Sunday, 29 January 2012

And the winner is...

Earlier this summer, I took it upon myself to decide, once and for all, my absolute top favourite frangipani Plumeria.

There were so many contenders.

I thought I would approach it scientifically so I took photos of lots of favourites I saw locally to help me decide.

This vibrant pink was a serious contender

But then so was this pastel beauty.

Gorgeous, with agapanthus and dietes.

This is one of mine. 

In the end I decided it was a dead heat: I love them all! How about you?

Friday, 27 January 2012

Rainy weather

After the dryness of the last few months of 2011, the weather is certainly playing catch up here in Brisbane as January draws to a close. This month marks the first anniversary of the devastating floods we experienced, but, fortunately, although there is some flooding, it will not be anywhere near the same extent.

Although I managed a good stint in the garden yesterday - a public holiday to celebrate Australia Day - today, on my extra day's leave from the office, it has been much wetter, and the pups and I have been restricted to the house most of the time. While I was standing watching the rain from the cover of my front veranda, I noticed the Ivory Curl Tree across the road was coming into full flower, so I ducked across when the rain eased off a fraction for a closer look.

The Ivory Curl Tree  Buckinghamia celsissima   

Ivory Curl Trees are used in street plantings quite widely throughout Brisbane. They range in size from large shrub to small tree size and are a great hit with nectar-loving birds.

I snapped this one on a sunnier day!

Elsewhere in the garden, I had the first flower on one of the dahlias I bought as tubers in early December. The other tuber 'Mrs Rees' was very shriveled and had looked suspect. It was pretty late in the season to be planting, and I wasn't surprised when it didn't come up. I am looking forward to adding a few more to my collection in Autumn. The current dahlia wish list, inspired by Belinda, my cut flowers guru over at  Wild Acre, is a dark red or dark pink pompom or ball variety, an almost black waterlily, and a dark red or dark pink cactus - perhaps 'Mrs Rees' again - (and maybe a gorgeous burnished orange).

Dahlia 'Marie Antoinette'

Another potential loss is one of the new daylilies I bought, 'Colin Campbell' - as fate would have it, the most expensive one I have bought to date! When I was tidying up some dead leaves around it yesterday, the new shoots came away in my hands. They had rotted through just under the surface. I fear my cloggy clay soil may be to blame. Fortunately, 'Russian Ragtime,' the other new one that I planted in that section, still looks okay.

I planted some more cosmos and zinnia seeds direct into the front garden. The zinnias are mostly pastel shades: 'Isabellina', 'Pastel Dream', 'Polar Bear', plus 'Violet Queen' and the green 'Envy'. I  tidied up the broms in the front, moved a couple of hidden neoregelias to the front of the bed, and some taller varieties to the back. A couple of gingers have popped up in the middle of them, but will die down over winter.

Apart from that, everything else is just wet, and that's fine! The sun has just set, so I think it's time for a glass of red on the veranda to listen to the rain and some mellow music, like Craig Armstrong's sublime 'Weather Storm'.

Plumeria obtusa

Hibiscus 'Wilders White'

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Tropical beauties

Although I don't have either in my own garden, I was fortunate enough to spot two absolute favourite tropical plants while out and about this week.

This beautiful tree is Colville's Glory Colvillea racemosa. It has similar foliage to jacarandas and poinciana, and it is simply divine. I spotted this one with another close by in the corner of the local bus depot.

I had to go a little further afield for my other tropical beauty: 'overseas', in fact. I should also mention that I seem to be a little jinxed on my outings to the coast lately. Despite our incredibly dry November and December, it rained on my visit to Ballina at Christmas and, ironically, to the so-called 'Sunshine' Coast the following fortnight. Ditto for my first visit to Macleay Island.

Macleay Island is located in Moreton Bay and is accessed via ferry from Redland Bay, about a 40 minute drive from the centre of Brisbane. The ferry takes about 15 minutes and calls in at some of the other picturesque bay islands en route.

I was a little early to meet up with friends for a picnic, so I had a brief reconnoitre and found this Rangoon Creeper Quisqualis indica clambering over a frangipani that was growing roadside.

This lovely creeper has hanging clusters of scented flowers that open white and age to pink and red with all the colours appearing at the same time like a Brunfelsia (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). I have read that there is also a double variety, but I haven't been lucky enough to see that other than in photos.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Guess who's two today!

It seems very hard to imagine LBO - Life Before Onslow - here at Casa Bella. He was expected. We waited impatiently, and, two years ago today, Jay-Tee Onslow arrived.

This was our first meeting at 2 weeks.

He came home to Casa Bella at 8 weeks. Miss B didn't know quite what to make of him.

But decided soon enough, if there was an unaccompanied pup in the house, he must be hers. And he soon settled in.

Although he took many liberties,

he had his uses.

He even tried his paw at weeding.

This was his first chicken-stock ice block last summer.

Life just wouldn't be the same without our boy.

Happy Birthday, Onslow!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day January 2012

Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, the first for 2012. 

On the 15th of each month, Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts this meme, which provides a chance for garden bloggers around the world to share what is happening in their gardens.

Here in sub-tropical Brisbane, it is midsummer. The garden has taken a bit of a hammering since last GBBD as December was as uncharacteristically dry as November had been (and, in the chaos of the holiday season, I was a little remiss with my watering). 

Since then, I have had a big tidy-up and have pulled out most of the 'Wendy's Wish' salvias and the cosmos. There is a bit of a gap in the garden, but it won't be for long. I am replacing the salvias with cuttings, and the cosmos have self-seeded. I have supplemented them with some interesting and different cosmos seeds that I ordered online and have sewn directly into the garden bed. I have 'Psyche' doubles, 'Seashells', 'Versailles' White and Flush, 'Sensation' Gloria and C. Bipinnatus 'Daydream'. I can't wait to see them in flower.

I am really enjoying one of my more recent additions to the garden, Nymphaea helvola, a miniature waterlily, and have bought some new goldfish to add to the existing white cloud fish family.  

Just opening...

The Brugmansia or Angel's Trumpet has been a mass of flowers. It is difficult to decide what is more beautiful, the flowers or its perfume.

The brugmansia is underplanted with Costus, or spiral ginger. There is a faded beauty in their spent flowers.

The Leopard Lily Belamcanda chinensis can always be relied on for a splash of colour.

So too, the variegated Alstomeria. I made lovely little Christmas posies using the flowers and foliage, combined with red pentas and parsley flowers.

There's lots of new growth on the Zamias.

And the Hammerhead Frangipani Plumeria pudica is just stunning.

Another pristine beauty is Hibiscus 'Wilders White'

The daylilies are reflowering.


'Passion for Life'

'Velvet Rose'

Finally, I can always bank on a bromeliad blooming. This Neoregelia is another purloined on a visit to my brother's garden. It is almost a miniature so helps to provide variety of size as well as the contrast of its speckled foliage. Also, for brom growers, I spotted this handy tip on ABC Gardening Australia Magazine's facebook page. Editor Jennifer Stackhouse talked about mosquitos breeding in bromeliad cups - to stop them breeding, regularly add just a few drops of coconut oil, which you can find  at Asian grocers and health food stores


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