Thursday, 29 August 2019

SPRING STAR

Ipheion uniflorum is a species of flowering plant, related to the onions, so is placed in the allium subfamily (Allioideae) of the Amaryllidaceae. It is known by the common name spring star, or spring starflower. Along with all the species of the genus Ipheion, some sources place it in the genus Tristagma, but research published in 2010 suggested that this is not correct. It is native to Argentina and Uruguay, but is widely cultivated as an ornamental and reportedly naturalised in Great Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand.

This is a small herbaceous perennial growing from a bulb and producing flat, shiny, green, hairless, grasslike leaves up to 30 cm long. The foliage has an onion-like scent when crushed. The stem grows up to 20 cm tall and bears a solitary showy flower in spring (hence the Latin name uniflorum - "single flower"). Each honey-scented, star-shaped flower has six pointed lobes up to 3 cm long in shades of very pale to deep purple-blue.

Ipheion uniflorum has been grown in the UK since 1820, when bulbs collected from near Buenos Aires arrived in the country. It is recommended for growing in a well-drained position outside or as a long-flowering pot plant in an unheated greenhouse. Various named forms are in cultivation, some of which may be hybrids. 'Wisley Blue' is a clear lilac blue; 'Froyle Mill' is a deeper violet blue; 'Album' is white. The cultivar 'Alberto Castillo', also white, has larger flowers and was collected in the 1980s by Alberto Castillo, the owner of Ezeiza Botanical Garden, from an abandoned Buenos Aires garden. In the USA, the species is stated to be hardy to USDA Zone 5, and is recommended for massing in borders, alpine gardens and other areas, or it can be naturalised in lawns.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

HEMLOCK

Conium maculatum (hemlock or poison hemlock) is a highly poisonous biennial herbaceous flowering plant in the carrot family Apiaceae, native to Europe and North Africa. It is a herbaceous biennial plant that grows to 1.5–2.5 m, with a smooth, green, hollow stem, usually spotted or streaked with red or purple on the lower half of the stem. All parts of the plant are hairless (glabrous).

The leaves are two- to four-pinnate, finely divided and lacy, overall triangular in shape, up to 50 cm long and 40 cm broad. The flowers are small, white, clustered in umbels up to 10–15 cm across. When crushed, the leaves and root emit a rank, unpleasant odour often compared to that of parsnips. It produces a large number of seeds that allow the plant to form thick stands in modified soils. The toxicity of the plant has inspired many of its common names: In addition to the English poison hemlock, the Australian Carrot Fern, and the Irish devil's bread or devil's porridge, poison parsley, spotted corobane, and spotted hemlock are used.

Eight piperidinic alkaloids have been identified in C. maculatum. Two of them, gamma-coniceine and coniine, are generally the most abundant, and they account for most of the plant's acute and chronic toxicity. Due to high potency, the ingestion of seemingly small doses can easily result in respiratory collapse and death. Coniine causes death by blocking the neuromuscular junction in a manner similar to curare; this results in an ascending muscular paralysis with eventual paralysis of the respiratory muscles which results in death due to lack of oxygen to the heart and brain. Death can be prevented by artificial ventilation until the effects have worn off 48–72 hours later. For an adult, the ingestion of more than 100 mg (0.1 gram) of coniine (about six to eight fresh leaves, or a smaller dose of the seeds or root) may be fatal.

In ancient Greece, hemlock was used to poison condemned prisoners. The most famous victim of hemlock poisoning is the philosopher Socrates. After being condemned to death for impiety and corrupting the young men of Athens, in 399 BC, Socrates was given a potent infusion of the hemlock plant. Plato described Socrates' death in 'Phaedo'.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.



The Death of Socrates (French: La Mort de Socrate) is an oil on canvas painted by French painter Jacques-Louis David in 1787. The painting focuses on a classical subject like many of his works from that decade, in this case the story of the execution of Socrates as told by Plato in his Phaedo. In this episode, Socrates has been convicted of corrupting the youth of Athens and introducing strange gods, and has been sentenced to die by drinking poison hemlock. Socrates uses his death as a final lesson for his pupils rather than fleeing when the opportunity arises, and faces it calmly

Monday, 26 August 2019

UDAIPUR, INDIA

Udaipur is a major city, municipal corporation and the administrative headquarters of the Udaipur district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar in the former Rajputana Agency. Maharana Udai Singh of the Sisodia clan of Rajputs founded the city in 1559 AD and shifted his capital from the city of Chittorgarh to Udaipur. It remained as the capital city till 1818 when it became a British princely state, and thereafter the Mewar province became a part of Rajasthan when India gained independence in 1947.

