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Succulent flowers 2

Not a very promising start.

As mentioned last week, here is the Unknown Succulent with its flowers. At first I thought the drooping ends were just more weird growth, but after a while I realised there was something inside.

What is going to burst out of those pods??

The droop disappeared and the things at the end of the stalk formed a sort of umbrella of downward-pointing flowers.

I had to stake them upright because the weight of the Noisy Miner bird, foraging for who knows what, knocked them over.

Quite pretty, actually!

Posted for #FloralFriday

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Succulent flowers 1

A friend said this looked like a scorpion’s tail.

The apartment I moved into a year ago came with an assortment of succulents in the balcony’s garden beds. I have never liked succulents. After a year of living with them, I still don’t like them — weird shapes, weird textures — but I have come to grudgingly admire their “take no prisoners” approach to self-propagation. These things just won’t be contained.

Two of my inherited plants flowered over the recent winter. One, conveniently, had a plastic plant label so I know what to call it here, but next week’s plant is merely “unknown”. Today we have Echeveria – Blade Runner.

Hmm, maybe the things on the end will turn into flowers?

The flowers look a lot better when seen from the front. I had to lean over the garden bed and hold the camera so it faced me, with the viewscreen swivelled so I could see what I was framing. They look huge in these shots, but were really about the size of a small grape. (Don’t you love my checked flannel shirt?)

The flowers were extremely appealing to the bird below. It’s a Noisy Miner (they’re called “noisy” for a reason!), and would visit numerous times each day. (It also liked the “unknown” succulent’s flowers that you’ll see next week.) Unfortunately, it never stayed very long and this was the only shot I was able to take.

Not a very flattering angle, for bird or flowers!

Posted for #FloralFriday

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Bee’s perspective

Yellow & maroon pansy.

I have no idea how a bee would actually see the flowers on my balcony, so apologies to any bees reading this. These images are really a result of me playing around with Photoshop this afternoon. If you’re curious, after editing and cropping the photo, on a new layer I added a radial gradient (white to transparent), set the blend mode to ‘hard mix’ and then erased the area around the centre so the original photo on the layer below came through. Highly stylised and probably not bee-like at all, other than being taken with my camera 1-2cm from the flower.

Purplish-blue pansy

I chose pansies and daisies for this post because the bees do seem to prefer these flowers.

Pink daisy.

And here’s a non-stylised bee, having a good old rummage in a camellia. Look at the size of that eye!

A real bee’s perspective. I wonder if they ever get pollen in their eyes?

These photos are square, which can only mean one thing: it’s another month of Becky’s Squares! For July, the theme is Perspective.

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Monday morning ‘at work’

9:20am, Monday. Hard at work. 😉

Nadia from ‘A Photo a Week Challenge’ is asking us “to share a photo or two of a change you’ve experienced during the covid19 crisis”. I’ve actually been extraordinarily fortunate: no job loss or salary reduction, and the work I used to do in the office I now do at home. I’m not especially sociable at the best of times, so the absence of other people is no hardship at all.

I took this photo at 9.20am today — ordinarily, I’d be in the office by then, not exactly ecstatic at the prospect of another week of work surrounded by noisy (sometimes irritating) colleagues, just starting on my cup of coffee. But on sunny mornings while working at home, I cheekily postpone the start of the work day and enjoy my coffee outside. 🙂

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Floral Friday – Xygocactus

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

A plant with many names! To me it will always be Christmas Cactus, because when I was growing up in Canada we had a number of them in the house, and that’s when they bloomed. Here in Australia, though, mine is blooming right now; here, they’re known as xygocactus or Schlumbergera.

This particular plant has a sad history. It was quite small when I bought it years ago, with only a couple of flowers. There were other, bigger plants with more flowers, but I loved the colour of these flowers. It was doing well, getting bigger, more flowers each year — and then I dropped it. Eek! One-third of the plant broke off. Then I overwatered what was left, and the branches started wilting and falling off; another one-third gone. The wet soil was also infested with gnats. And it had terrible light indoors, a choice of blasting direct sun or dim curtained gloom.

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

The poor thing was not a happy plant!

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

So I hauled it out of the pot, removed as much soil as possible, repotted it into a larger pot with a more gravelly soil to increase drainage, and used the old cider/sugar/dishsoap traps to kill the gnats. And it began to improve, hurrah! What it liked best, though, was the move to an apartment with a balcony where it gets bright but not direct light.

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

Now it’s a very happy plant, as you can see in these photos.

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

It doesn’t normally get any direct sunlight, but I moved it so these photos wouldn’t be dull and flat.


If you can’t believe this plant was ever in the dire straits described above, have a look at it from 2018. Still bravely flowering, but just look at those pinched, wilted, wrinkled branches.

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Floral Friday – Freckle-face fern flowers

How’s that title for alliteration? 🙂

Some months ago, I bought a small pot with a mix of little ferns. They’re not so little any more and I’ve had to repot them! I was very surprised to notice that the freckle-face ferns are sporting tiny flowers — purple, as in these photos, but also white on other plants. I had no idea that ferns had flowers!

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Floral Friday – planters in the city

Mobile gardens.

I always know when summer officially arrives in Sydney — it’s when these planters magically appear overnight! The city is full of them, metal squares stuffed with plants in pots. Instant gardens pop up on streets everywhere. The plants don’t last the whole summer, so one day I’ll come along and completely new fresh plants have appeared. Though I’m not sure about what appears to be decorative cabbage in the planter above …

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Floral Friday – Epiphyllum (?)


I saw a group of these plants in November as part of an event called Sydney Open, one weekend when people can go into buildings that are usually off-limits to the public. (I think Open House London is similar.) The plants were in tubs on the roof of a bank. The leaf sort of reminds me of ‘Christmas Cactus’ (Schlumbergera, Xygocactus) but on steroids — those leaves were half a metre long. And the flowers don’t look like any Christmas Cactus I’ve ever seen.

Pretty, though! And some online searching reveals they might be “Epiphyllum”.

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Cool and composed

For Jude’s Composition and Framing challenge (Simplify) I have two photos of flowers. They are zoomed in on the flowers themselves, which I wanted to be the object of attention, and composed using the rule of thirds. I have the rule of thirds gird always showing on my camera, which helps with compositions (and level horizons).
And of course, if your composition is slightly off (or even very off!) some cropping in Photoshop with the grids showing will guarantee perfect thirds. 😏


The fuschia is from the archives. The focus flower follows the vertical thirds line.

Fuschia

Fuschia showing rule of thirds grid

And a photo of jasmine, taken this morning. The shrub acts as a privacy screen between my balcony and an adjoining one. The focus flowers in the photo cluster at the intersection of two thirds lines.

Jasmine

Jasmine showing rule of thirds grid

Posted as part of Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge.