Sunday, 30 September 2007

Tulips


Photo: Tulip, my garden (not a native plant)


Words to walk with:
From Sylvia Plath's haunting poem written from a hospital room, Tulips
"Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.
Nobody watched me before, now I am watched."

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Nothing is so beautiful ...

As I exited from the national park I saw the pink grevillia shown in yesterday's post, threatened by a creeping jungle of Convulvus (Morning Glory) -- a weedy escapee from nearby gardens. Among its purple flowers was a clump of freesias. I clambered through the tangle to pick the cream flowers and draw in their lovely fragrence.

At home I added to the bunch, leaving them aside while I chased the elusive spinebill.


Photo: Freesias, my garden (Not a native flower)


Words to walk with:
From Spring by Gerard Manly Hopkins
"Nothing is so beautiful as Spring —
When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling."

Friday, 28 September 2007

Pretty in pink

I know the blog is turning into a Botanica right now. But it really is hard to ignore the flowers at this time of year. Here are a couple of pretty pink ones I saw while walking back from Edinburgh Castle Rock.

The first one is a grevillia, I am rather fond of these. I photographed another two different types of grevillias in the lower mountians a couple of weeks ago. The second photo is of Pink Swamp Heath (Spengelia incarnata). I took this in a section of swamp the track passes through.


Photo: Grevillia sericea, Wentworth Falls

Words to walk with:
Sorry I can't back this poem up with pictures of firetail finches as well. It is some years since I have seen finches in my garden. I just checked the bird list and firetails are rare and uncommon here.

From Grevillea and Firetail Finches by Geoffrey Dutton
"The morning redefined red
With a quick puss of wings,
Ten firetails lifting from a grevillia
To the sheoak by the fence. Coral antlers,
Feathers of flame,
And the wind-sigh sheoak with its red-gold hair."


Thursday, 27 September 2007

Blue mystery


Walking too and from Edinburgh Castle Rock I kept an eye out for new flowers to add to my list. I noticed a tiny blue bud, and then another, an another. In fact there were lots of them. All of them tightly wound. There was not a single flower among a hundred or so. This had me mystified. Were all of these only just beginning to flower? Were they a species that curled up in the day time? Were they all spent and beginning to fade?

I still don't know the answer. The only one remotely like it in the flower book is Patersonia sericea, Native Iris, but it has flowers, not this twisted bud. The book says the flowers are fragile and last only one bright day in a succession of flowering from late winter to spring. Obviously it was not my day.


Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Bonny flowers


Photo: Boronia (Boronia ledifolia), Edinburgh Castle Rock, Wentworth Falls.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

And many a hill between

Some years ago we went for a walk down the Valley of the Waters track. The descent is steep and the day was hot. On the tedious return climb I spotted a sign to the Nature track -- easy grade it said. The option was just too tempting, we chose the easy path.

On and on and on and on we trudged. The path never seemed to end. On and on and on it went. How much further I gasped to every walker I passed and noone gave a sensible answer. It climbed, and descended only to climb again. Up and down until we burst out on the cliff top at a place called Edinburgh Castle Rock. I will never forget my horror (and rueful amusement) that day, when looking across the distance we saw our destination, now kilometres away.

This week I decided to revisit the rock, using a much shorter side track to get there.

Photo: View from Edinbugh Castle Rock, Wentworth Falls


Words to walk with:
Today I thought it fit to have a Scottish poem by Robert Burns.
"Of a' the airts the wind can blaw
I dearly like the west,
For there the bonie lassie lives,
The lassie I lo'e best.
There wild woods grow, and rivers row,
And monie a hill between,
But day and night my fancy's flight
Is ever wi' my Jean.

I see her in the dewy flowers -
I see her sweet and fair.
I hear her in the tuneful birds -
I hear her charm the air.
There's not a bonie flower that springs
By fountain, shaw, or green,
There's not a bonie bird that sings,
But minds me o' my Jean."

Monday, 24 September 2007

The chase

Along with the silvereyes a little honeyeater has taken up residence in the garden. He flits from tree to tree -- wings beating, poking his long thin bill hungrily into blossoms. He's been eluding me, zipping over to the neighbour's trees whenever I get close, flashing back to the cherry at the top of the garden while leaving me lumbering around the bottom garden, flying high in the trees when I am on the ground, flying low when I was in the house trying to catch him in the canopy. I decided to hang around the middle of the garden and struck it lucky at last.


