Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm a fall...

Every season has it's joys but up here mountainside, it can be hard to decide which season provides the most cause for celebration and delight. Summer is looked upon fondly when warmth seems too far away and spring is all open garden showmanship and the pizazz of petals. Winter is brisk walks and hot chocolate and well, autumn...autumn can feel like the most mixed blessing of all. There's a sadness as the air turns cold, especially this year as we seem to have bypassed the Indian summer of years gone by. I hope this is just a meteorological blip and not further climate change confusion; I love how crisp mornings burn off into long, hot afternoons, just perfect for finishing off those little jobs as the last of daylight savings ebbs away. But c'est la vie, not to be this year and so this post is a simple share and declare. I hope you enjoy the colours of Magic Garden in all it's autumnal finery.
The beautiful weeping maple that is the autumn's centrepiece in out front yard. I have enlarged the bed beneath it and will be planting daffodil bulbs this weekend...rain, hail, preferably shine.

Ugg boots have replaced thongs in my gardening footwear selection. FYI: they have been waterproofed.

Dusky red sedum, another gratefully received donation from my lovely next door neighbour.

Prehistoric mystery plant...the flowers (fruit?) look like they should be swaying beneath the an octopus's garden, in the shade.

Definitely fruit this time! This viburnum is just to the right of where my grand plan vegie patch will be situated. Now, if only I could lock off the design as I really want to have this patch up and running for next summer. Whilst I'm a big believer the positives of procrastination; I feel that a period of gestation allows the right path to come forward. Sometimes, though, you just have to make a decision or otherwise, life just keeps passing you by.

This is the type of countenance I strive for when gardening. She is tremendously tacky and definitely not what Husbando has in mind for the Magic Garden sculpture park! But for some reason, she and her smaller twin stay insitu.

The last of summer's sweetpeas...oh, the sadness.

Monday, April 4, 2011

larvae maria!

The beast with two backs has bred! I wasn't sure at the time, whether I had actually caught the lady beetle inflagrante or if it was simply one rude beetle trampling over another but now with the help of wikipedia, I am sure. The fuzzy yellow sausage on the left is the larva which changes skins four times before pupation occurs. Four times! Basically, the skin doesn't grow with the beetle, so the old skin splits and a new larger skin is revealed beneath. If only my battles with dress size was so easily resolved. And unlike many insects, the larvae do not have the protection of a cocoon as they go into the pupate stage. I had been perplexed by this process as the newly revealed beetles seem to have especially soft, almost dull shells. It is though only time and exposure to air will harden them up. I tried to capture this delicate stage in the image on the left but for once, the iPhone camera has let me down.

Thanks to for this delightful image.

I have been so excited to see the next generation of lady beetles emerge in Magic Garden. Not only are they fun to watch with little kids, they do a marvellous job of helping to keep the aphid and scale population in check. Plus, they are simply gorgeous little spots of colour. Though if you check the site below, you'll see that many species of lady beetle are actually grey or brown or black. What fascinating creatures they are!

On one of our frequent lady beetle inspections, divine miss C and I uncovered this bobbydazzler of a zucchini turned marrow. I was sure it'd be rotten on the underside considering just how wet it's been but no, this marrow was intact and ready to eat. Thanks to Stephanie Alexander for the handy marrow scale of measurement (somehow a matchbox just wouldn't cut it!) and also for her spag bog recipe, which in a very pleasing instance of serendipity, I had made a batch of the day before. I do love a spot of freezer stockpiling and long for the day when I have a more freezer real estate.

It's easy when you cook in a solarium...

Voila! Marrow stuffed with Bolognaise! As I already had the spag bog sorted, this dinner was as easy as slicing the marrow and scooping out the seedy centre. I mixed the seedy goodness back into the bolognaise and then whacked it back into the marrow boat. Husbando grated some cheese over the top and we popped it in the oven at around 180 degrees C. 45 minutes later, the marrow was soft with the bolognaise's oily goodness and we served it up with garlic bread and broccoli. Delicious and even tastier for having used the marrow.