Wednesday 26 October 2011


As Spring advances, the roses are coming into their full glorious display. They are joined by the irises, while the lilies are in the wings, waiting their turn. The Spring garden is a delight to behold and whether the weather is sunny or rainy, it is wonderful to go out there and take a few photographs of the beautiful blooms.

General view of one corner of our back garden. Most of the roses are well into bloom now. 
We like statues in our garden and on the right is Hebe, the Goddess of Youth by Danish artist Bertel Thorwaldsen (1768-1844). The original is in the Thorwaldsen Museum, Copenhagen.  Thorwaldsen was regarded as the successor to Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova, and was renowned for his renderings of mythological and classical figures. Hebe the daughter of Zeus and Hera was the official cupbearer of the Greek Olympian gods, and personified the eternal beauty of youth.
Dutch Iris (Iris x hollandica) is a beautiful Spring flower, which as well as brightening the garden is an excellent cut flower. Its pure blue flowers with yellow brushstrokes are delightful.
Bearded irises (Iris germanica), are hardy, long-lived perennials that require a minimum of maintenance. The flowers have six petals; three upright petals (called standards) and three hanging petals (called falls). A fuzzy line or beard runs down the middle of each fall. Flowers come in many colours including blue, pink, purple, reddish, white, yellow, and bi-colors. Most bearded iris flower in the Spring, but some of the new cultivars re-flower in the Summer and Autumn. The second flower display is not as showy as the spring display but last into Autumn. Many re-blooming iris are fragrant. Here is the bearded iris cultivar 'Mary Todd'. Hybridised by Randall, year of introduction, 1960.
In Greek mythology, Iris (Ἶρις) is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. As the sun unites Earth and heaven, Iris links the gods to humanity. She travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other, and into the depths of the sea and the underworld. According to Hesiod's Theogony, Iris is the daughter of Thaumas and the air nymph Electra. Her sisters are the Harpies: Aello, Celaeno and Ocypete. Iris flowers were named after her because of their blooms that are coloured with every hue of the rainbow.
The tall Bearded Iris cultivar 'Bold Logic', Hybridised by Plotner, with the year of introduction, 1989. This is a stunning bloom with eye-catching, bold colour.
Tall bearded Iris, cultivar  'Sign of Leo'. Hybridised by Zurbrigg, year of introduction: 1976. The rich violet-coloured blooms are iconic, perhaps because they have often been depicted by artists in famous paintings (e.g. Van Gogh's irises).
Another corner of our garden with a little putto statue. In the middle the bold, orange Clivia miniata flowers, while on the left a birds' nest fern (Asplenium nidus) and on the right a pendulous fuchsia (Fuchsia dependens), whose original homeland is Ecuador.
Iceberg is a floribunda rose cultivar that was bred in Germany in 1958. It is also known by the names 'Korbin' (the registered cultivar name), Fée des Neiges and Schneewittchen. It is among the world's best known roses. It's a prolific, long-flowering rose that puts on a wonderful display.
Old World (or European) roses, were grown in the gardens of Europe and western Asia for many hundreds of years. Old roses were originally derived from wild roses, but it was the trade with eastern Asia that brought a flood of important new rose species into Europe. These wild roses became the ancestors of practically every modern rose. When adventurers and travellers brought species together that would never have met naturally, it resulted in a lot of change such as hybridisation. Through the process of mutation, selection and crossing over, many beautiful old garden roses were born. Here is such an old-fashioned rose, wonderfully scented and of a rich yellowish-cream colour. This is the 'Graham Thomas' rose.
‘Lorraine Lee’ was bred by a famous Australian rose breeder, Alister Clark in 1924. It is named after Lorraine Lee, who was born in Melbourne in 1890, and was a cousin of Jessie Clark, Alister’s niece. During World War I, Lorraine worked in the Women’s Land Army in England and the Ministry of Munitions, earning an MBE for her dedication. In 1920, on a visit to Australia, Alister showed her his unnamed rose seedlings and asked her to choose one. The rose she chose became Alister Clark’s most famous and popular rose ‘Lorraine Lee”. The unique characteristic of this rose is its winter flowering. When nearly every other rose in the garden is asleep, Lorraine Lee is still flowering and will continue to do so until early spring when it should be pruned – it will recommence flowering early November.
Full-blown roses have their own charm and of course bees adore them!
One of the water features in our garden, with yet another statue. This one is in imitation of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.
This golden yellow rose is the 'Beehive Gold', which flowers prolifically and has a slight fragrance.
