath, Purple wreath, Bluebird vine and Sandpaper vine, which is what it's mainly known as here. It doesn't seem to have a lot of pests, possibly due to the abrasive nature of the leaves. A mature specimen can grow up to 12 metres long. The racemes of mauve/purple flowers are a refreshing sight on a sunny spring morning. The top shot is above the pergola, the flowers are quite propeller like. At it's current rate of growth it should almost cover the pergola by next spring.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

We're back

Well the rain had a predictable response on our little frog community. The green treefrogs have appeared and the Striped Marshfrogs are breeding already. In the top photo the marshie is a little hard to see, its in the bottom RH of the shot with the frog spawn at top left.

Nutritious nibbles.

I bought some nibbles at the ekka which were quite tasty. As they weren't available at the regular shops we thought we'd make our own.
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons tamari sauce, Herbemare seasoning or sea salt to taste.
In a large frypan, heat pumpkin and sunflower seeds until they begin to brown. Add in sesame seeds and toss around until all the seeds are browned and beginning to pop. Turn off heat and add in tamari and seasonings and toss well. Cool and store in an airtight container. You can vary the quantities to suit yourself, the sesame seeds brown a lot quicker than the others so its important to add these later.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, iron and selenium. Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E and sesame seeds are rich in calcium.

Friday, September 01, 2006

First day of spring

We woke early today to enjoy the first day of spring. The weather was showers clearing and we were greeted with one of those refreshing sunlight showers as we inspected the garden for new growth after this weeks welcome rain. A Friarbird flew down for a feed of nectar on the red spider flower Grevillea as we sat having our first cuppa for the day. We spent the early morning potting up some extra herbs to surround our new water tank. For southern hemisphere bloggers we hope you had a beautiful spring day and for those in the north a beautiful first day of autumn.

Lemons, limes and mandarins

We thought we'd have a bash at a few fruit trees, not having much sunny garden beds left we could use, we thought we'd try them in large pots. On the left is an Imperial mandarin and a Tahitian lime next to it. Above is a dwarf variety of lemon called "lots of lemons" they are grafted onto a rootstock called flying dragon ( whatever that is) Has anyone had success growing fruit trees in pots? They get plenty of sun where they are and we used a good citrus potting mix, so hopefully they should be ok.

Our new water tank

It seems ironic that some years ago the council made it illegal to have a water tank if you had access to town water, and people had to remove existing ones or face a penalty. How things change, today the council offer a$500 rebate on tanks 3,000 litres and over plus the state government give a $1,000 towards the cost of any tank and installation. The tank people are out to 8 weeks delivery and quotes are taking a fortnight. The guy who installed ours said that some are starting to charge $50 just to quote. Ours is a Slimline colourbond 1850w x 2150h x 850 deep with 3000L. capacity. It was just the right size for our wall , we didn't have to move our hanging baskets at each side. Fortunately we got it just in time for the showers this week, it was great to put your ear to the side listening to the rain trickle in. Its about half full now, so that might be it for the present as the rain has pretty well cleared. Larraine and I were having a laugh because its given us an excuse to buy some more plants. We used to have the clothes line there, so now the tank's there we thought it needed a few herbs and shrubs to keep it company. With the plants on the other side we were hoping to create a sort of entrance to the back section of the garden.

Beautiful rain

This shop had a positive outlook on our current drought selling childrens wellies and pocket umbrellas. We've had some wonderful rain this week, I recorded this precious commodity sitting nicely on the leaves of our Eucalpytus "Summer red". I heard something interesting on ABC radio recently about rain that I didn't know. Have you ever noticed how fresh and green your lawn and plants are after a thunderstorm? Well apparently storm rain is charged with nitrogen, effectively natures fertilizer. The rain was a long way from drought breaking, but certainly a welcome relief from a long warm spell. It looks like we'll have level4 water restrictions some time in October, which for gardeners means bucketing before 7am in the morning and after 7pm at night on alternate days. For the poor folk in Innisfail its only just stopped raining, it reminds us of how much a continent of extremes we live in.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ekka cake prize winners

It's not every day you get to see Queenslands best rocky road, it's enough to make the sweet tooth drool. I thought the work that went into some of the cakes was quite imaginative, I always think it must be hard to have to cut them in the end. There were prizes for everything from scones, biscuits and all types of cakes. I told larraine I thought her scones would go close. I don't know what people thought of this guy going around taking shots of all these cakes. (it's ok folks it's to show my wife)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

bananas, pumpkins and pineaples

Just a few shots from this year's Brisbane exhibition locally known as the "Ekka". I chatted to the man on the banana display and he was saying that banana prices should be down to $5 a kilo by december (for overseas friends our banana prices have nearly tripled in price since cyclone Larry ealier this year) It was a great show this year and I think they had record attendances, the weather was certainly pefect for it. The three pumpkin prize winners are pictured, and although the orange one looks smaller it was the heaviest at 117 kilos. Larraine was unable to go this year so I took lots of shots and she was able to enjoy a slide show on the computer. I rounded off the day having a nice chat to a retired farmer and his wife from Warwick. It's very refreshing to talk to country people they are so open and friendly I find.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Signs of spring

We are very fortunate living in the subtropics the signs of spring come very early. Although the nights can still be a little chilly the days are starting to get quite warm 23-24 deg. The birds are chirping and there is a definate spring feeling in the air. This is a native vine Hardenbergia Violacia it was full of bees today.
.This orchid sits on our breakfast table it has four of the biggest blooms at the moment and it emits a beautiful fragrance, these flowers seem to have lasted for ages and don't seem to show any signs of wilting.
This is one of our favourite Grevilleas it's a mass of red spider flowers at the moment and little white eyes have been visiting for the nectar.

This two-tone Azalea seems to bloom continuosly once it starts. Ithink it must be in just the right spot.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My little Ikea ball

I started this little project a couple of years ago and I've added things to it as it became established. It's one of those little cane balls that you buy at Ikea. I lined the bottom and sides with paperbark (thats a bit of a painstaking job as the gaps are very small) then I filled it with a combination of potting mix/ orchid mix/spaghnum moss. It has five small elkhorns tied around with fishing line and pink rock orchid on the top. Since then it has become home to a maiden hair fern, two miniature bromeliads, a hairs foot fern, babys tears, selaginella and moss.
The ball itself is suspended by a chain connected to a hanging basket so it gets the water run off. It dangles happily at the side of the carport enjoying filtered morning sun. My theory is ( and I hope I'm right) by the time the cane rots, as no doubt it will eventually the elkhorns will have bound together as a clump holding everything together. I've added this week two miniature Hoya cuttings one should climb up the chain hopefully and one should hang down. Some may wonder if the plants are a little crowded, the answer to that is yes, but they really do seem to be having a ball. Happy gardening folks. ( click on picture for a larger view.)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bromeliad pups

I've been busy the last few days potting up Bromeliad offshoots commonly known as pups One of the great things about these plants is their ability to multiply, particularly if they are in their preferred position of semi-shade or dappled sunlight. The experts say to cut them off with a sharp stanley knife at the base, they are ready for this once they get to about one third the size of the parent plant. This one pictured above has three, one to the left and right and one behind. The amazing thing is once the pups have been removed the plant quite often keeps producing them. I pot them up in a mixture of orchid mix and mulch and leave them in the shade house until they take root. Bromeliads certainly give a good return on the initial outlay and make an excellent gift. And of course give a frog a home.