Monday, 26 May 2008

Roses in the subtropics are a pain in the neck...but

when they set their heart to flower they make up for it!

One more glorious autumn day has leaped into the sky.

I have bought ,while grocery shopping, this miniature yellow rose, no name. I also bought a new climbing rose named Tzigane (Gypsy), when it flowers I will post a picture .

When I see cool climate rose gardens I am green with envy. I don't care about pigeon egg sized rubies or diamonds; I don't want a Maserati or a Bentley! I only want a care free rose garden with a thousand roses and a gardener to look after them, that's not much I am asking for is it?

The lily has a smooth stalk, Will never hurt your hand;

But the rose upon her brier Is lady of the land.

There's sweetness in an apple tree, And profit in the corn;

But lady of all beauty Is a rose upon a thorn.

When with moss and honey She tips her bending brier,

And half unfolds her glowing heart, She sets the world on fire. Christina Rosetti

Old Noisette Roses

Bouquet d'or yellow blend zone 7-11
Bougainville pink blend zone 7-11
Milkmaid white (Clark 1921) zone 6-11

A vigorous pink miniature Rose. One of the roses to buy in super markets by the dozens, no names, not expensive and is sold in many colours.

Beauty without virtue is like a rose without scent.” Proverb

Old china roses:

Comtesse du Cayla orange blend zone 7-11

Bengale rouge zone 7-10

Camelia Rose light pink grows in shade zone 7-10

Chance is vigorous and propagates well from cuttings.

Old Tea Roses:

Mme de Tartas light pink zone 6-11

Mme de Wattville Yellow zone 6-11

Marie van Houtte pink blend zone 6-11

Bon Silene deep pink

Tender Blush light pink zone 5-10 old Alba easy to grow in semi shade.

Pearl Dior, a beautiful climber, the buds are light pink, the flowers soft, blowsy and scented.

Old Noisette Roses:
Milkmaid white (Clark 19250 zone 6-11

Meteor deep pink zone 5-11

Bouquet d'or yellow blend zone 7-11

Climbers to grow in zones, 9, 10 and 11:
Mary Wallace to 3 m for tripod
Devoniensis old Tea
Amy Johnson Alister Clark Rose
Aimee Vibert Noisette pure white
Alister Stella Grey creamy yellow
Crepuscule apricot

A Pink David Austin. This Rose hasn't done to badly considering growing in "unroseable" conditions, hot, humid, lashings of rain, dry spells, she has experienced the lot and still sends out from time to time her lovely, silky blooms.

But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.
Anne Bronte quotes (English poet and novelist, 1820-1849)

Peace or Gioa is a temperamental Diva in my garden, I love the subtle colouring.

Do not watch the petals fall from the rose with sadness, know that, like life, things sometimes must fade, before they can bloom again.

"Yet, O thou beautiful rose! Queen rose so fair and sweet. What were lover or crown to thee, without the clay at thy feet?" ~ Julia C R Dorr

Iceberg does very well in the subtropical climate. Floriferous all year round and can be propagated from cuttings in winter.

Apricot Nectar does well in the subtropics, flowers through the year and grows well from cuttings.

This rose does well too in my garden, grows from cuttings made in winter.

And I will make thee beds of roses And a thousand fragrant posies." - Christopher Marlowe

Chance is my favourite, It is nearly disease free grows tall and flowers freely. Propagate from cuttings in winter.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with elgantine." - Shakespeare

CORAL roses imply desire.
YELLOW shows "I care"; friendship, joy, gladness or freedom.
LAVENDER symbolizes love at first sight and enchantment.
PEACH roses indicate modesty.
LIGHT PINK roses denote grace, joy, gentility and admiration.
DARK PINK roses are to signify thankfulness.

Believe it or not:
Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.Turkish Proverb

Organic tip of the week:

Basic Insect Control for Roses.

In a blender puree 2 garlic bulbs (not cloves, but the whole heads of cloves, peels and all) and 3 chili peppers in 2 cups of water. Steep in a sealed container overnight then strain through cheesecloth or sieve, pressing out all liquid. Discard pulp and store liquid in tightly sealed glass container in fridge. Use ¼ cup of liquid and 1TBS lemon-scented dish soap to a gallon of water.

To Control Blackspot and Powdery Mildew add 2 TBS of baking powder to your gallon mixture from above.

Roses like Banana peels, they contain calcium, sulphur,magnesium and phosphate, so when you eat a Banana feed the peel to your roses.

I have bought a commercial rose spray, but its chemicals sound so bad I really don't want to use it. It says Rose Shield, Insect and disease spray. The safety directions state, wear protective clothing , may irritate the eyes don't let it get into water ways etc.

Active constituents in Rose shield are: Tau-Fluvalinate and Myclobutanil

MYCLOBUTANIL Toxicity to humans, including carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and acute toxicity. This is also used to spray soy beans!Myclobutanil

Water quality standards and physical properties affecting water contamination potential.

Toxicity to aquatic organisms.

Toxicity to humans, including carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and acute toxicity.


Water quality standards and physical properties affecting water contamination potential.


Toxicity to aquatic organisms.

Those two chemicals are used on soy beans to control diseases.
I can't see an end to using toxic sprays on food production. More people, more animals have to be fed, more food has to be produced. Where does it lead to?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Herbs are beneficial, a must Have in the Garden.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana, Lamiaceae) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours. It is also called Sweet Marjoram or Knotted Marjoram and Majorana hortensis.
The name marjoram (Old French majorane, Medieval Latin majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major).[2]
Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as Herbes de Provence and Za'atar.
Although considered cold-sensitive, marjoram can sometimes prove hardy even in zone 5.Wikipedia

A bunch of fresh herbs to be dried.

Common sage (Salvia officinalis) is a small evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean region.
It is much cultivated as a kitchen and medicinal herb, and, according to certain sources, grows in every field. Common sage is also grown in parts of Europe, especially the Balkans for distillation of the essential oil, though other species, such as Salvia triloba may also be harvested and distilled with it.
It is also called Garden sage, Kitchen sage, and Dalmatian sage. The word sage or derived names are also used for a number of related and non related species
As a herb, sage is considered to have a slight peppery flavour. In Western cooking, it is used for flavouring fatty meats (especially as a marinade), cheeses (Sage Derby), and some drinks. In Britain and Flanders, sage is used with onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. In French cuisine, sage is used for cooking white meat and in vegetable soups. Germans often use it in sausage dishes, and sage forms the dominant flavouring in the English Lincolnshire sausage. Sage is also common in Italian cooking. Sage is sauteed in olive oil and butter until crisp, then plain or stuffed pasta is added (burro e salvia). In the Balkans and the Middle East, it is used when roasting mutton.
The Latin name for sage: salvia, means “to heal". Although the effectiveness of Common Sage is open to debate, it has been recommended at one time or another for virtually every ailment. Modern evidence supports its effects as an antihydrotic, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic, and tonic.[1] In a double blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial, sage was found to be effective in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.[Wikipedia

A close view, Italian Parsley, Marjoram, Rocket leaves, a couple of Comfrey leaves, Oregano not to much (bitter) Sage and petals of Nasturtium and Pineapple Sage.

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is a tender perennial plant with tubular red flowers and an attractive scent to the leaves. The scent has been compared to pineapple, while others have compared it to the odor of a martini. However, the German name of it means "honeydew melon sage". It produces numerous erect leafy stems and flowers in the late autumn. The red flowers are attractive to hummingbirds.
Pineapple sage does not normally produce fertile seed in cultivation. Commercial growers produce new plants asexually, through cuttings.
Older literature refers to this species as S. rutilans.
Pineapple sage leaves are edible and can be steeped in hot water to make an herbal tea.

The fresh herbs are stacked into the dryer. It takes about 24 hours to dry, check from time to time. The red petals are Pineapple Sage flowers. I like to use Nasturtium flowers as well but they do not flower yet, I found only a few. Calendula petals and Borage flowers dry well and add a few dots of colour and different minerals.

In cultivation, most varieties of nasturtiums prefer to be grown in direct or indirect sunlight, with a few preferring partial shade.
The most common use of the nasturtium plant in cultivation is as an ornamental flower. It grows easily and prolifically, and is a self-seeding annual.
It is also edible, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient, and is used in stir fry. All parts of the plant are edible, not just the flower and leaves. The flowers can be added to salads for an exotic look and taste; they have a slightly peppery taste reminiscent of Watercress. The unripe seed pods can be harvested and pickled with hot vinegar, to produce a condiment and garnish, sometimes used in place of capers, although the taste is strongly peppery. The mashua (T. tuberosum) produces an edible underground tuber that is a major food source in parts of the Andes.
Nasturtiums are also considered widely useful companion plants. They repel a great many cucurbit pests, like squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and several caterpillars. They had a similar range of benefits for brassica plants, especially broccoli and cauliflower. They also attract black fly aphids, and are sometimes planted in the hope of saving crops susceptible to them. They may also attract beneficial, predatory insects. Wikipedia

