Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Winter Portrait

July 21st, 2010

My lemon tree is heavy with fruit

Today I will paint a word portrait of my little winter garden.  The Daphne is covered in buds.  Soon the buds will open up into flowers and I can take a few inside to enjoy their scent.  The  pineapple sage is still flowering much to the pleasure of the little honey eaters that love to feed on its flowers.  If you brush up against the bush as you walk on by, or the native mint bush that grows near it you can enjoy their scent as it is only released when the leaves are crushed.  There is nothing so lovely than to pick a leaf, hold it up close and drink in the scent,  exquisite, against the cold, morning air!  One of the delights of an early morning wander about. 

Mahonia - a wrens' delight!

The sky this morning is blue again after days of grey.  Drifts of cloud streaking overhead.  My bowl of hyyacinth are almost flowering!  It is very still.

My lemon tree is heavy with lemons.  The little finches and honey eaters are very busy and so quick flitting about in the pineapple sage.  The ground is very wet, much to the ducks delight!  My red camelia is covered in flowers and a delight to see.  Over in the corner, close to the lemon tree is the Mahonia, also covered in the beautiful long yellow flowers.  These are scented and the birds love to visit this tree also.

my little winter retreat

My garden is not neat and tidy but it is a very busy place full of bird song and growing things.  You can hear the busy little finches and the tiny honeyeater and if you look carefully you can see the bush move, but you have to be patient and wait to catch a quick glimpse of the tiny bird visitors.

This is my winter garden.

PS.  The first of the jonquils are flowering…Spring is on its way!

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Pineapple Sage & Honey-eaters

April 30th, 2010

Pineapple Sage

Out in the back garden my Pineapple Sage {salvia elegans} has burst into full flower and this has brought all the little honey-eaters to visit my garden every day!  I have a special view from my kitchen sink, so entertaining while washing dishes!  Lucky me!  Pineapple sage is a wonderful plant with bright red tubular flowers that honey-eaters love to draw nectar from.  You can use the flowers in salads or if you are out in the garden you can pluck one and sip the nectar yourself, but you do feel a little guilty doing this as the poor little honey-eaters flutter about and look at you in a reproachful sort of way.

The bright red flower of the Pineapple Sage

I love my Pineapple Sage, it is really easy to grow and produces a distinctive pineapple smell when the leaves are brushed as you walk past or when you are in amongst it weeding.  You can’t use the leaves in cooking at all but you can use the flowers.  A friend of mine makes a delicious salad with red, yellow and green peppers, salad mix, then tosses the flowers through, it looks very pretty but I don’t use the flowers at all myself.  I grow the plant only to attract the birds. 

Happy gardening!

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Autumn Days

April 20th, 2010

Autumn colours are at their best at the moment.  I have not got around to that walk in amongst the tall autumn trees in the nearby hills as yet but it is high on my agenda as the autumn colour season passes so very quickly.   But there is less time to garden in the evenings now.  So that means most of the work outdoors must be done on the weekend.  This leaves little time to get on with things, and there is so much to do!

I have been very busy emptying the compost bins and using the contents for mulching and digging in to improve my soil.  Garden compost does the soil a power of good, and using it up at this time of the year makes room for more material, which is on its way, in the form of autumn leaves.  Then the next batch of compost is ready for the spring!

My baby broad beansMy broad beans have started to come up!  So my vege patch is not looking quite so bare.  I will add a few garlic bulbs quite soon.  It is nearly time to harvest what is left of my basil for it will not survive when the weather gets colder.  I do this by having one  last beautiful feast of pasta with my basil & cream sauce, served with, of course a lovely red.  Then I take all the rest of the leaves & freeze in ice cube trays topped up with water.  Then when I need some fresh basil over winter I have just to pop in a cube from the freezer.  The next best thing really!

I have been having lots of birds visiting my garden lately, beautiful garden friends, garden birds are a joy.  The little finches love to splash about in the little water bath I put out for them and I can watch them from my kitchen window.  They are so cute, but don’t stay in the one spot for a quick picture, unlike the rosellas & parrots.

Any way I am off out to pick some basil, while I can.

Cheers, and happy gardening!

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Chuckles’ friends & relations

February 27th, 2010

Chuckles

Chuckles

Chuckles dropped by this morning with a few friends and relations in tow.  We were being formally introduced -so to speak.  They were a very attractive lot.  You could certainly see the family likeness there.  She seemed so very proud of them all. 

