Sunday, 22 September 2013

Welcome Home

Coming home from London this time last year it felt as though everything one and everything was welcoming me back with open arms.
Not only were my family and friends ecstatic to see me and my cat forgiving of my prolonged absence, but it felt as though even the garden was putting on a show of welcome. My little corner of London had been green, but not as green as this:

Having been home a year I still remember the magic of stepping out the side door into a sea of brilliant colours and textures. The symbol of spring and rebirth that I brought home from London. But this year I look at it slightly differently.

It's still magical; a carpet of pink curls around the driveway and down towards the side door where it is overtaken by oranges and yellows that continue down the garden path and spill down onto the back lawn.

However here the vibrancy is less impressive if only because the announcement of spring is less necessary.

Here, these plants have returned to being just weeds; pretty but annoying products of an overgrown garden that each week are removed in swathes to allow the other plants a chance to behave with the same voracity.

And yet these very weeds have come to remind me of coming home and rediscovering the beauty of the world in my own backyard. 

Spring Breaks

The arrival of spring is usually heralded by warmer days, the appearance of flowers and insects in an otherwise barren setting...

I don't this can really apply to the environment in which I live. So instead I propose another measure:
the arrival of spring is confirmed by the presence of the first flies.

Living in London flies were one of the few things I did not miss. It was bliss to be able to just be out of doors and not accompany every journey, every conversation with the typical hand movements that typify the batting and swatting of flies. Back in Perth I have unfortunately been reminded of the summer of swatting I have to look forward to.

But on to the more glorious elements of the season:

Minuscule feathered flowers and ground-cover grevillias are in bloom cascading down the sandy slope.

The orange is blossoming (it must be the season for marriage), the sweet blossoms intermingled with the sticky fruits. Of a similar palette, the Californian poppies project their sunny faces towards the heavens, each petal held in place with silken threads defying the desire to capture the warmth and carry it indoors. 

Across the length and breadth of the garden the bees are hard at work tasting everything from the basic yellow daisies to the obscurest bulb that arises out of nowhere and dazzles with its weird whimsicality.

The garden is alive with noise at the moment as a pair of fledgling wattlebirds flit around the garden after their parents constantly shrieking 'feed me' 'feed me'. Meanwhile the parents are keeping their chicks so well fed they even have time to argue with the cats over their presence in this exclusive location.

This fluffed up beauty was adorable, though with his beady eyes directed at my cat (no doubt wondering if she could be carried away for a tasty midnight snack), he could have behaved better.

From the front the wisteria is an inviting blaze of colour facading the bland brick wall of the garage, while around the side a double wisteria covers the path dropping scented pompoms on all who dare pass beneath 

And it is not just the birds and the bees who are out in force. On the ornamental quince is the obvious food of choice for the furry caterpillars while the orchids are housing a host of baby spiders who hopefully escape the attention of the neighbourhood birds.  

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Buzz Buzz Bumble Bee

There are many things I'd like to introduce to this small town for London, but perhaps the most whimsical are the bumble bees.

Here, bees are bees, streamlined, mean, unexciting gatherers who buzz around the gardens harvesting nectar and stinking poor unsuspecting people who get in their way.

They are delightful creatures, but after living in London, I find they cannot compare with the bees that drone around your typical English garden. 

European bees are like big balls of black and yellow velvet the size of a thimble hanging on gossamer wings. When the garden is ablaze with colour, they gorge themselves on the pollen to the extent that they become too heavy for their own wings. As you sit watching, they waver across the garden with the appearance of heady drunkenness. 

They were such a delightful sight though one that is impossible to photograph as their movements were so erratic and unsteady they are difficult to focus on. Only when they flew indoors and landed in my lamp shade were they able to be photographed...

...or when they'd lost themselves in the luxury of a virginal flower.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Night Lights

London has never had a reputation of being a romantic city; it's too business orientated, too fast paced; too much of the history and culture of the city is lost in amongst the shiny new skyscrapers of the City. 

What's needed is a different perspective, a view that makes you forget the hustle and bustle of Oxford St, the bright lights of the West End after dark, the never ending list of free museums you simply have to visit over the duration of your short stay. 

To get that different view point I've taken to putting this trip on the must do list of family and friends who find themselves in this fine city with a free evening on their hands. 

Starting in Greewich is probably easier; a day at the Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Queen's House, Greenwich Observatory, the Greenwich markets, feeding squirrels in the park... take your pick. 

After darkness has descended, (sometime in the early afternoon if you;re visiting in the middle of winter) walk down towards the Thames with the plan of catching the Thames Clipper back into the city in time to catch a show of grab a bite to eat. 

However before you do, turn back and look back towards the observatory, streaking though the London sky towards Canary Wharf is the green laser that marks the meridian line. By day its a line in the cobbled pavements, by night this brilliant slash of colour across the black and cloudy sky. 

Catching the Thames Clipper into town you pass under and by some of London's famed monuments but from the vantage point of a more striking angle and illuminated to stand proud and tall from amongst the skyscrapers that dominate the skyline. 
While it is an angle that has been familiar to Londoners and tourists alike for centuries, it is only in the last century that we have had the benefit of gazing upon these magnificent edifices, some only constructed in the 20th century at a time when London was the very epicentre of a global empire and at the height of its power. And it is more recent than that again that we have begun illuminating them at night to the joy f camera wielding tourists like myself. 

One of the newest monuments of the skyline is the Shard. A shining colossus of steel and glass projecting upwards above and beyond the range of much of London's infrastructure, When I arrived it was little more than a hole in the ground, and I hoped that when I left more than two years later it would be complete. Alas, this is nearing completion but still incomplete enough from foxes to clamour inside and check it out for themselves. 

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The Oxo Tower (looking more like an incomplete game of naughts and crosses)

St Paul's white dome glistening above the boats that line the embankment between Charing Cross and Temple. 

 Circling under Charing Cross Bridge you pass the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before coming to a stop within walking distance of Trafalgar Square and the entrance to the West End. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Winter Wonderment

Winter feels prolonged this year; it's September and still the gales are blowing and the dams are slowly filling. Stepping outside you feel inclined to pack a wind jacket and umbrella in spite of the deceptively blue sky.

Though spring is slowly creeping into the garden, it is still winter enough to warrant another post.

The Physalis is fruiting though it is the insects that have made for such a stunning display of the seedpod. I keep meaning to dry them for the remainder of the year, but they never make it far beyond the bush.

Between branches silken strands catch at the glow of the dying sun, illuminating the prey within. It is the only time such a net does not disappear against the busy background as it stretches out across a path, or between the frames of a doorway.

This pink boronia is quietly celebrated having survived this long. It has been left alone, forgotten about, in the hopes that unlike its predecessors it would not provoke and die an unexpected death. Lord knows what the grevillia below is thinking, though it too appears to like the idea of being likened to a Christmas decoration. 

One of my favourite parts of winter is the swathes of wattle that fill bush land and pepper the sides of the freeway. Growing up we had a tree that you could stand under, and tilting your head back, submerse your face in the subtle sweetness of the flowers. Today, this tree is long gone, replaced instead by others, this sandpaper wattle among them (with the flowers as downy as ever, it is the texture of the leaves that gives it its name).

And yet there are still reminders of Spring's approach; in the park a lone pink and gray galah keeps watch from the branch outside his nest, cocking his head at every noise and passer by. It remains to be seen whether spring will be so fortunate and bring with it the plaintive cries of baby birds. 

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