The small details of the plant world often make me wish I’d become a botanist. In my day, if they were ‘going on’ after high school, girls did nursing or teaching — to tide them over until they got married. I have been unable to decide whether, had I been born later, I’d have studied botany […]

Many early colonists thought the Australian bush a drab monotone of greyish green, blinded as they still were by the vivid lime greens and emeralds of their European trees and mist-made lawns. I hope closer acquaintance taught them to see more clearly – if they hadn’t cleared all the bush around them. At present my […]

For sixteen years the wisteria on my verandah has done a great job as a living shade cloth — but it has never flowered. It was given to me in a pot, grown from a cutting of a white wisteria, so the giver assured me.  I didn’t mind that it didn’t flower, given how lovely were […]

Far treats here are the changing interactions of mountain and sky. After the rain I watch from my dripping verandah as Omo-white clouds boil and steam in and out of the nips and tucks of the densely forested southern slopes. Wisps linger to lick the gullies clean before joining the rising mass above. Closer to […]

My favourite tool is my hoe. After 30 years of loyal service it needed a new handle, which I’d loosely put on just before heading off for the weekend. The bright new handle showed up how poorly I’d treated the hoe head and I vowed to give it a good sand and oil before it […]

A month away from the mountain is a long time. The bush itself requires no attention from me, but my domesticated area does, and the 350mm of rain in February has effected a great deal of green growth. Not all is welcome. I continually apologise to the environment for my ignorant crime of introducing kikuyu […]

Just before the heatwave ended, I noticed a patch of the dreaded kikuyu grass seemed to be dying off, becoming pale and yellowish and oddly ‘misted’. The native grass parts of the ‘lawn’ were browning off but usually the kikuyu is the last to go brown in hot and dry times. Its runners extend so […]

Each summer my verandah grows its own walls on the west and north-west. Although the ornamental grape and the wisteria have been pruned right back to leafless woody stems, come spring they begin to reach out for each other and interwine. By Christmas they have made dense, multi-layered walls of greenery that keep my verandah […]

My forest does not have much understorey but in the damper dips and gullies there are always pockets of a small tree—scentless rosewood, Synoum glandulosum. It has made its presence very evident lately because of its profusion of clusters of pinkish red fruit. Unfortunately for me they are not as succulent and appetising as they […]

On my small dam the waterlilies are blooming, their large circular leaves so abundant that they are overlapping, curling up at their edges. There are two green floating islands of them, one bearing pale pink lotus-like cups, the other such a pale lemon as to seem white. Since these aquatic plants had all but disappeared […]

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