Life in our garden

The rain that fell on us at the end of another long and hot Queensland summer did wonders for our little garden and the park outside. Everything was lush and green, funny little funghi moved in and we had numerous creatures living among the plants, thriving on the fresh green shoots of our gardenias. My thumb isn’t that green, however I have managed to keep a few plants alive and I love it when I see creatures in the garden even if they’re actually destroying it leaf by leaf.

Bundy seemed pleased that I was not turning the lens on him for a change, instead I got as close as I could to the frogs, bees, spiders and mushrooms and started shooting away. I think I could have used a faster shutter speed on some of the shots, they’re not as sharp as I would like however it is good that these things are becoming a little clearer to me. I am learning. For some of you it is Spring time which means lots of beautiful blooms and bright colours, looking forward to seeing what lives and grows in your garden 🙂

Spring break

With 2017 being such a strain on my head space for a number of reasons, it was a joy to recently have a week off and indulge in some extended me-time. The objective being to organise my pastels into new storage boxes, spend at least two days drawing, and last but not least I wanted visit Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens and photograph the Spring blossoms.

The weather was mixed during my break, much needed rain fell and sunshine was intermittent. At one point I didn’t think I would get to the Botanic Gardens but luck was on my side and as I was wandering through the rainforest garden the clouds disappeared and the rest of my time in the garden was perfect. Spring is such a beautiful time of year, lots of birds, bees and after a shower of rain everything looks and smells so fresh. As you can see, it was time well spent and I felt so relaxed and happy afterwards that I almost forgot about having to go back to work.

 

Sunny afternoon in St Andrews Botanic Gardens

One of the many paths that lead through the Botanic Gardens, St Andrews Scotland.
One of the many paths that lead through the Botanic Gardens, St Andrews Scotland.

St Andrews, Scotland is well known for it’s golf course however there is plenty for a visitor to do if they’re not interested in chasing a little white ball around a paddock. There are castle and cathedral ruins overlooking the sea, as well as delightful little cafes and cobblestone streets. After a morning sketching a church and doing a little shopping in the centre of St Andrews we headed out of the centre to the Botanic Gardens for a picnic lunch and a few hours of quiet in the gardens.

The Botanic Gardens aren’t huge however they are full of brilliant coloured blooms in Spring, some of which I had seen before such as Rhododendrons. The sun was shining and local students appeared to be making the most of the warmth, lying on the grass studying or just ‘hanging out’. As a small group we scattered quickly after lunch, each of us going our own way and doing whatever we wanted. I chose not to sit and draw, and instead kept my camera at the ready because there were so many flowers to see and paths to explore. A couple of ducks caught my attention at one stage, the female splashing around in the water while the male seemed more content to strut around the pond. A heron also became the focus of my attention, I stalked him/her all around one pond trying to capture them in flight however I didn’t not have a fast enough shutter speed and most of the action shots are fuzzy. Big fat bumblebees are always a delight to see although the most amusing creatures in the gardens were not alive, they were carvings and sculptures dotted among the trees. The red squirrel sculpture was as close as I got to this endangered creature, I didn’t even see the more common grey squirrel during my time in Scotland.

As I wandered around the gardens I ran into several of my fellow travelling artists, most of them thoroughly enjoying the peaceful surrounds and the opportunity to draw something other than a church or castle. Hopefully the many photographs I took will serve a inspiration for my artwork in the future. In the meantime I hope you enjoy my walk through the garden.

 

The colours of Spring

Spring is here and there are floral festivals happening in several places around Australia, two popular festivals in Queensland are located in Toowoomba and on Mt Tamborine. I haven’t been able to enjoy either this year however I do have a lovely collection of photos from previous visits which I will share with you.

Happy Spring days!

Beauty and the heat

With temperatures being approximately 5-10 degrees (celsius) higher than average for November we’ve had an early start to summer. It is storm season so the potential for rain is good although much of the heavy rain that has fallen already this month has failed to appear over our suburban block. Despite the extreme heat the plants and trees in our garden continue to bloom, the magnolia flowers don’t last long though and my gardenias have all but disappeared, leaving only crispy and brown remnants among the foliage.

Each year I wait for our Poinciana tree to flower, the foliage is beautiful but I have been wanting to see red flowers flooding the tree since seeing how other trees in the neighbourhood look at this time of year. We came close last year however a hail storm shredded everything and we were left with very little of anything on the tree. Poinciana trees in flower scream summer to me, the red blossoms provide spectacular contrast to the garden and it is the perfect colour scheme for the festive season.

Here are just a few of the beautiful things in our garden, I’m so happy that the heat hasn’t destroyed them.

Springtime on the Mountain

Springtime on the Mountain is a festival held on Mt Tamborine at the end of September each year. Similar to the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, Springtime on the Mountain offers visitors beautiful private gardens to explore in addition to blooming public parks and gardens. Mt Tamborine is one of my favourite places to visit on the Gold Coast, best on a weekday when there are fewer day trippers, Mt Tamborine has an abundance of cafes, art and craft shops, nature trails, wineries and some of the yummiest triple cream brie I’ve ever eaten.

