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The Shamrock


Oversized sunglasses, comical frizzy wigs and crazy bowties-all emerald green. Then there’s the cheap Aussie beer, dyed green with food colouring. Yes, Friday was St Patrick’s Day.

I live in a university town and students love to drink abundantly while in fancy dress, so St Paddy’s Day is a big day out for them and the bars were full.  

After 5pm a more prosperous crowd, who can afford to drink actual Guinness, invariably spilled out of their shops, offices and banks and joined the Irish revelry.

I began to think about that symbol of Ireland, the Shamrock.

Also known as clover, the Shamrock is a hard plant to pinpoint because even the Irish acknowledge the icon is actually several species. It seems everyone has a different Shamrock; Lesser Clover, White Clover and Red Clover all get a guernsey, as does Black Medick.

The most important feature of the Shamrock sprig is its three, distinctive heart shaped leaves.

St Patrick used the Shamrock in his evangelistic teaching during the 5th century to illustrate the Christian Holy Trinity.

Here in Australia our Shamrocks are Oxalis acetosella or Wood Sorrell.

This plant is a prolific weed, possibly the most frustrating weed for Australian gardeners. In spring it covers gardens and the countryside, but I’m sentimental and I only see its beautiful emerald foliage and the sea of pretty yellow or white flowers floating above. Of course, it has the three heart leaves.

Oxalis grows in abundance in my garden-what weed doesn’t? It pops up in garden beds, between pavers and, in spring, it shrouds the entire wild garden.

That is spring but now it’s early autumn and Oxalis was difficult to find in my garden this week. Eventually, I located a few lucky shamrocks not extinguished by the summer heat to photograph. 

Please enjoy my photographs and lets celebrate St Patrick’s Day, I wish you all the luck of the Irish.



Shamrocks and bird

A small ceramic bird sits amongst the Shamrocks





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The Brassy Tart

Rose 1

Double Delight

Beautiful, brassy and extraordinarily tarty, she resembles Marilyn Monroe bursting out of a red dress.
Yes, this is the one!
Summer fades like old beach towels drying on a clothes line and I hadn’t even selected my annual perfect rose for 2017.
Each summer of my childhood, my mother took me to look at the roses in our municipal rose garden, which happened to one of the best in the state. Together we marched along the colourful boarders and selected our favourites. I like to continue this annual practise, it’s a great way to get to know rose varieties.
I headed for my local park where the rose beds still displayed abundant late blooms. Scores of roses held themselves with glorious confidence, many with strong clear colour while others floated in shades of soft perfection. All had elements of loveliness.
But as soon as I saw her, the one I named Marilyn Monroe, I knew she was the rose.
My perfect rose for 2017.
She has an antebellum excess, look at that scarlet shawl wrapping itself around a hot pink gown covering her subtle peach petticoats. I’m surprised Rhett Butler isn’t declaring his love.
She is Hollywood glamour amongst classic Shakespeare and I surprised myself with this selection.
Where had my taste for quiet elegance gone?
Refinement was out the door because this beauty’s lavish ‘joie de vivre’ overwhelmed me.
I was so bedazzled I didn’t catch her name, but my dear mother tells me she is ‘Double Delight’.
Below are the runners-up.

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They Ring my Bell


 Recently I found a few tiny bells hiding amongst my Pig’s Ears.

That is an odd statement-let me explain.

Pig’s Ears or Cotyledon orbiculata are hardy succulents from South Africa. As expected the leaves resemble pig’s ears. It’s an unpleasant name for a plant with pretty bell shaped flowers in a coral shade.

Oh, how I adore bell shaped flowers.

I rather like Pig’s Ears for another reason, they add interest in the deeply shaded sections of the garden. This is because Pig’s Ears have grey leaves. Lighter colours like grey and white helps to visually break the shadows up by giving the eye something to focus on in the dimness. This creates a sense of depth in shade and I am very grateful to Pig Ear’s because I have a lot of shade in my garden.

Pig’s Ears grow well in hot, barren regions because they are covered with a white powdery substance which assists the plant to reflect sunlight and therefore conserve water. This is a great adaptation for plantings in full sunlight but it isn’t particularly helpful for my Pig’s Ears growing in shade. They struggle, and until recently had never flowered.

Therefore I was delighted when I came across a few precious coral bells, nearly obscured amongst the plump grey leaves.

I’m not alone in my love of bell shaped flowers, why do they charm us?

Perhaps we marvel at their diminutive elegance and dainty fragility. Or is it because the bell shape is not a common flower shape; the elusive and exotic is always enticing. Maybe we love them simply because we relate the flowers’ shape to a familiar object, the bell.

I love the bells for all these reasons. Here are some bells on Pig’s Ears chiming in my garden.