spring

Spring Has Sprung


Here in Australia it is now officially Spring. In reality I think Spring sprang a couple of weeks ago, when the temperature reached a balmy 26 degrees celsius. However, it is the real thing now according to the calendar. Having said that, the nights are still quite cold and the temperature is expected to get close to zero tonight. The days have been fantastic though and it is a great time of the year. It is very pleasant to be outside at the moment (during the day I mean) and working in the gardens where I work is quite enjoyable also.

The usual external activities continue – hedging (we have lots and lots of hedges), weed control, mowing, etc. I am currently getting the lawns ready for fertilising, with lawn weed spraying being a major part of my work at the moment. I’ll be on annual leave for two weeks at the end of this week, so when I return the lawns will get fertilised – I don’t want the lads having too much work to do in my absence.

Yacaaba Headland Walk


I ran out of time yesterday to post about my walk up Yacaaba Headland and how I only just avoided being in a storm that was moving in. So today (it’s actually the 27th July 2012 as I type away) I must get two days of posts done, even if I slip this one in back in time, so to speak (as you can with the post time when posting).

BrunchSo I decided to do the Yacaaba Headland walk just before lunch and had lunch in the carpark, while reading the paper. Nothing too healthy – I tend to eat far too much junk when I’m on holidays. So it was a bacon & egg roll, as well as a couple of potato scallops and some chips (and coke of course) See Picture at Left. It was really brunch and I needed the energy boost to accomplish the walk. Sounds like a fair excuse anyhow. You do burn a bit bushwalking and climbing mountains.

So after lunch I set out on the walk. It was a beautiful day, spring like, which was quite strange given it was the middle of winter. It was really quite warm and a great day for a walk along the beach and for being in the great outdoors. The walk to the top of Yacaaba Headland from where I set off was a good 1km along the beach, then a further 1.5km from the beach to the top of the headland. So not a great distance really, though the same ground would have to be covered again on the return, so something like 5km all up. I had plenty of time to cover that distance and I knew that from having done this walk before. So of I went.

First up though was a picture of the scene before me as I got through the sand dunes and onto the beach.

Beach & Yacaaba

ABOVE: The Beach and Yacaaba Headland in the Distance

There were very few people out and about, just a couple of people fishing along the beach and a few walkers as I approached Yacaaba. I could see what appeared like a storm brewing back towards the north and out west. Nothing to worry about at this stage though. Plenty of time.

SpongeOne of the things I noticed along the beach was the amount of debris from the sea. There was a fair bit of what I would call natural debris, such as timber, weed of various types, sponges (See Picture at Right), heaps of shell fragments and even a small fish. However, there was a bit of human debris (rubbish) also, which was a shame. Got me to thinking if anything from Japan would end up here in the long run – from the tsunami. Most of it is heading to the US and west coast of North America, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if a bit made its way to the Australian east coast.

After a bit more than 1km I reached the headland and began my ascent up Yacaaba. The track to the the top of Yacaaba is easily followed and not too difficult in my opinion. There are some steeper sections and the track can be a bit rocky, loose and a bit unstable underfoot, but not too bad overall.

There aren’t a lot of wildflowers to see there at the moment, variety wise I mean. There are plenty of Wattles in flower of course and the usual Banksias, as well as one or two other flowering plant species to be seen.

Wattle

ABOVE: Wattle BELOW: More Wildflowers

wildflowers  wildflowers

As you walk towards the top you begin to get some fantastic views over Port Stephens and in particular Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens and Winda Woppa. The further up you go the greater the views of course and as you near the top there are views up and down the Pacific Coast. It really is a great place on a clear day for fantastic coastal vistas.

View Towards Tea Gardens

ABOVE: View towards Tea Gardens BELOW: View over the Pacific Ocean

Pacific View

Having enjoyed the views for a while, I decided I had better start the trip back and try and beat the storm that was now rapidly heading my way. It was very dark out to the west and north, thunder could be heard rumbling along and flashes of lightning in the clearly heavy rain off in the distance. So down I went. The trip back down was fairly quick, having observed plenty on the way up and knowing the storm was rapidly approaching the descent was somewhat quicker than the ascent had been. No surprises there really.

Bottom of Yacaaba View

ABOVE: The View up the Coast from the Bottom of Yacaaba – Shows the Approaching Storm.

The view up the coast (as seen in the above picture) was marked by the approaching storm, which became increasingly menacing as it adavanced and I got closer to the car. It doesn’t look too bad in the photo above, but as I neared the car It was fairly severe in its appearance and I just got into the car as the first drops of rain began to drop. It was pouring by the time I got back home (just 5 minutes or so away). Yet the storm was gone as fast as it hit.

