Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Blues

As months go, January is one I typically enjoy. The holidays are past, and it's a time for fresh starts.  January is a dark month, I know. I expect that. I grew up here and know all about the lack of light and long, wet months of Winter. I remember feeling down throughout my life at this time of year (except when I lived in California). Therefore, I say it's okay to embrace the gloom. There is something comforting about doing so. 

This year, however, I find myself more than ever fighting January and anticipating April. I can't wait for it. I look for signs everywhere, every bud on every tree, looking for new growth below the surface of the dirt. I realize I'm early, but I want to be outside with my plants. It's almost painful NOT to be.  

What I do then to curb my plant lust when my garden looks like the Arctic tundra is walk. A lot. And take pictures of nature, and keep walking. This post is about a special walk I took on my birthday a couple of weeks back. I had the day off and went for my regular hike up to Mount Tabor and took photos along the way, looking for living things, signs of Spring.

Along the way, I spotted some smartly pruned evergreens. Pruned green things always cheer me up.

So do fuzzy pussywillow-ish things.

 Here's the same roof top Opuntia that Danger Garden blogged about here. The funny (or weird) thing is we took this pic I believe on the same day, maybe only minutes apart...and I took it for her! strange...

 Nice use of a former birdbath.

This just made me happy.

 This is a fairly new garden after a new rock wall went in recently. Nice. 

 Crevice sedums!

 My beloved local park. A real volcano, too!

 Oooo...misty mystery. 

 At the base of my favorite tree, another offering to the faeries.

 A memorial for a dead bird near the same tree.

Then, off to a trip to Portland Nursery. It was my birthday, after all, I needs me some conifers and friends!

 The Hellebores are always lovely this time of year. I did end up buying one, a Hellebore 'Cinnamon Snow'. First one I've ever purchased...hoping it does well.

 I love the crispness of white and green this time of year.

 Another birthday present....LOVE this! 

Isn't it sexy??

And the perfect way to end what turned out to be a wonderful January day...a homemade gluten-free orange cake made by my mom...delicious.

Cake helps to drive away Wintertime blues. And plants. I highly recommend both in whatever form you can find!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Let's Go! Australia Part II

Here's the second half of our trip to Australia. This time let's visit some places around Sydney and then head north to Clifton Beach near Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef. As they say down under, "She'll be apples!"

 First up, a few sights around Sydney.

 Just some gorgeousness in Cooper's Park in the Woollahra neighborhood.

 Near The Rocks, by the water. The Rocks is Sydney's oldest area. 

 Isn't this cool? A whole succulent tree!

 Here's the whole thing.

 Out for a walk we spied this lovely vertical garden.

And this lovely, too. Kind of pricey?

Now let's go to the Chinese Garden in Darling Harbor. It's called the Chinese Garden of Friendship and is really wonderful. Not too many people which, in a big touristy city like Sydney, was a welcome break.

 The Moon Gate.

 These photos speak for themselves.

 Love that beautiful blue Sydney sky on the day after Christmas Day, Boxing Day!

 Now, let's take a look at northern Queensland on the Great Barrier Reef, much more tropical and easy-breezy.  I know very little about tropicals so I shall keep quiet and let you enjoy and dream a little.

 This is Clifton Beach, just across the street from our hotel. The actual Great Barrier Reef is off in the distance. For the record, that is the Coral Sea.

 Plants in the hotel garden.

 Again, Clifton Beach. Probably 80 degrees and hardly a soul in sight. Nice. In the water, though, we had to watch for blue bottle jellyfish. No fun. You get zapped by one of those and you will spend your vacation in hospital.

 No idea what this is, but we loved it. Anyone?

 Hotel gardens again.

 Clifton Beach is really a neighborhood community. Houses up and down the cute little streets embrace foliage and have some wonderful tropicals. Here a row of palms welcomes passers-by. Clifton Beach is north of the city of Cairns, which is the hub of tourist activities for the northern reef area. Plus, access to the Daintree Rain Forest is just north of here. We like Clifton Beach because it feels like our OZ home.

 Here someone made great use of another wheel barrow - it also looks like they just got back from a nursery! (familiar black pots...)

 Lovely Hibiscus. These were everywhere.

 This is a Norfolk Island pine, which is native to Norfolk Island, an island out in the Coral Sea between Australia and New Zealand. It used to be a prison island, which is weird because Australia was first settled as a prison. Anyway, the Norfolk Island pines are lovely and they line one of our favorite beaches, Manly Beach in Sydney.

 The Bush! Haha..well, kind of. There are crocodiles in there, just yards from the beach. We did not see any, which is a good thing. You don't want to mess with the salties.

 How cool! I want this kind of tree house.

Another neighborhood garden.

And thus ends our tour of Australia and a ton of sun. We've been lucky to have traveled as much as we have and we count ourselves blessed to have friends across the sea. We are most happy to share our foliage adventures, and if anyone ever wanted to go to Australia, I say GO GO GO!. The people are warm and personable, the climate can't be beat, the ocean is gorgeous, and so are the plants. Happy travels! G'day and fair dinkum!