Saturday, September 25, 2010

Neighbourhood Watch

These massive beauties make me laugh and until Jeff Koons hits town and shapes some of his iconic puppies out of them, my artistic aspirations will have to be satisfied by cake decorating; these particular blooms are the exact shade of Allen's 'Ripe Rasberries.' I almost feel like sending in a suggestion for the Women's Weekly Birthday Cake book! You can tell I'm still reeling from Miss C's birthday extravaganza...

At this time of year, every shade of Rhodo is ubiquitious and yet completely unique. They are seriously showy and have always struck me as azaleas on steroids. In my little bit of research, it seems this is precisely the case both in flower and stature; the main difference is one of size. This shot demonstartes it perfectly - you'll never see an azalea even vaguely comparing to a telegraph pole!

Additionally, most azalea blooms occur individually; that is one flower to one stem, whereas the rhodo's blossoms occur en masse. At Magic Garden, I have one pink specimen that is so heavy with flower, half the plant has bowed under the weight and there's a gaping hole between top and bottom. This has provided a neat window to an azalea behind but it does make me wonder about whether a rather severe prune is needed. Thanks to the good folk at wikipedia*, I've also learnt that whilst the word Rhododendron comes from the Greek: ροδον, rodon, meaning "rose", and δενδρον, dendron, meaning "tree", it cannot lay claim to its own alcoholic beverage. Next time you're in Korea, keep an eye out for Tugyonju, "azalea grape wine," and please, do post your thoughts.

As mentioned in my last post, the crab apple will always have a special place in my heart. I think they are just delightful, a tart intrusion upon the landscape and a more robust blossom than most. I am amazed that Magic Garden hasn't one hidden away and it saddens me greatly. Plus, OMG is so very well established, it's not like I can just pop one in willy-nilly - there's literally no room and even if I was to shoehorn one in, it wouldn't be fair as there's so much competition, it wouldn't thrive...which would disappoint me doubly. Until I can work out a more equitable arrangement for all, I am taking solance in my lovely neighbour's delighful specimen.

Positioned in the front yard, it is hidden behind a rather high hedge and you really only notice it from the side gate. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that its neighbour is this very fetching Magnolia, another favourite whose close proximity I had been lamenting. I love its languid branches and between these two beautifully compatible bedfellows, the canopy they create is a haven of cool shade. All that's missing is a hammock, a good book and me...maybe a houseboy on hand with a fresh pitcher of homemade lemonade.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Spring has sprung?

Confession time: the first of September came and went and I missed it! I am quite happy to blame baby brain because I'd planned a celebratory 'Spring is sprung' post and I got to last Friday and realised I'd missed the boat. That's what happens when you're 30 weeks pregnant. I keep telling myself, just because the calendar says it is so, doesn't mean the weather is listening and up here mountainside, we are definitely a good month behind our warmer coastal cousins.* So despite the jaw dropping display of blossoms that are just everywhere, I am no closer to returning to my most beloved barefoot summer self. A painted toenail self, buoyant on warm waves of salt water and summer sun. A bikini figures prominently (this is how we know this is fantasy land!) and daylight savings is as permanent a fixture as my healthy, glowing tan.** What I have worked out is that now that I know the calendar has turned, mentally my brain is telling me it should be getting warmer...with the exception of last Wednesday, it's just NOT!

This particular day of spring's beginning is the divine Miss C's birthday. She is three and oh so fabulous, oh so hilarious. Amazing that between Husbando and I, we have managed to keep this tiny creature alive, that she's articulate and thriving, funny and kind. The next year is going to be massive for her, she's off to pre-school and perhaps more importantly, about to become a big sister. After her party today, she was a little miffed that no-one had brought her Pooh Bear a present, as it is his birthday too... who can blame them, it hadn't occurred to me either! But I think it's a telling aspect of her personality, she didn't let it get in the way of her opening her own presents and she didn't bring it up until we were getting ready to have a much needed nap. I like to think this reveals her good manners. When I suggested she'd just have to share her gifts with Pooh Bear, she took it in her stride and he wore her new tiara out for dinner tonight. So even if he is inanimate, she knows how to share and I'm taking this as proof Husbando and I are doing something right.

In the weeks before I gave birth to Miss C, our Magnolia had come into flower and much like myself, the Cherry Blossom was ripening. Up on Armstrong St, the neighbourhood's best Crab Apple, (malus floribunda, I can, in fact remember some things) was a confection of pink and white, the tartness of new green leaves slowly upstaging the sweet. It's one of my favourite things, the dominant, showy blossom giving way to the fresh leaves. Reminds me of a very sickly lolly, the toffee apple and I don't mean a real apple dipped in toffee!*** Part of the bittersweet beauty of life can be marked by memories of what plants are in bloom. The spring of my childhood was always synonymous with the massed Azaleas that spelt out Lane Cove on Epping Rd, until one of my Mum's oldest friends told me she couldn't see them without remembering when her father died. Not many remain now because of the Gore Hill freeway and the bus interchange. And the Lane Cove tunnel means that unless, you're driving to Lane Cove specifically, you'd not have reason to pass and recall the fact that once upon a time, during a spring time traffic jam, that particular part of the world was that little more lovely and that someone very much loved was lost but not forgotten.

*Please forgive, sometimes I can get a tad city mouse, country mouse...I keep it in check most of the time because I really do enjoy the best of both worlds.

**Not that I in any way advocate solariums or unsafe tanning practise. However, I have become a little more aware of Vitamin D of late, in terms of the important role it plays in helping the body process calcium. No matter how sunny and inviting the day might seem, living where I do, going out with bare skin exposed for 10 minutes in 10 degree C temperatures is going to feel like lunacy! Confession number two, I guess, I do fantasise about getting tan.

***Which, for the record, I've always found rather overrated. Mostly, I guess you usually find them at fetes or fruit and veg shops and the apples used always seem to be horrid and floury. Makes me wonder if a little tart bonanza or sundowner might shift the balance...note to self, get Mum to teach me the art of toffee making.