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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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Tulip Time

Spring means tulips! Even if, in Australia, some effort is required to get them to perform.

The tulips are in a town called Bowral, southwest of Sydney. Every spring, Corbett Gardens bursts with colour — 75,000 tulips and 15,000 annuals, plus flowering trees. 2019 is the 59th continuous year of the festival and this year’s dates are 24 Sep – 7 Oct. It’s a very popular event, so if you go, be prepared to shuffle.

It’s a big thing (and quite the money maker for the town!). I noticed tulip motifs throughout the gardens.

I despaired of getting a photo of this pergola, as every time I looked at it, people were posing for photos or seemed to have moved in. And then, ta da!

Pergola with no people! It’s too early in the season for that cherry tree to be flowering, alas.

This flowering tree was in full bloom.

More tulips to finish off.

And the band played on.

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Jacarandas of Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo, with two iconic Sydney buildings in the distance.

It’s that time again in Sydney when the jacaranda trees are in bloom. One argument holds that the first specimen in Australia was planted in 1864 (source) — not in Sydney, but they have since been planted here with enthusiasm.

A carpet of fallen jacaranda petals.

A carpet of fallen jacaranda petals.

My journey to work includes a short train ride from Bondi Junction to Martin Place. Just after the train leaves King’s Cross, you can see dots of purple off to the left — but look right, and you are treated to large pockets of intense purple. Last weekend, I took the train to King’s Cross and had a good wander around this area, known as Woolloomooloo (pronounced by Aussies as “Wullamulloo”). It’s a small suburb that originally grew up around a wharf (Finger Wharf) that juts into the harbour.

In this screengrab from Google Maps (satellite view), Finger Wharf is clear. I’ve outlined in yellow the rough borders of Woolloomooloo.

These next photos give a flavour of the types of original housing: rows of small, cramped accommodation for workers and their families (with and without jacarandas!). Walking around the area, you can see that many of the houses have been smartened up, but many still look, shall we say, less smart. It’s an interesting mix.

 

In this shot, you can see the corrugated metal roof of the building behind the flowers.

Jacaranda and corrugated metal roof.

Jacaranda and corrugated metal roof.

The dock work is long gone. The wharf itself (400m/1,310ft long and 63m/210ft wide, standing on 3,600 piles) now houses an upmarket hotel, luxury apartments and assorted eateries. Built between 1911 and 1915, in its day it was the largest wooden structure in the world. (source)

Interior of Finger Wharf. You can get a good idea of its size!

Let’s finish off with more of those flamboyant jacarandas.


Jacarandas and roses.

Jacarandas and roses.

I’m linking this to Jo’s Monday Walks, but I think she’s still in the Algarve as her site hasn’t been updated in a while.


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Random Fridays: Flowers on a railing

Flowers on a railing

Pink and white flowers on a wooden railing

Yes, I know, Random Fridays has taken a break — but it’s back, baby!

Here is the first photo off the rank: clusters of pink and white flowers oh-so-casually (not!) left on a wooden railing. This was taken on the Hermitage Foreshore Walk, which runs along Sydney Harbour. When I spotted the flowers, I did wonder — who had picked them? how long had that person held them as s/he walked along? why did they decide to stop carrying them? why arrange them so carefully when abandoning them?


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B&W 5 Day Challenge: Day 3 – Hibiscus by candlelight

Hibiscus backlit by a candle

Hibiscus backlit by a candle

Revisiting one of my favourite photo concepts: a flower and a candle. I love the subtle lighting effects of a candle in a dark room. A single tea light behind the hibiscus flower highlights the network of veins in the petals.

This image is my Day 3 entry in the Black and White 5 Day Challenge. Jude of Travel Words (and other sites, all well worth a visit) has honoured me by inviting me to join in with this challenge.

There are only two rules for this challenge:

  1. On five consecutive days, create a post using either a past or recent photo in B&W.
  2. Each day invite another blog friend to join in the fun. This is where it gets tricky for me, as I don’t feel that I know five other bloggers well enough to invite them. So I’m going to twist Rule 2 and make it an open invitation — if you would like to join in, please do!
Click to see my other entries in the challenge:

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Frangipanis – two out of three ain’t bad

Frangipani flowers (plumeria)

Frangipani flowers (plumeria)

A heavy rainfall this morning knocked a number of frangipani (plumeria — or kalachuchi as I recently learned they are called in the Philippines) flowers to the ground. I picked up these two on the way home from shopping. I can share with you their delicate pink shade and graceful shapes but not, alas, their intoxicating scent; ah well, two out of three ain’t bad!

I often use the rule of thirds when composing or cropping an image. In this case, I photographed these two flowers so that their centres fell on intersecting lines of the rule of thirds, using the grid on my camera. No cropping needed.

screengrab showing 'rule of thirds' grid in Photoshop

screengrab showing ‘rule of thirds’ grid in Photoshop