Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm moving to 23rd February, 2010

Hi there,
Im moving to Please follow me here as I wont be doing any more posts on blogspot.
Thanks for your continued support,
robble at zip

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Warrigal Greens

Lately I have been walking around the cliffs between Coogee and Clovelly . I noticed a common ground cover that  I couldn’t identify at first. It’s Tetragonia tetragoniodes, common name Warrigal Greens. It grows in moist areas close to the coast and estuaries. warrigal The leaves of this plant are edible and were eaten by Aboriginals and early settlers. It needs to be boiled before eating to reduce the oxalate, which is poisonous.

“ The leaves are edible although bitter unless cooked. Captain Cook served them boiled daily to his crew and Joseph Banks thought they “eat as well, or very nearly as well, as Spinach”. Nowadays they are mainly enjoyed by native rats and other herbivores “– from Field Guide to The Native Plants of Sydney by Les Robinson

Joseph Banks                                                                                 Joseph Banks – Botanist and Explorer

What a fall from grace this vegetable has had! It sustained the early settlers and is now mostly enjoyed by rats.

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On my bookshelf…………………..

IMG_0001 I’ve recently started studying  Horticulture Certificate 4 by correspondence. This has led me to search through a lot of gardening books on my shelves. I found this gem of a book. It was given to me by a work colleague and I’d forgotten how great the illustrations are.


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It was published in 1953. I’ve found a few old newspaper clippings between the pages. “Gardening Without Tears, by Reg Edwards” and a recipe for prawn cocktails. I particularly love the 1950’s colour in the plates.

Friday, February 12, 2010

St Andrews Cross Spiders

The rain is still bucketing down here in Sydney. For me (and many others) its a welcome change. All of my pots are soaked and I have been moving some of cacti and succulents undercover to stop them from rotting out. Ive noticed some new insect arrivals: St Andrews Cross Spidersspider 009 They are so called because of the silky cross at the centre of their web. This is called a stabilimentum. At first thought to stabilise the web, it is currently thought to either help capture prey or avoid predators.

EDIT: Today, 17th February, I was standing on the balcony, brushing my teeth and a wattle bird landed on a nearby branch and ate the above spider, right in front of me. C’est la vie!

st andrews cross spiders, homes 025This one is either a baby or hasn’t had time to spin the  cross yet. These spiders are common in Eastern Australia and are found from rainforest margins to open forest and heathland. And…. they aren’t poisonous!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rain – and little yellow mushrooms……….

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We’ve been having lots and lots of rain lately. I moved my pots out to catch it. I think theres no substitute for rainwater. I have also been indulging in my somewhat obsessive habit of collecting rainwater. As I cant have a rainwater tank, I now have lots of containers of rainwater, which are fast filling up with lots of mosquito larvae. I might have to move my new fishes around a bit!
shrooms 004 I’ve also noticed lots of mushrooms coming up in the pots. I checked, they are common and pretty harmless, although I’m not planning to eat them
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Before………………………………………………………………………………………………………After (1 day)……..

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blue Banded Bees

After a very mixed week, I was thrilled to find these critters buzzing around on my verandahoten, tomatoes, bees 040They are called Blue Banded Bees or Amegilla sp. and are native to Australia. They are, at the moment, all huddled on the tips of Lepiromia articulata which is in my watergarden. Its been pouring with rain for 2 days and they are all soakedoten, tomatoes, bees 051  Another interesting thing that I discovered from, was that they are great tomato pollinators, and are used in greenhouse tomato production. They are very active foragers and each visit about 1200 tomato flowers a day. I don’t have that many tomatoes but have got a few pots going. They are my 2nd round of tomatoes for the summer and are grown from the seeds of my first batch. I’ m loving the little         microcosm that’s developing here on my rooftop deck.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

White Cloud Mountain Minnows

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I mentioned in an earlier post that I had started a watergarden. Its an old metal washtub with some reeds in it, as well as some Thai mint and a native Australian waterplant called Marsillea.  Every time I look into the water, its full of wrigglers (mosquito larvae)  The best solution to get rid of the wrigglers was to get some fish.


I went to Aqua Pets in Bondi Junction and got 6 Tanichthy albonubes, common name White Cloud Mountain Minnows. They are hardy fish which can survive warm or cool water temperatures. They are extinct in their native habitat of Guandong, China, and were originally discovered by a Boy Scout leader in the 1930’s. They are a member of the Carp family, which is already setting off alarm bells in my head as Carp are a huge pest here in Australia and are decimating native fish populations and causing widespread riverbank erosion, here in Australia.

Like many other plant and animal species, they are great when kept in a confined area, but become a problem when exposed to another environment where  they may dominate and takeover because of their ability to thrive in a variety of situations.

I don’t know whether this species of fish could ever become a problem in the wild, but its always good to be aware of the potential.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Aechmea bromeliifolia albobracteata

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I finally cut the flower head off of this plant as its past its prime. Something came along in the night and had a go at extracting some seeds from it. I love that the plants on my rooftop attract birds and insects and provide some sort of environment for them

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Sedum “Purple Emperor”

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I bought this Sedum at Lambley Nursery last year and it has just started flowering

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It grows 35cm tall and the leaves are purpley bronze. It flowers from late summer to Autumn and requires little water. A great choice for a sunny garden in drought conditions

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sydney Botanical Gardens

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I recently went to The Sydney Botanical Gardens. The tropical hothouse is fantastic. Lots of exotic , tropical plants growing on different levels, so that you can see things from different perspectives.  If the Gardens had more funding, I think that this would be a good collection to develop. Its really popular whenever I visit the gardens and its not cheap to get in. Theres is another glass pyramid type hothouse opposite that has mainly Australian tropical plants. Its pretty boring, and needs some work. There are lots of bare patches and the plants dont look very luscious.

