Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seed Collection - Russell Island Redlands

Cicada shells at Whistling Kite Wetlands.

Casuarina Forest at Turtle Swamp Wetlands.

Wildflowers of the Coastal Heath, Turtle Swamp Wetlands.

Banksia forest, Turtle Swamp Wetlands.

Coral Fern, Turtle Swamp Wetlands.
The last couple of Redlands Bushcare outings I planned to join were rained off, but last week was fine if a little windy, and the Bushcare Seed Collection outing to Russell Island was on. I was excited about visiting another bay island I hadn't been to before. Russell Island is about one hours barge trip from Redland Bay, taking in views of Macleay, Lamb, Karragarra and Pannikin Islands on the way.
Once on Russell Island we started with a visit to Whistling Kite Wetlands, seeing various wildflowers, grass trees, banksia seedlings and a lot of bandicoot activity (holes in the ground). The stand out sighting here, for me, were the 'armies' of cicada shells clinging to the base of most trees in the area we visited. Many of the trees were charred black from fire, highlighting the golden-ochre casings.
We then headed on to Turtle Swamp Wetlands for a longer walk through various habitats that make up the Coastal Heath. I found this site quite amazing, with a stunning diversity of vegetation and the timing just right for a wonderful display of Spring wildflowers. We moved through casuarina forest with grass ground cover to more open heath with Boronia and many other wildflowers in full bloom. I have to mention the 'trail blazing' efforts of Travis and Marti up front who made the going a bit easier for the rest of us through the heath. The wildflowers were up to my armpits, but the effort was well and truly worth while. Through the wildflowers we moved into an area of Banksia 'forest', still low in height but thick with distinctive leaves and seed cones dominating the heath, then back into more sheltered casuaria groves. It's really quite special to be able to visit areas like this, even if just for a morning. These wetlands are not areas I could explore on my own, being guided during the Redlands bushcare outings is fortunate I think.
Back to the van where we made a short trip down the road to collect seed filled Banksia cones and then back to the jetty for some lunch before enjoying a scenic barge trip back to the mainland.
I found a lot of inspiration on this trip, so much diversity and unusual species. Special thanks to the Redlands Indigiscapes Bushcare Education team for guiding us on the day, it was a great outing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Still in the garden

Three weeks into August and I've realised there is more than a month's worth of weeds to tackle in my garden, but I'm still happy to see each area gradually being transformed. It's been raining again today, very unseasonal, but most welcome (makes the weeds easier to pull out), and gives me a legitimate reason for donning my new pink welly boots, Love them!

I visited the open garden of Jan and Denis (fellow members of TSGS) on the weekend. They are both passionate and very knowledgeable about Australian native plants and have created an amazing garden on a rocky, low rainfall site. Acacias, grevillea, eremophila, paper daisy and many other species were in flower, attracting a wide variety of birds. I think their garden exemplifies the idea of planting species to suit your conditions, with stunning results. The vegetable garden is also a triumph, filled with interesting varieties of lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, leek, cauliflower, tatsoi and mizuna. I couldn't resist buying a few trees for home, it's been a couple of years since I planted anything major in the garden, so this was fun. I chose a Brachychiton bidwillii, a Long-leaved tuckeroo, a Diploglottis variety and an Acacia.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Plant-Life exhibition finishes this week

Sunday 15th August is the final day Plant-Life will be on show at Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland. The exhibition has been a most wonderful experience. Every aspect of the exhibition has been handled with the utmost professionalism, which from an artists perspective is simply fantastic. I have enjoyed many discussions with local residents during the show, finding this interaction and engagement with ideas in the works one of the most rewarding aspects.

I haven't had much time yet to consider how this project will continue in the future, there are many sites still to be visited in Redlands, with an ongoing source of inspiration. Something to think about next week.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Melbourne Art Fair 2010

Last week I headed to Melbourne to check out the Art Fair at the Royal Exhibition Building. I met up with my friend and fellow artist Susan Buret for what turned out to be a full day of art viewing. A weighty catalogue available on entry to the show gave an indication of the volume of art we were about to see. I found it very interesting to look at the way various galleries handled showing art in their booth spaces. Some galleries opted for solo artist shows, such as Gemma Smith at Sarah Cottier Gallery. This gave a very coherant apperance, but also put all the eggs in one basket so to speak. Gemma's transparent prism sculptures sparkled vibrant colour and looked amazing. Many galleries opted for a salon style hang, with some works from each of their represented artists. This worked in some cases better than others. In between were gallery spaces that featured three or four artists. Dianne Tanzer Gallery and Projects was in my eyes the stand out show at the fair. They featured works by Juan Ford, Charles Robb and Natalie Ryan. Space was allocated sufficiently to allow each artists work to shine and at the same time present a polished coherant show. Natalie Ryans floor sculpture featuring drought ravaged calves was particularly poingant.
Brisbane galleries were well represented at the art fair this year including - Bruce Heiser Gallery, Edwina Corlette Gallery, Fireworks Gallery, Jan Murphy Gallery and Ryan Renshaw Gallery.

I saw some works in the flesh by Sally Smart at Greenaway Art Gallery and Linde Ivimey at Martin Browne Fine Art which I loved. The Art Fair had it all, great, good, average and ..... overall I had a great day and enjoyed the show a lot. Thanks for your company Susan.

Back in the garden

Yesterday afternoon I was back in the garden catching up on pruning and mulching. The pomegranate tree needed a good prune, removing mummified fruit and some die back on branches, trimming thorns so I can pick fruit without being jabbed. Then onto the peach trees, which I was drastic with, removing about 80% in height. I planted two tropical low chill varieties which have grown abundant crops of superbly sweet fruit over the years. I wish I had realised how large these trees like to grow though and bought them on dwarfing root stock instead. Trying to net or bag fruit on these trees against fruit fly is possible but much easier if the branches remain within reasonable reach. So the trees are now back to chest height and I look forward to a small but edible crop. In the vegie garden I picked the first savoy cabbage for this season, just love the rippled leaves of this variety. Cooked last night as a braise with bacon, garlic, rosemary and fresh snap peas, it certainly tasted good.