Thursday 30 April 2015


Liatris spicata (dense blazing star or prairie gay feather), is a herbaceous perennial plant native throughout most of eastern North America, growing in moist prairies and sedge meadows. Liatris spicata var. resinosa is found in the southern part of the species natural range, the variable plants have only 5 or 6 flowers per head and the heads are more widely spaced on the stems, these differences are more pronounced when the plants are found in drier and coastal habitats.

Liatris spicata is a garden flower in many countries around the world, grown for its showy purple flowers (pink or white in some cultivars). The tall spikes of purple flowers appear in July and August. It thrives in full sun in ordinary garden soil and is excellent for attracting birds and butterflies. Under cultivation it is found under many names including; button snakewort, Kansas gay feather, blazing star. Liatris spicata 'Alba' and Liatris spicata 'Floristan White' are white flowering cultivars. Liatris spicata 'Kobold' is a popular compact cultivar that is less likely to need staking than the type species.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 29 April 2015


Manly is a suburb of northern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia 17 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre of the local government area of Manly Council, in the Northern Beaches region. Manly was named by Captian Arthur Phillip for the indigenous people living there, "...their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place". These men were of the Kay-ye-my clan (of the Guringai people). While scouting for fresh water in the area, Phillip encountered members of the clan, and after a misunderstanding he was speared in the shoulder by one of the clan; to his lasting credit, the progressively-minded Phillip ordered his men not to retaliate.

Manly is most notable for its sandy beaches right on the Pacific Ocean, which are popular tourist destinations. Manly features a long stretch of sand on the ocean side, that runs from Queenscliff Beach to North Steyne Beach and Manly Beach. This is followed by rock pools and sandy beaches called Fairy Bower and Shelly Beach. There are also a number of beaches on the harbour side of the peninsula. Norfolk Island pine trees are also symbolic of Manly and are a prominent feature of both the ocean and harbour beaches.

Transport services to Manly include a Ferry service from Manly Wharf, and bus services to the city and other suburbs. The Manly Ferry journey takes 30 minutes and allows for scenic views of Sydney Harbour, surrounding national parks and Sydney icons including the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.The ferry service once advertised Manly as: "Seven miles from Sydney, and a thousand miles from care".

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

Friday 24 April 2015


In Melbourne there is always some fun to be had and numerous occasions where people let their hair down. Here are a couple of street performers who took their costumes to dizzying green heights of fashion!
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Wednesday 22 April 2015


Over the past two days, the Sydney, Central Coast, and Hunter regions of New South Wales have experienced very heavy rain, gale-force winds with gusts over 100 km per hour, and waves of more than 10 m in height. Sydney experienced the wettest single day since February 2002, with 119.4 mm of rain recorded in the 24 hours to 9 am on April 21. Meanwhile, Tocal in the Hunter Valley recorded more than 100 mm in a single hour. Sadly, three deaths have been reported from flash flooding at Dungog. Another woman's body has been retrieved from flood waters near the northern NSW town of Maitland, bringing a sad end to a day-long rescue operation today.

The wild weather is due to a so-called “East Coast Low” or “East Coast Cyclone”, which are terms used for low-pressure systems that develop off the east coast of Australia, generally between Brisbane and eastern Victoria.

In 2009, a group at the Bureau of Meteorology painstakingly searched every synoptic chart between 1970 and 2006, looking for all low-pressure systems along the east coast. They identified about 22 East Coast Lows each year. About seven of these each year caused widespread rainfall totals above 25 mm. While lows are most common between May and August, they can occur at any time of year, with about every second April having a low that meets this 25-mm rainfall benchmark. This latest East Coast Low is a severe event, but not a record. In fact, Sydney experiences rainfall above 100 mm almost once a year on average, so this is a normal feature of its climate...

A friend sent me this photograph of a flooded road in Marrickville, a Sydney suburb.

This post is part of the Wednesday Waters meme,
and also part of the Waterworld Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Outdoor Wednesday meme,

and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Thursday 16 April 2015


Melbourne's tram system began operations in 1885, when the first cable line operated by the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company opened for business. The cable tram system grew to be very comprehensive and operated successfully for 55 years. Electric trams Australia's first electric tram line, from Box Hill Station to Doncaster, was built by a group of land developers using equipment left over from the Great Exhibition of 1888. It opened in 1889. At this time the line must have been right out in the sticks, since Box Hill itself was many kilometres beyond the existing tram system. It had one or two problems, such as arguments with land owners who fenced over the line and pulled down the power lines, and poor reliability, since its owners knew nothing about running a tram system, and it died by 1896.

The only hint now that there was ever a tram system in the Doncaster area is a road along the former route - Tram Road.The first serious electric trams in Melbourne began in 1906 with the North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company (NMETL) who built a line from the edge of the cable system out towards Essendon, and the Victorian Railways who built a line from St. Kilda to Brighton. The NMETL, a British concern, was interested in selling electricity to customers along the route (and the same motive led to the establishment of the Ballarat, Bendigo, and Geelong electric tram systems). The company commenced operations with single bogie saloon cars (later classified U-class) and unpopular "toast-rack" cars (later classified V-class).

This photo is of Melbourne's classic tram. When the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board was formed to take over the operations of the various Municipal tramway authorities, it found itself with a unified cable system, but an absolute plethora of electric tram types, which it gave letter codes from A through to V. The board decided that it was time to introduce a standard design. The new W-class design, first introduced in 1923, was an outstanding success, and has been the mainstay of the Melbourne tram system for the bulk of the last century. It is a two-bogie, drop-centre design, which has had many variants over the years. The oldest W-class tram still in active service was built in 1938!

