Thursday, 26 July 2012

Brekky with Bella and Onslow

One of my favourite times of the working week is a relatively leisurely breakfast watching a bit of morning television (for the news, of course), before the mad rush of showering, getting dressed and running for the bus. Bella and Onslow seem to enjoy it too. They have a bit of a snooze, but there is usually one eye on me as they wait for me to finish my bowl of muesli and then get to finish off any leftover milk as their morning treat.

I think I'm getting a bit soppy because I will soon be heading off for a while, and I do miss them when I'm away.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Aloe again!

Just after posting photos of my aloes for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, I decided to pick up some things from the local drycleaners. On a nearby corner I noticed a lovely display of aloes outside Villanova College, and luckily I had my camera handy to capture the mid-winter colour.

I think these are all from the same Aloe Aloe collection as mine. I'm not sure of all the varieties, but I think there is almost certainly an Eric the Red, Big Red, Copper Showers and a Moonglow or two amongst them.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day July 2012

It is still winter time here in Brisbane, and we have had it both colder and wetter than usual. All is relatively quiet in the garden. Thank heavens for the aloes. Without them, Casa Bella would be virtually bloom-free for this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Aloe 'Southern Cross' in bud

Just a week later, in full flower

Aloes 'Southern Cross' and "Gemini'

Aloe 'Gemini' - its flower

...and its foliage

Aloe 'Diana'

Last year, my succulents like the graptopetalum above were thriving as you can see here. Over the past month they have suffered from a series of misfortunes, generally canine-initiated. Bella and Onslow love playing with empty plastic flower pots, and if there is no empty pot handy, that is swiftly remedied...

At least I managed to salvage this fragment.

My desert rose bit the dust and is in 'rehab'. I am still very inspired by the wonderful specimens I saw in Indonesia, so I am lavishing it with lots of TLC.

And, no dogs involved, but somehow my strawberry pot also took a tumble. Lots of leaf and stem breakages, which I can replant. Some of its inhabitants were getting gangly anyway, so replanting will do it the world of good.

I have moved some of the blue-toned potted succulents to the pool area - off Bella and Onslow's turf. I really like their colours in combination with the blue of the pool. I was thinking of replanting the big pot at the back with more succulents, but on closer inspection, the sad and sorry 'stick' planted in it - a bougainvillea - has lots of little shoots, so it looks like it is making a remarkable come back from the dead.

Apart from that, there are a couple of spot flowers on the osteospermum.

Flowers on the cordyline,

and still some insect life.

There are lots of these in the garden. I think this is just a juvenile without properly formed wings. They don't seem to do any harm, mainly rummaging around in the compost.

A Common Crow

Finally, we have a selection of berries in a range of colours.




To see lots more blooms, including the embarrassment of riches that is the northern hemisphere's summer bounty, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the 15th of the month.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Work in progress

Even though most of my posts are garden orientated, when it comes to the blogs I follow, my taste is very diverse. I love reading about cooking, lifestyle, art, poetry, fashion, and that's just for starters. Sometimes I am just swept away by the beauty of the photography, or I become absorbed in the daily rhythm of life in a different corner of the globe, like the wonderful Turquoise Diaries.

Last week I was reading one of my favourites, Slim Paley, writing about celebrating summer. I completely identified with her love of tasteful neutrals - I have a huge file of clippings from home decorating magazines in that vein - but she was advocating the introduction of colour and light into the house for summer. 

Let's face it, Brisbane is virtually summer all year round. Maybe that's why I also love flicking through books like Taschen's Mexico Style or Moroccan Style or Indian Interiors (and some of the great Indian blogs like An Indian Summer) for colour inspiration. Maybe too, that's why Brisbane's own Anna Spiro's blog Absolutely Beautiful Things is so popular worldwide. Is there a growing movement of beige fatigue?

While I certainly don't include myself in the illustrious company of the stylish bloggers I have named, I have been having a bit of fun with colours lately at Casa Bella. Firstly, I got the couch recovered and recushioned (Bella and Onslow had eaten the previous ones!).  I had picked out a really 'tasteful' stripe from Barefoot/Barbara Sansoni, who I discovered when I visited Sri Lanka in 2005, but when the design I was after wasn't readily available here in Australia, I threw caution to the wind and opted for Tarala Flowers... so here is your sneak peak.