Photo: Eastern Spinebill in crab apple tree, my garden

Sunday, 23 September 2007

They're back

Photo: Silvereye in maple, my garden

Along with the bees and blossom the little birds are back in the garden. The silvereyes passed through here in Autumn and now seem to be on their return journey. Flocks are flying in, fidget among the fresh new leaves for a while, then rise in unison and move on.

Words to walk with:
Silver by Walter de la Mare
"Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the shite breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream."

Saturday, 22 September 2007

The lovliest of trees

Photo: Flowering cherry, my garden
(not a native plant)


Words to walk with:
The Loveliest of Trees by A. E. Houseman
"Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten, 5
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room, 10
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow."

Friday, 21 September 2007

Native bees [ooops hover flies]

While I was taking yesterday's photo I saw that some of the bees were different -- these are native Australian bees. [Correction: I now believe this is a hover fly, not a bee at all. I've still got a lot to learn]

Photo: Hover fly

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Blossom and bees

In my garden -- blossom bursting and bees humming.

Words to walk with:
From 89 by Emily Dickenson
"Some things that fly there be --
Birds -- Hours -- the Bumblebee"

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Never quite alone

Sitting in solitude on a rock -- contemplation broken by distant calling to the tiny rock climber, young boys bouncing by to the music in their headsets, voices of walkers silhouetted on the neighbouring clifftop, and the cheerful chatter of an older couple stepping slowly along the track. Then back to silence.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Rock climber

We sat on a rock at Walls Lookout, taking in the big silent distance, then noticed a tiny figure climbing the vertical cliff.

Photo: Rock climber, Walls Lookout

Words to walk with:
From the Holy Bible New International Version
Romans 8:39 "Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Monday, 17 September 2007

High walls

On the drive back from Mount Tomah we took a walk out to Walls lookout.


Photo: Grose Valley from Walls Lookout

Words to walk with:
From The Barren Ground by Nan McDonald
"I think of it, the high, bare place in the mountains,
Always under a cool grey blowing sky
Where the eagle hangs back black and alone -- clean wind whistling
Through tussock and long low swell of scrub, and through
Hollows the rainy centuries have worn
In the huge ruinous heaps of silent stone"

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Sweet spontaneous

It was a beautiful sunny day. On the spur of the moment we decided to have lunch at Mount Tomah botanic gardens -- the cold climate gardens, now dressed in spring display.

Photo: Restaurant, Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens

Words to walk with:
From O Sweet Spontaneous by E. E. Cummings
O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the
doting

fingers of
purient philosophers pinched
and
poked

thee
,has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
thy

beauty .how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
gods
(but
true

to the incomparable
couch of death thy
rhythmic
lover

thou answerest
them only with

spring)

Saturday, 15 September 2007

To Daffodils


Words to walk with:
To Daffodils by Robert Herrick

"Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song;
And, having pray'd together, we
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
We die
As your hours do, and dry
Away,
Like to the summer's rain;
Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
Ne'er to be found again."

Friday, 14 September 2007

Setting seed

Photo: Wattle seed pods

While the flowers grab all the attention in the springtime, I noticed our our walk in the national park at Glenbrook that plants that cheered our autumn and winter have now set seed.

Thursday, 13 September 2007


The deep gorge of the Nepean River has been formed over millions of years. The upper layer is Hawkesbury sandstone.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Wax flowers

We also saw these pretty pink flowers.


Photo: Pink Wax Flower (Eriostemon australasius)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Grevillia

Driving through the streets of Glenbrook, on the way to the national park, I saw a garden shrub with a very showy spring display of large yellow grevillias. In the bush the grevillias are much more demure, typically small and mauve pink. During my walk I also found this interesting one hiding in the greenery.

Photo: Green spider flower (Grevillia mucronulata)

Words to walk with:
Design by Robert Frost
"I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth --
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth --
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small."



Monday, 10 September 2007

More pea flowers

The drive through the national park at Glenbrook is very pretty at the moment. The forest understory is dotted with golden yellow pea flowers (like those I showed in late August), pale yellow wattle and every now and then these larger flowers. I've figured out the name of this one.


Photo: Large Wedge Pea (Gampholobium grandiflorum)

Words to walk with:
From Spring, the Sweet Spring by Thomas Nashe
"Spring, the sweet spring, is the year's pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!"

