Monday, February 28, 2011

Mosaic Monday ... our last day of Summer!

Yahoo ... our Summer is almost over!  Good riddance too!  I'm so looking forward to our Autumn through to Spring time this year and I'm hoping I'll see the garden recover very well during that time.

As the cleaning up is almost over, I took a stroll around the property looking for little signs of hope and beauty.  I think I'm getting over the disheartened state slowly ... and spotting these beauties certainly helped.

Cleome spinosa 'Senorita Rosalita' is coming back into bloom showing off its gorgeous lavender pink flowers.

The gorgeous Evolvulus pilosus 'Blue Sapphire' is putting on a show.

The pretty Barleria 'Purple Gem' is starting to bloom once more  ....

and this rather unique little bloom ... the inflorescence of Dorstenia bahiensis or the Mattress Button Plant is making a spectacle of itself.

For more fantastic Mosaic Monday posts, please visit our host Mary at Little Red House

I'm also joining Lisa's meme, Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flaunt Your Flowers on Friday - end-of-summer and post-cyclone time

As February draws to a close, so does our Summer ... and I'm quite happy to say goodbye to the 2010-2011 Summer!  It was a season of some considerable change in my garden and right now it's difficult to find blooms to share for this Fertiliser / Flaunt Your Flowers on Friday post.

I've looked high and low for something to share ... and I was really pleased to find just a few flowers here and there. 

Around the property the dependable Hibiscus rosa-sinensis shrubs stood up the Cyclone Yasi with great gusto and have been flowering non-stop ...

...  and there are flower buds on the Crotons as well.

Out in the Greenhouse Garden there's just a few blooms ...  Curcuma australasica 'Anita', a tiny unknown Orchid, Calathea medallion, Dragon Wing Begonia and Barleria obtusa.

Out in the Courtyard Garden blooms are hard to find.  Most of the container plants suffered even though they were moved to a sheltered spot and were not out in the open.  The cyclonic winds still managed to reach quite a few of the potted plants even in their sheltered spot ... and the days when we had no running water meant I was unable to continue with their usual watering routine.  Still, in spite of the terrible time they had, I have managed to spot these few little flowers ... Torenia fournieri and Ixora 'Twilight Glow'.

For other Flaunt Your Flowers on Friday posts, visit Tootsie at Tootsie Time

I'm also joining in Blooming Friday at Roses And Stuff, where the theme is 'A Touch of Green'.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wildlife On Wednesday - Black Cockatoos Searching For Food

One of the terrible results of the devastation caused by a Tropical Cyclone like TC Yasi, which swept through here a few weeks ago, is the loss of vegetation.   Thousands of trees across the city were felled literally overnight when Yasi struck ... and the trees that were left standing were stripped of their leaves, flowers and fruit. 

Not only is this habitat destruction a sad sight for us ... the human population ... but it's a huge loss for the local wildlife.  Around my city there are lots and lots of birds looking for food right now.  It's hard work for these poor creatures and just last week I spotted a group of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos looking a little lost.

There's been a group of these magnificent birds hanging around here for ages and ages.  They particularly love the fruit of the trees in our neighbour's yard as well as the flowers of our Cadaghi Gums.  We hear them screeching away with pleasure atop these very tall trees almost every day during the summer here.

Well, unfortunately most of our neighbour's trees are now lying in massive piles all over their yard and our Cadaghis are almost completely bare.  The group of Red-Tailed Blacks turned up just a few days after Yasi had hit and were all in a flap as they searched for their favourite haunts.  The branches of their beloved trees were nowhere to be found.

They perched themselves on some nearby branches and there appeared to be a rather heated interaction going on between two of the males and the group of about five or six females all sitting together.  The males had found a little bit of food which they were obviously eating with great relish, while all the females appeared to be going without.  It seemed there was just not enough tasty food to go around.

Maybe the conversation went something like this:

I haven't seen any of the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos since that day, so they've probably moved in now in their search for food.  I'm left wondering just how many of the birds that usually live around here might be missing for a while.  I've certainly noticed the usual daily bird song din has quietened down considerably.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mosaic Monday - Its Post-Cyclone Clean-Up Time.

