Monday, September 27, 2010

Lemon Delicious

A bumper crop of lemons this Spring
A little bit of fertilizer applied throughout the growing season and drip irrigation seems to be the secret to growing a tree full of juicy lemons.
A foolproof easy to make dessert using lemons is lemon delicious pudding:
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons self-raising flour
pinch of salt
grated rind of 2 lemons
2 eggs separated
1 cup of milk
MethodCream the butter and sugar. Add the flour and salt. Add grated lemon rind, egg yolk, and milk. Fold in stiffly beaten egg white. bake in a double dish (stand in water) for 40 minutes at 175C (340F)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

banana plant maintenance

'Red Dacca' Banana Tree

It's the time of year to do some maintenance on Banana trees. I remove all the wind damaged branches and cut them up to use as mulch. It is essential to also remove most of the suckers or side shoots to allow all the energy to go into the main fruit producing stem. You leave three to grow for future fruit production.Once tidied up, I like to give them a dressing of blood and bone fertilizer and a bag of cow manure as well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gardening with Wombats

Nouvelle-Hollande:Le Wombat
From Voyage de decouvertes aux Terres Australes
C.A. Lesueur, Paris 1807
Lumbering out from the forest to investigate what had just been planted was a large brown wombat. When the sky is overcast and the day is cool, they can make an appearance in a garden close to bushland to see what tasty grass or sedge plants they can nibble on or dig completely out of the ground so that they can sample the roots. This can be a bit disheartening when you are trying to establish a new garden.The one I encountered today seemed oblivious to the four people working nearby as he took his time to have a look around pausing only to scratch his rump for fleas or sniff the air. Where was my camera when I needed it close by.
Sadder though to see a dead one beside the road on the drive home, its bloated hide spray painted with a yellow cross to warn motorists of its presence.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Salix cinerea, Pussy Willow

Salix cinerea: Pussy Willow

It is rare to see a Pussy Willow tree at all these days since most Salix species have been put on the weed list. This one was growing in the grounds of the local German Club and appeared to have been cut to the ground some years back and was regrowing as a multi-trunked specimen. It did look wonderful silhouetted against the bright spring sky. Checking out the Wikipedia info about it, there is a northern hemisphere tradition of using pussy willow as part of Easter celebrations especially on Palm Sunday.

Osteospermum ecklonis 'Nuanza Copper Purple'

Osteospermum ecklonis 'Nuanza Copper Purple'

Some forms of 'Osteo' daisies can be a bit weedy and are in full flower along roadsides and freeways at the moment. However I am loving this new colour form so just had to buy one this week.
Pruning off the old flowers, 'dead-heading', is the way to go to stop any self seeding plants from appearing where they are not wanted.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Australian King Parrot

Australian King Parrot
Not to be confused with the crimson rosella, the king parrot is scarlet rather than crimson with a red bill, and dark forest green wings, royal blue rump and black tail. As well, it is not always the farmers' friend, as the king parrot is known to raid crops and home garden fruit trees and vegetable gardens to eat anything from tomatoes, apples, pears, grapes and even freshly dug potatoes. George Caley, Sir Joseph Bank's botanical collector in the years 1800-10, reported that near Parramatta: 'When the Indian corn was ripe the king parrot may be seen in large flocks clinging to the stalks and occasioning much mischief.'

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ajuga australis

Ajuga australis
drawing:Kathleen McArthur

Native to the east coast and Tasmania, this groundcover is not readily available in the nursery trade. I have seen it growing along bush tracks in shady spots under gum trees. The flower spikes are quite striking and are just starting to appear after good winter rain. The exotic Ajuga reptans with its multitude of colours and leaf forms is a popular and hardy garden plant.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Floral fragment

Seated Scribe (Miniature Portrait of a Turkish Youth) 1479-80
Gentile Bellini, Venice 1429-1507
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

This is possibly a portrait of Sultan Djem who was a great poet and man of letters from an early age. At odds with his richly patterned and colourful clothing is the floral fragment partly erased from the wall, seen to the left of his turban.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Plant pathology:Leaf roll on Broadbeans

My broadbean crop has developed 'leaf roll' disease. This is caused by Clover stunt virus which is transmitted by the Cowpea aphid (Aphis craccivora). The seed may have been infected with the virus before I planted it but the more likely cause is that I neglected this particular patch during the early months of autumn/winter and let some self sown zucchini grow and fruit, thus crowding out the developing broadbean plants. I also didn't keep up the water to them sufficiently as well. So I blame myself partly for their poor performance. This week, right on cue, black aphids made themselves at home on top of the already sick plants. What is interesting about these aphids is that they travel such great distances to get here. They migrate from western country districts (Western Slopes and Plains of New South Wales) after breeding on pasture legumes and other suitable plants , rising to the upper atmosphere and blown to the coast by north westerly or westerly winds which are common in early spring.
Aphis craccivora Cowpea Aphid(Photo: Zara Ludgate)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Wattle Day

Acacia suaveolens
 Sweet Acacia (drawing by Kathleen McArthur)
I was reminded that it was Wattle Day after watching the evening news. Members of our caretaker government were wearing a sprig of wattle in their lapels. So Spring is here and it's warm, humid and a thunderstorm is forecast for tomorrow.....
This is one of my favourite wattles. It is found all along the east coast usually close to the sea. It lives up to its name by having a very sweet perfume but flowers during June/July and then forms bluish purple seed pods which are quite decorative.