The flying foxes that have colonised the gardens really depressed me. They are destroying a lot of the older trees in the gardens. Their droppings are everywhere and smell putrid. When is something going to be done about this problem. It seems to have been going on for too long.

Camping – January, 2010

Shredded tent

I went camping this weekend with my friend “S”. Above picture shows what happens when you leave your tent up and unattended over long periods of time.Coleman Lakeside 3 This is the new tent. The Coleman Lakeside 3, complete with its own vestibule. We put it up in 20 mins without directions

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hoya densifolia (I think)

I was in Far North Queensland a couple of years ago and bought this unidentified Hoya from a small local nursery that didn’t have any other Hoyas for sale. I have been trying to identify it and have found that there is a lot of debate between Hoya collectors about the 2 species Hoya cumingiana and Hoya densifolia.

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I think this is H. densifolia. It has small leaves 3cm long x 2cm wide. The new branches are upright at first, then cascading, not twining. There are 13 flowers in the umbel. It is apparently from the Phillipines and Indonesia.I love how the flowers look all waxy.

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Significant Trees # 1

I spend a lot of time driving around Sydney and various trees and plants become landmarks. They might be in a public place or in someones front garden. They might be something that you dont give much thought to until they flower spectacularly at the same time each year. Sometimes they disappear all of a sudden because the council has decided that they are dangerous or a developer has moved into a site and unceremoniously mowed down all things green.

With this in mind, I thought I might start an irregular post of some of my favourite landmark plants

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The first one is an Angophora costata, or Sydney Red Gum. Its on a vacant block between a newsagent and an old house. Its on Rocky Point Road in Sans Souci. Its a beautiful tree that sits right in the middle of the block. I worry that sooner or later the block will be sold and the tree will be removed.I hope not!

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Angophora costata is known for its curling limbs and its smooth pinkish brown bark. Its often seen growing from crevices in rocks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cotyledon orbiculata


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I have been reading another instalment on about posting photos on your blog via Window Live Writer. As someone who has never had any computer tuition, this information is gold! Also this week have rediscovered a favourite blog of mine A succulent obsession which has fantastic photography and is invaluable for identifying succulents

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Header and Layout

Have spent most of the day, changing format and trying to change the header into something that will fit. I dont have photoshop. I think this is something I will have to get. I keep looking at other peoples blogs and wondering whether they have professional help. It says on the Blogger editing tab that it will shrink the picture to fit - but it doesnt!  Aaarrrggghhh!

Friday, January 15, 2010


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I never used to like Dahlias much, but my friend, Don, bought me some bulbs and Ive become a little bit fascinated by them. They remind me of Chrysanthemums, they look a little bit Chinese and these huge showy flowers manifest from little bulbs. They dont really fit with all of my other plants, but I have realised thats its a great pleasure to watch the development of flowers, when you go outside to inspect your garden. Another friend cant believe how much time I spend inspecting my plants.But for me, that is the best part!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Draceana Draco – Callan Park

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I was in Callan Park today. Its an area of land that was originally bought in 1839 as an estate. In 1873 it was bought by the Colonial Government to be the site of a “Lunatic Asylum”. At the time the grounds were 104.5 acres. The parklands were designed by the Director of the Sydney Botanical Gardens. At various stages since then it has fallen into disrepair due to neglect.callan park 144
There is a bit of a sad feeling around the place, due to its long history as a psychiatric hospital. It was also used to treat shell shocked soldiers returning from WW1.
Friends of Callan Park have a very informative website with more details of its history
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There are some very significant trees in the gardens, including some Dracaeana draco that I think must be about 100 yrs old.Originally from the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, they can live to 400 years. These examples are very striking and are well displayed in the huge open landscape.I have to say though that they are a strange choice of tree to put in the front area of a psychiatric hospital. They look like giant brains, and could be a bit intimidating.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pelargonium sidioides

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This is a test run as I am trying out Window Writer to blog as it seems to be a lot easier. Thanks so much for your fabulous posting on how it all works. I think blogging is going to get a lot better from now on!Also, I have got a new layout. Im happy because my pictures are bigger and not cut in half

Saturday, January 9, 2010


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I have started to plant a sort of watergarden in an old metal tub that was given to me by a friend. Ive got a pot of Marsilea mutica, which is commonly called Nardoo. It looks like a 4 leaf clover and is found naturally in freshwater marshes. Ive got 2 tall reeds: Restio tetraphyllus , another Native plant found in sheltered coastal marshes, usually in deep sand. The base of the plant looks striped. Also Lepironia articulata , a native coastal rush. Lastly Saracenia "Evedine". This is a native of South Eastern USA. I have been trying to find a good home for this plant, but it keeps getting burnt! .Also, I got some Vietnamese Mint that I was having trouble growing, which I have now discovered loves being in the water. My next step is to get rid of all of the mosquito wrigglers in the water. Maybe I might buy some fish! Im having a bit of a hard time at the moment trying to manipulate photos, and change the layout on Blogger, but finding it all a bit frustrating! Im going to persevere, so hopefully in the future, my blog can look a whole lot better!