Sunday, October 29, 2006

Watch and be boggled.

Following on from my mate Ibn's comments about Australian wildflowers, I heartily recommend these images from Georgie Sharp at Flickr. Click on the slide-show and prepare to be gobsmacked.

I had a wonderfully horticultural weekend. On Saturday, my TAFE friend Julia introduced me to her friend Jill and Jill's remarkable garden near Yarramalong on the NSW Central Coast. I'll post some of the photos I took soon. I collected some Leptospermum petersonii capsules, now in a paper bag on the dashboard of my car so they'll open in the heat. And today, my daughter Maxine was rehearsing at the Sydney Opera House for a combined schools choir concert, so I busied myself by wandering about the Royal Botanical Gardens, where there just happened to be a tubestock sale. Oh my. I bought a few wee ones:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Stylidium productum

This clever little flower (only around 7mm in length) is from a trigger plant, Stylidium productum, local to the Sydney region.

The column extending from the centre of the flower to the right is a fusion of two stamens with the style. When an insect lands on the flower, the column is triggered and flicks across the insect. It can be reset a number of times.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Assassin

Firstly, thanks to all who have visited the blog and posted, and to those who have visited silently and stealthily and left no sign. You all make me want make it as good as my skills allow!

At TAFE today, we were appalled to find an array of damage from sundry pests. In one case, the larvae of Sciarids (Fungus Gnats) had so infested the tomato crop of Margaret D. that all but four of the plants had to be sacrificed. The adults are also all over the leaves of our potatoes, but it's the maggots that do the damage.

But the good guys were there too. Like this assassin bug, above, family Reduviidae. Assassin bugs, as the name suggests, are predators, and eat caterpillers by sucking out their precious bodily juices. Isn't it stunningly gorgeous?

Meanwhile, my cornichon cucumbers are close to harvest! I'm hoping that I'll pick them next week. They need only be little, because I'm going to pickle them. See the latest on the website.

I've also updated my Recommended Books page, to include some new additions to my bookshelf:

Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
Resurrection in a Bucket by Margaret Simons
Fruit and Vegetable Gardening in Australia by Michael Pollock
A Primer of Ecological Genetics by Conner and Hartl

And there's a new section: Insect Gallery. My early xmas present was a Panasonic DMC-FZ7 Lumix with 12x optical zoom. I love it to pieces. And now that I can take better macros, this part of the site is liable to grow fast! One of my teachers at TAFE is Mark Latham (no, not the one who trashes Panasonic DMC-FZ7 Lumixes with 12x optical zoom) and apart from being a botanist, he's also an entomologist. (And I just know you're going to enjoy these pages, Mark!) He's a fabulous resource, not to mention someone whose insect-obsessive personality is deeply reassuring to someone like me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The only real reason I'm posting this is so I can put up a photo. Okay, I confess. I'm playing.

This is the flower of a corn plant, one of the crops we're growing at TAFE.

Website changes

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I'd had a bit of a whinge on Botany Photo of the Day about Googlepages' 100 photo limit for websites hosted there. A kind soul at BPotD, MMW, suggested that I join Flickr to house my photos and use this place. Sage advice indeed.

Now I can put new photos on Flickr so they can be accessed from the website, and this blog will allow me to have actual conversations (I hope!) rather than just having my site transmit itself out into the ether with no visible response.

Something I plan to use this blog for is to let people know of changes to the website. So now, I happily announce that I've updated the Great TAFE Pond Project.

Last week, my Pruning and Planting class began clearing the areas around the ponds. We're now talking about what plants should go in. Needless to say, I'm eager to include indigenous species that will provide appropriate habitat for frogs. I'm preparing a list of suggested species.... Lots of Lomandra, Dianella, sedges and rushes, as well as ground cover that frogs are happy to traverse.

I lose my blogging virginity.

Welcome! Having started my Growing Passion website, I decided it was time to enter the world of the blog. At this point, I'm not sure how well I'll be able to integrate the site and this blog, but time will tell. Ideally, it will be reasonably fluid moving between the two.

So if you've found your way here through my website, please, post a message and say hi!