homegrown canary / LA hybrid lilies
port otago / european wasp on banksia
dinghies / arctotis daisies
spider and streetlight down a macro lens / geum
pet shop goldfish / osteospermum
In virtually every culture that has encountered them you will hear stories about how herons were historically duped out of their previously mellifluous voices.
Fledglings are easy to identify: generally, their proportions are a wee bit stumpy, their feathers retain that vaguely downy look, their beaks are shorter and their behaviour is distinctly teenage. Though they're fairly common, this is the first pair of chicks we've noticed in our time here so it's nice to know they're breeding successfully in this urban-ish area.
It's officially Spring down here from Sept. 1, but really we've been in the latter season for at least a month now after a fucking balmy, frost-less winter that seems like several worlds away from the brutal ones we experienced upon arrival in Dunedin 20 years ago. The climates, they are a changing. Thanks Shell, BP et al.
It was a bad summer in that Felix's illness and the building project coincided, so we had no time for the poor old plants. The garden has gone to shit in autumn and now lies, unsightly and betrayed, awaiting a pretty nuclear winter cleanup that I am not looking forward to. Armfuls of mouldy and worm-squirming mush dripping into your shoes as you dump them on the compost heap, etc. etc; fuuuuuuck.
R managed to get a few nice shots regardless, so I thought I'd share as part of warming up to regular posting in the near future. Jesus christ I am a lazy bitch these days. Well, lazy and depressive; I might as well use the old mental illness shit as a crutch and get some fucking value out of it.
R made this nice little triptych after catching the bird feeding on this, one of my favourite plants. Bellbirds and Tuis also visit the blooms. Waxeyes are not my favourite birds because the little fuckers tend to ruin a lot of fruit with their incessant pecking, but they do make pretty cool pets when hand raised.
If you dont get too much frost, I highly recommend the Canary Foxglove; it flowers almost year-round here in NZ and is fairly unfussy as to soil as long as the drainage is good. I have three or four plants now and would happily install 20 if I had the room.
Courtesy of the Lovely R.
We haven't posted much recently because we've been both in the midst of building, and nursing Felix, who has a very debilitating neck injury and needs round the clock care. We're hoping it's a pinched nerve and not anything malignant, but the level of supervision required to stop him doing injurious stuff is pretty draining, so I just don't feel like writing.
I'll try to post a new excerpt tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.
On one of the new pieces I've scattered around the lower garden.
This is our most prolific clematis as far as producing vegetable material is concerned. Warsaw Nike has morphed into a protean lateral monster despite the numerous unceremonious moves I've subjected it to. In fact, dragging its arse around the garden has seen it boil outward at the base to provide a shit tonne of splittable pieces; since these plants retail at around fifty fucking dollars, I'm not complaining. The new, thinned starts produce longer, more adventurous vines while the mother plant sits stubbornly at about 1.5m, generating root cuttings like it has nothing better to do.
W Nike is a really beautiful, non-bouffant variety for the kind of nastily hot situations that would crisp the shit out of other dark flowers. I've never seen it suffer clematis wilt and that dreaded fuckery can be a problem here with our hot summers, funky soil and high humidity. This pic is pretty accurate on my monitor if you've been baffled by the mad-looking blown-out shots floating around the internet. The interior stripe is a deep cardinal red and the margins of the petals graduate to velvety red-violet. Overall, the impression is quite a bit more red than purple. I have a Clematis Etoile Violette on the same fence and that's a true deep purple; the contrast is quite marked.
Very plush and luxe and no hint of frou.
Occasionally I make a sweep through one of R's annoyingly numerous photo dumps, give him a hard look and ask what the fuck is this? Inevitably, some of his best images are sitting with their thumbs up their arses, utterly unshared with the wider world.
Think some of the rhododendron pics are mine- you can probably tell by the shitty exposures. R is a far, far better technician than I am but he, in common with most camera nerds, couldn't really compose his way out of a wet paper bag until I taught him the basics, so allow me a fart-huffing moment of insufferable credit-snatching while you peruse these lovely images. His eye is coming along nicely.
R sneakily posts some nice things that don't appear on my main blog so check out his page.