Bald Rock National Park: Little Bald Rock


Blueberry Ash

This photo was taken on the Little Bald Rock Walk within Bald Rock National Park. The national park is in New South Wales Australia. This photo shows some of the wildflowers (Blueberry Ash) that can be seen along the way to the top of Little Bald Rock during the Spring/Summer months.

Bald Rock National Park: Little Bald Rock


Wildflowers

This photo was taken on the Little Bald Rock Walk within Bald Rock National Park. The national park is in New South Wales Australia. This photo shows some of the wildflowers (Bacon and Eggs) that can be seen along the way to the top of Little Bald Rock during the Spring/Summer months.

Bald Rock National Park: Little Bald Rock


Flannel FlowersThis photo was taken on the Little Bald Rock Walk within Bald Rock National Park. The national park is in New South Wales Australia. This photo shows some of the wildflowers (Flannel Flowers) that can be seen along the way to the top of Little Bald Rock during the Spring/Summer months.

Bald Rock National Park: Little Bald Rock


wildflowersThis photo was taken on the Little Bald Rock Walk within Bald Rock National Park. The national park is in New South Wales Australia. This photo shows some of the wildflowers that can be seen along the way to the top of Little Bald Rock during the Spring/Summer months.

Spring Wildflowers at Tea Gardens


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There are quite a few wildflowers around Tea Gardens during spring. This particular photo is of a plant known as Drumsticks (Isopogon anemonifolius). It belongs to the same family as Proteas, Banksias and Grevilleas (Proteaceae).

This particular species of Isopogon is an upright, medium sized shrub with yellow flower heads in spring and summer. They are quite a nice flowering shrub and would make a great addition to a garden in the same way proteas and grevilleas are. They also make a good cut flower for flower arrangements. Propagation is from seed.

More Tea Gardens Wildflowers at:

Tea Gardens Wildflowers

Indian Hawthorns are in Full Bloom


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Another sign that spring is here is that the Indian Hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis indica) are in full bloom and looking spectacular in the Tea Gardens Grange gardens. We have a large number of these plants with some planted in mass plantings and others in hedges.

The Indian Hawthorn is an evergreen shrub that usually grows 2-3m tall x 2m wide. There are several cultivars, with one having completely pink flowers. The flowers are generally followed by a black to blue berry. Flowers appear mainly in spring, though there can be some flowers at other times. There is a slight perfume, but I barely notice it.

Indian Hawthorns can be used as specimen plants, tub plants, hedges, in drifts and in coastal areas (salt tolerant).

Indian Hawthorns are best grown in full sun (though they tolerate semi-shaded positions in hot climates) with reasonably fertile, well-drained soil. They will respond well to regular shaping, including the use of hedging machinery.

Plants can be propagated by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer.

For more Indian Hawthorn pictures visit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinmatthews/sets/72157622203247845/

ONE OF OUR PONDS


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Spring has sprung at Tea Gardens Grange where I work – not that this particular photo shows that really. This photo is a picture of just one of the many ponds we have around the village. There is also a large central artificial lake.

This particular pond is one that requires very little maintenance and that is probably because of the lower light levels, which means fewer aquatic weeds and plant life are able to become established. This is largely due to the many tea trees that surround the pond.

It would be my favourite pond in the village.

More Spring photos at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinmatthews/sets/72157622203247845/

SWOOPING BIRDS


 

It was the official first day of Spring here in Australia. However, Spring has really been with us here for quite some weeks now, given the very warm days and bushfires we have already experienced. In fact August 2009 was the hottest on record.

plovers and chicks Given that it is Spring it is time for a new season of new growth in the gardens and of new birth in the surrounding wildlife here in Tea Gardens (though it isn’t that clear cut obviously) and there is plenty of wildlife here.

On the way home from work today I was swooped by a Magpie – several times. The Magpie does this in its breeding season to drive off potential threats to its nest and young. Recently I have also been savagely swooped by the local plovers, which attack with even more ferocity than the Magpie.

The plovers had been defending their nest for some weeks prior to their eggs hatching. Their nest was beside the artificial lake in the centre of the village where I work at Tea Gardens Grange. The nest is just a small spot on the ground on which the eggs are laid. In this case their were four. They seemed to sit on the eggs for between 4 and 6 weeks before the young were hatched – swooping the entire time if you ventured too close, as well as making plenty of noise. One of the adults sometimes seemed to pretend to have a bad leg as it hobbled away from the nest in an attempt to get any threats to follow it.

At the moment there are two remaining chicks that are growing fairly rapidly now. The parents are still defending their young with menace.