Who needs roses?

The resident macropods have killed all my roses bushes by their perseverance in eating every shoot or bud that dares to peek through the sad grey wood of the remnants.

But they do not eat bulb leaves or flowers. I don’t know why, but I am very, very grateful, because each winter I am treated to displays like these.

The Erlicheer jonquils (above) come first, forming a perfumed bank below my now bare verandah vines. Their dense clusters are a little like roses;  I love the deep buttery depths of their cream petals.



The tall white jonquils of a simpler, more open design are less strongly scented, while the orange-hearted yellow ones are mainly there for colour and cheeriness — and because they keep coming back each year.


My childhood favourite was always the clumps of snowflakes, dainty white bells whose picot edges are decorated with just the right amount of green.


Before their flowering gives a lighter touch, there’s a different charm in the strong blades of the leaves as they jostle for space around the birch tree. I ought to be separating these clumps; people say they will flower more if I do, but when a clump like this comes out it is as bountiful as I can imagine.

Seeds of promise

The leaves have fallen from many of my garden trees and vines, so the seed pods are spectacularly visible. This White Cedar tree is a rare deciduous native, Melia Azedarach, often called Persian Lilac for its flowers, but also Bead Tree, for the now-obvious reason. They are indigenous to my region, amongst many others.


I have just pruned back the vines on my verandah, to reduce the build up of woody old growth (for bushfires), to promote new growth in spring, and to let in maximum winter sunlight. Before I did, I captured some of the masses of seed pods.

These are from the Chilean ‘jasmine’ (which it isn’t), Mandevilla laxa, whose scented white trumpet flowers produce hundreds of paired long skinny seed pods, now ‘popped’ apart and bursting with tiny feather-winged seed darts. They obligingly self-propagate.


These papery extra-terrestrials clawing skywards are from my very tall white lilliums.


The fat velvety brown pendulums of the White Wisteria do the opposite, hanging heavy, pointing to the soil where they want to land and grow. But these I will collect and attempt to aid the process in my glasshouse. The flowers are so ethereal I want more.

Visiting the lilypads

I haven’t been down close to my small dam, my waterlily world, for months, mainly because I usually come across a red-bellied black snake there.

I’d only looked from a distance, as when the White-necked Heron came.

Today I took the camera and went there on purpose, to see how the lilies were growing and what was gadding about amongst them.

To my surprise the Heron was there! Does he visit far more often than I notice, or is this just coincidence?


With several harsh croaks he flew up into a nearby tree and assumed an aloof pose until I should leave, which he’d have to notice out of the corner of his eye, as he wasn’t deigning to be seen watching me.


But it’s no wonder he visits, quite apart from the aquatic tucker, as the little dam looks very pretty.

The two pots of waterlilies (one pink/white, one lemon/white were planted in separate spots. They are thriving, the pink spreading further than the lemon and indeed, jostling for space at its claimed end.


As always, I see lots of tiny wildlife on and around the waterlilies; the more I look, the more I see: spiders, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers. I see no frogs or tortoises but I know they’re here.

Back on the mountain

After almost a month away, I half-expected the critters to have taken over the last bit left to me, the cabin.

They hadn’t, really — just the usual antechinus invasion, persistent but not escalated.

The verandah wasn’t so lucky. The spiders had tied the cane chair to my dad’s coffee table, with a densely woven zig-zag mesh. No room for even a skeleton to fit their legs in between table and chair.

The possum had knocked the pot of the flourishing red Wandering Jew-type plant right off the railing to crash and empty on the ground below.  One of its trailing arms hung like a decoration, caught in the climbing rose.

The destruction is particularly aggravating as this was one of the few plants that the possum doesn’t eat.

But down on the ground most of the bulbs had bloomed while I was away. Snowdrops and yellow jonquils in their large naturalised clumps had joined the Erlicheer jonquils that were, as always, first out.

The tuberoses, strongest smelling and longest lasting when cut, were flashing their incongruous pink (left) amongst all the white and yellow and green.

Up in Queensland, it had been spring, with fruit trees in blossom and deciduous trees in bright green bud. Here we are usually about six weeks behind.

Fearing I had missed the brief bridal show in my orchard, I am relieved.

The change of seasons is still an anticipated pleasure!

However, as this is my particular Eden, the warmer weather also brings out the snake in the grass — or the snowdrops!

Cloud blossoms

When I wake up to a white world it’s not usually because it has snowed — although that has happened — but because a cloud has decided to descend and join me, poor earthbound being that I am.

At such times the only bright colour is in close things, seen sans veil of finest white muslin.

My thinner north-east verandah sunshade is the Mandevilla Laxa vine, currently unfurling its pure white bells and perfuming my the air around my cabin.

Since the wallabies eat the lower parts of most ground-based vines, they have to survive to taller-than-wallaby height before they can burst into full production and show me once more why I’d planted them.

This year, given how tasty the self-seeding but fragile old-variety sweet peas would be when they popped their heads out of the ground, I broke my rule of ‘survival of the fittest’ and planted some in the pots on the wallaby-proof (so far) verandah.

With that extra metre or so leg-up they have climbed up the Mandevilla and hit the roof, adding their unmistakable scent and their candy pink colours to my cloud-white day.

