Season’s Greetings

Hi There!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a safe happy new year.





Hi There!

Lovely to see steady rain yesterday which has soaked nicely into the parched dry ground after a week of hot weather.  I like how raindrops collect on different types of foliage.  Here are a few photo’s from yesterday.

Even some of the parrots were out collecting rain


interesting little spiders collecting raindrops as well




Yes that was the other day, hope we don’t see too many of those for the rest of summer,


Plants in Focus #5

Hi there!

In this edition we will look at Penstemon barbatus, an outstanding member of the genus Penstemon  also commonly known as Beard tongues.  Penstemon barbatus commonly called Scarlet Bugler, is a beautiful plant flowering in summer with scarlet red flowers on tall stems to 90-100cm tall.  Stems can sometimes be shorter or taller as well.  There is also pink varieties available, yellow too.  The lower lip of the corolla is bent back sharply giving it a shark’s head silhouette, see below.


Barbatus means bearded and this is evident on the palate which is densely yellow bearded.  See below.


Basal leaves are glossy, 5-13cm long and mostly lanceolate or they can be ovate or spatulate.  Edges can be wavy or smooth.  The cauline leaves(on the stem) are linear to lanceolate and stemless.  The plant has a woody base with glossy leaves arranged in large basal mats.  I have one that’s about 50cm wide.


See above basal leaves and below a close up.


Below are the cauline leaves


Not normally a long-lived plant usually 5-10 years, longevity can be increased by deadheading.  Commonly pollinated by humming birds in its native habit although bee’s will pollinate as well.  I have found this Penstemon easily grown from stem cuttings.


Notice above how the stems rise majestically above the foliage, and below is a closeup of the flowering stem.


Native to Colorado to Arizona, Western Texas, New Mexico, Northern Mexico and South Utah, growing on dry hillsides and flats in sagebrush, pinyon and juniper, ponderosa and gambel pine communities.  Seen at altitudes of between 1300-2700m.  Will grow in a variety of soils but needs excellent drainage in area’s of high rainfall.  Drought and frost tolerant, best in full sun but will tolerate part shade as well.


An excellent Penstemon to grow in any garden situation for a flush of bright red flowers to brighten your day.




A ghostly tale

Hi There!

The poor apricot tree must have seen a ghost a couple of weeks ago, it turned white!


Silly me its only the bird netting.  Sorry birds you’re getting zip this year since there’s not many apricots on it.  Its been a tough year.  You can have a look if you like but this is as close as you’re getting to them!


Looks like its time to pick them and today was the day to do it since I only noticed them ripening up nicely this afternoon.  amazing how quickly they ripen and if you miss them they ripen too much for my likening.


Excellent, here we go.  Looks like the ghost’s have moved on.  Better get in there quick before the birds arrive.


Yum!  Oops! there go the ghost’s to the next unsuspecting tree.


Glad we got rid of those scary things.  There’s more apricots than I thought.  Fantastic!


Just in case you didn’t see the above photo, look below!  Apricot Trevatt if you’re wondering.


These on the ground are rolling down to the chook pen.


And these ones I will leave in the tree as an entrée for my feathery friends!


Nothing like freshly picked apricots with a pungent ripe smell, magnificent, and if you can’t eat them all before they get past there best.  Throw them in the pot and stew them for a beautiful addition to your cereal at breakfast time.  Apricot jam any one?


Here comes another one again..

Hi there.
I heard an alarming piece of information today. Are you sitting down? Good.
Here we go, yes its a bit scary I know, but hot cross buns will be in the supermarkets from the 6th of January.  Weird I know, we haven’t even had Christmas yet.  The sad thing is though that I wouldn’t mind if they were available all year round.  That way you could have a couple or three or more during the year and you wouldn’t then need to cram them all in during Easter so that the taste would remain with you until next year.  Easter eggs they can keep confined to Easter because they taste like second-rate chocolate unless your buying Godiva ones.

Christmas mince pies are another thing that needs to be available all year round.  I suppose one could make them anyway if the cravings were to great.  Bakers Delight ones are just a little bit too nice if you ask me.  Nearly as good as home-made ones.  That’s a hint if anyone is wondering.  Christmas fruit cake is allowable all year as well(i know you can get fruit cake any time of the year, it’s just another hint).  Marzipan’s very good to!

Onto something other than food, what about the Poinsettia’s you buy at christmas time?  I’m personally not a fan of them yet they are quite stunning with those red bracts(other colours readily available now).  Did you know that they are native to Mexico which is in the northern hemisphere obviously, and that they flower in winter time.  So you can imagine the headache these poor Poinsettia’s have being six months out of whack.  The silly thing is though is the trouble we go to to  grow these plants at the wrong time of the year to satisfy the consumer.

Chrysanthemum’s are another plant with a headache.  Normally flowering in spring/summer yet we like to force them into flower  late April early May for Mothers day.  Poor things, no wonder over the counter chemist dispensing is rising.  Stunning shapes and colours, yes!  Fan?  No.  Another hint.

By the way, the Bureau of Meteorology got it right the other day.  They said 30-60mm of rain would fall.  I got 38mm, a round of applause please, thanks.  We may have a green Christmas yet!


Here comes another one

Hi There!

When I was a young boy, so many long years ago now.  It seemed that time was nearly traveling backwards and that the intervals between each Christmas were immense.  How times have changed, hey!  You just need to take about eight blinks of the eye and another Christmas  has arrived.  I arrived at the eight blinks time frame after in-depth scientific analytical consideration concerning the time frame between blinks and its relationship to sequential fullofitness. How do I know Christmas is fast approaching?  Well, apart from the calendar informing me with alarmingly larger printed dates as the month goes on, here are a few more indicators.

Have you had enough of the Christmas carols in shopping centres?  That’s a good indication that Christmas is not too far off.

Have you noticed the tired old Christmas decorations put up by your local council?  Or maybe its the Fake tree that’s appeared in your home.  There’s one in our  home.


Or maybe its the swarm of insects outside(or inside) your home on those hot summer nights!  A problem when they get in your ear when one is sleeping.


This is a peculiar insect that makes circles on the fly screens.  Only kidding, the mesh was pushed against the glass.  I realise that it might be hard to comprehend for those in the northern hemisphere, but as your hemisphere is cooling  ours is heating, so no white Christmas here.  More likely they are brown ones.  The records indicate for the last 10 years from my location that Christmas day averages roughly about 30 degrees Celsius which isn’t to bad.  The hottest day in December in the last forty years was in 2005 and on the 31st where it reached 41.8 degrees Celsius.  Most northern climes no doubt are hovering around zero or below or above, quite a contrast.  I still haven’t worked out how Santa and his reindeer’s manage to acclimatize to our weather for their short visit, particularly when one is wearing a red suit.  Here’s a brown Christmas(below photo).  Our hottest months though are normally January and February and normally at the end of February you will get a week of 40’s just when the kids go back to school, lovely!


And a close up of our back “LAWN”


Dead weeds really.

Today we got to 32.4 degrees Celsius and tomorrow we are expecting 30-60mm of rain, so maybe the brown Christmas will turn into a green Christmas.  Thursday will be down to 20 degrees Celsius and snow above 1000 metres at time according to the Bureau.  Some lucky person may get a white Christmas after all, or a white December day.  Weather!  It’s a funny thing, is it not?

Maybe there are other things that prompt you that Christmas is just around the corner.  It could be the mad rush to buy those presents that everyone will enjoy.

It could be the price of petrol rising.  Mind you, that’s every second week anyway.

Maybe it’s those Christmas lights that need to go up outside.  That reminds me, thanks.

it could be those Christmas cards that are appearing in the mail.

Maybe its school finishing for the year.  Don’t remind us please!  The kids will be home everyday for 8-10 weeks!

Maybe there are many other things that remind you that Christmas is just around the corner.

Whatever they are, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your families.