Thursday, 31 October 2019

CLIVIA

Clivia is a genus of monocot flowering plants native to southern Africa. They are from the family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae. Common names are Natal lily or bush lily. They are herbaceous evergreen plants, with green, strap-like leaves. Individual flowers are more or less bell-shaped, occurring in umbels on a stalk above the foliage; colours typically range from yellow through orange to red.

Many cultivars exist, some with variegated leaf patterns. Species of Clivia are found only in South Africa and Swaziland. They are typically forest undergrowth plants, adapted to low light (with the exception of C. mirabilis from the Western Cape). Clivia miniata grows into large clumps and is surprisingly water-wise. It is also reportedly naturalised in Mexico.

It is a popular plant for shady areas and is commonly seen growing in older established suburbs in most Australian states. It is also popular in New Zealand, Japan, China and southern parts of the USA, particularly California. It grows to a height of about 45 cm, and various varieties have flowers that are red, orange or yellow, sometimes with a faint, but very sweet perfume.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

QUAIL

The buff-breasted buttonquail (Turnix olivii) is the largest and possibly the rarest of the buttonquail. This species is endemic to Cape York Peninsula, in Queensland, Australia.

The buff-breasted buttonquail measures from 18–23 cm and usually weighs over 110 g. Both the tail and wings are short. The back is chestnut. The sides of the head are marked with chestnut on an otherwise plain grey head; while the breast is warm buff-coloured. The painted buttonquail and the brown quail both coexist with this species. The buff-breasted is larger (and longer-legged) than either and is quite different from the all-dark quail. The painted species is almost totally mottled, with bold white spotting on the breast and no warm buff coloration.

The most similar species to the buff-breasted is the chestnut-backed buttonquail, which does not overlap in the wild. The advertising (or booming) call made by the female is ooom-oom-oom, repeated up to 20 times. The notes are almost inaudible initially, then become gradually louder, higher-pitched and shorter until they are far-carrying. The males will respond with a deep, rapid chu-chu-chu whistle. Other calls, perhaps in reaction to danger, include gug-gug-gug, a soft chirp-chirp-chirp and a loud kwaare-kwaare.

The buff-breasted buttonquail is an endangered species, with a population estimated at 500 individuals and a historical range of 2,070 km2. They have been extirpated from large portions of their original range, probably due in part due to cattle overgrazing, sites made unsuitable by fire regimes and general habitat clearances to make way for human habitation. Very few people see the buff-breasted buttonquail due partially to its tiny range and also due to its inconspicuous disposition. They usually walk or run in areas where they are well camouflaged, almost never leaving the ground except when absolutely needed. They reside in the same areas usually, but local movements have been recorded, probably in response to seasonal habitat changes.

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, 29 October 2019

NIUE, OCEANIA

Niue (/ˈnjuːeɪ/ NEW-ay; Niuean: Niuē) is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,400 kilometres northeast of New Zealand, east of Tonga, south of Samoa, and west of the Cook Islands. Niue's land area is about 261 square kilometres and its population, predominantly Polynesian, was about 1,600 in 2016. The island is commonly referred to as "The Rock", which comes from the traditional name “Rock of Polynesia”.

Niue is one of the world’s largest coral islands. The terrain consists of steep limestone cliffs along the coast with a central plateau rising to about 60 metres above sea level. A coral reef surrounds the island, with the only major break in the reef being in the central western coast, close to Alofi. A notable feature are the many limestone caves near the coast.

Niue, whose capital is the village of Alofi, is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand; and New Zealand conducts most diplomatic relations (though not all) on its behalf. Niueans are citizens of New Zealand, and Queen Elizabeth II is head of state in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand. Between 90–95% of Niuean people live in New Zealand, along with about 70% of the speakers of the Niuean language.

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.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

MANTIS

Mantises are an order (Mantodea) of insects that contains over 2,400 species in about 430 genera in 15 families. The largest family is the Mantidae ("mantids"). Mantises are distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies may or may not have wings, but all Mantodea have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name praying mantis.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.

Friday, 25 October 2019

BULGARIAN SUNSET

Plovdiv (Bulgarian: Пловдив) is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after the capital Sofia, with a population of 338,153 according to the census from 2011. The city is situated in southern Bulgaria and is referred to as the "heart of Bulgaria" due to its location roughly at the centre of the country.