The recovered sofa

Remember the table runners I bought at the antique markets in Jakarta in May? I grabbed a couple more in pinky tones just before I left and had a bit of a play draping them over existing cushions on the sofa. I'm not too sure how colourfast they are, but I am thinking they could make great cushion covers, if not on the sofa itself, then mixed in with some of the others from my collection on the cream covered cane chairs I have.

Then there were those great Indian vases I bought at one of the big department stores in Jakarta. And now, in the past week, I have taken another big step towards being well and truly in the pink.

I had the painter here last Wednesday to repaint my cream wall, water stained after heavy rain earlier in the year. I had even picked out the colour, deciding to change from cream to Antique White - after all I haven't been saving those magazine clippings on tasteful neutral interiors for nothing. But the night before, I had grabbed a handful of paint colour cards at Bunnings, and when I spoke to him I found myself telling him we were opting for 'Velvet Orchid'. (He looked a bit traumatised, but I think he's come around). The photo doesn't really do it justice, but you can get a bit of an idea from this snap featuring the gorgeous new painting I nabbed in Bali just before I headed home.

I thought the painting and the colours of the table runners/cushions will tie in with my existing blue and white china collection. 

However, there's been another domestic crisis this week as my hot water system has ruptured, and so I have reluctantly turned my attention to replacing that, repainting and re-tiling the laundry. Both the repainted walls and the tiles are in neutrals, I'm almost ashamed to admit.

Next month I am back to Jakarta to finish off the remainder of my contract, but, on my return, it will be full steam ahead, and maybe in time for the big reveal by Christmas. I've got a couple of great suzanis packed away upstairs that might tie in, and who knows what new treasures I will discover on my travels to work into the mix.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Weekend at Tony's

Even though it is mid-winter here, there is always lots to see in my brother Tony's garden, just outside Ballina in northern New South Wales, about 2 hours drive south from Brisbane. I headed down with my canine companions, Bella and Onslow, for a weekend visit as my eldest niece was home from Uni in New Zealand.

This lovely wood-rose coloured Cymbidium orchid was just inside the front gate.

When I last photographed this fence over the Christmas break, our mid-summer, it was a mass of rose flowered bignonia (or pink trumpet vine), bower of beauty and jasmine as you can see here. In winter, the orange trumpet vine predominates, although I could still catch glimpses of early jasmine. Doesn't the orange contrast beautifully with the blue of the matchstick bromeliad?

Matchstick bromeliad Aechmea gamsepala

Still down at ground level, I spotted native violets in bloom.

Viola hederacea

His camellias and some azaleas were out, but, as usual, the bromeliads put on one of the best shows.

This is a very easily grown Neoregelia

A Guzmania

Guzmania conifera

I'm not sure of the name of this one, but I love the combination of showy bloom and foliage.

A better photo of the flower

Aechmea fasciata

These spiky flowerheads remind me of a medieval mace.

This is Tony's bromeliad nursery. The 'pups' are cut or pulled off the adult plant  once they are big enough, and then popped though a hole in a styrofoam box until the roots start to form.

The underside of the styrofoam showing the growing root on the bromeliad pup.

The inflorescence on his octopus palm was looking particularly 'octopussy' this visit.

Of course, it wouldn't be Tony's garden without the orchids, although I fear I have let you down badly on the names this visit.

There always seems to be a stunner in flower on the front doorstep.  The foliage of this cream and green orchid is like a vanda, although the flower is a different shape. The smaller yellow flowering orchid underneath is one of mine that was ailing and delivered to Tony's for R&R last year.

The flower of the front door orchid.

Dendrobium speciosum


...and another

A tiny Dendrobium plant that was a mass of buds

Finally, not too sure what it is, some kind of ginger perhaps, but I love this colourful seedhead.

So much to see! Is it any wonder we were dog tired by the time we got home?


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