Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pretty as a picture

With apologies to my Australian friends, but I never really think of Australia in terms of being pretty.  English villages, cottage gardens, bluebell woods, rose gardens and Devon lanes dripping with primroses and violets are pretty.  I have, therefore, really enjoyed many of the flowers which are now blooming in the late Australian summer.  Here are some of them.  I don't know all the names but, of course, that doesn't detract from their prettiness!

We'll start with oleander which reminds me of the time we lived in the Bahamas.  It always puts on a terrific show in hot and sunny climes!
The 'Iceberg' rose is a real favourite in Melbourne.  Every other front garden has a bush or bushes and it seems to bloom constantly.  It was still flowering robustly when we were here last year, in early winter.
The morning glory convolvulus was one of my mother's favourite wild flowers.  She first saw it on a trip to Bermuda in the last 1960s where it sprawls absolutely everywhere.  She planted seeds at home for many years after her visit but it doesn't seem to flourish as well in the British climate as the more subtly coloured soft pink and white bindweed, but it's free flowing, wandering habit is just as vigorous.  The flowers only last for one day and they are beginning to fade and wilt in the heat by about three in the afternoon, but bright and early next morning there's another fresh and beautiful crop.
I love the pomegranate fruit.  They grow on surprisingly spindly looking trees which seem to cope well with the fruits as they get bigger and bigger.
We saw these dainty little waterlilies in the Botanical Gardens.  They are not like any I have ever seen before!
Any ideas what this might be?  It reminds me of a number of flowers - jasmine, stephanotis?  
This is an African Iris and they grow prolifically in municipal planting areas.  It's a really pretty, dainty flower.
This lovely pink shrub is Crepe Myrtle and there are lots of them everywhere.  It looks like lilac from a distance but the flower is completely different and comes in white and very dark pink too!
This is Geisha Girl and it's a beautiful violet coloured shrub. This plant is in someone's front garden and it's the only one I've seen so far.
 I love these grasses.  They are soft and floaty and light as a feather.
A lovely delicate hibiscus, as opposed to some of the bigger, showier types.  So pretty.
 Another hibiscus!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

City of angels

These two first spread their celestial wings in France around 1800.

 ... and the most angelic of all!

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

WB Yeats

Friday, 22 February 2013

A trip down memory lane!

One of our most favourite places from our first visit to Melbourne was the allotment site down in St Kilda.  It used to be a peanut farm but it is now a community allotment garden with art studios along one side.  It's a completely crazy place and my post of 21 June 2012 shows quite a number of photos to illustrate the point.  This is no average allotment site.  

With only a small apology for the number of photographs shown now, I hope you enjoy this second jaunt around St Kilda's Community Gardens!
Last year this lady was wearing some grassy headgear - not quite sure what this arrangement is meant to be but it's made of rope.
 Tansy girl!
A rather wonderful gate into the ground has appeared over the last year and it has some beautiful yellow resin pears dripping from it's rusted steel tendrils.

There were not a huge number of vegetables growing on the site, possibly because summer is nearing its end here.  I saw a few French beans, purple beans and rather more runner beans than my harvest last year (just one!!!!), a butternut squash that was quite literally the size of a baby hippo, some small white aubergines, herbs and various other bits and pieces.
There is a buzzy bee in this photo.  If you are good at 'Where's Wally? you will be able to find it easily!
There was one cool and summery corner of the gardens which had wonderful zinnias, white cosmos and it reminded me of my grandmother, she loved zinnias, and a summer's day in an English garden.  It was lovely.
I don't think much gets past these two!
How I would LOVE to be able to grow basil like this - armfuls of the stuff.  
There's even a kitchen for the Aussie faction of the Borrowers!
I love the freedom of expression on this allotment site.  Lots of little tiny details as well as big crazy artistic statements, all mixed up with flowers and vegetables.  It makes your heart sing.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Curiouser and curiouser

We've only been here a week and have already come across a couple of interesting wedding choices!  

When we visited the Botanical Gardens last week there was a wedding taking place in a romantic lakeside setting.  Later, as we were leaving the gardens we saw the bride and groom and photographer setting off for the Shrine of Remembrance which was to form the back drop to their official 'just married' set of photographs for the album.  All very nice and a classic choice.  It was a stinking hot day so imagine our amazement when we spied this lot underneath the bride's dress. Why???  Was she planning a quick getaway on the off chance she had a change of heart?
Yesterday we went into town to explore some of the laneways which are meccas for those with spray cans and graffiti on their minds - more of that later, but imagine our amazement/puzzlement when we came across these two preparing for their wedding photos to be taken in a really rather grotty little street across the road from Federation Square.  There was a fine drizzle coming down, excitable teenagers and a few tourists like us snapping away with our cameras, and also a group of art students with their tutor giving instruction on the finer detail of graffiti.  A busy, grubby street and an interesting choice for the bride and groom, but no doubt they chose this place with care!

And with the horrendous cost of a wedding these days here's a good way to avoid printing and postage costs for the invitations!  

I suppose it takes all sorts, and actually it's one of the reasons we love Australia!  It has that chilled out approach to life which is so appealing.  

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Still on the subject of making sure the kids are catered for, Melbourne has provided a botanical garden just for them.  It's by one of the main gates as you enter the Botanics near the Shrine of Remembrance.
The children were having a whale of time today!  It was hot, hot, hot and the water spouts were providing lots of refreshing fun.  No unaccompanied grown ups allowed unfortunately!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Mini cafe culture

I talked about the popularity of the coffee/cafe culture in Melbourne last time we were here.  It is still absolutely massive with hundreds of brilliant cafes around the city producing wonderful food and coffee.  

Going out for breakfast, brunch, lunch or whatever is almost certainly going to be a family affair for many and they really cater well for small customers here.  We went to a cafe called Balderdash in Port Melbourne yesterday where they serve a babycino - frothed milk with a sprinkling of chocolate on top and a marshmallow.  From the size of the marshmallow you will note the tiny cup and saucer!
In Fancy Pantry they offer Baby Bear sized table and chairs 
and at Jock's Ice Cream parlour pint size can get a mini ice cream cone (bit of a fuzzy photo, sorry!).
But back in Balderdash woe betide any parent who forgets themselves!