It is an important economic, transport, cultural and educational centre, as well as the largest and most important city in Northern Thrace and the second in the wider international historical region of Thrace. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

CORAL 'GERANIUM'

We know them as simply 'geraniums'. They are one of the most popular container plants, yet they are not really geraniums at all. Botanically they are Pelargonium. There are true geraniums, the perennial cranesbills, but they look little like the annual plants we commonly call 'geraniums'.

The confusion with the names can be traced back to disagreements between botanists over classification and is of little importance to most gardeners, except for the distinction that perennial cranesbill geraniums will come back each year and zonal geraniums, those now classified as Pelargonium, are topical perennials usually grown as annuals in colder climates. They got the prefix "zonal" because of the markings on their leaves.

Zonal geraniums were discovered in South Africa and if you have a similar, subtropical climate, you can grow them as perennials. This coral pink zonal geranium is Pelargonium x hortorum. Zonal geraniums are bushy plants, mainly used for containers and bedding. There has been considerable breeding done, particularly for size and abundance and colours of flowers, so there is a good deal of variety. Zonal geraniums start blooming in mid-spring and will repeat bloom until frost. Deadheading the entire flower stalk after the flower fades will encourage more blooms.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

PIGEONS

The native Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) is a common bird found widely throughout mainland Australia except for the far northern tropical areas. Only two Australian pigeon species possess an erect crest, the crested pigeon and the spinifex pigeon. The crested pigeon is the larger of the two species, shown here in the Darebin Parklands, a nature reserve in suburban Melbourne.

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, 22 October 2019

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg (also known as Jozi, Joburg and Egoli) is the largest city in South Africa and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital and largest city in Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa’s three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.

The metropolis is an alpha global city as listed by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. In 2011, the population of the city of Johannesburg was 4,434,827, making it the most populous city in South Africa. In the same year, the population of Johannesburg’s urban agglomeration was put at 7,860,781. The land area of the municipal city (1,645 km2) is large in comparison with those of other major cities, resulting in a moderate population density of 2,364/km2.

The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. The city is commonly interpreted as the modern day El Dorado due to the extremely large gold deposit found along the Witwatersrand. The name is attributed to one or all of three men involved in the establishment of the city. In ten years, the population was 100,000 inhabitants.

A separate city from the late 1970s until the 1990s, Soweto is now part of Johannesburg. Originally an acronym for “South-Western Townships”, Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg, populated mostly by native African workers from the gold mining industry. Soweto, although eventually incorporated into Johannesburg, had been separated as a residential area for blacks, who were not permitted to live in Johannesburg proper. Lenasia is predominantly populated by English-speaking South Africans of Indian descent. These areas were designated as non-white areas in accordance with the segregationist policies of the South African government known as apartheid.

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, 20 October 2019

PATH

Lovely to walk in the Parklands on a fine, sunny Spring day!

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Thursday, 17 October 2019

BILLBERGIA

Billbergia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bromeliaceae, subfamily Bromelioideae. The genus, named for the Swedish botanist, zoologist, and anatomist Gustaf Johan Billberg, is divided into two subgenera: Billbergia and Helicodea. They are native to forest and scrub, up to an altitude of 1,700 m, in southern Mexico, the West Indies, Central America and South America, with many species endemic to Brazil. They are rosette-forming, evergreen perennials, usually epiphytic in habit, often with brilliantly coloured flowers.

The cultivar shown here is Billbergia 'Muriel Waterman' that was hybridised by the great American collector and enthusiast, Mulfor Foster, and introduced in 1946. The stout tubular rosette, is about 7.5 cm in diameter, opens out to a funnel at the top of some six to eight leaves. These are rose-maroon with transverse silver bands, making it one of the most colourful foliage billbergias. The showy flower spike consists of long pink bracts and striking blue flowers.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

OLYMPIA, GREECE

Olympia (Greek: Ὀλυμπία), a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times. The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical Antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The first Olympic Games were in honour of Zeus.

The sanctuary, known as the Altis, consists of an unordered arrangement of various buildings. Enclosed within the temenos (sacred enclosure) are the Temple of Hera (or Heraion/Heraeum), the Temple of Zeus, the Pelopion, and the area of the altar, where the sacrifices were made. To the north of the sanctuary can be found the Prytaneion and the Philippeion, as well as the array of treasuries representing the various city-states. The Metroon lies to the south of these treasuries, with the Echo Stoa to the east. The hippodrome and later stadium were located east of the Echo Stoa. To the south of the sanctuary is the South Stoa and the Bouleuterion, whereas the Palaestra, the workshop of Pheidias, the Gymnasion, and the Leonidaion lie to the west.

Olympia was also known for the gigantic ivory and gold statue of Zeus that used to stand there, sculpted by Pheidias, which was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon. Very close to the Temple of Zeus which housed this statue, the studio of Pheidias was excavated in the 1950s. Evidence found there, such as sculptor's tools, corroborates this opinion. The ancient ruins sit north of the Alfeios River and south of Mount Kronos (named after the Greek deity Kronos). The Kladeos, a tributary of the Alfeios, flows around the area.

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













Tuesday, 15 October 2019

BOROBUDUR, INDONESIA

Borobudur, or Barabudur (Indonesian: Candi Borobudur) is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, and the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.

Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple design follows Javanese Buddhist architecture, which blends the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana. The temple demonstrates the influences of Gupta art that reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.

The monument is a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The pilgrim journey begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument, ascending to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades.

Borobudur has the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world. Evidence suggests Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians.

Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, followed by the monument’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borobudur remains popular for pilgrimage. Once a year, Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.

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, 13 October 2019

Friday, 11 October 2019

YARRA REFLECTIONS

The Yarra River or historically, the Yarra Yarra River, (Aboriginal: Birrarung, and Wongete) is a perennial river in east-central Victoria, Australia. The lower stretches of the river are where the city of Melbourne was established in 1835 and today Greater Melbourne dominates and influences the landscape of its lower reaches. From its source in the Yarra Ranges, it flows 242 kilometres west through the Yarra Valley which opens out into plains as it winds its way through Greater Melbourne before emptying into Hobsons Bay in northernmost Port Phillip. 

This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme,
and also part of the Weekend Reflections meme,
and also part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

DAHLIA 'YORK & LANCASTER'

Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants native mainly in Mexico, but also Central America, and Colombia. A member of the Asteraceae (Compositae), dicotyledonous plants, related species include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum and zinnia. There are at least 36 species of dahlia, with hybrids commonly grown as garden plants.

Flower forms are variable, with one head per stem; these can be as small as 5.1 cm diameter or up to 30 cm ("dinner plate"). This great variety results from dahlias being octoploids (that is, they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes), whereas most plants have only two. In addition, dahlias also contain many transposons (genetic pieces that move from place to place upon an allele), which contributes to their manifesting such great diversity.

The stems are leafy, ranging in height from as low as 30 cm to more than 1.8–2.4 m. The majority of species do not produce scented flowers or cultivars. Like most plants that do not attract pollinating insects through scent, they are brightly coloured, displaying most hues, with the exception of blue.The dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963. The tubers were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs, but this use largely died out after the Spanish Conquest. Attempts to introduce the tubers as a food crop in Europe were unsuccessful.

The variety shown here, 'York & Lancaster' is an unusual and very beautiful dahlia whose origins in history have been lost centuries ago. As well as being of striking appearance, it is a cultivar that most dahlia experts have never heard of, while for others it's a genetic conundrum that shouldn't really exist. For a dahlia it is surprisingly tough, almost hardy in light soils. Standing approximately 2'6'' tall it produces large numbers of ball shaped flower heads. If it does throw up an occasional pure white flower it will always be followed by a brilliant white and carmine red bi-colour flower.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

GHENT, BELGIUM

Ghent (Dutch: Gent; French: Gand; German: Gent) is a city and a municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province and after Antwerp the largest municipality of Belgium. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe, with some 50,000 people in 1300. It is a port and university city.

The municipality comprises the city of Ghent proper and the surrounding towns of Afsnee, Desteldonk, Drongen, Gentbrugge, Ledeberg, Mariakerke, Mendonk, Oostakker, Sint-Amandsberg, Sint-Denijs-Westrem, Sint-Kruis-Winkel, Wondelgem and Zwijnaarde. With 240,191 inhabitants in the beginning of 2009, Ghent is Belgium’s second largest municipality by number of inhabitants. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,205 km2 and has a total population of 594,582 as of 1 January 2008, which ranks it as the fourth most populous in Belgium. The ten-day-long Ghent Festival (Gentse Feesten in Dutch) is held every year and attended by about 1–1.5 million visitors.

Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest carfree area in Belgium. Highlights are the Saint Bavo Cathedral with the famous Ghent Altarpiece, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbour. Ghent has established a blend between comfort of living and history; it is not a city-museum.

