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.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

CORELLA

The long-billed corella (Cacatua tenuirostris), or slender-billed corella is a cockatoo native to Australia, which is similar in appearance to the little corella and sulphur-crested cockatoo. This species is mostly white, with a reddish-pink face and forehead, and has a long pale beak, which is used to dig for roots and seeds. It has reddish-pink feathers on the breast and belly. The adult long-billed corella measures from 38 to 41 cm in length, has a wingspan of about 80–90 cm and averages 567 g in weight. It has a long bone-coloured beak, and a rim of featherless bluish skin around the eyes. The plumage is predominantly white with reddish feathers around the eyes and lores. The underside of the wings and tail feathers are tinged with yellow.

The long-billed corella can be found in the wild around western Victoria and southern New South Wales. Feral populations have sprung up in Sydney, Perth, Hobart and southeast Queensland from the release of captive birds. This has implications in Western Australia where this species may hybridise with the endangered southern race of the western corella. It has extended its range in the past 15 years or so and can now be found (and is common) right through central Victoria including areas around Melbourne.

Here they are foraging in the Darebin Parklands in suburban Melbourne. Breeding generally takes place from July to November. Long-billed corellas form monogamous pairs and both sexes share the task of building the nest, incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Nests are made in decayed debris, the hollows of large old [3] are laid on a lining of decayed wood. The incubation period is around 24 days and chicks spend about 56 days in the nest.

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