Monday, 30 December 2013

Discovering Dunedin

When my eldest niece Bethany announced after she finished high school that she was heading to the University of Otago in Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island, I very promptly assured her that I would head over for a visit. Despite its proximity I had only been to New Zealand once and I was keen to see more.  It came as quite a shock to me earlier this year when I realised that 2013 was the last year of her course, and I needed to make haste if I was going to keep my word.

I settled on the last week of September and first week of October for my visit to avoid the worst of the cold but also manage to scrape in before she was completely buried in books with final exams looming.

 It only took one quick look out of the plane window to realise I was a long way from the subtropics.

More by chance than good management, it turned out that my hotel was close to Bethany's shared accommodation in the student part of town. I started exploring Dunedin with a good wander through the streets and fell completely in love with the Victorian architecture. 


Although they date from a similar era, the narrow two-story houses with fabulous details including turrets and iron lace railings are very different to the Queenslanders I am used to.

Student humour
Another lovely point of difference from Spring home in Brisbane were the beautiful cold climate blooms. In the streets, beautiful blossoms and rhododendrons were at their peak.

Ultimately I did cut it a bit fine in relation to Bethany's study for her final exams, but we had a couple of lovely outings in Dunedin, including a personal tour of the beautiful campus grounds.

Choisya ternata

Bethany with friend in the Butterfly Garden at the Otago Museum

I became a regular at this great café while I was in Dunedin.

After a lovely timeout, it was back to the books for Bethany, but my adventures in New Zealand were just beginning. In my next post we'll visit Dunedin's fabulous botanic gardens, and then I hit the road to explore some of the prettiest regions in New Zealand's South Island.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Spring that was - Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day December 2013

It has been such a long time between posts. After my Indonesian interlude last year, I thought this was the year to consolidate on the home and garden front.  I struggled unsuccessfully for most of the year and completely gave up any pretence by September. There was just so much happening.

Firstly, a couple of big and interesting freelance projects cropped up. Then came the challenge of juggling them with, not only a short, planned trip to New Zealand, but also a wonderful, unexpected first-time visit to Australia by an English friend, which provided a wonderful excuse to visit some of the loveliest spots along our East Coast.

Spring in Australia starts on 1 September, and the following couple of months normally feature the garden at its best. With all my gadding about, mine is still a disaster, but luckily I have some really tough and reliable favourites that save me from completely disgracing myself as a would-be gardener. And even if I struggled with blogging and even reading my favourite blogs, I did manage to keep snapping. So here is the Spring that was, just in time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.


I knew it was crazy buying new plants when I didn't have time to give them the TLC they deserved, but who could resist this gorgeous splotched verbena and its purple and white mate in the background. While not actually thriving, they are still hanging in there. (Did you notice the grasshopper in the top left-hand side?)

My last post, back in August, was about the Australian Native Orchid Society conference and featured lots of these Dendrobium speciosum. (Click here to revisit). Mine, high in the branches of the Poinciana, was only in bud then. 

Meanwhile, on the main trunk of the Poinciana, this beautiful little Tick Orchid, Dockrillia linguiformis, was another September bloomer.


Another orchid. This is an Oncidium

Daylilies are the greatest stars in my October garden. This is Hemerocallis 'Isis Unveiled'

'Donna Mead'

'Sabine Baur'

Yucca 'Purple Royale' with Cleome 'Senorita Blanca'

Rondeletia splendens


My two pots of Oncidium 'Dancing Lady' orchids were a mass of blooms in November.

Another orchid in bloom was this Zygopetalum

One of my bromeliads in bloom; this is a Billbergia

It may only bloom for a week each year, but this pink and red zygocactus is well worth the wait.


Daylily 'Double Cranberry Ruffles'

'Royal Rego'

'Russian Ragtime'

And finally, the ever-reliable Cosmos


Well, now we are nearly up to date - at least as far as my garden goes. But there is still so much I have seen over the past few months to share with you, including some wonderful gardens. Hope you will come along for the ride, starting next post.

To see what is happening in other gardens around the world this Bloom Day, visit Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day host Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Australian Native Orchid Society conference

I had reluctantly set yesterday aside to do the paperwork for my tax, but brother Tony called on Friday and said he was heading to the 7th Australian Native Orchid Society conference and orchid show at Strathpine, a northern Brisbane suburb, on a bus trip with his local orchid society and suggested we meet up . 

That sounded like a much nicer way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning, so I was only to happy to agree.  If you remember from my last post, Tony has a fabulous collection (click on Tony's garden to revisit), and his particular favourite is the King or Rock Orchid, Dendrobium speciosum. As soon as I entered the exhibition, I was blown away by the number of these cream through to yellow beauties. And there was so much more...

Here are just some of the wonderful orchids on display.

D. speciosum


I think this was  Dendrobium 'Colonial Bullion'


Love this gorgeous striped Dendrobium 'Julie Mitchell'

Dendrobium 'Kathy Gee...' (part of the name was obscured)

Den. 'Pacific Pride"

Den. 'Vivid' x speciosum

Den. 'Desert Rose'

Den. Helix x trilamelatum

Den. Burgundy Bride 'Melbourne' x delicatum 'Tracy'

As above

Den. (Burgundy Bride 'Dell' x Tie Dye) x speciosum var speciosum 'Windemere'

Den. Aussie's Sweetness x polysema

Den. canaliculatum

Thought this lovely orchid looked so much like a hellebore.

This terrestrial orchid is Ptst. Hoodwink

This tall Swamp Orchid Phaius australis was local to the area. (Tony snapped up a rare yellow version, but it won't be ready to flower for a couple of years.)

Love this colour combination so much. This was Den. Fraser's Lavender Curls.

Den. 'Angelline' x Rutherford Sunspot

 And my final five, not Australian natives, but stunning Zygopetalums available in the Sales section.

This was Cynosure, a rare blue.

My only purchases, despite overwhelming temptation, were a packet of plant tags and a marking pencil. (I know, I can hardly believe it either!) However, I didn't come away empty handed.  Tony bought me a lovely Dendrobium (speciosum, of course) as a very early birthday present. And on top of that, when I checked on my own at home in the poinciana tree, there are at least six or seven flower spikes.  I am going to have to think about moving it a little lower so that I can really enjoy it.





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