Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas at Tony's

Once again Christmas celebrations this year were based around the annual ritual of loading the car with pups and pressies and heading down to spend Christmas Day with my brother Tony and his family. I shared last year's Christmas at Tony's over three posts here,  mostly bromeliads here, and the orchids here.

He has a much more extensive garden than me (not hard really when I am just on a regular suburban block), and, in addition, despite Ballina being only a two-hour drive south, he is blessed with wonderful chocolatey volcanic soil and more frequent rainfall. It's always great fun exploring his garden. This is what was happening on Christmas Day.

This butterfly on the buddleia was just that bit too high to get a good photo.

Luckily, a much more obliging one was also visiting. I think the spots and stripes are very chic!

Tony always has masses of bromeliads out in bloom.

Aechmea fasciata


The two little grey-foliaged bromeliads below are tillandsias or air plants, because they don't require any soil to grow in. The second is coming into bud and the Spanish Moss on the left is another kind of tillandsia.

One of his frangipani Plumeria rubra. This soft pink is one of my favourite colours.

Probably the most widely grown of all bromeliads, the pineapple.

Lovely mix of colours in the bougainvilleas


I love the combination of the erigeron daisy and the cherry tomatoes, but I can't believe that I forgot to pick a supply of the tomatoes to bring home with me.

This bougainvillea was growing on the vacant block next to Tony's, and below it is the view north from the top of his road towards Lennox Head, though it's hard to see the sea in the photo.

A few properties further along I spotted this Illawarra Flame tree Brachychiton acerifolius, which always has a particularly festive look to me with its red bell-like flowers. I have posted about them previously here.

The walk wore out the pups who needed a bit of a lie down in the patch of Panda Grass that was such a favourite with them last year.

 Hoya, one of my Dad's favourites.

This tall copper-coloured bromeliad is Aechmea blanchetiana

Still more broms under the bamboo

I am rather taken with this blue-flowering bromeliad (above and below) at the moment. I think it is another Aechmea and will definitely put my hand up for a pup on my next visit.

But then again, this white form is rather lovely too.

This is the standout performer among Tony's bromeliads this visit. His ten-year old Alcantarea imperialis rubra is in flower. Onslow kindly popped himself into the picture so that you can get an idea of scale. It must be nearly 7 foot high.

There were different Alcantareas in flower at Tony's in-laws, where we descend like the ravenous hoards that we are, each Christmas Day for some of the best country cooking I have ever tasted thanks to the very wonderful Joyce and Leo.

Just a couple of glimpses of the scenery between Cumbalum and Wollongbar. The rows of trees running down the hills in the second photo are part of a macadamia nut plantation.

And finally, for my Christmas snaps this year, how could I go past this bevy of beauties: my nieces Yasmin, Bethany and Eliza.

Eliza is the next chicken to leave the nest, so Mum Leanne made her this beautiful quilt for Christmas with special memories in every block and love in every stitch.


  1. What a lovely garden your brother has, I can't imagine what it would be like living in a place like that - well actually, I can imagine; it would be heaven!
    In my postage stamp size garden I always have to be very careful what I put in, especially having in mind how big the plants might be when mature. And living in London we of course have different climate 356 days a year, no day is the same. Hope you still have a lovely Christmas holiday, all the best for 2013.

    1. I try to be mindful of how big things will grow too, Helene. Many things in my garden have come from Tony, but it is a battle to convince him that I can't squeeze some of the bigger plants in.

  2. gosh I couldnt decide which was my favourite - you would have a hard tie calling me in from the garden to eat Christmas dinner! Hope you had a fabulous visit and best wishes for the New year.

    1. It is great to have a wander through the garden. There's always something new to see. Very happy new year to you too.

  3. Your brother's garden is spectacular...everything seems to be blooming its head off....a lovely Christmas show.
    I've tried the air plants in a couple of trees, but somehow they never survive, so I've never seen one in bloom....maybe I'll try them again, since the orchids are doing well in the trees.
    Glad everyone had a wonderful day, especially the bow wows.
    Wishing you the Happiest New Year ever for 2013.

    1. I haven't tried the air plants yet, Virginia, other than a few wisps of Spanish moss, but they are interesting. Sorry the flower wasn't in better focus. Happy New Year!

  4. I am not stupid, I've been to school and have read books, but it hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that in parts of this world you can pick tomatoes and enjoy such lovely blooms at Christmas.

    1. It's a crazy topsy turvy world, Les, but mention Christmas to most Aussies and we think of holidays at the beach!

  5. Replies
    1. Hi,Pepita. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. What a wonderful way to celebrate. The landscape is brimming with blooms. We had warm weather today, up to 60° F. Not too bad.

    1. 60 degrees sounds quite civilised. We are having a heatwave across most of Australia. Not real bad here (early to mid 90s)- but since I'm not air-conditioned, it was a three-dip (in the pool) day, and that's just so far.

  7. It's great to catch up with your blog once more. Your brother does indeed have a spectacular garden. What a magnificent plant that Alcantarea at your brother's place is! The one at his in-law's is also wonderful. Sounds like you had another great Christmas time.

    1. Thanks, Bernie. Happy New Year. The Alcantarea is a beauty isn't it. A bit like a tropical Christmas tree with its shape, red/green foliage and golden star-shaped flowers.



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