Chuckles friends watching proceedings

Chuckles friends watching proceedings

She showed off in front of them by coming right up to the door as I walked out.  ‘She is so brave’, they all seemed to be thinking.  They waited patiently along on the side of the porch railing, being patient is something kookaburras do so very well.  They looked like they were lining up in a bank waiting for a teller.  Or perhaps standing in line for a hamburger, which was a little more appropriate for a kookaburra.

They were all very polite and just a little reserved.  Although they had quite a bit to say to each other.  I could not quite make out what they were saying, as I don’t talk kookaburra, but I think they were commenting upon my garden and how comfortable my porch railing was to sit upon.

Chuckles - with his friends

Chuckles - with his friends

I nodded to them and wished them good morning, then Chuckles & I went about our business & Chuckles baby came down a little closer, making the sort of noises a hungry baby kookaburra is inclined to make.  The others watched from a distance, very interested indeed.  After the show was over – so to speak, they flew off and I waved them good bye.

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Getting into the swim

February 19th, 2010

Did anyone say 'water'?

Did anyone say 'water'?

Ducks love water.  My ducks like nothing better than to play about in their little water pool, but when they first arrived in my garden as little tiny ducklings they had to wait for a bit until they got a little older for their first swim.  I remember it well!  Of course I took heaps of pictures of the great event and I thought I would share some with you today!  It was a lot of fun esp for Waddles and Hazel.  They splashed about and chased each other around and around.  Lots of fun and games.

 

Learning the duck paddle

Learning the duck paddle

 

 

 

They took to water like….ducks!    Yes, it is true to say that their favourite thing of all things is water, although a tasty snail is quite a treat also.  That first day was sunny and pretty, just made for messing about in the water.

 

drying off

drying off

 But they did look a little bedraggled after!   A great deal of time had to be spent drying off and preening.  Well, a girl must look her best.  And then, back into the water for some more fun!

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Babysitting for Chuckles

January 30th, 2010

Chuckles' baby

Chuckles' baby

Chuckles’ baby is mobile now, or almost! We have a new routine, Chuckles & me. Earlier this month she would take the first little piece of meat and fly off to her nest to feed her little one. But now she only has to go up to the nearest tree or up on my fence for she usually leaves Baby Chuckles there during the day.   I must say it does look pretty funny to watch mum take the piece of meat from me, then fly about 3 metres to hand it accross to her baby.  I can’t give baby anything, it has to come from mum at present! 

Waiting for mum

Waiting for mum

I only give her mum two or three pieces of meat and not everyday and absolutely not any after I have let out the ducks! Thats understood by Chuckles. She knows that once the ducks are out, she has to look for her own meals and she does. But lately, she leaves her baby to sit on my fence or gate or up in the Chestnut tree in my back yard. Baby Chuckles sits up there making the most noise she can make. Mum comes back every now and then with a little offering, gobbled down by a baby that is the same size as herself only much more fluffy and well, cute!  Baby Chuckles’ beak has not developed the sharp point of her mother yet and you might notice that her tail feathers are shorter. 

 

A little ball of fluffy feathers!

A little ball of fluffy feathers!

Baby Chuckles is not too good at flying yet and yesterday she was startled by a rosella or pigeon landing a bit too close to her little perch and she fell out of the tree.  She landed in a heap on the ground giving the ducks and herself a big scare!  She took a few minutes to pull herself together, then flapped up onto the clothes line, where she tettered about a bit and the ducks and I held our breath thinking she would fall down again.  But no, after a goodly time wobbling back and forth she summoned up yet another flap and headed up into a nearby bush and from there across to the Chestnut tree where mum had left her.

The mum, Chuckles, waiting for me at the back door.

The mum, Chuckles, waiting for me at the back door.

Mum knows she is safe in my backyard.  There are no dogs or cats so little fluff is pretty ok there, and I am glad to help her out!

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Chuckles’ baby

January 19th, 2010

Chuckles & her baby

Chuckles & her baby

Just outside today Chuckles brought over her baby to show me! Isn’t she cute?

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The Gentle Art of Watering

January 12th, 2010

Waddles & Hazel getting ready to help with watering

Waddles & Hazel getting ready to help with watering

It is hot outside today and it is my day for watering. This year I am lucky to have installed a water tank and this means I can water more often than just 2 times a week this is really great, it means I can sometimes give the tomatoes a drink in the evening after a hot humid day. Watering is an art form – especially in hot climates. If you want to see how fast water evaporates, fill a saucer and leave it out in the sun. An hour in the garden every day with a hand-held hose will only dampen the soil a few centimetres below the surface. Plant roots then grow upwards to drink and get dried out. Instead the roots of plants should be encouraged to reach deep down into the soil where it will be cool and moist. This can be achieved by a good soaking once or twice a week, preferably with a drip system which brings the needed water down into the soil and prevents waste of that precious liquid. Lots of short waterings only encourage the roots to remain near the surface.