Flower IDs: Oriental Poppy Pictoee, unknown Azalea, Oriental Poppy Patty's Plum, Bedding Dahlia, unknown Rhododendron, Brugmansia sanguinea, unknown Rhododendron, Buttercup.
* The Lovely R * Our Photography * Photoessays * Flora *
A lovely shot by the Lovely R.
Summerinas are a recent intergeneric hybrid. We have trouble with this plant's parents- echinacea and rudbeckias- because they tend to be dry prairie type species and we are well, a dampish coastal situation on the other side of the fucking planet. They'll do alright in a hot year and then rot down into slimy little grey masses the next, which is a shame because the plants are somewhat expensive and very lovely when successful. I splashed out on two summerinas this year and they dutifully put forth both marigold-yellow and these deep mahogany red blooms; it remains to be seen if they will prove as perennial as their nursery bumf claims.
I highly recommend them if you're in a hot dry spot and like a nice showy late season daisy; their colours are pretty unique and highly saturated, providing great contrast to the fleshy turquoise and emerald of xeriscape species etc.
So don't be put off getting things started if you don't have some sort of grand baronial vision.
Just let what's there remain and add some more stuff as you go. This is the best way to
maintain a love relationship with a large bit of ground and not come to resent the slavish
efforts that whack notions of perfection will require from you.
That's not to say that our garden is a disgusting place to be; on the contrary, it has the sort of faineant, deshabille charm that can only come from a genuine lack of consideration, experience and forethought. I am never as bonelessly relaxed in a neat, deliberate garden as I am in our own shambolic tract of half-arsed wilderness. Hopefully the other inhabitants are similarly contented.
The only horticultural talents I can claim are the ability to spot the half-priced gold buried
amongst the shrivelled dross at nursery sales (an acquired skill) and to instinctively know which shit's worth getting out of bed for as far as species and variety are concerned.
But we don't have a lot of undue concern for vistas or harmonies. My rose collection looks
like it was sharted out of a My Little Pony- if it's vulgar or stripy or pink and stinky you'll
probably find it clashing violently with a neighbour at our place. It's safe to say that
Winchester Cathedral, posing so demurely directly below, is not completely representative.
If you're starting your own garden with few to no clues under your belt, or if, like me, you have been blessed with vulgar sensibilities but would like to present a more cultivated face to the world, my first and most important advice would be to stick with the older plant varieties.
I wish someone had told me that twenty bloody years ago.
I was going to start a rose review series this summer but the weather was so foul we barely
had any bloody material. Hopefully I'll have time over winter to cook up some notes with
the few decent shots we did manage and kick that shit off, because I've personally had it up to
my tits with being duped by shady breeder and nursery descriptions.
Thanks again to the Lovely R for his lovely pics.
Young New Zealand Fur Seal Arctocephalus forsteri chillaxing by the 30 sign around Back Beach.
She was a wee bit skinny and this isn't a regular haul out spot so we called DOC in case she was harassed by dogs etc. They said she seemed okay and we didn't see her again. NZ Fur Seal populations are recovering which is fantastic and it's great to know they are returning to old haunts like Otago Harbour.
The best way to tell the difference between a Fur Seal and the local Sea Lion is the former's pointy dog face as opposed to the latter's stouter bear schnoz.
Mushroom season. These are Parasol Ink caps, I think.
Unidentified Amanita shrooms, possibly.
another good detail shot by R.
I take these lovely blue (only the extreme centre has this pink flush) flowers for granted because they are so easy to grow, split up and move around. They're one of the first things to flower here in early spring along with the Persicaria knotweeds. They have a fucking peculiar smell which is quite pervasive on a still day; crushed strawberry + juiced violets + household bleach + foxy, animalic musk as per Lilium pyrenaicum.
It smells medium blue, if that's any help to you.
The Tuis visit the Banksia but seem more enthusiastic about the Pohutukawas (Metrosideros) coming into flower in our upper garden, along with every bee and wing'd insect for a mile in all directions. On a warm, still day during its luminous scarlet declamation the whole tree hums and shivers with a host of nectar-seeking visitants. Pohutukawa honey is bloody delicious- pale, thickly gloopy and almost salty, loathsome in its deliciousness. Try it if you ever come across it.
* More Photoessays * Port Chalmers, New Zealand * R's Blog *