This tray was choker block full and that's what it looks like after drying when all the moisture has disappeared.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a bright green, biennial herb, also used as spice. It is very common in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. Parsley is used for its leaf in much the same way as coriander (which is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro), although it has a milder flavor.
Two forms of parsley are used as herbs: curly leaf and Italian, or flat leaf (P. neapolitanum). Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. Many people think flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor, and this opinion is backed by chemical analysis which finds much higher levels of essential oil in the flat-leaved cultivars[citation needed]. One of the compounds of the essential oil is apiol. The use of curly leaf parsley may be favored by some because it cannot be confused with poison hemlock, like flat leaf parsley or chervil.
Parsley is widely used as a companion plant in gardens. Like many other umbellifers, it attracts predatory insects, including wasps and predatory flies to gardens, which then tend to protect plants nearby. They are especially useful for protecting tomato plants, for example the wasps that kill tomato hornworms also eat nectar from parsley. While parsley is biennial, not blooming until its second year, even in its first year it is reputed to help cover up the strong scent of the tomato plant, reducing pest attraction.
In parts of Europe, and particularly in West Asia, many foods are served with chopped parsley sprinkled on top. The fresh flavor of parsley goes extremely well with fish. Parsley is a key ingredient in several West Asian salads, e.g., tabbouleh which is the national dish of Lebanon. In Southern and Central Europe, parsley is part of bouquet garni, a bundle of fresh herbs used to flavor stocks, soups, and sauces. Additionally, parsley is often used as a garnish. Persillade is mixture of chopped garlic and chopped parsley. Gremolata is a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Wikipedia

The dried herbs are ready to be ground, or rub with fingers until crumbly.

The finished herbs will be mixed with Sea salt and be ready to use. This will improve salad dressings, to be used in soups, vegetables and meat dishes.

Believe it or not:
Be led by reason; Greek Proverb.

Organic tip of the week:Do earth, nature and yourself a favour and use plant based biodegradable products.
Clean out your cupboard and remove all cleaning products containing toxic cleaning agents and replace with earth friendly products.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Australian Flora and Fauna in the Garden

Here... the sun shines every day...

Mike is a big guy...

and Auntie Dot...

and a family picture!

This beautiful Python Snake, common name is Carpet Snake, because of its pattern, lives since many years in my garden in this Staghorn fern. Here she is just going home, enjoying the sun for a while.

Emerging Banksia Robur flower

Banksia robur, commonly known as Swamp Banksia or, less commonly, Broad-leaved Banksia grows in sand or peaty sand in coastal areas from Cooktown in north Queensland to the Illawarra region on the New South Wales south coast. It is often found in areas which are seasonally inundated.
Though it was one of the original banksias collected by Joseph Banks around Botany Bay in 1770, it was not named until 1800 by Cavanilles, with a type collection by Luis Née in 1793.

Emerging flower of Banksia Robur

Growing Banksia flower

Lilli's Majolica Pottery, Possum with red flowered Eucalyptus. (Not for sale)

Rainbow Lorikeets on Banksia Robur flower.

The Rainbow Lorikeet, Trichoglossus haematodus is a species of Australasian parrot found in Australia, eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In Australia, it is common along the eastern seaboard, from Queensland to South Australia and northwest Tasmania. Its habitat is rainforest, coastal bush and woodland areas. The taxonomy is disputed, and it is often split into several species (see Taxonomy).
The Rainbow Lorikeet is very colourful as its name suggests. Almost every colour in the rainbow is used on the feathers of the rainbow lorikeet. They are not a huge bird with a Rainbow Lorikeets height ranging from 25-30 cm (9.8-11.8 in) in size, with a wingspan of about 17 cm (6.7 in) and vary significantly in colouration between the numerous subspecies. Their eponymous markings of the best known subspecies moluccanus are particularly striking: A dark blue or violet-blue head and stomach, a bright green back, tail and vent, and an orange breast and beak. Several have darker scalloped markings across the orange or red breast and the Weber's Lorikeet is predominantly green. Wikipedia

Lilli's Majolica Pottery, Pigmy Possum with Wattleblossom. (Not for sale)

Grevillia Honey Gem is a tough, for ever flowering Shrub.
Grevillea is a diverse genus of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants in the protea family Proteaceae, native to Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, and Sulawesi. The species range from prostrate shrubs less than 0.5 m tall to trees 35 m tall. Common names include Grevillea, Spider Flower, Silky-oak and Toothbrush.
Grevillea flowers were a traditional favourite among Aborigines for their sweet nectar. This could be shaken onto the hand to enjoy, or into a coolamon with a little water to make a sweet drink. They might be referred to as the original "bush lollies".
Believe it or not:
Marsilio Ficino 1460 the greatest scholar in the world, translated 17 books of the Hermetic Text into Greek and Latin.

Organic Tip of the day: Do not use "Finish or any other commercial Rinse aid in your dishwasher. It leaves a bitter taste from the chemicals on the dishes. I use since years white Vinegar. The result, sparkling dishes without chemical residue. And it is much cheaper as well!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Tropic Botanicals

Impressions from tropical North Queensland.

A very dramatic sunrise, open grazing country between Townsville and Mackay, Northern Queensland.

Aerial view of far North Cane Country, everywhere sugar cane!

Xanthorrhoea is a genus of flowering plants native to Australia and a member of family Xanthorrhoeaceae. The Xanthorrhoeaceae are monocots, this plant was formerly known as "Blackboy" or Grasstree, growing in the garden of the hotel.

The Cannonball tree; Couroupita guianensis.

Fruits are edible and are occasionally eaten, but the smell of the white flesh discourages most people from trying them. On the other hand, the flowers have a wonderful smell and can be used to scent perfumes and cosmetics. The hard shells of the fruit are sometimes used as containers.
Plant Cultivation
A large tree, up to 50-75ft tall. It will only grow in tropical zones and is very susceptible to frost. Flowers (followed by fruit), grow directly from the trunk. Fruits are soft and very fleshy. Provide lots of water and humidity for optimal growth.Propagation: By seed.
Origin and Distribution
Native to rainforest of the Guiana's in Northeastern South America.

Flowers of the Cannonball tree.

The whole area where this tree stands is perfumed by those gorgeous looking flowers.

Costus is a genus of perennial tropical herbs. They are often characterized (and distinguished from relatives such as Zingiber) by their spiraling stems.

This plant caught my eye but I haven't got a clue what its name is.

More Costus Ginger; this could be a Beehive ginger. I think I will introduce some more into my garden, they are really spectacular plants for semi shade.

Jade Vine; Strongilodom macrobotrya.

The jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) is a native of the tropical forests of the Philippines. Its flowers are the color of jade, and hang in bunches up to 90 cm long; each clawlike flower is about 7½ cm long. In its native Philippines, the jade vine's flowers are pollinated by bats.
S. macrobotrys is prized in tropical and subtropical gardens for its showy flowers which are a highly unusual blue-green. It is usually grown over a pergola so that the flowers may hang down below where they can be seen easily. In South Africa the jade vine is mainly restricted to the warm humid strip of coastal Natal but grows in a few frost-free spots inland.

A peaceful spot to rest.

Tiny Peperomia or perhaps Pileas ( I am not sure) used as groundcovers.

Interesting yellow flowers; could be Costus, Ginger or Heliconia?

Begonia species...(the word species makes it easy identifying!) they look lush and stand out in shadowy spots under trees.

Fantastic borders with colourful leaves, Bromeliads, Ferns and flowering plants.

Pink Torch Ginger; Etlingera elatior.

The torch ginger or wax flower (Etlingera elatior (Jack) R.M. Smith) is believed native to Sulawesi (Celebes) and Jawa, Indonesia (Java). The plant is now grown in many tropical locations both for the extravagant 'flowers' and for food. In Malaysia, it is called kantan. The peduncles (stems) of the inflorescence are chopped and added to laksa pots (various curries or soups made with rice noodles).

The spectacular inflorescence rises from the rhizome to a height of 60 centimeters (24 inches) to more than a meter (40 inches). The individual flowers will appear from between the pinecone-like scales above the waxy bracts. The leaves grow in ranks from separate stalks along the rhizome. The leafy stalks are evergreen and get 4.5 to 6 meters (15 to 20 feet) tall. Note that in the photograph, the inflorescence is just starting to expand and the leaves are dried having been subjected to cold temperatures and winds.
Torch ginger has had numerous generic designations through the years: Alpinia, Phaeomoria, Nicolaia, and Elettaria. The taxonomy was tangled and confusing. And it was believed the genus contained only a handful of species.
In the 1980s, Rosemary Margaret Smith of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh tackled the gingers and determined this plant belonged to Etlingera, a genus first described in 1792 by Paul Dietrich Giseke. Since then, Axel Dalberg Poulsen of the National Herbarium of the Netherlands has dedicated his studies to these glorious plants. He has discovered there are at least 70 species, many not yet described, spread from India to the Pacific Islands.
Dr. Poulsen has a page of photographs of some of the beautiful Etlingera species he has been studying. To view his page, click on the link: