Fleshy blooms

There are few flowering plants in bloom now. The wattle is almost ready but as yet is grey-green with just a promise of gold. Most of the bulbs have shot through the grass but only one or two isolated jonquils have opened their scent to the light and air.

And yet from the damp edges of my verandah I can see clumps of creamy-beige flowers pushing up old mown grass. They are not something I have planted; I have never seen these in my yard before.
blooms-2When the rain eased I went closer. Not flowers, but extremely over-populated fungi. Cream to pale caramel, delicate yet fleshy all at once, their lightly fringed caps upturn like the faces of flowers. Fighting for space and light, they fold and layer and then triumphantly open — my blooms.





blooms-3 A few days later they are still there, and then I think I see a new colony several metres away, near the leafless birch trees.
These are in two separate spots. The lower one is definitely the same sort as my fleshy beige blooms, but a small cluster right amongst the jonquils seems whiter.
Indeed they are, perhaps because the most recently emerged, but they are also more convoluted and this I think must be because they have had to grow through the jonquil bulbs and around their leaves, tougher than grass.

Kikuyu mist


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 far underground and it is such a determined survivor that it is a supremely equipped invader.

Originally from east Africa, it is a particular scourge on the coast where good rainfall allows it to mount fences and swamp sheds under a bright green tide if left ungrazed. 

I curse the day I bought it here, on the advice of the then Soil Conservation Department, to hold the soil on freshly made banks and dam walls. Fortunately it does not do very well here where it can be grazed by the native animals, so it’s mostly only inside my house yard.


There are no horses here now  to be let in to eat my grass, and I haven’t got around to mowing yet.  When I  took a closer look at the odd patch of kikuyu it seemed to have very fine spiderwebs over the whole widening arc. But they were nowhere else.

Having never seen this before, I wondered why it should be connected to the lack of grazing or mowing. I began to  wonder if this wasn’t some sort of slime mould, as they can take the most extraordinary forms.


But when I searched the net I discovered that it is a rare event: the flowering of the kikuyu.

Why it should be happening in only a small patch, I don’t know, but apparently ‘the pollen sacs, or anthers, extend above the grass on slender white filaments and give the area a whitish cast’.

Another site said that it flowers infrequently and that when it does, the area may seem ‘covered in spidery threads of white filaments’.
Without  a doubt this is what I was seeing.

Pennisetum clandestinum is the botanical name for kikuyu … and ‘clandestine’ is most appropriate for its strange and secret flowering. Yet another example of the amazing ways of nature!

Bush beauties


At some point in summer I will catch a glimpse of a faint splash of pink in the long tussock grass. The native Hyacinth Orchids are back!

They are hard to spot because they are solitary flowers; Dipodium punctata does not grow in clumps. They are also only thinly dispersed here. Like me, their needs for space and privacy are large.


They have no leaves, as apparently their thick fleshy roots draw enough food to sustain these exotic-looking beauties.

Undistracted, the dark burgundy stem shoots up about 60cm before erupting into a raceme of pink stars spotted with deeper pink and burgundy.

The new buds at the top clasp each other closely until it’s their turn to spread their petals and show their star quality –’Ta-dah’!

Summer whites

Not cricket apparel or cool clothes, but flowers: free gifts that appear each summer to brighten my days and my by-then mostly green garden.

They all receive my admiration but none of them need or receive any attention in between.

The Spider Lilies are extraordinary, delicate space age creatures that prance and arabesque from fleshy  bulbs and leaves. Beside them flower the herbs yarrow and meadowsweet; the nearby oregano is about to burst into white flower spikes too.


Twining daintily along my verandah and perfuming my evenings is the Mandevilla laxa, commonly called Chilean Jasmine, although it isn’t a jasmine at all.


And the shed is being overwhelmed by a rioting fountain of Chinese Star Jasmine.

The scent of these flowers comes to me separately and together at different spots in the garden.

Sweet summer whites.

Spring shades

Pinks, mauves, magentas, purples – spring is hitting the full spectrum now in its flower offerings.

In the forest, the native Indigofera bushes have burst into prominence with masses of pinkish-mauve pea flowers, carried at about chest-height below the eucalypts. Normally their delicate foliage renders them less visible. Any garden would be graced by these.

In my garden, though, it’s the large and flamboyant blooms of the irises that are catching my eye most often: exotically arranged coloured flags of petals, pink up, magenta down, a dusting of gold feathers, deep purple silk buds.

They even hold their own against the riotous backdrop of the lavender.

Rosemary rosellas

Woody narrow-leaved Mediterranean shrubs like rosemary are happy in drier and poorer soils, and grow well from cuttings.

Hence I have poked rosemary bushes into the least fertile places in my yard, such as the clay patches by the track.

And just look how they repay me! Pale blue blossoms absolutely festoon the branches in winter.

Bees love them. So, it seems, do the crimson rosellas, at least on this occasion.

I’m not sure what they would have been eating on the rosemary, but their richly-coloured plumage was such a contrast that they made the bushes appear snowy.

They have’t been back since, but then so many of the special sights here are only fleetingly fabulous.

Wild purple

Even before Spring had officially sprung, the forest began to deck itself in royal purple.

Twining up saplings, threading through the spiky clumps of Lomandra and Dianella, or just running for glory through the grass — the Purple Coral Pea, Hardenbergia Violacea.

It’s also called False Sarsparilla, which doesn’t seem fair, as it’s just being itself, as if that isn’t gorgeous enough. The tough, heavily-veined leaves you can see here belong to it.

Much less showy, in fact so shy that it takes a lot of careful and close looking to find it, is the Wild Violet, Viola betonicifolia.

It’s also called the Purple Violet, which seemed a bit silly to me, but then they could hardly say the Violet Violet, could they?

It has distinctive long sword-shaped serrated leaves at the base of the single stem, if you’re looking out of season: you can see two in this photo, at roughly 12 and 3 o’clock.


Although it’s winter, when sleet or snow would have been more normal, we’ve had a surprising number of summery-type storms, where small hail falls. Not for long, but often.

The horses don’t like it, but it doesn’t do any actual damage, so I just enjoy the visual effect while it lasts.

My naturalised snowflake bulbs – which I called ‘snowdrops’ as a child – seem to be made for such a white dotted setting.

They don’t often get the chance for a real snow backdrop.

Season of moss and lichen

After being cabinbound for a week, when a morning came with no rain threatening, I seized the camera, donned gumboots and went a-walking.

Most blatantly rainloving of all were the mosses, drab in dry times, at their party best now.

On rocks in the gullies they glowed like textured velvet in a rich range of shades of green, with shapes and heights varying as the best of garden designers would recommend.

Set off by the splotches and splatters of the hardy lichens, decorated with an occasional fallen leaf or wallaby scat, my moss gardens are at their best.

On the rocks of the drier ridges, I find the plumped-up mosses glowing less in rainforest brights than in sage and thyme blues, honey browns. Here the lichens stand up amongst it like vivid corals – the flowers in this garden.

Spring or autumn or?

Some of my garden shrubs are exhibiting extremely strange behaviour this autumn. Like the May bush, the Banksia rose, and the honeysuckle that smothers the outdoor loo.

It would seem they aren’t sure what season it is. When they ought to be winding down and closing up shop for the winter, they are putting out just one or two isolated sprays of blossom!

Totally out of season, but the plants, like the animals, have been so confused by the strange weather this last year that they seem to be having a bet each way.

Just in case this autumn is spring, and the other spring doesn’t come, their genes have told them to bloom, but only tentatively.

Free summer blinds

stepsIn Autumn the ornamental grape and wisteria vines on my verandah were a visual treat — a rich riot of warm colours.

The vines are bare by winter, allowing the low sun to enter my house.

No matter how severely I trim them back, come Spring they always take off with such vigour that here we are at the beginning of Summer with fully drawn blinds of many different shades, shapes and textures of green.

green shade

in flower‘Pray enter a refuge from the glare and heat of summer’, say my front steps, leading to a doorway in the vines.

They do not lie. Once on the wide verandah, which is my summer living area, the contrast is extreme, the shade is dense and cool, the very light is green.

And to think these passive solar blinds are free, with guaranteed annual installation!

Up the north-eastern end of the verandah, morning summer sunlight is welcome, so the free blinds are allowed to be of more lacey material.

The climbing Crepuscule rose is finishing its blooming, just as the ‘Chilean Jasmine’, Mandevilla Laxa, is beginning — highly perfumed white clusters on delicate twining stems.