Barn owls and crested terns

Today I’m talking with ecologist Sue Stevens about barn owls and crested terns. Barn owls are not common in urban areas but are found throughout Australia in grasslands and open woodland. Fish-eating crested terns frequent coastal areas with protected areas for breeding. Continue reading

Book review: A Beekeeper’s Year by Janet Luke

A Beekeeper’s Year: a practical guide to caring for bees and beehives is a beautiful book. The front cover picture made me want to read this book, and the photography throughout was beautiful, engaging and very helpful. I am not a bee keeper, nor do I really intend to be although I like the idea of it. In spite of that I really enjoyed this book. It is interesting, highly readable and I learnt a lot about bees. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘1,000 Butterflies’ by Adrian Hoskins

Who doesn’t love seeing a butterfly fluttering through the garden? Adrian Hoskins must because he has spent the last 35 years studying and photographing them in various parts of the world. The study and conservation of butterflies has been a lifelong passion for Hoskins, a passion that began when he was a boy. Hoskins spent many years working voluntarily for Butterfly Conservation in England, as well as leading many butterfly watching tours, and entomological expeditions. Continue reading

Bugs, bees and birds bring beneficial biodiversity

Lately we have been hearing a lot more about biodiversity in the garden and in particular the diversity of insect life that can and should exist in a healthy garden. As we rush through our gardens on the way to work or school we barely notice insects. If we slow down a little we may notice the odd bee or butterfly or grasshopper, and as we take the time to stop and sit in the garden and really watch what is happening we soon start to notice a variety of different bees, wasps, flies, dragonflies, beetles and bugs. Continue reading

Book review: The Bee Friendly Garden

My claim to fame is that I love books, and I have a (novice’s) garden. So this review is coming to you from a beginner gardener, veggie eater, flower lover and book reader who took this book as I take most garden information – an opportunity to learn something that might help me keep my plants happy. And wow, did “The Bee Friendly Garden” help me learn! Continue reading

On the nose: exploring fragrance in our ancient flora

Have you ever seen the beautiful Grevillea leucopteris? We have it growing far from its home in Western Australia on the northern side of Howson Hill in the Australian Garden at Cranbourne. When in flower it has large trusses of cream-white flowers arching over the surrounding garden – just magnificent. The Herbarium in Western Australia knows this beauty by the common name White Plume Grevillea. It is however more often known by another common name ‘Old Socks’ – as to some people these otherwise beautiful flowers have a very unpleasant smell indeed. Continue reading

Cloud forests and other wonders of Peru

Escaping from Sydney a few days before New Year’s Eve, a motley group of friends and family headed to South America for a month of adventuring. First Peru and Machu Picchu, then cycling in Cuba for 2 weeks, followed by 10 days sailing the Galapagos. A triple bucket-list trip!

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Book review: RHS Companion to Wildlife Gardening

If I had a shelf of gardening books to choose from, a ‘Companion to Wildlife Gardening’ would not have grabbed my attention. I think of myself as being reasonably knowledgeable on the subject, but I found the book to be a very accessible and enjoyable read and I have happily come away with a list of plants to acquire and changes to make. Continue reading

Trickery, mimicry and deceit of orchids in the wild

Most gardeners will be familiar with the exotic Cymbidium and Phalanopsis orchids or maybe the native Dendrobium. However, the orchids which fascinate me are the tiny terrestrial orchids which can be found growing in the wild in the eastern and southern states of Australia. When I look at them closely through the macro lens of my camera, I really start to see the amazing details in their 
flowers. Continue reading

Review: The Calyx reveals its Sweet Addiction at Sydney RBG

Newly opened at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, The Calyx is the purpose-built exhibition space that the Gardens has needed and wanted for some years. On the outside it’s an architectural and very beautiful structure occupying the site of the old glass square pyramid Tropical Centre and built on to the Ken Woolley-designed quarter-circle ‘Arc’ glasshouse which survived demolition. I like the way its stark and severe white ribs around the circular open courtyard area contrast with its green and leafy garden background, and also the wonderful shadow patterns they throw on the internal courtyard space. But what’s inside? Continue reading

Walking in Victoria’s High Country

Garden lovers are nature lovers and one of my favourite pastimes is packing my rucksack and saying goodbye to reality before taking off into the Australian bush on my own for a few days of walking. Midsummer is not a typically popular time for bushwalking in Australia. Summers regularly reach a windy 40 degrees celsius, and avoiding remote bushland on such days is as much about avoiding chafing thighs as it is an act of self preservation. Continue reading