Saturday, 29 August 2015

DUTCH SILHOUETTE

A photo I took when I was living in Holland, after an afternoon bicycle ride to Katwijk from Leiden. A magical moment I am glad I preserved on film.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme,
and also part of the Saturday Silhouettes meme,
and also part of the Scenic Weekends meme.

Friday, 28 August 2015

FRIDAY GREENS #35 - ON THE RIVER

Boating on the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia, is a popular leisure activity. This is at the Studley Park Boathouse in Kew, only a few kilometres from the City Centre.
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Thursday, 27 August 2015

PICKEREL WEED

Pontederia cordata, common name pickerelweed (USA) or pickerel weed (UK), is a monocotyledonous aquatic plant native to the American continent. It grows in a variety of wetlands, including pond and lake margins across an extremely large range from eastern Canada south to Argentina. A few examples include northern rivers, the Everglades and Louisiana.
The species grows as an emergent plant, that is, in flooded conditions, so the plant is generally dependent upon aerenchyma in the stem to carry oxygen into the roots. Its metabolism, is, however, also tolerant of low soil oxygen. It is often found in areas where water levels fluctuate naturally, with spring flooding and later summer emergence. Apart from flooding, the species is also influenced by soil fertility, tending to grow in the more fertile bays of large lakes, for example. Like many aquatic plants, it is negatively affected by salinity and grazing. It is also negatively affected by competition from other wetland plants. Like many wetland plants, it can survive unfavourable conditions as buried seeds in the soil.

The plant flowers in late summer. The purple flowers have yellow markings which may assist in attracting bees for pollination. One bee species known to pollinate the flowers is Dufourea (Halictoides) novaeangliae. Once the plant begins to produce seeds, the stem supporting the inflorescence bends to submerse the fruits and seeds. Seeds are dormant at the time of dispersal and will not germinate without stratification for 6-8 weeks.


This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Friday Greens meme.




Friday, 21 August 2015

FRIDAY GREENS #34 - PANDANUS

Pandanus tectorius is a species of Pandanus (screwpine) that is native to Malesia, eastern Australia, and the Pacific Islands. Common names include Tahitian screwpine, thatch screwpine, hala, fala and bacua. P. tectorius is a tree that grows to 4–14 m tall. The single trunk is spiny and forks at a height of 4–8 metres. It is supported by prop roots that firmly anchor the tree to the ground. Its leaves are usually 90–150 cm long and 5–7 cm wide with saw-like margins.

This is a dioecious plant, with very different male and female flowers. Male flowers are small, fragrant, form clusters or racemes, and short lived, lasting only a single day. Female flowers resemble pineapples. The fruit of P. tectorius (shown below) is either ovoid, ellipsoid, subglobose or globose with a diameter of 4–20 cm and a length of 8–30 cm. The fruit is made up of 38–200 wedge-like phalanges, which have an outer fibrous husk. Phalanges contain two seeds on average, with a maximum of eight reported. The phalanges are buoyant, and the seeds within them can remain viable for many months while being transported by ocean currents.

The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and is a major source of food in Micronesia, especially in the atolls. It is also one of the traditional foods of Maldivian cuisine. The fibrous nature of the fruit also serves as a natural dental floss. The tree's leaves are often used as flavouring for sweet dishes such as kaya jam, and are also said to have medicinal properties. It is also used in Sri Lankan cookery, where the leaves are used to flavour a variety of curries. Leaves were used by the Polynesians to make baskets, mats, outrigger canoe sails, thatch roofs, and grass skirts. It is a plant of immense cultural, health, and economic importance in the Pacific, second only to coconut on atolls. It grows wild mainly in semi-natural vegetation in littoral habitats throughout the tropical and subtropical Pacific, where it can withstand drought, strong winds, and salt spray.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.
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Thursday, 20 August 2015

CORREA, NATIVE FUCHSIA

Correa reflexa, commonly known as common correa or native fuchsia, is a shrub which is endemic to Australia. Plants are quite variable and a large number of varieties and local forms have been identified. Heights vary from prostrate to 1.5 metres high. Leaves are generally oval in shape and range from 10mm to 50mm long. Their surfaces often have visible oil glands and short hairs. The pendant, tubular flowers occur in groups of 1 to 3 and are up to 40 mm long with 4 flaring triangular tips. Colour is variable including pale green, red with yellow tips and other variations.