Lofty Lilliums

Each summer these powerful plants re-shoot, sending up thick stems metres into the air in a race to the roof with the Glory Vine. I do have to tie them to the verandah railings before they become top heavy, as dozens of burgundy pods explode into these elegant blooms.

Beautiful as they are in cream and pink and yellow, they all used to be pure white, which only one plant now produces.

To see them I have to go outside and walk below to look up into their dripping throats — in between keeping an eye out for leeches looping their way up the side of my gumboots.

There is only one small ‘window’ in the verandah’s summer greenery where I can poke the camera through and see over the tops of the Lilliums, but perhaps the best view is from underneath anyway — despite the leeches.

Close encounters

I have now completed a lattice gate to prevent the wallabies from coming onto the verandah and eating the plants from there.

A few do still come up the steps and nibble what they can reach from there, so the summer vine cover is not as advanced as it should be.


This one couldn’t be bothered climbing the steps, but for several hours the other warm day, while the shade lasted, lay right at the foot of the steps. As it happened to be a washing day, I went up and down the steps and past the lolling lass quite a few times. My stepping over her tail occasioned no more than a flick of an ear.

So far none of them have jumped over the gate, so I am enjoying my beautiful Crepuscule climbing rose, blooming in profusion along my verandah ‘windows’ once more, munched bare though it is from below.

Sandstone Spring

The walk at Lees’ Pinch Lookout in the Goulburn River National Park is only an 800m round trip. At this time of year there were more native flowers blooming than I’d see in most gardens.

Fantastic rocks and sinuous young, whitely unscribbled-on Scribbly Gums formed the settings.

Yellow predominated, but apart from the simple open faces of a Hibbertia, I didn’t know these sandstone country flowers — the pea family! My forest country has little or no shrub layer, so this richness was a treat.

Backlit beauties

It’s still as cold as winter of a morning, but the irises are heading skywards for summer.

The most proudly regal flower I know, their fistfuls of blue-green broadspears of leaves were lately joined by tall spikes of tightly furled buds, and now the topmost of these are opening.

They droop their lower lips and bare their bearded tongues, but coyly hold up veils to hide their golden eyes. The texture of these beautifully veined petals is like silk — royal silk — and the dramatic colours make this bearded iris  my favourite.

The reason why I am permitted to have such beauties boldly growing in my yard is that none of the critters find irises tasty — neither the leaves nor the flowers. This has proved the case with all my bulbs.

So I am inclined to plant more iris varieties, like these delicate frilly lilacs, as there about 300 to choose from.

But I have a niggling feeling that if I do, some animal will suddenly decide they make a worthwhile feast. It’s happened before: “Get that woman complacent, off her guard — then go for it!”

I may have to remain dependent on the tougher types, like these yellow Flag irises that are multiplying happily in a soggy depression. Their blooms are smaller and less flamboyant than their dry-footed cousins, but more open.

Exotic whites

Whilst I live in the middle of 165 acres of natural bushland, a huge ‘native garden’, I appreciate my small pocket of exotic botanica, introduced plants that don’t want to go walkabout.

From my desk I am treated all day to the ethereal beauty of the white wisteria on the verandah, flowering for the second year, after 15 years of refusal. It has a light perfume, well worth keeping the window open in front of me.

On my way to the clothesline I detour around the long arches of the May bush, its clusters of simple flowers adding honey scents to the spring perfume mix in my yard.

The bees like it, but not as much as the pretty flowers of the enormous Nashi trees, although they smell rather unpleasantly like bleach, not honey.

But once past those, I can compensate with one of my favourite scents, from the friesias around the fig tree. Even better, I can pick some to take the scent inside. 

None of these exotic beauties will last long, so I make sure to look my fill while they are here. As you may have guessed, I like white flowers.

Flower roos

Beneath the new green leaves of the birch trees, the fading yellow jonquils and Erlicheers and the fresh yellow and white daffodils — whose name I’ve forgotten — quietly clump and multiply and delight each year. The iris aren’t so prolific.

I was amused to see the kangaroo family choose this little grove of flowering bulbs for a munch and a snooze in the sun. They are quite delicate in eating the native grass between the bulbs without flattening much.

I am so grateful that they don’t fancy bulb leaves or flowers!

The joey had been asleep in the centre of the flowers, but popped up to peep over and check out the world as I watched. Not too tough a life in this refuge.

Spring hits

My stone fruit trees agree with the snakes; they reckon it’s Spring. The apricot declared it first, prematurely, and lost most of the blossoms in a rainy spell.

Of them all, my favourite is the Santa Rosa plum’s simple white blossoms, their stamens topped with gold, and set in softest green. The bees like them too.

I still haven’t pruned this one so will have to share the plums with the King Parrots and the Bower Birds.

Pink is a colour of so many hues they ought to be distinctly named. The peaches and the nectarine are quite different blossoms, in progress, in composition and complexity, as well as ‘pinkness’.

Which is as it should be, given that their fruit is so different.

The cherries are yet to blossom; then will come the pome fruit: the apples and the nashis. Lucky bees and birds — and lastly, possibly lucky me!