Originally, W-class was the term given to those trams built before the W1 was introduced, but now the name refers to all the variants as a group. Some of the trams are denoted SW (for sliding doors). It's here shown "hurtling" down La Trobe St towards the West...
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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 Czech 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.

Today camellias are grown as ornamental plants for their flowers; about 3,000 cultivars and hybrids have been selected, many with double or semi-double flowers. C. japonica is the most prominent species in cultivation, with over 2,000 named cultivars. Next are C. reticulata with over 400 named cultivars, and C. sasanqua with over 300 named cultivars. Popular hybrids include C. × hiemalis (C. japonica × C. sasanqua) and C. × williamsii (C. japonica × C. saluenensis). Some varieties can grow to a considerable size, up to 100m², though more compact cultivars are available. They are frequently planted in woodland settings, alongside other calcifuges such as rhododendrons, and are particularly associated with areas of high soil acidity, such as Cornwall and Devon in the UK. They are highly valued for their very early flowering, often among the first flowers to appear in the late winter. Late frosts can damage the flower buds, resulting in misshapen flowers.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Friday 10 April 2015


Acca sellowiana, a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, is native to the highlands of southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, and Colombia. It is widely cultivated as a garden plant and fruiting tree in New Zealand, and can be found as a garden plant elsewhere such as in Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, western Georgia and southern Russia. Common names include feijoa, pineapple guava and guavasteen, although it is not a true guava.

It is an evergreen, perennial shrub or small tree, 1–7 metres in height, widely cultivated as an ornamental tree and for its fruit. The German botanist Otto Karl Berg named feijoa after João da Silva Feijó, a Portuguese botanist born in the colony of Brazil.

The fruit, maturing in autumn, is green, ellipsoid, and about the size of a chicken egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavour, which tastes like pineapple, apple and mint. The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear, gelatinous seed pulp and a firmer, slightly granular, opaque flesh nearer the skin. The fruit falls to the ground when ripe and at its fullest flavour, but it may be picked from the tree prior to falling to prevent bruising. Feijoa fruit has a distinctive, potent smell that resembles that of a perfume. The aroma is due to the ester methyl benzoate and related compounds that exist in the fruit. Personally, it reminds me of oil of wintergreen, which smell I do not like, hence it ruins the fruit for me...

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Thursday 9 April 2015


This is a "Just Joey" rose growing in our garden, as our rose bushes are beginning to shut down for Winter sleep. This is one of my favourite roses in our garden and it is extremely rewarding to grow. It has large decorative coppery-orange to buff blooms with waved and frilled petals. There is strong, tough growth. The uniquely coloured flowers are sweetly and strongly scented. It is definitely one of the world's favourite roses, inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame in 1994.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 8 April 2015


This grouper was photographed in the Melbourne Aquarium. I have used a program called Affinity Photo Beta to effect some editing and filtering.

This post is part of the Wednesday Waters meme,
and also part of the Waterworld Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Footstep Digital Art Meme.

Tuesday 7 April 2015


Marysville is a small town, 86 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, in the Shire of Murrindindi in Victoria, Australia. The town, which previously had a population of around 500 people, was devastated by the Murrindindi Mill bushfire on 7 February 2009. On 19 February 2009 the official death toll was 45. Around 90% of the town's buildings were destroyed. Residents able to leave the town just prior to the fire were directed to a temporary relief centre at Alexandra High School. Others sheltered overnight in Gallipoli Park before being evacuated to Alexandra.

The entire town was declared a crime scene and was effectively closed off while Victorian and Federal police recovered bodies and conducted investigations. It was reopened to the public on 23 March, 2009. As with all town in bushland settings, Marysville was in constant threat of bushfires. The town came under serious threat during the Black Friday bushfires in 1939, with residents seeing the fire cross from Mt Gorden to Mount Margaret. At that time only one house in Marysville belonging to Stan Postlethwaite was destroyed. The No.1 Mill 5 miles from Marysville was destroyed and the town of Narbethong was wiped out.

The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 also came close to Marysville but burnt around the town and caused no damage to property. These photos I've taken of the magnificent forests around Marysville were snapped before the last tragic bushfire, which essentially wiped out the town, and the effects of which you can see in the "after" photo...

Australian Eucalyptus trees ("gum trees") dominate the tree flora of Australia. There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus, mostly native to Australia, and a very small number are found in adjacent areas of New Guinea and Indonesia. Many of the forest tree species grow to heights of more than 60 metres. Eucalyptus oil is highly flammable (ignited trees have been known to explode); bushfires can travel easily through the oil-rich air of the tree crowns. Eucalypts obtain long-term fire survivability from their ability to regenerate from epicormic buds situated deep within their thick bark, or from lignotubers, or by producing serotinous fruits. The seeds of many eucalypts will only germinate after being subjected to intense heat. See here for the benefits of bushfires in the Australian bush.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Trees & Bushes meme,
and also part of the Friday Greens meme.

Friday 3 April 2015


In Greek religion and mythology, Pan (Ancient Greek: Πάν, Pan) is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, hunting, and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Ancient Greek language, from the word paein (πάειν), meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is also recognised as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Pan became a significant figure in the Romantic movement of western Europe and also in the 20th-century Neopagan movement.
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Wednesday 1 April 2015