Im going to start this after-the-cyclone post with the pretty ... and then move onto the not-so-pretty. I actually found something that was still blooming out in my potted garden.   These little Celosia plants have really been a welcome sight. 

There's not a lot that's pretty around the property at the moment.  Most of the usual summer-flowering trees and shrubs are now well and truly trimmed back, some to the ground  ...  like the Plumeria, the Durantas and the Pseudomussaendas.

Could you possibly have more ugly sights than these spots???  It's still such a mess in so many places. 

It's been a downright disheartening time for us.  We had begun the job fairly cheerfully, thinking it may take a few weeks of hard work to really clean up.  But I think that was a rather optimistic outlook!  It's been over two back-breaking weeks and we're only about half way through the clean-up.  Every spare moment after work and on the weekends every since Yasi hit just over two weeks ago, has been spent chopping things down and then carting them to the green waste pile out beside our street. 

But I think it's more than just the time and energy needed for the job that's brought us down a little!  When you see the debris scattered everywhere and you see the broken trees and shrubs, it is definitely devastating.  But nothing prepares you for the sight of the garden after you've cleared away the debris and chopped back all the decimated trees and plants.  It's a very, very depressing sight!

It's all looking terrible, especially the entrance into the property.  I'm finding it hard to look at so much of the garden right now.  I just have to keep thinking that the recovery time for the garden has already begun.  Whilst there is beauty in the sky these days, I have to be patient for the garden to regain some of its beauty.

Please go on over to Mary's blog Little Red House to see some fantastic Mosaic Monday posts from all around the world.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mosaic Monday ... Roses are not always red!

At the moment there's not much beauty to be found in my post-cyclone garden.  So I've had to look a little further for some photos today.

I've inherited a small rose garden at my school ... it's just outside my new room, so that's all that's needed for me to become responsible for it!  I'm afraid I don't know much at all about growing roses, so we'll see how I fare at this new gardening responsibility.  I will most probaby be asking for lots of advice.

Any hoo...  after all the cyclonic winds and rain we've been experiencing here lately it's surprising to see some of the roses showing off their lovely blooms!  There's not many of them right now, but the few that are flowering are looking pretty darn good after the horrible conditions they've been through lately.

How appropriate for Valentine's Day!

For other fabulous Mosaic Monday posts, please visit Mary at Little Red House

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weathering A Yasi!

Well Cyclone Yasi has been and gone. It crossed the coast as Category 5 (the highest rating for a cyclone) about 160 kilometres to the north of us. Yasi was huge … the eye alone was around 35 kilometres across.  The main part, including the eye, stretched close to 500 kilmetres wide!   We were within the circle of destructive winds just outside the eye or centre and we had a wild ride on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

TC Yasi superimposed on the U.S. ... gives a visual about just what a monster it was!

Here's some tips about weathering a cyclone:
1.  Have plenty of water supplies.  Fill the bathtub, fill huge 5 gallon water containers, fill any spare bottle you have around the house.  It's surprising just how much you will appreciate your efforts in storing water when there's no running water for days and days!  (Special note:  you'll need quite a bit of water to help flush the loo!!!!)  I recommend the 5 gallon containers as they're so much easier to heave around!

2.  Make sure you have a source of power such as a little generator.  It is so surprising just how boring and long the day can be when there's no power for your various modes of entertainment.  We've been without electricity now for four days and it feels like a lifetime.  I'm able to blog tonight because we took the chance to fire up the generator for a few hours instead of the hour in the morning and the hour in the evening that has been the routine for the last few days.

3.  Have plenty of dried and non-perishable food items in your pantry!  After an exhausting day of clearning dropped branches and dragging them metres to the fire-pit, the last thing you feel like doing is cooking up a huge meal on the barbeque at the end of the day!  It's soooo much easier just to boil some water and add it to something that resembles rice and then just chuck a steak on the barbie for some added sustenance.

4.  Sit out the scary cyclonic winds with friends.  Stay out on the back verandah until you can't stand the rain and wind lashing anymore ... and the little branches flying past perhaps add a little bit of fright to the experience ... and make sure you have a wee drink or ten!  Left-over bottles of champagne from a mother-in-law's milestone birthday come in very, very handy!
(No, my friend is not trying to get internet access, she's just playing some music on her lap-top to lighten the mood.  Bob's 'Blowin In The Wind' is a great choice!)

5.  Ensure that the battery-operated source of all knowledge about the cyclone and how it's progressively raging closer and closer to you comes from something cute and adorable.  The duck of doom was most appropriate as our one and only source of contact from the outside world in the wee small scary hours!  Pay homage to the duck of doom and bad things might be averted!

6.  On the night of the raging storm, make sure you cook loads of tasty food.  I highly recommend big pots of spaghetti ... quite easy to cook using a little portable stove when you lose power and spaghetti tastes great even when you're sitting in a dining room surrounded by what seems like a whole fleet of jet engines roaring all around you!  It also goes very well with lots of robust red wine!

7.  When you hear some frightening clunks and crashes from outside don't whatever you do, try to go out to see what it was!  Your face will never recover from the wind and rain lashing it receives while you're being so inquisitive.  Far better just to wake up the next morning and take a wonderful stroll of discovery outside when you can actually stand up straight and walk!

8.  Have plenty of fun board and card games to play ... Coon Can (also known as Gin Rummy) is a great one to play or Taboo!  It's something to keep your mind off the noise happening all around you.  It's also a great source of diversion when you find you just can't sleep!

9.  Ensure you service your chain saw.  That will most certainly come in handy when it's time to cut down, trim back and just generally give your entire property a clean-up in the aftermath of some rather nasty windy weather!  Be prepared when you venture outdoors ... your garden will never quite look the same again!

10.  Must-do's:
- have cash ... they just won't just give you stuff when you turn up to a shop that has no electiricty
- fill the fuel tanks in both your cars ... it's surprising just how much running around you have to do for elderly relatives in the aftermath of a cyclone
- constantly add to your collection of batteries ... make sure you have all the different types as you just might be surprised what sizes are needed for things like battery-operated radios and clocks
- tape all your windows ... even those you think are not in the direct path of cyclonic winds as it's amazing just how much pressure is created inside your house in the event of cyclonic winds
- finally, have a great sense of humour and a resilient nature ... it's very handy not to lose it when things start crashing into your house or falling off your house! 

O.K. ... silly stuff over with now!  All is well here. We sustained some damage to the house … the bull-nosed hood that wraps around the verandah had a section ripped off and there were a couple of smahed windows. Aside from that the house came through OK.

There was no torrential downpour with the cyclonic winds and I think that helped Townsville come through relatively unscathed. The winds apparently reached aorund 125-130 kms an hour here … it certainly felt like it! … but without the heavy rain the damage around our city appears to be quite minor.

There are thousands of trees down all around the city and many of them bought down powerlines. There’s still around 60,000 homes without power today … we’re one of those … and for some of us the lack of power also means there’s no running water. There’s no electricity to power the water pumping station.

So right now, we’re cooking on the barbie, using the generator for a few hours in the morning and at night, and using our water sparingly. I expect we’ll be one of the last suburbs to have the power restored as I’m afraid the outlying rural suburbs are not areas of priority.

Compared to those poor souls up in Mission Beach, Cardwell and Tully though, we’ve been very lucky. They have really suffered and they were just getting back on their feet after Cyclone Larry wiped through there a couple of years ago. The weather has remained relatively clear so that certainly helps with the clean-up and the repair crews are hard at work.

Our property here is covered with such a lot of debris from broken branches and fallen trees … we’ve been busy trying to clear a way out of the property as the driveway was impassable. It took almost an entire day, but the driveway is now cleared and we’ve started work on cleaning up the rest of the place. It will take a while, but we’re so thankful that’s the worst of it!

We’ve lost the tops off our two 30 feet tall Tabebuias, and our huge 30 feet by 30 feet Weeping Fig Tree … these trees are all located close together and the mess left by the branches ripped off is just massive.

Our 10 foot African Tulip Tree has falllen over completely and unfortunately taken out a fence panel. We also had the 30 foot Tabebuia from next door crash over another of our fence panels.

Next door’s Poinciana took out a number of tall trees down our driveway and many of the 8 feet Duranta shrubs were torn apart. Of course, we’re surrounded by gum trees our in the bushland and lots of broken branches ended up littered across our property. 

My stunning white Bauhinia is completely split in two and will have to be removed. My two 12 feet high Plumerias have many broken branches and will have to have a rather severe trim.

That's hubbie on his way back from dragging yet another huge load of debris to the what could be called our Mt. Everest pile!!  All in all the place does look a bit of a wreck, but that’s nothing compared to the devastation further north. We were lucky enough to dodge a rather massive bullet!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yet Another Cyclone Is Coming ... Yep, Yet Another Cyclone Is Coming ... and it's a doozy!

‘Wet’ season here in northern Oz not only means heavy rainfall, but the possible occurrence of significant weather events like cyclones.

So far this ‘wet’ season we’ve had one Category 1 cyclone … Tropical Cyclone Tasha … which passed a little further north of us on Christmas Day morning. That cyclone deteriorated to a rain depression when it moved inland and went on to contribute significantly to the flooding experienced throughout central and southern Queensland.

Then on Monday this week, a borderline Category1/2 tropical cyclone, TC Anthony crossed the coast just south of us.  It made landfall in my home town where my Dad and brother still live.  Luckily there wasn't too much damage but they did experience 150 kilometre/hour winds and torrential rain.  Trees were squashed flat, caravans tossed around, some smashed windows ... but that was about the extent of the damage.

Well, today we're bracing ourselves for the arrival of possibly the largest tropical cyclone Queensland has experienced.  TC Yasi is on its way ... and it's a monster.  It will dump another massive amount of rain over Queensland as it deteriorates and moves inland ... and that is, of course, the last thing this state needs!

It's predicted to become a Category 4 just before it crosses the coast. Category 5 is the highest possible category for cyclones, this is going to be a bad one.  We've been closely watching it all day today and it's begun moving quite quickly towards the coast. No-one can be entirely certain where it might make landfall, but at the moment it's predicted to be further north, maybe up around Innisfail or Cairns.

Community Threat Past Cyclone Details
Warning Zone - Gales within 24 hours
Watch Zone - Gales from 24 to 48 hours
Past Location and Intensity Number
Past Track and Movement
Current Cyclone Details Forecast Cyclone Details
(at 24 and 48 hours from issue)
Current Location and Intensity Number
Very Destructive Winds
Destructive Winds
Strong Gale Force Winds
Forecast Location and Intensity Number
Very Destructive Wind Boundary
Destructive Wind Boundary
Strong Gale Force Wind Boundary
Most Likely Future Track
Range of Likely Tracks of Cyclone Centre

It is however a huge system and we will definitely be affected. Nursing homes and one boarding school was evacuated yesterday ... and today most of the low-lying areas close to the coast have been warned to evacuate. There's a huge storm surge expected to hit Townsville and we will experience the outer edge of the destructive winds.

All schools are closed tomorrow and Thursday, so I get to stay at home. We have relatives living in the inner city who have been warned to evacuate so we'll be looking after them.  The supermarket shelves here are almost bare ... there's not a tin of Baked Beans or a roll of toilet paper to be found. On the way home from work this afternoon I saw incredibly long lines of cars waiting to fuel up at the petrol stations because we're expected to lose power for a while. People are queued at ATM's to get cash ... and there's not a battery to be found in this great city of ours!  I have to say too, lol, that there's not much wine or beer left in the bottle shops either!!! Typical for Aussies!

Ah ... the tropics! Anyone thinking of migrating for the wonderful weather??? Hmmm?
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