Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Berry Camellia and Floral Show

 This show was actually on last weekend and gives a terrific picture of what is in flower during the winter months on the South Coast of New South Wales in Australia. Sadly these events are not particularly well attended as ornamental horticulture loses ground to food production gardening.

The Flower Beard

 'The King O'Malley' 2014
photo:Melissa Adams
Australian political legend, King O'Malley (1854-1953)
At the Canberra beard competition, held last Thursday at the King O'Malley Irish Pub, there was not a flower beard to be seen; perhaps more indicative of a Canberra winter than anything else. Flower beards, which have been a feature of the Northern Hemisphere summer are in fact just plain ridiculous!
'Adams tugged at his beard, which was a white version of Lodge's beard as Hay's beard was a grizzled compromise. What did beards imply? he wondered. The early Roman emperors, like the early presidents, were clean-shaven: then decadence .....and beards, then Christianity and the clean-shaven Constantine.'
 'The look-good-in-a-coffin' beard
Someone failed to tell this chap that the flowers and foliage of the 'woodlander',Anemone nemerosa, which form the centrepiece of this arrangement, are quite poisonous and toxic to the skin and mouth.The white Chrysanthemum on the left is a traditional funeral flower in some countries while the 'grape hyacinth', Muscari sp. below his ear are also poisonous and more at home on the grave of a deceased person during the late Victorian era. The saving grace is the tiny Geraldton Wax flower, Chamelaucium uncinatum just below his lip.

'The Aussie-Winners' beard
Delightful silver foliage from Leucophyta brownii and golden paper daisy flowers of  Calocephalus platycephalus or Chrysocephalum apiculatum compliment the cable-knit sweater in pure Australian wool.

'The Far-from-Heaven' beard
Those who enjoyed the Todd Haynes film 'Far from Heaven' will recall the sepia, chestnut and flame tones of the garden which formed the background to this movie.This arrangement includes lots of way-side weeds and a spiky centrepiece of 'sea holly' Eryningium sp. Small bunches of the Australian 'False Baeckea', Astartea fascicularis, grace his cheeks.

The Salvador Dali Paper White Jonquil 'tache
The iconic Surrealist painter knew how to turn heads and was obviously a dab hand at applying the 'gentleman's stiffener' aka moustache wax but how did he sleep at night?
 'Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip regardless' is Captain Fawcett's motto and this bee's wax based product contains lavender essential oil which gives it a wonderful scent. To soften the wax after applying you need to use a hairdrier on low heat to work it into place, but hair often has a mind of its own and may refuse to do what you want it to without a lot of effort. In other words you need to get up an hour earlier in the morning if you don't want to be late for work if deciding to use it.
'Have a Lucky Day' is the motto for Sandahl's 'Lucky Tiger' wax.This is a softer styling and conditioning wax for both beard and 'tache. It contains lanolin and cocoa butter and has a neutral scent.

The San Francisco, Californian beard
Works in the garden for me, the sea-side daisy Erigeron 'LA Pink', Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' and organic sow thistle, Sonchus oleraceus.

The Boston-after-Mass beard
Rich dark velvety red Violas in flower now.

 More suggestions for flower beards would be most welcome

Monday, July 28, 2014

Camellia Showtime

 The Illawarra Camellia Show was on the weekend before last and this year I just took some photos using an iPhone. Every year I go I see different ones which have never made an appearance before. Perhaps some open better or earlier depending on temperatures or other weather conditions. I have not tagged any of these pics as many are not available commercially which may frustrate those who are trying to track down a particular favourite and its name comes up in a Google search.
  For those further down the south coast, the Berry Camellia Show is on at Berry School of Arts in Alexandra street next weekend (August 2nd and 3rd). Details on (02) 44642061

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The German Weekend

 Aromatherapy, Massage Oils and simple home remedies in Maria M Kettenring book published by
(Aroma-Gesundheitsparktikerin ,Dufttrainerin und Autorin zahlreicher Bucher)

I am not good at self-promotion but it was a real thrill to have my photo of Palmarosa grass (Cymbopogon martinii var motia) included in this book and be given credit as an 'Australien'.
Now if only there was a bit of demand for Palmarosa plants locally as I failed to shift more than a few units of it over last summer.
A couple of  Aussie plants which are making an impact in Europe, included in the book are, 'Teebaum', Melaleuca alternatifolia , or what we know as tea-tree oil, and Cajeput from Melaleuca  leucadendron var. cajeputii.
Germany has introduced some wonderful roses over the years and the 'rugosa' below is celebrating its centenary of introduction to horticulture.

 Rosa rugosa 'Frau Dagmar Hastrup'
Such delicate pink flowers, loved by bees, on a very tough thorny bush, this rose grows to just over a metre and is best suited to a temperate climate especially one near the seaside.
 The tomato red rose hips which appear in autumn are full of vitamin C and can be turned into 'hipster jam' or 'Hagenbuttenmarmelade' which is made by soaking the hips in white wine vinegar for a few days and then pushing the pulp through a sieve before cooking on low heat with sugar.
 Winter is a good time to cook German style casserole dishes such as this pork hock with pearl barley and cabbage.  I add herbs such as caraway seed, thyme and juniper berries to enhance the flavor of this slow cooked dish.

Fortification from hearty food and late night/bleary eyed days from staying up late watching Le Tour de France are what July is all about.
German rider Marcel Kittel of team 'Giant Shimano' may not have ended up with das Gelbe Trikot on the podium in Paris but he won the best hair and eyebrow action on le Tour.


Marcel channels 70's Bowie..... Pass the Brylcreem

For late night 'port and cigars' there is also Schubert's Winterreise at this time of year.The coolest thing would be to have a mate who is good baritone and listen to it live.

 I also think of Kraftwerk when it comes to modern German music (and great haircuts) 'The telephone call' is an ode to the slow Internet speeds of Australia and all those calls which drop out mid sentence. 
Thanks to all the wonderful customers who phone from various parts of the country in their search for an elusive plant which I may still be growing amongst my botanical treasures.