Trees are dropping leaves to survive and the ground is like iron. Just the other morning I watered my Dendrobium orchid and the long buds were tightly closed. Drought conditions have sent the ants in all directions in search of sustenance but even they were absent.
In the afternoon I returned from lunch with friends and à la voile! There was my tree orchid in full bloom!
Springtime is not properly acknowledged in my garden until this orchid flowers. It is always my September spectacular.
Australian orchidstend to be small, for instance the Cooktown Orchid which is the floral emblem of Queensland, but this species is large and robust. The dull afternoon light does not do justice to its display.
A semi deciduous pink-flowering orchid, it is ‘probably’ native to Australia, a Dendrobium Nobile, and in this case has been grown as an epiphyte – tree hugger. It has been in the family for over forty years and needs basically no care at all. The blooms have a very faint fragrance.
Why I say ‘probably’ native to Australia is because I always thought it came from the Pacific region. In fact, originally its forebears came from northern India/southern China where it would have been quite used to extremes in temperature.
Then I discovered hybrids have been produced. These can be subdivided into two types, the ‘English’ and ‘Japanese’ type, and later I read this historical document courtesy of The Shambles, a country garden at Montville in south-east Queensland:
Dendrobium nobileReliable soft cane epiphytic orchid. We have many unnamed flower colour varieties from mauve, pink and white range. A trouble-free orchid flowering in spring. Introduced to Britain c.1836 by Loddiges’ Nursery. Requested from Loddiges’ Nursery on 1st February 1849 for Camden Park NSW Australia and obtained from them, brought out from England by Captain P. P. King in that year. India www.qos.org.au 1A.1885, 13.1900/1,15.Camden Orchid walk, West Garden, near back stairs, Blue trellis garden, Rain forest walk.
After reading the Wagga Orchid Society PDF (link below) and using a bit of guesstimation, years later my orchid could have been transported from the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia, on consignment to a Brisbane plant nursery.
I now look at my tree orchid in awe and wonderment – such a lineage.
The following shot was taken a few days later in much better sunlight. There was a bee hovering around but it refused to be photographed.
P.S. If you are interested in lovely flowers and picturesque settings in rural countryside, I can recommend a visit to the website and blogspot of The Shambles country garden, Montville, Queensland.
Grey Winter hath gone, like a wearisome guest, And, behold, for repayment, September comes in with the wind of the West And the Spring in her raiment! The ways of the frost have been filled of the flowers, While the forest discovers Wild wings, with the halo of hyaline hours, And the music of lovers.
September, the maid with the swift, silver feet! She glides, and she graces The valleys of coolness, the slopes of the heat, With her blossomy traces; Sweet month, with a mouth that is made of a rose, She lightens and lingers In spots where the harp of the evening glows, Attuned by her fingers.
The stream from its home in the hollow hill slips In a darling old fashion; And the day goeth down with a song on its lips, Whose key-note is passion. Far out in the fierce, bitter front of the sea I stand, and remember Dead things that were brothers and sisters of thee, Resplendent September.
The West, when it blows at the fall of the noon And beats on the beaches, Is filled with a tender and tremulous tune That touches and teaches; The stories of Youth, of the burden of Time, And the death of Devotion, Come back with the wind, and are themes of the rhyme In the waves of the ocean.
We, having a secret to others unknown, In the cool mountain-mosses, May whisper together, September, alone Of our loves and our losses. One word for her beauty, and one for the grace She gave to the hours; And then we may kiss her, and suffer her face To sleep with the flowers.
High places that knew of the gold and the white On the forehead of Morning Now darken and quake, and the steps of the Night Are heavy with warning! Her voice in the distance is lofty and loud Through the echoing gorges; She hath hidden her eyes in a mantle of cloud, And her feet in the surges!
On the tops of the hills, on the turreted cones – Chief temples of thunder – The gale, like a ghost, in the middle watch moans, Gliding over and under. The sea, flying white through the rack and the rain, Leapeth wild at the forelands; And the plover, whose cry is like passion with pain, Complains in the moorlands.