The 'Queen Elizabeth' rose is one of the ten most popular roses for over 40 years, according to rose breeders. The flowers are very lovely and elegant, and they are delightful and long-lasting in a vase as cut flowers. 'Queen Elizabeth' is a grandiflora rose whose flowers come singly on one stem, similar to hybrid tea roses.
These Dalmatian bellflowers (Campanula portenschlagiana) 'Hoffman’s Blue' are covered with blooms every day. They are perennials and very long-blooming, acting as an attractive, versatile and hardy ground cover.
In our front garden we have a magnificent native frangipani tree (Hymenosporum flavum). t produces creamy yellow, frangipani-like flowers with a strong, heady fragrance. It is not related to the exotic frangipani (Plumeria spp). An evergreen tree to about 20m tall in cultivation, but larger in its natural habitat. It  is the only Australian species of Hymenosporum, and is closely related to the Pittosporum genus, which it resembles in certain respects. It is native to the coastal brush forests of eastern Australia, extending from the Hunter River in New South Wales to Atherton in Queensland.
Another corner of the garden with a water feature and a baby triton statue. The violas (Viola tricolor), pansies (Viola tricolor subsp. hortensis) and the African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are beginning to grow and bloom wildly.
Rosa rugosa (Japanese rose, or Ramanas rose) is a species of rose native to eastern Asia, in northeastern China, Japan, Korea and southeastern Siberia, where it grows on the coast, often on sand dunes. The sweetly scented flowers are used to make pot-pourri in Japan and China, where it has been cultivated for about a thousand years. This is the 'Charles Albanel' single-petalled cultivar.
Melia azedarach or 'Tree-Lilac', is a species of deciduous tree in the mahogany family, Meliaceae, that is native to Pakistan, India, Indochina Southeast Asia and Australia. The flowers are small and fragrant, with five pale purple or lilac petals, growing in clusters. The fruit is a drupe, marble-sized, light yellow at maturity, hanging on the tree all winter, and gradually becoming wrinkled and almost white. This is a specimen we grew from seed and have growing in a pot for about 6-7 years now, being 2 m tall. This year it bloomed for the first time! When planted in the ground it can reach a height of up to 12 metres, not recommended for a small garden!
Here is another tree that I grew from seed about 35 years ago and it has been growing in a pot quite happily for all that time, having reached a height of 1.5 metres. It is Ginkgo biloba or the 'Maidenhair Tree'. The Ginkgo is a living fossil, with fossils recognisably related to modern Ginkgo from the Permian, dating back 270 million years.  This tree is dioecious (that is, male and female reproductive parts are borne on separate trees). Our is a male tree with pendulous catkins, that pollinate the pendulous pistillate 'flowers' on 4 cm peduncles on female trees. The seeds form on the female trees and are strongly malodorous!
Blue roses do not exist in nature as a result of the genetic limitations of the pigmentation gene and enzymes in roses. In 2004, researchers used genetic modification to create blue pigmented roses.  Most 'blue roses' growing in gardens are lilac or lavender-coloured, as this fragrant one in our garden.
Another view of our back garden with several statues. The magnificent large rosette of leaves belongs to the agave (Agave attenuata), a striking specimen plant.
This is a beautiful begonia (Begonia x hybrida 'Dragon Wings') that is very prolific and has clusters of large, clear red blooms and glossy deep green leaves. We have several growing in pots and they brighten up the patios.
We have several citrus trees (lemon, orange, grapefruit, cumquat, mandarin) growing in both our back and front gardens. They are all flowering at the moment the scent is quite heavenly. Here is some lemon blossom.
Felicia amelloides (blue daisy) is a herbaceous perennial of family Asteraceae, native to South Africa. Its beautiful blue flowers are quite striking and do well without much care. Pruning and dead-heading is essential, though.
Spanish broom (Spartium junceum syn. Genista juncea) is a perennial, leguminous shrub native to the Mediterranean region in southern Europe, southwest Asia and northwest Africa, where it is found in sunny sites, usually on dry, sandy soils. In late Spring and Summer it is covered in profuse fragrant yellow flowers 1 to 2 centimeters across. This is in a neighbour's garden!
The lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is a beautifully fragrant Spring flower that has several cultivars. This mauve, large-flowered one is 'Agincourt Beauty' hybridised by Slater and introduced in 1973.
This is an ornamental apple tree (Malus domestica) in a neighbour's garden. It is a glorious sight in Spring, especially on wonderfully fine day like this one.
And the bees love the blooms too!
Another water feature in our garden with an overhanging African bush daisy (Euryops spp)
For more Spring flowers, see older entry here.