Udaipur is a very popular tourist destination. Known for its history, culture, scenic locations and the Rajput-era palaces, Udaipur was also voted as the best city in the world in 2009 by the Travel + Leisure magazine. A large number of palaces, temples, public buildings and other cultural, artistic and historic places to visit will be found in the city and close to it.

Illustrated above is Saheliyon-ki-Bari (Courtyard of the Maidens), which is a major garden and a popular tourist space in Udaipur. It lies in northern part of the city and has fountains and kiosks, a lotus pool and marble elephants. It was built by Rana Sangram Singh. There is also a small museum here. Sahelion-ki-Bari was created between 1710-1734 for a group of forty-eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry.

The gardens are set below the embankment of the Fateh Sagar Lake and have beautiful lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant-shaped fountains. These fountains are fed by the water of the lake gushing through ducts made for the purpose. Each water channel has its distinct sound and the mingling of these sounds complement the ambience of the place.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

FRUITFUL

This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Macro Monday meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

DOOR

Detail of door at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Friday, 23 August 2019

SUNRISE

The sun rising over the Yarra River in Melbourne's Southbank makes for a splendid sight. The dark silhouettes of the skyscrapers against the striking sky and the susurration of the flowing water are stunning!

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

BLUE ANGEL

Salvia patens 'Blue Angel' is a striking garden plant with delightful blue flowers. Since the 1838 discovery of this herbaceous species from Central Mexico, Salvia patens has been a mainstay of the perennial garden. Blue Angel is one of the smallest of the full-sized varieties of the so-called 'gentian sages'. Well branched and compact, this variety has 6 cm flowers that are a deep, royal blue and bloom from Summer into Autumn.

It is a reliable perennial, returning year after year in Zones 8 to 11. However, it is so lovely that it is worth growing as a summer bedding plant in colder zones. Blue Angel likes regular watering and rich, well-drained soil. It grows in full sun or partial shade and can handle moist corners of the garden. Use it as a path edging, border, ground-cover or container plant. British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas called Salvia patens 'the best plant in cultivation.'

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

GALAXY

Galaxy | ˈɡaləksi | noun (plural galaxies)
A system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction.
• (the Galaxy) the galaxy of which the solar system is a part; the "Milky Way" as is seen in the dark night sky.
• a large group of impressive people or things: The four musicians have played with a galaxy of stars.

The Galaxy in which the earth is located is a disc-shaped spiral galaxy with approximately 100,000 million stars. The sun is located about two thirds of the way out from the centre.

ORIGIN
Late Middle English (originally referring to the Milky Way): Via Old French from medieval Latin galaxia, from Greek galaxias (kuklos) ‘milky (vault)’, from gala, galakt- ‘milk’.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous city in the Nordic countries, with 925,934 people living in the municipality, approximately 1.4 million in the urban area, and 2.2 million in the metropolitan area. The city is spread across 14 islands on the coast in the southeast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago and the Baltic Sea. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by a Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.

Stockholm is the cultural, media, political, and economic centre of Sweden. The Stockholm region alone accounts for over a third of the country’s GDP, and is among the top 10 regions in Europe by GDP per capita. It is an important global city, and the main centre for corporate headquarters in the Nordic region. The city is home to some of Europe’s top ranking universities, such as the Stockholm School of Economics, Karolinska Institute and Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

It hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies and banquet at the Stockholm Concert Hall and Stockholm City Hall. One of the city’s most prized museums, the Vasa Museum, is the most visited non-art museum in Scandinavia. The Stockholm metro, opened in 1950, is well known for its decoration of the stations; it has been called the longest art gallery in the world. Sweden’s national football arena is located north of the city centre, in Solna. Ericsson Globe, the national indoor arena, is in the southern part of the city.

The city was the host of the 1912 Summer Olympics, and hosted the equestrian portion of the 1956 Summer Olympics otherwise held in Melbourne, Australia. Stockholm is the seat of the Government of Sweden and most government agencies, including the highest courts in the Judiciary, and the official residencies of the Swedish monarch and the Prime Minister. The government has its seat in the Rosenbad building, the Riksdag is seated in the Parliament House, and the Prime Minister’s residence is adjacent at the Sager House. The Stockholm Palace is the official residence and principal workplace of the Swedish monarch, while the Drottningholm Palace, a World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Stockholm, serves as the Royal Family’s private residence.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday, 19 August 2019

ON A WALK

Walk. Stop. See. Look. Photograph. Repeat...

This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Blue Monday meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

AUGUST FULL MOON

The August full moon in the Northern Hemisphere is known as the Sturgeon Moon because of the large number of fish in the lakes where the Algonquin tribes fished. Other names for this Full Moon include Green Corn Moon, Barley Moon, Fruit Moon, and Grain Moon from Old English/Anglo-Saxon.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the August Full moon corresponds with the Northern February moon, hence in Australia this August full moon should be called the Snow Moon named after the snowy conditions. It is also known as the Hunger Moon due to the scarce food sources during mid-winter, while other names are Storm Moon and Chaste Moon.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

BLUE GINGER

Dichorisandra thyrsiflora or Blue Ginger is a tropical plant which resembles ginger in growth and habit, but is actually related to the spiderworts (the genus Tradescantia). The plant is native to the tropical woodlands of North, Central and South America, specially in Atlantic Forest vegetation in Brazil. Of the family Commelinaceae, they are cultivated for their handsome spotted stems, large shiny foliage which is held horizontally, surmounted by striking blue flowers.

The plant was first described by the naturalist Johann Christian Mikan in 1823. It was first grown in England in 1822, and is recorded from Sir William MacArthur's catalogue in 1857 of plants he grew in Camden southwest of Sydney. It has become naturalised in a small region of northeastern New South Wales in Australia. It is best grown in partial shade, sheltered from hot afternoon sun in summer and protected from strong winds that can damage the tall stems.

It generally blooms in autumn. The beautiful clustered flower heads are vibrant purple-blue and appear atop of spiralled, ginger-like stems of leaves, which often have purplish undersides. It needs fertile soil and reasonable moisture in the warmer months. It is very frost sensitive. It is best to cut the stems back after flowering. It is propagated by division or root or stem cuttings.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

FRUIT SALAD

Fruit Salad
Ingredients
1 punnet of ripe strawberries
1 orange
1 honey Murcott mandarin
2 kiwi fruit
1 large, ripe pear
Juice of an orange
Juice of a lemon
2 tbsp raw sugar (or honey) – optional, but advisable as the fruit can be quite sour
1 tbsp of orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Curaçao or Triple Sec)

Method
Hull the strawberries and cut them in quarters. Peel the orange, removing the rind and pith, leaving the exposed flesh. Cut into small pieces removing the core and seeds in the process. Do likewise for the mandarin.
Peel the kiwi fruit and cut into slices and then quarter them. Peel the pear and cut into small pieces. Mix all fruit together in the bowl.
Dissolve the sugar (or honey) in the mixed citrus juices and add the liqueur. Pour over the fruit in the bowl and chill the fruit salad.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. Its latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state, and is a popular tourist destination. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxa Bay. With a population of around 123,300 (and over 216,940 in the Capital Region), it is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic and governmental activity.

Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which, according to Ingólfur Arnarson, was established in AD 874. Until the 19th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population, and governmental activities. It is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.

Present-day Reykjavík is a city with people from at least 100 countries. The most common ethnic minorities are Poles, Lithuanians, and Danes. In 2009, foreign-born individuals made up 8% of the total population. Children of foreign origin, many of whom are adopted, form a more considerable minority in the city’s schools, as many as a third in places. The city is also visited by thousands of tourists, students, and other temporary residents, at times outnumbering natives in the city centre.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

GERANIUM

Wild geranium (probably Geranium sanguineum) growing in the Darebin Parklands.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Friday, 9 August 2019

EVENING STAR

Venus, also known as the Evening Star or the Morning Star, depending on its position in the sky and its relationship to setting or rising sun. As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been a major fixture in human culture for as long as records have existed. It has been made sacred to gods of many cultures, and has been a prime inspiration for writers and poets. Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC, and was a prime target for early interplanetary exploration as the closest planet to Earth (as much as 261 million kilometres far - that's very far!).

