Friday, 15 June 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day June 2012

In case you haven't dropped by recently and are thinking this doesn't look like suburban Brisbane, you are right! I have been on unpaid leave from my regular job to complete a 75-working-day contract in an advisory role in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I have been home from my first instalment  for nearly a week now, and head back for another 8 weeks in a couple of months. However, my early winter garden is not particularly interesting and is in desperate need of weeding and tidy-up, while I have been flu-ey and not up to it, so I thought I might once again 'borrow' from the gardens I saw in my travels in Indonesia for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

The photos that follow were taken last Wednesday, my last day in Indonesia, which was Day Three of my R&R visit to Jogyakarta in Central Java. After a morning tour of the Sultan's palace or kraton, I still had several hours to lose myself and wander around the streets and laneways adjoining the palace, before plane-hopping back to Jakarta, then Sydney, and finally home to Brisbane.

A single bloom of Justicia coccinea above a bright yellow doorway.

Typical roadside food stall or warung

Becaks - a popular means of transport around Yogya.

You don't have to have a big garden bed to have lots of greenery in Jogya.

Love the citrusy croton against the aqua, and check out the great collection of Desert Roses Adenium (right). Together with euphorbias, which I included in my previous post, they were the most popular potted plants throughout the city.

The same aqua-coloured walls, this time with papaya or paw paw, a sprinkling of Desert Rose flowers and, I think the taller shrub with multiple leaflets is a Curry Tree. 

Love the intense blue of this pea flower

Yogya's batiks are traditionally in shades of brown - displayed here against the city walls.

(No blooms of note - but I have a weakness for doorways!)

Another collection of desert roses.

And yet another.

My doorway fetish strikes again. This one is illustrated with wayang shadow puppets.

Space is no impediment to a garden in Jogya.

A great collection including mother-in-laws tongues, cordyline, euphorbia, croton, and diffenbachia.

Meet the locals!

The boys!

Can you see 'Ginger's' shyer friend? (Behind the back right table leg)

Croton, euphorbia, diffenbachia.

Final glimpse - Jogya has vanished beneath the clouds, but the menacing Mount Merapi, about 17 miles to the city's north,  looms above them.  The name  'Merapi' means mountain of fire, and it is the most active volcano in Indonesia.

To see other gardens around the world  (without the holiday snaps and doorway photos), visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the 15th of the month.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Home Sweet Home

I have been home four days now since my Indonesian sojourn. In the last week or so, I had been planning what to do in the four days I had at home before I start work again (tomorrow). Should I try to get the recovered couch delivered and play at interior decorating with my new purchases? Of course, there would be a major gardening onslaught, not to mention writing up a report of my last 7 weeks' work, unpacking, laundry, a dozen other chores, but most importantly, cuddling the pups.

Gentle reader, I must confess that I have accomplished nothing - except the cuddling. The bug that I thought I had shaken in Jogyakarta returned, and I have spent much of my time in bed. Onslow doesn't mind at all. It's cold, windy and wet outside. He thinks that if he sinks really low into the doona beside me I won't notice him.

Miss Bella comes up to the bedroom door to check on us from time to time.

But she prefers downstairs on the couch, especially if she has a extra rug or old towel tucked around her to keep her cosy.

And, of course, I had to sneak out for a quick look at the garden.  The weeds are thriving; there have been a couple of losses in the potted plant collection (mainly those that were undercover); and it is mid-winter, but there was still some colour to be found.

Some bromeliads were in bloom...

Guzmania wittmackii

 Aechmea fulgens 'Burning Bush' 

so  too, the little Rondeletia.

Rondeletia splendens 

The aloes and succulents are always stars during the winter months. Mine are just coming into bud.


Aloes 'Gemini' and 'Southern Cross'

One big surprise was waiting for me in the backyard. How often have I complained that my heliconias never flower?

Finally, one of my favorites... The foliage had been given a good chew, but there was still a perfect bloom to welcome me home.

Hibiscus 'Wilder's White'

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Bali: The Temples - Tirta Empul

I visited the holy springs at Tirta Empul on my previous visit to Bali in 2008 (click here to see), but it is such a special place that I was thrilled with the chance to return on my fleeting business trip to Bali last week.

The spring water gushes out into a bathing pool and is reputed to restore youthfulness. I didn't take the plunge like these young devotees, but I must admit to having dabbed a little on my face -- I live in hope!

You don't think they are really a middle-aged couple who have spent too long in the magical spring water, do you?

Steny risking a dunking in pursuit of eternal youth.

Over 90% of the population are Balinese Hindus, a combination of local beliefs and Hindu influences

This distinguished gentleman showed us around the temple.

Some of the elaborate ornamentation inside the temple.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Mixed feelings in Taman Sari

When I was younger and more idealistic, life was so simple: moral issues were black and white, and a happy ending seemed the logical outcome for all deserving parties. Nowadays, a good outcome is often a matter of compromise, and there is frequently a price to pay that can seem harsh and unfair.

Today is my last full day in Jogyakarta, and I find myself liking it more and more. My two big expeditions have been to the temples at Borobudur and Prambaran on the outskirts, but yesterday afternoon I ventured into the heart of the city for a brief visit to the ruined water palace, Taman Sari. The last thing I expected was to come away from the experience feeling deeply moved.

Taman Sari was built between 1758 and 1765 as a pleasure palace for the Sultan of Jogyakarta. The name means beautiful garden.  It was damaged first by war and later by an earthquake. My very first impression was of slight disappointment. The ruined buildings seemed scattered, and some were in poor repair with occasional graffiti. However, after looking through a few of the ruins on my own, I met up with a local who explained the original purpose of the buildings and the plans for the community that lives within the perimeter of the original palace grounds.

Taman Sari is listed  as a tentative World Heritage area, and UNESCO is going to commence a major restoration project over the next 2 years, but to do this, the current residents must be relocated. The settlement is known as Kampung Taman and many of their homes have been built in what was the garden's huge artificial lake. The first families move in about 5 months, and, in all, 254 families will be relocated to apartments 13 km away.

No one is more supportive of preserving historical and culturally significant places than I am, but as I walked through the lanes and streets that will be demolished, there was such a charm and sense of community that I knew that something precious will be lost, even if something wonderful is gained. Kampung Taman is a very artistic community, and they seem to love their gardens and potted plants. It will surely be difficult to adjust to apartment living and the scattering of their friends and neighbours.


Entrance to an underground passageway.

These buildings served as air vents for underground passageways.

One of the Sultan's family's homes.

Not-so-shy local

I love birds and cages, but not necessarily combined.  Love the painted boats on the top of this great cage.


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