The city of Ghent also houses three béguinages and numerous churches including Saint-Jacob’s church, Saint-Nicolas’ church, Saint Michael’s church and St. Stefanus. In the 19th century Ghent’s most famous architect, Louis Roelandt, built the university hall Aula, the opera house and the main courthouse. Highlights of modern architecture are the university buildings (the Boekentoren or Book Tower) by Henry Van de Velde. There are also a few theatres from diverse periods.The beguinages, as well as the belfry and adjacent cloth hall, were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1998 and 1999. The Zebrastraat, a social experiment in which an entirely renovated site unites living, economy and culture, can also be found in Ghent. Campo Santo is a famous Catholic burial site of the nobility and artists.

Important museums in Ghent are the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts), with paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, and many Flemish masters; the SMAK or Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (City Museum for Contemporary Art), with works of the 20th century, including Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol; and the Design Museum Gent with masterpieces of Victor Horta and Le Corbusier. The Huis van Alijn (House of the Alijn family) was originally a beguinage and is now a museum for folk art where theatre and puppet shows for children are presented.

The Museum voor Industriële Archeologie en Textiel or MIAT displays the industrial strength of Ghent with recreations of workshops and stores from the 1800s and original spinning and weaving machines that remain from the time when the building was a weaving mill. The Ghent City Museum (Stadsmuseum, abbreviated STAM), is committed to recording and explaining the city’s past and its inhabitants, and to preserving the present for future generations.

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, 6 October 2019

VICTORIANA

Many a Melbourne house in the inner city is original Victorian, complete with ironwork lace balconies and sculptural architectural deecorations.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

TIBOUCHINA

Tibouchina is a genus of about 350 species of neotropical plants in the family Melastomataceae. They are trees, shrubs or subshrubs growing 0.5–25 m tall, and are known as glory bushes or glory trees. They are native to rainforests of Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America, especially Brazil. The name comes from an adaptation of the native Guiana term for these shrubs. In Brazil, people use the massed purple blooms to decorate churches at Easter time.

Here in Australia tibouchinas also make quite a statement in autumn, with their riot of purple flowers. This particular plant is Tibouchina 'Alstonville', probably the best of the larger growing kinds, and common as a garden and street tree in Melbourne. This plant was produced at Alstonville, on the New South Wales North coast, by the late Ken Dunstan. It is an evergreen small tree which usually grows to about 5m tall. The foliage is dark green in colour with a pale reverse. 'Alstonville' puts on a brilliant display of violet/purple flowers in late summer and autumn. It makes an excellent street or specimen tree, and responds very well to pruning.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

INVERNESS, SCOTLAND

Inverness (from the Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis [iɲɪɾʲˈniʃ], meaning “Mouth of the River Ness”) is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands. Inverness lies near two important battle sites: The 11th-century battle of Blàr nam Fèinne against Norway which took place on The Aird and the 18th-century Battle of Culloden which took place on Culloden Moor. It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom and lies within the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr) at its north-eastern extremity where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth.

At the latest, a settlement was established by the 6th century with the first royal charter being granted by Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim (King David I) in the 12th century. The Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich (MacBeth) whose 11th-century killing of King Duncan was immortalised in Shakespeare’s largely fictionalised play “Macbeth”, held a castle within the city where he ruled as Mormaer of Moray and Ross.

The population of Inverness grew from 40,949 in 2001 to 46,870 in 2012. The Greater Inverness area, including Culloden and Westhill, had a population of 59,910 in 2012.  Inverness is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, with a quarter of the Highland population living in or around it, and is ranked fifth out of 189 British cities for its quality of life, the highest of any Scottish city. In the recent past, Inverness has experienced rapid economic growth: Between 1998 and 2008, Inverness and the rest of the central Highlands showed the largest growth of average economic productivity per person in Scotland and the second greatest growth in the United Kingdom as a whole, with an increase of 86%.

Inverness is twinned with one German city, Augsburg, and two French towns, La Baule and Saint-Valery-en-Caux. Inverness College is the main campus for the University of the Highlands and Islands. With around 8,500 students, Inverness College hosts around a quarter of all the University of the Highlands and Islands’ students, and 30% of those studying to degree level. In 2014, a survey by a property website described Inverness as the happiest place in Scotland and the second happiest in the UK. Inverness was again found to be the happiest place in Scotland by a new study conducted in 2015.

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.