It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft (Mariner 2) in 1962, and the first to be successfully landed on (by Venera 7) in 1970. Venus's thick clouds render observation of its surface impossible in visible light, and the first detailed maps did not emerge until the arrival of the Magellan orbiter in 1991. Plans have been proposed for rovers or more complex missions, but they are hindered by Venus's extremely hostile surface conditions, exacerbated by a runaway greenhouse gas effect that have raised surface temperatures enough to melt lead metal.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

CAMELLIA

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. Of economic importance in the Indian subcontinent and Asia, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the popular beverage, tea.

The ornamental Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua and their hybrids are represented in cultivation by a large number of cultivars. The flower below is a Camellia japonica 'Covina' variety. This is a sun tolerant camellia with an upright, spreading habit. Its medium semi-double blooms are reddish pink and appear in the winter to spring season. It is now blooming in Melbourne.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

ENVIRONMENT

Environment | ɪnˈvʌɪrənm(ə)nt, ɛnˈvʌɪrənm(ə)nt | noun
1 The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates: Survival in an often hostile environment.
• [usually with modifier] The setting or conditions in which a particular activity is carried on: A good learning environment.
• [with modifier] Computing the overall structure within which a user, computer, or program operates: A desktop development environment.
2 (The environment) The natural world, as a whole or in a particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity: The impact of pesticides on the environment | [as modifier] : A parliamentary environment committee.

The Darebin Parklands in Melbourne is a nature reserve where the natural environment has been more or less preserved and maintained around the Darebin Creek. This beautiful nature reserve is about 10 minutes walk from our house, so we frequently visit it.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

CATANIA, ITALY

Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea. It is the capital of the Metropolitan City of Catania, one of the ten biggest cities in Italy, and the seventh largest metropolitan area in Italy. The population of the city proper is 315,601 while the population of the conurbation is estimated to be 767,003. The metropolitan area has 1,115,310 inhabitants.

Catania is well known for its historical earthquakes, having been destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes in 1169 and 1693, and for several volcanic eruptions from the neighbouring Mount Etna, the most violent of which was in 1669.

Catania has had a long and eventful history, having been founded in the 8th century BC. In 1434, the first university in Sicily was founded in the city. In the 14th century and into the Renaissance period, Catania was one of Italy's most important cultural, artistic and political centres. The city has a rich culture and history, hosting many museums, restaurants, churches, parks and theatres. Catania is well known for its street food.

The opera composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801 – 1835) was born in Catania, and a museum exists at his birthplace. The Teatro Massimo "Vincenzo Bellini" (in the photo below), which opened in 1890, is named after the composer. The opera house presents a variety of operas through a season, which run from December to May, many of which are the work of Bellini.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday, 5 August 2019

TRIPTYCH

This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme,
and also part of the Blue Monday meme.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

ALYSSUM

Sweet Alyssum grows as a delicate carpet of tiny flowers with a subtle, sweet scent. The low-growing foliage is covered by flowers for much of the growing season. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is very easy to grow, from plant or seed. It is a cool season flower that can be set out in early spring and are grown throughout the Autumn and Winter, in frost-free climates. Most varieties will fade in the heat, but rally again in Autumn.

Alyssum is an annual, but some varieties are hardy in frost-free areas and may survive for several seasons. Gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 7–11 may have plants that continue growing all year long, but they may be short-lived. Sometimes they self-seed so much that is seems as if the same plants are surviving, when in reality, new seedlings are filling in. 

Lobularia maritima is cultivated in gardens, with many horticultural varieties with purple or pink flowers. The plant is best planted in early spring, but requires little maintenance when growing. Although an annual, it may reseed in temperate climates It will flower more profusely if spent blooms are trimmed. When grown in gardens, it is typically used as ground-cover, as it rarely grows higher than 20 cm tall. It is also grown in cracks in paving and walls, and is especially associated with coastal locations. It prefers partial shade, and is resistant to heat and drought. Plants with darker-coloured flowers do better in cooler temperatures.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Flowers meme.