Saturday, June 29, 2013

It's Flower Flaunt Time ... As Our First Winter Month Comes To An End

This coming weekend is the last weekend of our first winter month.  Here in the northern tropics, our winter weather has so far been absolutely glorious, as usual.   During this past week, our overnight temps. have dropped a little though.  We're now having around 11 deg C (51 F) at night, and we turn on the electric blanket for a little bit just before bedtime.  That's chilly for us!

Let's see what's blooming around the place at the moment.

There are finally some blooms appearing on my newly planted Pelargoniums.

There are still just a couple of pretty pink flowers bursting forth on the dwarf Azalea in the front garden bed.

My other Schlumbergera is about to start blooming.  I love the apricot colour of its flowers.

The two potted Azaleas out in the courtyard are getting ready for a late Winter show.

My Angelonias bloom pretty much all year round, but look far better during our winter months.

The hanging pots of Streptocarpus also bloom pretty much all year round.  They're looking great at the moment.

The Impatiens walleriana that grows in the shelter and protection of my shadehouse are showing their sweet faces.  They are another all-year-round bloomer here.

The spikes of the Celosia argentea look fantastic.

The first colourful bracts and tiny flowers are appearing on my dwarf pink Euphorbia pulcherrima or Poinsettia at long last.  They're a little later than usual, but most welcome.  They are a bright spot in winter gardens up here.

I always marvel at the colours of the newly opened bracts and the size of those tiny flowers in the middle.

The two Adenium obesum or Desert Roses have also started another blooming cycle for the year.

For some strange reason, there is still a flower spray opening on the winter deciduous Plumeria rubra.  I'm not used to seeing flowers on this tree when it's dropped almost all of its leaves and looking rather naked.

Hmmm, I've just noticed how much pink and purple is about during the wintertime here.  I'm detecting a bit of a theme.

Anyway, I'm just a day late but I'm joining Tootsie for her meme Fertilizer Friday / Flaunt Your Flowers

I'm also joining Today's Flowers

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another Interesting Spider ... The Year In Photographs ... June 27, 2013

O.K. so I've spotted another very interesting spider out in my courtyard garden this morning. I didn't notice it at all until I looked at one of my photos.  Can you see it lucking behind the Angelonia flower stalk?  Once I saw it in the photo, I rushed out to take some closer shots.

Take a closer look ... here it is. 

I think it might be a White Flower Spider, also known as a White Crab Spider ... Thomisus spectabilis.

Can anyone I.D. this one for me?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wildlife on Wednesday ... It's A Jewel Spider

I noticed a little spider sitting on an enormous web last week and wondered about it's identity.  It had quite a crab-like appearance.  Thanks to a couple of helpful readers I've since found out it's a Jewel Spider ... Austracantha minax.

The common name, Jewel Spider, appears to be related to the look of the smooth enamelled appearance of its abdominal surface.

It's also referred to as the Christmas Spider, because according to some of the information I've found online, they are usually found around Christmastime in our tropical Aussie gardens, which is our Summer.  Well that's not the case in this particular situation.  This spider is sitting out in the courtyard in early Winter.

It's a tiny little thing, about the size of my little fingernail.  The males apparently grow up to 4 mm, while females will reach 8 mm.  So mine must be a female.

This Jewel Spider has remarkable mottled white patterns on a black background on its back, and has six large projecting spines around its abdomen.  This is the reason for another of its common names ... the Spiny Spider.

Apparently Jewel Spiders build a vertical orb web about one to two metres above the ground ... which is exactly right in the case of the Jewel Spider out in my courtyard.

The support silk lines are apparently deliberately made visible, while the orb web remains invisible.  The anchor lines have many fluffy white balls on the silk which means large animals, like we humans, can actually see these silk support lines and avoid walking into the web and destroying it.

The female spiders sit all day and night on their webs.  Unlike most Orb Spiders that destroy their web after a day and move on elsewhere to build a new one. 

The male Jewel Spiders apparently hang around nearby on a branch.  I've looked for one, but haven't been able to find it yet.

These spiders eat flying insects which get trapped on the silk.

I'm adding a little video clip I managed to take with my old ageing camera.  It's not the best quality, but you can clearly see the Jewel Spider wrapping up its lunch.

Here's another little clip showing the spider repairing its web after the insect got caught in the silk lines.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Yet Another Flower Flaunt On An Early Winter Friday.

It's our Winter solstice today, and up here in the north, it's time for the beautiful Schlumbergeras or Zygocactus to show off their unusual blooms.  Happy Winter Solstice to all my fellow Aussies.

Now while in other parts of the world the solstice indicates the beginning of a new season, here in Oz our seasons officially start on the first day of the appropriate month.  So our Winter began about 3 weeks ago.

The temps. have become decidedly cooler here though, as our first Winter month gallops towards a close. I don't want you all to worry too much however, as our Winter temps here in the tropical north are rather mild compared to so many other corners of Australia, and indeed the world.