Correa reflexa prefers a position with good drainage and some shade. The species is generally not suited to tropical regions, although use of forms from sub-tropical areas of New South Wales may afford some success. Tip pruning after flowering promotes a more compact form and enhanced flowering in the following season. Plants are generally pest and disease free. Propagation from seed is difficult, but plants may be readily propagated from semi-mature cuttings of new seasons growth which also ensures plants are true-to-form.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.



Sunday, 16 August 2015

MELBOURNE BIRDS

Some birds that I have photographed in Melbourne, Australia.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.
Australian wood duck
Australian grey heron
Grass parrot 
Australian crow
Rainbow lorikeets
Magpies
Little wattlebird
Australian white ibis
Black swans

Friday, 14 August 2015

FRIDAY GREENS #33 - GREENGROCER

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Thursday, 13 August 2015

WINTER JOY

Camellias in bloom brighten up the gray of late Winter days...

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

CHURCH OF SAVIOUR, ST PETERSBURG

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (Russian: Церковь Спаса на Крови, Tserkovʹ Spasa na Krovi) is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. Other names include the Church on Spilt Blood (Russian: Церковь на Крови, Tserkov’ na Krovi) and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (Russian: Собор Воскресения Христова, Sobor Voskreseniya Khristova). This Church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was severely wounded and died in March 1881.The church was built from 1883 till 1907. The construction was funded by the imperial family.

Construction began in 1883 during the reign of Alexander III. The church was dedicated to be a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Estimates suggest that the construction cost 4.5 million rubles. The construction was complete during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors. The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal; paved roads run along both sides of the canal. On March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1), as Tsar Alexander's carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Saviour on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. The Church contains over 7500 square meters of mosaics (according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world).

The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day, including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel. The church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million rubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

This post is part of the Scenic Weekends meme,
and also part of the Spiritual Sundays meme,
and also part of the inSPIREd Sunday meme.










Saturday, 8 August 2015

OUTBACK AUSTRALIA

The Outback is the vast, remote, arid area of Australia. The term "the outback" is generally used to refer to locations that are comparatively more remote than those areas named "the bush" which, colloquially, can refer to any lands outside the main urban areas. Because of the low and erratic rainfall over most of the outback, combined with soils which are usually not very fertile, inland Australia is relatively sparsely settled. More than 90 percent of Australians live in urban areas on the coast.

The total population of the Outback in Australia declined from 700,000 in 1996 to 690,000 in 2006. Largest decline was noted in Outback NT, while Kimberley and Pilbara showed population increase during the same period. The sex ratio is 104 males for 100 females and 17% of the total population is indigenous.

Other than agriculture and tourism, the main economic activity in this vast and sparsely settled area is mining. Owing to the complete absence of mountain building and glaciation since the Permian (in many areas since the Cambrian) ages, the outback is extremely rich in iron, aluminium, manganese and uranium ores, and also contains major deposits of gold, nickel, iron, lead and zinc ores. Because of its size, the value of grazing and mining is considerable.

There is much beauty within the Outback, with vast, unspoilt tracts of land, desert and scrubland, hidden oases and watercourses, striking rock formations, unusual vegetation, striking soil and mineral colours, our native animals, and amazing vistas at sunrise and sunset. There is terror also, with droughts, bushfires, floods and other natural disasters...

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme,
and also part of the Saturday Silhouettes meme,
and also part of the Weekend Reflections meme,
and also part of the Scenic Weekends meme.





Friday, 7 August 2015

FRIDAY GREENS #32 - GROWTH

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Thursday, 6 August 2015

WHITE CAMELLIAS

Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–250 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. The genus was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia. This genus is famous throughout East Asia; camellias are known as cháhuā (茶花) in Chinese, "tea flower", an apt designation, as tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, as dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

AUSTRALIAN RAVEN

The Australian raven (Corvus coronoides) is a passerine bird in the genus Corvus native to much of southern and northeastern Australia. Measuring 46–53 centimetres (18–21 in) in length, it has all-black plumage, beak and mouth, as well as strong grey-black legs and feet. The upperparts are glossy, with a purple, blue or green sheen, and its black feathers have grey bases.

The Australian raven is distinguished from the Australian crow species by its throat hackles, which are prominent in adult birds. Older adult individuals have white irises, younger adults have a white irises with an inner blue rim, while younger birds have dark brown irises until fifteen months of age, and hazel irises with an inner blue rim around each pupil until age two years and ten months.

Nicholas Aylward Vigors and Thomas Horsfield described the Australian raven in 1827, its species name highlighting its similarity with the carrion crow (C. corone). Two subspecies are recognised, which differ slightly in calls and are quite divergent genetically.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme,
and also part of the Weekend in Black and White meme.