Friday 21 October 2011


"Occupy Wall Street", which commenced on September 17, 2011, is a protest that began as hundreds of people descended on the streets of Manhattan's financial district. Since then, the movement has spread to dozens of other cities. And, on October 15, the movement went global with protests in dozens of countries. In Melbourne, Australia, protesters occupied Melbourne City Square on Swanston Street since Saturday 15 October. Melbourne Mayor, Robert Doyle, said that the activists who had camped in the City Square for nearly a week had caused at least $15,000 damage.

This morning, October 21, more than 100 police swooped on City Square at 7:00 am, giving about 120 anti-capitalism demonstrators until 9:00 am to leave. The protesters refused to leave and by mid-morning about 20 protesters were arrested. By lunchtime, more police officers, the anti-riot unit, dog squad members and mounted police had come into the area just as lunchtime crowds swelled around the Collins St/Swanston St intersection.

At lunchtime as I walked down Swanston St, the very large number of police cars  parked everywhere alerted me to the events around the City Square.
Increased security outside the Melbourne Town Hall as one approached the City Square to the South.
More police cars parked on Swanston St, looking to the south towards the City Square, where one can see the crowd in the distance.
Police barricading Swanston St at Collins St. Traffic had completely stopped and tram services were severely disrupted.
Police on Swanston St, directly in front of the City Square.
An enthusiastic protester who lost no opportunity to explain to everyone who approached him why this event was occurring and why he was there.
The police meant business. Nobody got past them!
An observer atop the traffic lights at the corner of Collins and Swanston Sts.
Motorists had a very hard time in the City today as this poor woman found out, the hard way!
The dog squad were also there in full force. The dog sculpture adjacent to the City Square provides an ironic touch!
And then the police moved in to clear the intersection...
Nothing like the mounted police to move the crowds! I always feel sorry for the poor horses...
And the poor dogs...
The Europe XXL festival in 2009 saw the French city of Lille inundated with striking, six-meter-tall sculptures – colossal jet-black infants with bat-like wings and reptilian tails. This October these mischievous monstrosities descended on Melbourne, as the city's CBD became a playground for a flock of fiendish cherubs. Along Swanston Street and St Kilda Road the demonic angels manifest themselves, surveying the city's occupants with otherworldly eyes. The parade is the handiwork of subversive Russian art collective AES+F, an outfit known for their irreverent hybrid works incorporating a broad spectrum of imagery – from pop culture and Hollywood cinema to religious iconography, mythology and classical art. The angelic demons seemed a very appropriate backdrop for the goings on below them...
The police and the crowd get right up close and personal. Good to see at least one policeman is enjoying himself!
This poor young chap got a little too close to the pepper spray and had to receive first aid.
On Collins St, looking towards the west.
There certainly was no shortage of police there today!
City Square was quickly and completely fenced off. The truck is full of the protesters' belongings, tents, rubbish, etc.
"City Square is temporarily closed off for maintenance...
"Occupy Melbourne" was a token gesture of solidarity with the people of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement by a few political activists. It is fortunate that Australia is not going through as tough an economic time as other countries are, otherwise if it were different I am sure the police would not have had such an easy time budging a much, much larger crowd of malcontents...