The mercury has been dropping down to between 10-14 deg C (50-57 f) overnight, so we've actually had to turn on the electric blanket for a couple of evenings this week.

It's been difficult getting up early in the mornings, but I try most days just so I can take in the stunning sunrises we get at this time of year.  It always seems to me that the sunrises and sunsets during our wintertime are just far more fabulous than at any other time of the year.

The daytime temps have been a lot warmer, between 23-27 deg C (73-80 F), which means I haven't as yet had to throw on a jumper or cardigan during the day.

Out in the courtyard garden, the native Sterculia quadrifida or Peanut Tree has been busy dropping most of its leaves, being a winter deciduous tree.  The leaves have been carpeting the courtyard pavers and creating a bit of a mess out there lately.   No sooner do I finish sweeping up piles of them, then I turn around to see more of the blessed things.

Never mind, it means I'm forced to spend more time out in the courtyard where I can enjoy the lovely potted flowers and foliage.

There are a few things blooming out there right now, like the Salvias, the Cleome, the Marigolds, the Impatiens, the Angelonias, the Celosias, the Violas, as well as the Ixora.

The first flowers have appeared on my Petunia 'Bumblebee'.   It's one of my all-time favourite Petunias.  I'm afraid the poor light out in the courtyard today means this bloom looks rather purple and green, when in fact it's black and yellow.  Never mind, I'll take a better shot for next week's flaunt when hopefully it will be a brighter, sunnier day.

My particular favourite at the moment if the brilliant Justicia carnea.  I adore the white plumes of this plant.

Another favourite is the Salvia glechomifolia, but you need to get up close and personal to see its beauty.  It does get a little lost in amongst all the other plants.

The Cleome spinosa 'Senorita Rosalita', on the other hand, demands attention from appreciative eyes.

The Salvia splendens have been attracting quite a few visitors lately, like the Yellow-bellied Sunbirds ....

.... and our native bee, the Blue-banded Bee.  These bees are loners, and this morning this little chap was busy feasting on the nectar ...

... as well as drinking the waterdrops that remained on the plant after I had watered.

Well at least, that's what it seemed to be doing to me.

Elsewhere in the courtyard, the winter-blooming Euphorbia leucocephala or Snowflake Bush, is still putting out bracts and blooms behind the Cycas revoluta and Cordyline 'Morning Sunshine'.

There are also a couple of flower spikes on the Dracaenas that grow under the pergola.

I'm joining Tootsie for Fertilizer Friday / Flaunt Your Flowers

Nix for Floral Friday Fotos

and Today's Flowers

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Early Winter Morning Sunrise ... The Year In Photographs ... June 18, 2013

We seem to witness a lot of fabulous sunrises during our wintertime here.  The colours have been stunning lately.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's A ? ... The Year In Photographs ... June 16, 2013.

There's an enormous web hanging out in the courtyard.  Right in the middle is the strangest sight.

I'm not exactly sure what it is.  Is it predator or prey?

Spider, captured insect or egg sac?  Thoughts anyone?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Another Early Winter Flower Flaunt Friday.

Well the conditions warmed up a little this week, and it felt more like early Summer than early Winter.  Yesterday the daytime temp reached 29 deg C  (84 F) and the same high is predicted for today.  We've had almost no rain at all this month (a miserly 1.4 mm, which is 0.1 of an inch), which is typical for our dry season.

Out in the garden there are blooms appearing on the Cordylines ...

like Cordyline 'Red Wings', which provided a feast for the grasshoppers over the summer,

Cordyline 'Purple King',

and our native Cordyline cannifolia.

I have a few rather insignificant Dracaenas around the garden, but occasionally they break into bloom and remind me that there are fantastic attributes to all plants.

This is one year that the Dracaena reflexas have started blooming.

It's also time for the Corymbia torelliana or Cadaghi Gums to begin their blooming cycle, and tiny little flower buds have started appearing on both trees.  Soon the flowers will be attracting all sorts of wonderful birds and insects.

In the middle of the courtyard garden,

 the native Sterculia quadrifida or Peanut Tree is still covered in its rather insignificant looking flower sprays,

but now the fruit has begun appearing as well.  These pods will turn from a dull green to a bright orange-red and add some terrific colour to the courtyard.  At the moment the tree is dropping most of its leaves and making an absolute mess of the courtyard.

Out in pots in my courtyard garden,

there are lovely Viola flowers,

Cleome spinosa 'Senorita Rosalita' blooms,

weird and wonderful Celosia flowers,

 Schlumbergera or Zygocactus flowers,

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' blooms,

 and cheerful Marigold blooms.

I'm joining Tootsie for Fertilizer Friday / Flaunt Your Flowers

Nix for Floral Friday Fotos

and Today's Flowers

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