Thursday 29 September 2011


Last weekend the weather was marvellous so we decided to go to St Andrews, a town in Victoria, Australia, which is 36 km north-east from Melbourne's city centre. St Andrews has a population of about 1600 people and is well known for its alternative market which is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It also has a hotel, general store, school, bakery, CFA, a community centre and of course St Andrew's Church.
A view down St Andrews' Main Street with the Hotel visible in the mid distance.
The town is set in delightful native forest with much unspoilt land and many examples of beautiful native flora and fauna.
The Market is a quite large and has a plethora of stalls and traders, selling local produce and crafts, second-hand goods and novelties, lots of different types of food and drink, as well as musicians who provide entertainment.
The town has a reputation for alternative lifestyle and this is reflected in the range of goods and food sold.
Fresh produce is always a good buy in the Market.
Freshly cooked fare served by the fair!
International cuisine is well-represented, as are organic, macrobiotic and vegetarian foods.
No market would be complete without its trash and treasure stalls and this no exception!
Old tobacco tins...
Antique bottles...
Rusting tools...
Pre-loved toys...
One always meets interesting people at this Market, whether it is the stallholders or customers.
I enjoy rummaging through the book, CD and DVD stalls especially, as one can sometimes find wonderful things that aren't available in shops.
Despite all the technology, computer and video games, children are still fascinated by the simple toys of the past, like these multi-hued windmills...
Or this Tibetan singing bowl!
Pony rides are a firm favourite!
As are delicious cakes!
Refreshments are available in this wonderful Cha Tent.
Fresh flowers from the local farms, as well as from further afield!
Some beautiful local Proteas for sale.
A belt-maker plying his craft and selling his wares.
A masseur providing some remedial action to a client.
What a pleasure to browse the books on the stall while listening to some live harp music!
The fairy is being told off by the fairyland patrolling officer...
Secret girls' business!
The sign says it all!
St Andrew's church, often used for weddings and christenings.
The St Andrews Hotel. Originally St Andrews was called Queenstown.
The area was surveyed in 1858 and a town proclaimed on the 25th February 1861. St Andrew Post Office had opened earlier on 1 January 1856 and was renamed St Andrews in 1923. It experienced population growth during the Victorian gold rush when prospectors mined the hills around the town. The first discovery of gold in Queenstown was recorded in The Herald on 9 and 11 March 1855 and was attributed to a George Boston and two Scotsmen

 Eliza Smith was the original owner of St Andrews Hotel. She was born Elizabeth Band in Scotland and arrived in Australia in 1854. In 1856 she married John Corke Knell who in 1857 was appointed Postmaster of Queenstown. By 1866 he was running a store, post office and an unlicensed hotel (he had applied for a beer licence in early 1866 but for reasons unknown he was unsuccessful). John Knell died in 1867 and Eliza took over as Postmistress. She applied for a temporary liquor licence for the “Caledonia (St Andrews) Hotel” on 8 April 1868. She remarried a Robert Smith in 1868 and continued to run the hotel for another 20 years until her son Walter Wattie Knell took over. Eliza lived in the cottage next to the hotel. She had six children to John Knell and four to Robert Smith. She died in 1911 and is buried in the Queenstown Cemetery, Smith’s Gully.

Going to the market is thirsty work, so it is pleasant to stop at the Hotel and enjoy a cold beer.
Especially if the talented Marisa is singing, as she was last Saturday!
Enjoying the music in front of an open fire...
The St Andrews bakery is next to the Hotel and does a thriving business, selling its old fashioned handmade breads and pastries...
Which can be enjoyed right outside!
The Shire of Nillumbik is a Local Government Area in Victoria, Australia. It contains some outer northern suburbs of Melbourne and rural localities beyond the urban area. It has an area of 435 square kilometres and has an estimated population of 62,837 people.[1] It was formed in 1994 from the merger of parts of the Shire of Eltham, Shire of Diamond Valley, Shire of Healesville and City of Whittlesea. The shire uses the tag-line the green wedge shire. Nillumbik was rated third of 590 Australian Local Government Areas in the BankWest Quality of Life Index 2008. The countryside in the Shire is quite idyllic as this photograph shows.

Monday 5 September 2011



Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
And murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring,
Roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence,
And the birds take up their charming songs once more.

On the flower-strewn meadow,
With leafy branches rustling overhead,
The goat-herd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.

Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes,
Nymphs and shepherds lightly dance
Beneath the brilliant canopy of spring.

This is the Sonnet that inspired Vivaldi to write his Spring Concerto. The sonnet is thought to have been written by the composer himself and the intimate relationship between music and the sonnet has contributed to the success of the Four Seasons concerti.

Here are some photos of Spring flowers, which are glorious at the moment.

Cyclamens brighten up the garden from late winter. Cyclamen is a genus of 23 species of perennials growing from tubers, valued for their flowers with upswept petals and variably patterned leaves. Cyclamen species are native from Europe and the Mediterranean region east to Iran, with one species in Somalia. The large ornamental plants are cultivars of Cyclamen persicum.

The common bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta; syn. Endymion non-scriptum, Scilla non-scripta, Agraphis nutans) is a spring-flowering bulbous perennial plant. Its cheery blue flowers light up dark corners of the garden.
Japonica, or Chaenomeles is a genus of three species of deciduous spiny shrubs, usually 1–3 m tall, in the family Rosaceae. They are native to eastern Asia in Japan, China and Korea. These plants are related to the Quince (Cydonia oblonga) and the Chinese Quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis). This is Chaenomeles x superba. 
This brilliantly coloured Spring harbinger is the flowering form of (cultivated) Primula commonly known as polyanthus (P. elatior hybrids).
This is the cineraria (Senecio cruentus) a highly ornamental plant that has been developed by florists from species of the genus Senecio or related genera in the composite family Asteraceae. There are two distinct types: the garden species, especially dusty miller (S. cineraria); and the greenhouse varieties of S. cruentus, commonly referred to simply as cinerarias. Greenhouse cinerarias may be dwarf, compact-growing plants with large flowers in dense clusters, or taller plants with larger, more spreading clusters of small star-shaped flowers. Both types are easily grown from seed and are sold commercially as potted plants in a variety of colours, such as this blue shade here.
Prunus cerasifera, or cherry plum is a popular ornamental tree for garden and landscaping use, grown for its very early flowering and its ornamental purple or reddish-brown leaves.
Dietes iridioides, or fortnight lily, is a native of South Africa that is grown extensively in Australia, often in large clumps on nature strips and in parks. The flowers are large and showy but last only a single day.
Calendula officinalis (pot marigold) is a plant in the family Asteraceae. It is probably native to southern Europe though its long history of cultivation makes its precise origin unknown, and may possibly be of garden origin. It is also widely naturalised further north in Europe (north to southern England) and elsewhere in warm temperate regions of the world. Its generic name indicates its long flowering period, ostensibly on the calends of every month of the year in warm regions!
Magnolia liliiflora (variously known by many names, including Mulan magnolia, Purple magnolia, Red magnolia, Lily magnolia, Tulip magnolia, Jane magnolia and Woody-orchid) is a small tree native to southwest China (in Sichuan and Yunnan), but cultivated for centuries elsewhere in China and also Japan. It was first introduced to English-speaking countries from cultivated Japanese origins, and is thus also sometimes called Japanese magnolia, though it is not native to Japan. It is now also planted as an ornamental in Australia, Africa, North America and Europe, though rather less often than its popular hybrids.
Alyogyne huegelii (native hibiscus) is a flowering plant found in the Southwest botanical province of Western Australia, extending along its entire coastline. A large flowered shrub, the species favours the sands of coastal shrublands and heath. The large flower, highly variable in colour, is similar to that of Hibiscus. It was previously placed in that genus, and is commonly named Lilac Hibiscus. It is widely cultivated as a flowering plant for the garden.
Clivia miniata or Kaffir lily is a South African native and grow in most areas of Australia - from Tasmania to the Tropics. It is a hardy plant that is almost unkillable and has large clusters of orange or yellow flowers.
The Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata) is a fully hardy evergreen shrub. This is an excellent choice of shrub for any size of garden and requires almost no attention other than a yearly prune to shape. Clusters of small white flowers cover it from Spring to early summer.
Helleborus niger, commonly called Christmas rose or black hellebore, is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. It is poisonous. Although the flowers resemble wild roses (and despite its common name), Christmas rose does not belong to the rose family (Rosaceae). Numerous cultivars exist and flower from winter to spring.
Hyacinthus orientalis (Common Hyacinth, Garden Hyacinth or Dutch Hyacinth), is a perennial flowering plant, native to southwestern Asia, southern and central Turkey, northwestern Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. It was introduced to Europe in the 16th century. it is a common garden plant and often grown indoors in bulb jars or pots so its fragrant blooms will perfume the early spring.
The camellias belong to a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are native to eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalaya east to Korea 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 from Brno, who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia.
Veronica chamaedrys (Germander Speedwell, Bird's-eye Speedwell) is a species of Veronica, native to Europe and northern Asia. It is found on other continents as an introduced species. It is a herbaceous perennial plant with hairy stems and leaves. It can grow to 25 cm tall, but is normally about 12 cm tall. The flowers are blue, with a four-lobed corolla. The form of the leaves are similar to white deadnettle. The 2 to 4 mm wide blossoms of this plant wilt very quickly upon picking, which has given it the ironic name "Männertreu", or "men's faithfulness" in German.
Taraxacum officinale, the Common Dandelion (often simply called "dandelion"), is a herbaceous perennial plant of the family Asteraceae (Compositae). It can be found growing in temperate regions of the world, in lawns, on roadsides, on disturbed banks and shores of water ways, and other areas with moist soils. T. officinale is considered a weedy species, especially in lawns and along roadsides, but it is sometimes used as a medical herb and in food preparation. As a nearly cosmopolitan weed, Dandelion is best known for its yellow flower heads that turn into round balls of silver tufted fruits that blow away on the wind.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) depleted seed heads thrusting up into the sky. 
A clump of Cotyledon orbiculata plants, known commonly as "pigs' ears". A native of South Africa it is grown widely int eh temperate regions of Australia and rewards gardeners with beautiful displays of flowers.
A bee feasting on the nectar of Hebe flowers.
Beautifully scented masses of Clematis flowers that quickly climb up any support.
Lavandula stoechas or Italian Lavender is a frost hardy evergreen and compact little shrub up to 60 cm tall. It is covered in purple pink flower spikes from spring until late autumn. Also grown for essential oils, this type of lavender needs a sunny position with well drained garden soil. 
The lemon tree full of blossoms, ripe fruit and small green lemons. The scent of the lemon flowers is wonderful, justifying their widespread use in perfumery.
Aquilegia vulgaris (European Columbine, Common Columbine or Granny's Nightcap) is a species of columbine native to Europe. The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the flower petals are said to resemble an eagle's claw. There are many showy cultivars, like this two-toned one.
Miniature daffodils are a good addition to the front of the bulb border, in clumps around garden beds or lawns, or grown in pots. Miniature daffodils have been bred to emphasise the special characteristics of the smaller growing species of daffodil (Narcissus).
Bellis perennis is a common European species of Daisy, often considered the archetypal species of that name. Many related plants also share the name "Daisy", so to distinguish this species from other daisies it is sometimes qualified as Common Daisy, Lawn Daisy or occasionally English daisy. It is native to western, central and northern Europe. The species is widely naturalised in Australia, North America, Africa  and also in South America. A common belief is that Spring has not sprung unless you can step on more than 12 daisies with each foot. Spring is here!
For more pictures of Spring flowers in our garden, see my later blog entry here.

And here is Vivaldi's Spring Concerto:

 Enjoy the season!