Sunday, 9 September 2007

I've known rivers

After a shopping trip in Penrith we called in at the national park at Glenbrook. I wanted to get a shot of the Nepean River which runs along the foot of the mountains on the eastern side. I love this river but never seem to do a good job of capturing its serenity. Here we are high above its smooth waters.


Photo: Nepean River from National Park, Glenbrook

Words to walk with:
The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Lagnston Hughes

"I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers."

Saturday, 8 September 2007

1970s

While other plants have been in hibernation the daisies have spread their cheer all throughout the winter. The colour scheme in today's photo seems very 1970s to me.

Photo: Daisies in my garden (not a native plant)

In case you haven't noticed 1970s design is very big again right now. Back then the song Daisy Daisy was a perrenial favourite with the old folk in their sing-a-longs -- I thought sooo embarassingly silly -- but who would have predicted the popularity of karaoke, spawned in the 1970s.

Words to walk with:
From Daisy Bell by Harry Dacre written in 1892.
"Daisy, Daisy
Give me your answer do
I'm half crazy all for the love of you
It won't be a stylish marriage
I can't afford a carriage
But you look sweet
Upon a seat
Of a bicycle built for two"

Friday, 7 September 2007

Re-turning

When the Japonica flowers I am reminded that I have let this prickley plant thrive another year in neglected corners of my garden -- and I am pleased.

Photo: Japonica, in my garden
(not a native plant)

Words to walk with:
From Ixion by Lex Banning
"Turning and re-turning
The wheel returns once more,
....
There is never any reversal
the axe achieves the block
denial produces only
the crowing of the cock,
turning and re-turning
no one stops the clock."

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Tall timbers

After afternoon tea at one of the local tea houses we returned home via Hartley Vale. Here the mountain cliffs stand tall over tall trees.

Photo: Near Hartley Vale
Words to walk with:
From Freedom by Leonard Mann
"I tell you a poet must be free
To sing in any tree he likes ..."



Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Straw

I love the faded white of ash blond wintery grass. Soon it will spring up green.


Words to walk with:
From The Idllyl Wheel - September by Les Murray
"Early in the month, the valley was a Fresian cow:
knobbed black, whitened straw."



Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Hartley Courthouse

Hartley Courthouse, designed in Greek revival style, was built in 1837. It served its role of judgement over petty criminals and convict absconders until 1887, leaving behind an empty but impressive building.

Photo: Court House, Hartley

Words to walk with:
From Hartley Courthouse by Mark O'Connor
"Bay windows behind the sentencer prove
that justice is beauty"


Monday, 3 September 2007

The feet of ghosts

I like this perspective on Shamrock Inn -- the feet of many people have passed this way.


Photo: Shamrock Inn, Harley

Words to walk with:
From Sitting Room, Strezelecki Homestead by Ian Mudie
"When it was closed the sand crept in the windows,
leaned its shoulder against the glass,
crashed through, and trickled slowly in
upon the carpet (bought for a city bride)
until the pattern was hidden and the chairs
were set paddling in its sterile anonymity,
and muted were the sounds of the feet
of the ghosts who once laughed here."

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Over the hills and far away

When the sun shines and the weather gets warmer I feel the urge to head over the mountains to the west. I am not sure why. We didn't have time to go far so visited the historic village of Hartley which nestles at the bottom of Victoria Pass on the western escarpment. The village has impressive sandstone buildings -- a court house, 2 churches, 3 inns and a small number of private homes.


Photo: Shamrock Inn, Hartley

The Shamrock Inn started as a family home in the 1840s, became an Inn in the 1860s during the Gold Rush and later became a family home again.

Words to walk with:
From Country Towns by Kenneth Slessor
"Country towns, with your willows and squares,
And farmers bouncing on barrel mares
To public houses of yellow wood
With "1860" over their doors,
And that mysterious race of Hogans
Which always keeps the General Stores….

Country towns with your schooner bees,
And locusts burnt in the pepper-trees,
Drown me with syrups, arch your boughs,
Find me a bench, and let me snore,
Till, charged with ale and unconcern,
I'll think it's noon at half-past four!"

Saturday, 1 September 2007

And then my heart with pleasure fills

Welcome to the first day of spring – the season of sensory overload. Fresh shoots are swelling, daffodils dancing, songbirds singing. And the photo and poem today are oh so predictable!


Photo: Daffodil in my garden
(not a native plant)

Words to walk with:
From I wandered lonely as a cloud by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze ...

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."