This year was my first time for visiting Mt Tamborine during the spring festival, we went on a Saturday in the hope that it would be less hectic than on a Sunday but still it was very busy and parking at a premium. Our choice of destination was the Botanic Gardens, a beautiful, lush spot on the mountain, well maintained by a group of committed volunteers. The artistic children of my friend set themselves up in a central location and set about drawing some of the flowers, my friend and I wandered off to smell the roses.

As some of you know, I love take photos of flowers so you’d think I would at least be able to tell you what some of the flowers are in the photographs below however it isn’t my strongest point. Ff I get the name of a plant wrong or have completely left it off the image please let me know and I will amend the caption.

48 hours

We’re back from a quick trip south to attend a family wedding, it takes roughly six and half hours to drive to Port Macquarie in New South Wales so we had roughly 36 hours at our destination. Leaving the dogs at home with a dog sitter we loaded up the car and headed off, feeling guilty for leaving them but knowing that it would result in less worry all round. The drive south took much longer than anticipated as a result of two separate accidents on the highway, at one point we had to turn around and head north west before finding an alternate route south, adding an extra 100kms or thereabouts to our trip. By the time we reached our destination it was well and truly time to enjoy a cold beer and a glass of wine.

My mother in-law and her husband had moved into their new house, located in a rural area much closer to my family it makes travelling between the two locations much easier. Their new home is on acreage, the gardens are huge and overgrown but it is easy to see the potential and I know that they will enjoy turning it into something wonderful. Surrounded by trees the birdlife that visit the backyard are amazing, varying from the common noisy minor to magpies, eastern koels, rainbow lorikeets, satin bowerbirds and scaly-breasted lorikeets. Murphy the labrador and Sammy the border collie certainly seem to like the new place, plenty of sticks for Sammy to fetch and Murphy was pleased with his discovery of a kangaroo leg from the bottom of the garden.

The wedding was a wonderful opportunity to get together with family and the ceremony was conducted on the pretty grounds of Cassegrain’s Winery in Port Macquarie and the reception held at a local Returned Servicemen Club (RSL). The weather had been pretty miserable up until the morning of the ceremony, it was a relief to see the sunshine for such a special occasion. Even though I wasn’t there to take photographs, it is unusual for me to attend any event without my camera in hand and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to get photographs of my immediate family together, plus I love weddings 🙂

Getting home on the Sunday seemed to take forever, but it was a much faster trip and I know that the time went slow because I couldn’t wait to get home and see our fur kids. The last 48 hours was a bit of a blur, lots of love and laughter and plenty of photographs to remind us of the fun.

A sea of colour, blossoms and happy snappers

The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is a ten day festival held during the month of September each year, celebrating the Garden City and the start of Spring with a program of events and activities that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the city. During this time Toowoomba is awash with a sea of colour, all of the parks and gardens have been primed and everything is in bloom. Local residents and keen gardeners have also been working hard preparing for the garden competitions that include a variety of categories such as Australian native plants, annual flowering bulbs and small gardens.

Local parks in full bloom
Local parks in full bloom

My friends and I, lovers of flowers and accomplished gardeners themselves (notice I say them, not me) made the trip up the range to Toowoomba to explore some of the private gardens open to visitors.  Lunch was a picnic in one of the many parks with hundreds of other people doing the same thing, if you didn’t want to pack a picnic there were food trucks and coffee vans aplenty. Accompanying us on our garden tour was Wooloomooloo the bear, Wooloomooloo has his own facebook page: A Bear on a Journey, on which he shares his adventures as he explores the region with his family. Wooloomooloo happily posed for photos, for us and for a few tourists who seemed smitten by this handsome bear.

The private gardens we visited were a sight to behold, garden beds filled with too many varieties of flowers and plants to name, the creation of ‘rooms’ in each yard providing us with something new and different around each bend in the garden border. Bridges, bird feeders, fountains, arbours and pavers decorated with mosaics were among the features used by gardeners to distinguish one garden from another. Some of the gardens were so full of plants and features that navigating each section with all the other garden tourists became a bit tedious and difficult, almost everyone stopping to take photos with their cameras, smart phones and iPads.

With so many beautiful and vibrant flowers to photograph, you can imagine that I went a little nuts and now have a large collection of flower photographs to sort through, some of which you’ll see in this post. The Carnival isn’t just about flowers though, there is a food and wine fair, an afternoon parade, sideshow alley for lovers of carnival rides and if you enjoy picnics in the park with background music from live bands then you will be as happy as a pig in mud.

Gerberas

sign

Daisies

Teddy bear in the garden

iPhoneography at home

As much as I love my DSLR, lately I’ve been using my iPhone and the Hipstamatic app for taking happy snaps and experimenting with the different lens’, film and flash effects. As per usual, our two black doggies feature in a greater percentage of shots than any other living creature however in the last few weeks there has been a backyard blitz at our house and as a result there are a number of garden and flower photographs to share. Where once there stood a shabby arrangement of golden cane palms sitting in a pile of dry, dusty soil there is now a raised garden bed filled with a variety of daisies and four coco magnolia trees. With Spring only a couple of days away there will be plenty of opportunities over the next few months to sit back and enjoy our garden and take many more photos of spring blooms and lush, green growth.