My water tank, how I love it!

My water tank, how I love it!

However, it is a different story with pot plants, which may even have to be watered twice a day if the weather is very hot. The best time both for you and for the plants is to water early in the morning or in the cool of the evening.

Soil wetting agents are a real boon and my little gardening tote has a packet in it so I can quickly sprinkle some about. A good sprinkle of wetting agent helps water penetrate the soil deeply and evenly, and will increase moisture in the root zone. In the end it saves water by reducing run off. It is especially useful for container plants. It is best applied early in the cool of the day and you do need to use gloves when you are doing it. Most products will last up to 6 months after application but the soil will tell you what it needs.

My newly installed pump & hose

My newly installed pump & hose

Did I mention that for Christmas Santa brought me a pump for my water tank!  Yeh!!! Watering the tomatoes is an easy and fun job now!  But would I have appreciated it if I hadn’t had to water them with a watering can all last summer?  Well, yes, I think I would!  But you just can’t have juicy tomatoes without water!   I also enjoy my tank of water because it means I can put water out for the birds who last summer had a very hard time of it when the little creek dried up.  Anyway, I am off now to pick some of those tomatoes.  Happy gardening!

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Chuckles

January 9th, 2010

Chuckles the Kookaburra

Chuckles the Kookaburra

Meet my little friend, Chuckles. She is my little buddy. She keeps down the population of yabbies and is the deadly enemy of snakes so that alone is very helpful. Last year when my ducklings were very tiny I had to watch her and her friends and family very carefully. They had a sort of look in their eye that I didn’t trust.

Chuckles

Chuckles

Lately, she has been looking after her very own babies. I have not seen them yet but I know they are there. We have this little routine Chuckles and I. Most mornings after the watering of the garden and before I let the ducks out of their pen I give her a little treat. Not every day. Just sometimes. She knows if I let out the ducks without giving her her ‘little something’ that there will be no little something that particular day, so she heads off to find her own. She usually eats whatever I give her and hangs around to see if there is another piece, but when she has babies she flies off to give them the first piece I give her. Her babies get first pick. She is a good mum

Looking pretty pleased with her catch

Looking pretty pleased with her catch

The other day, when I was putting the ducks ‘to bed’ they were acting all frightened and ‘spooked’. I looked down and there was a rat he ran past me and out the gate. Most disturbing for me as well as the ducks. I saw the creature again the next day running down the side fence. He was a bold one that was for sure, a little too bold for Chuckles, who thought he looked a tasty treat! She brought him to show me the next day, up in my Chestnut tree. She looked pretty pleased with herself. She often brings me little her little finds, I think she is showing me how clever she is. She sits on the verandah railings with a skink or yabbie hanging out her mouth. I watch from the kitchen window while she bashes it against the rail. I tell her how clever she is then she usually flys away. Lately, she has taken to flying down and landing on my knee when I am about to feed her.   The other Kookaburras don’t do this, they stay further away.

About to head off to feed her babies

About to head off to feed her babiesChuckles

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Morning Tea with Mandy

December 29th, 2009

gentle joys in my back garden

gentle joys in my back garden

Morning in my garden. I am taking a few moments to enjoy all the morning sounds over a cup of tea. Please join me. Right down the bottom of the garden I can hear the creek as it burbles along. I can enjoy this sound at the moment, but I know that as summer draws on the little creek will dry up. That is when the plants will have the hardest time. The birds find it difficult too, and it is important to put out a bowl of water for all the birds that visit my garden.

Waddles & Hazel

Waddles & Hazel

Overhead I can hear the screech of the cockatoos as they fly over. Down under the porch Hazel & Waddles, my ducks rummage about to find grubs. They add so much atmosphere to my garden. Chuckles, the kookaburra, lands on the porch rail to see if there is anything for his morning tea today. But no, that is more when there is a BBQ, when he enjoys our company more, and has a little taste of our sausage.

You know, gardening is one of our oldest and most rewarding of hobbies.  People of all ages and backgrounds love their gardens and want to share all the new and exciting things they learn there.  A garden is a living thing and must be treated as such; mulched and watered regularly, it will respond so rewardingly.  I am just a beginning gardener.  But I have found that other gardeners are the most friendly people, always on the lookout for a chat and to offer advice.  I am learning new things all the time.  My garden teaches me so much.

Morning tea with Mandy

Morning tea with Mandy

Well, this old year is drawing to a close and 2010 is just around the corner. I hope it will bring many happy times for you. Happy gardening!

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