Oh, season of changes – of shadow and shine – September the splendid! My song hath no music to mingle with thine, And its burden is ended; But thou, being born of the winds and the sun, By mountain, by river, Mayst lighten and listen, and loiter and run, With thy voices for ever.
Henry Kendall (1839 – 1882)
‘Leaves from Australian Forests’ Poems of Henry Kendall – with Prefatory Sonnets.
Third poem – Page 7 of original book.
Pages 163 – with Dedication.
Published 1869 by George Robertson, Melbourne, Australia.
Printed by Walker, May & Co, Melbourne, Australia.
Nasturtiums like to grow free-range in the sun with well-drained soil but I planted the seeds in an old hanging basket under the verandah and watched their lifespan over three months from warm September mornings in springtime to steamy January afternoons in summertime.
It’s a sunny, springtime day in subtropical Brisbane and we are heading towards Mt Coot-tha, the ‘mountain’ which is really a hill. The temperature is balmy and the drive is easy, out along a flat highway which decimated countless trees and native bushland.
Mt Coot-tha “Summit” Restaurant & Bar.
Ascending the steps…
We cruise by the Botanical Gardens, the Planetarium, the quarry (!), the cop with a radar speed gun, the tourists in an overheating VDub Kombi-van and climb towards the summit lookout which sits atop what was colloquially known as ‘One Tree Hill’.
Plenty more trees now, well, there is at the moment but Brisbane City Council may revert to one. The council is keen to upgrade the area, adding tourist lures like a zipline and tree-top canopy walk. Bye-bye quiet little harmless native animals and birds who take sanctuary there from the six-lane highway below.
Lunch in the shade of Kuta Café atop Mt Coot-tha, Brisbane.
Hardy plants in the sun all day.
We reach the carpark of our destination, fluke a spot, and notice the air smells eucalyptus fresh. It’s an interesting walk through various nationalities of smiling, picture-taking tourists. We join the milling crowd and peruse the Summit Restaurant & Bar menu before deciding the dollars signs are for high class meals. It is easier to tag onto the lunchtime queue at Kuta Café with its two-tiered eating decks.
Old natural stone from the surrounding area.
View from almost the top tier of the lookout.
I enjoy a delicious chicken salad wrap and share a huge bowl of baked potato wedges with heaps of sour cream and sweet chill sauce. After keenly snapping views towards the river and western suburbs, Brisbane CBD, and Moreton Bay with Moreton Island sandhills way in the distance, we detour the gift shop and head back to the car.
A friendly magpie lands on the car mirror, enquiring about food, but we have none to give, so it takes off—see below for this gripping encounter.
The Xanthorrhoea plant is uniquely Australian. It grows in the South East of Australia thriving in well-drained, aerated soils with low nutrient content.
Sticky-beak Magpie looking for food.
We agree not to drive the long way, the full circuit around Sir Samuel Griffith Drive which passes leafy barbecue areas, transmission towers and headquarters of local television stations.
Heading down the hillside, the city views and far-reaching scenery becomes less and less until ground level, then the highway roundabout appears, perfectly positioned opposite Toowong Cemetery.
The City of Brisbane is growing, the traffic is growing, the drivers are getting faster. Or am I turning into a grumpy older person? Time for a nap!
These vivid flowers would be perfect at Christmas time. But, no, this spectacular red Callistemon, an Australian native Bottlebrush, flowers in springtime and early summer.It has long fluffy tubular flowers that look beautiful in gardens and taste delicious to all kinds of native birds, insects and other wildlife. The flower 'brushes' are so soft, not spiky at all.There were two Rainbow Lorikeets hiding in the branches, eating the nectar and chatting away, but they wouldn’t keep still for a snapshot.I saw this long row of flowering plants in an industrial-type setting in Brisbane yet Callistemon grows in every location, tall shady trees to knee-high potted shrubs and used as groundcover.Information from this website Australian Plants Online Flowering Callistemon indicates that I’ve photographed 'Hannah Ray' which is 4 metres high and suitable for streetscapes.It brightened my September day!♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward