What is…….

Hi there!

What is a waste product produced by plants?

Any guess’s???

Not sure, don’t know, couldn’t care less, whatever, LOL,.

I’ll narrow it down for you with 3 multiple choice answers.

Is it,

a. mycorrhizal association with fungus

b. autumn leaves

c. oxygen


If you picked a or b you would be wrong.  The answer is c.  Yes I know, hard to believe, oxygen a waste product produced by plants.  Thank goodness they produce waste!

How is this possible?  Without getting too technical, during the process of photosynthesis(plants making food for themselves using sunlight, carbon dioxide and water) the chloroplasts(specialised structures) inside leaves contain chlorophyll(green pigment that makes leaves green) which absorb energy from sunlight.  This absorbed energy is used to join the carbon dioxide and water together to form glucose.  The plant then uses this glucose as its energy source.  The oxygen which is a waste product from this chemical reaction is then released into the atmosphere.  Who would have thought!!

Plant a few and look after them….



Mt. Kosciuszko

Hi There!

It may have seemed that I had disappeared into thin air for the last couple of months, but after Christmas/New Year, shopping for a new car, a new job and trying to get the garden back into shape, I’m back!  A few weeks back we made our way to the highest point on this continent/Island/The land down under/Australia/Home or whatever you want to call it.  Mt Kosciuszko is 2228m tall and was named after the famous Polish freedom fighter.  On the 15th of February 1840 the polish explore Paul Edmond Strzelecki ascended this mountain and named it.  It is highly unlikely that he was the first person to do so because Aboriginals from different parts came here for thousands of years to feast on the Bogong moths that congregate here in summer.  Stockmen also climbed in this area in the 1830’s looking for grazing land.


This is the easy way up from Thredbo before you start the 6.5km walk to the top.


Well, here we stand contemplating the sign.  Do we go to the lookout or do we go all the way?  Lets go all the way!


It’s a very interesting and spectacular place which is quite rocky and barren.  But when you look closely the plains are covered with alpine grasses and plants.  Mt Kosciuszko can be seen in the above photo.  It’s the little bump behind the big bump.  4.5km’s to go!




So you can see that plant life is quite abundant and typical of alpine climates, hugging the ground.


Look how this shrub is hugging the granite boulders.  Almost creeping over  them like a groundcover.  This may be the Alpine mint bush, Prostanthera cuneata.


Here’s the highest lake in Australia, Lake Cootapatamba.  Only small but the highest.


And the path go’s on and on and on and….  Notice how its a raised steel grid, this is to protect the delicate environment up here where literally thousands of people walk every year to get to the top.



Rawson’s Pass, finish line nearly in site!



Ah Yes!  That’s me at the front looking enthralled while our youngest child enjoys the easy way up.


Here we are at the top, I know it’s not very high at 2228m but we can’t go any higher on this great southern land.



All the hordes of people at the top taking a breather, Charlotte pass track can be seen on the ridge.


On the way down.  I like how the hills just roll away in the distance.  Black hill in the middle left of photo is where there was a bushfire in 2003.  White trunks of dead gums left standing.


Here’s some wildflowers, this one is Chionogentias muelleriana subsp. alpestris also known as the Mountain Gentian which only occurs here in the Kosciuszko National Park.


Above are Leucochrysum albicans subsp. alpinum which are also known as Alpine Sunrays, these were quite prevalent the higher you got, beautiful!



This is Celmisia longifolia, quite beautiful as well.


On the way back down across the plateau.

We camped the other side of Thredbo at a little campground called Ngarigo beside the Thredbo River, quite beautiful serene and peaceful.




Here’s a gum tree with quite remarkable trunk colour.  Anyone who know’s about Australian folklore will know about Brumbies(wild horses basically) and on the way home not far from Thredbo is Dead Horse Gap which is a well-known sighting spot of Brumbies.  This is what we saw!


There was a pure black one as well but he wasn’t co-operating with me.


Ah well!  Time to go home….


Lake Catani and other things

Hi there!

Lake Catani is a beautiful artificial lake on the Mt Buffalo plateau sitting at an altitude of about 1300m.  We escaped here to take a breather from the recent run of hot weather and for a relaxing afternoon and a nice cool swim.


You can even hire a canoe for a pleasant paddle on the lake.  We didn’t get one, that’s another whole story nearly!  Here’s some kids having a wonderful time.


Someone’s left their thongs in the water.


Water was very clean until it was stirred up, not to cold either.  Temperature at this altitude was about 30 celsius as opposed to 36 in the valley.  There were lots of wildflowers still out and one should come here in spring I think for quite a good show.



Lake Catani in the distance


Above is Wahlenbergia gloriosa


Not a great example but above is Stylidium montanum.  Also known as a Trigger plant.


Brachyscome spathulata


Eucalyptus delegatensis. Also known as Alpine Ash.


Eurobin Falls with not much water falling down.


Lady bath Falls with just a trickle coming down in the top left hand corner.


Just a trickle.  After rain this is an absolute torrent.


Crystal clear water at Lady bath falls.  Some deep pools here too for a nice refreshing swim.  Refreshing may not be the correct word!


For those who don’t know Mt Buffalo, it’s a square-shaped(roughly speaking) mountain plateau with an altitude of 1723m.  Situated in the north-east of Victoria roughly between Myrtleford and Bright.  First seen by Hume and Hovell in 1824 and named so because it looked like a sleeping Buffalo.  Over 550 species of plants can be found here with the majority being from the sub alpine and alpine plant communities.  It has some impressive waterfalls, particularly after rain events.  The water thunders down the huge granite slabs.  It’s an easy drive up to the plateau and you can walk up to the top of the Horn which is the highest point for magnificent 360 degree views of the Victorian Alps.



A log slowly decaying


A well camouflage fellow getting around

Along came a spider..

Hi there!

Hope you have all survived the start of the new year and broken all those new year resolutions you have made.  Here’s a tip, they can be made anytime of the year and need to be followed through.  Don’t procrastinate like me!  To the matter at hand then.

Latrodectus hasseltii

is the scientific name for a certain type of spider which is quite common in this country and likes to live close to humans.  It loves to build nests in dry spots like kids toys, old tyres, sheds, empty tins and under metal, dry spots anywhere really and in the outhouse of course.  Please check under that toilet seat!  I’m pretty sure by now you know that I’m talking about the Redback Spider.


It was quite common to find them in the Outhouse(outside toilet).  Historical data shows that bites were common on the genitalia of victims until toilets were moved into houses.  Ouch! Data shows that now most bites are on the fingertips then arms and thighs, trunk and then head and neck.  Bites on the head and neck have increased since the use of safety helmets and earmuffs.  Make sure you check them before putting on!!!!

I found somewhere between 4-8 under a kids slide the other day.  I wasn’t concerned about the exact number, just wanted to get rid of them all. The Redback and its relatives in the genus Lactrodectus are among the most dangerous spiders alongside the Funnel Webs and others.  Well wouldn’t you know it we have both those here.  The Redback is responsible every year for more poisonous bites than any other venomous creature in Australia, and yes we do have lots of nasty creatures.  Estimates are over 2000 bites per year and nearly all of these are caused by the female because of its large size in comparison to the male Redback.  Here’s a female below lurking under a slide.


Here’s the good news.  Since the antivenom was introduced in 1956, no human has died directly from a bite.  Although 12 people have been killed prior to 1956 due to Redback bites.  The female has a body about 1cm long with the first pair of legs longer than the rest.  The round abdomen is black(sometimes brown) with a red stripe(sometimes orange).  The male in comparison is only 3-4mm long and light brown in colour with white marks on the upper surface of the abdomen and a pale hourglass mark on the underside.  Females always get the looks don’t they!  Redbacks are mostly nocturnal and remain concealed during the day with the female spinning her web during the night.  Females also usually remain in the one location for the majority of their adult life.  The web is an irregular tangle of fine strong silk.  The rear part of the web forms a funnel, this is where you will find the spider and its egg sacs.  You can sort of see the funnel shape below behind the unsuspecting insects who are no more.


Redbacks like to feast on insects, sometimes larger animals are ensnared in the web.  Once trapped in the web, the victim is sprayed with a substance a bit like superglue to immobilize it.  It is then repeatedly bitten and trussed and taken into the web where its liquified insides are sucked out.  Here’s another view of the spider.


Redbacks are one of only two known animals where the male actively assists the female in its death during mating.  During mating the male moves its abdomen over the females mouthparts.  In most cases the male is consumed while mating.  Those males that are not eaten during mating die soon after from their injuries.  Hmmmm.  This is a dangerous beast!


These little beasts have now been found in small colonies in parts of New Zealand.  They have also been seen in United Arab Emirates, greenhouses in Belgium, Preston in England.  Two were discovered in an Iranian port city.  Some observations indicate that they could be present in New Guinea, India and the Philippines.  Osaka, Japan have colonies, also Fukuoka city.  Many hundreds have been found at the container terminal in Fukuoka.


Yes, it’s a scary looking creature, yes, it’s a dangerous creature, yes, it’s a fascinating creature, and yes, you should wear gloves in the garden.  Remember this, no one has died from this spider since 1956 but you may be a little sore and sorry though if you do get bitten.  Watch out!!





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,


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.


Your Reminder

Your reminder, should you wish to be reminded is to attend the Huon Perennials Open Garden Days that are coming up real soon.


There will be,

  • A Garden to enjoy (still in development)

  • Nursery Sales

  • Plant giveaways 

When: Saturday the 2nd, Monday the 4th and Tuesday the 5th of November 2013.

Time: 10am-4pm

Where: 65 Huon Road, Tangambalanga, Victoria.

Contact: Alan 0419884613

Entry is FREE!

Hope to see you there!