Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A Regular Visitor

The Spotted Dove is like a talisman for us. This is because it appears to follow us in our life journeys and travels... It lives in the cities in which we have lived and can be seen in the cities in which we have spent time as tourists. Quite simply, the Spotted Dove is suitably adapted to life in city and town environments and can be found in many parts of the world.

A native of eastern Asia, the Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) is known as Tekukur in Malay. The bird especially likes to forage for seeds, and perhaps this was the reason for its visit yesterday: I had cleared a bed of seeding choy sum plants and some of its seeds had fallen to the ground in this area. 

Are the cabbage-like seeds of the choy sum part of the diet of the Spotted Dove? A theory to be tested...

Friday, 25 September 2015

New Season Inflorescence
So What Happened to Jackfruit Season?

At the end of March, I published a semi-hopeful post about the first fruits on a young jackfruit (nangka) tree. Over the following weeks, the tree produced about 20 male and female inflorescences. The danger, of course, would be the impending winter...

This winter turned out to be 'coolish' and the tree suffered a number of frosts throughout the season. Even though our jackfruit sustained no permanent damage, we did lose the first young fruit and flowers.

However, with the warming weather of spring, the jackfruit has begun to produce new inflorescences. 
I have recently read that under ideal conditions the jackfruit will require three to eight months to produce ripe fruit. Whether this applies to the temperate climate of Sydney is another question. Through spring and summer, it has time to succeed: we look forward to monitoring the progress of a beautiful specimen tree... Fruit or no fruit, the jackfruit tree and its glossy dark green leaves will take a place within our garden.

Jackfruit Arils and Seeds
Luckily, we are able to purchase jackfruit, at a price, from another Sydney suburb. Pictured at right is a section of a dark-yellow to orange jackfruit variety... crisp and especially tasty! And, of course, the seeds have been saved for sprouting.  

Perhaps, next time we purchase a portion of jackfruit, I will have to give way to my better half, who would love to boil and consume the seeds. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Relaxing by the Pond
Netting to keep out long-legged fish bandits

A water feature in a suburban yard? It provides a supply of water for visiting birds and for our cat. At times, too, it has provided a safe haven for frogs which serenade us at night. 

Water pump, filter and cascade
In fact, it was an initial priority in the establishment of the yard in order to provide new and appropriate lodgings for our Comet and Shubunkin Goldfish. These were being held temporarily in a plastic lined 'hole in the ground' after moving from their luxurious pond in country New South Wales.

The pond measures about seven square metres in surface area and is a simple construction using PVC pond liner with newspaper and sand 'shock absorption'. It is lined with flat bush rock obtained from a local nursery and trimmed with red stone removed from the yard itself during clearing and landscaping.

Edging plants are essentially natives. Our aim is to attract native wildlife to the yard by providing a water supply and some native wildflowers: the spring and autumn colour of these plants is also a highlight for us. Inside the pond there are a number of plants, native and exotic, including Vietnamese Mint (laksa leaf) which grows rampantly, and a yellow water lily.

The pond is the focal point of our back garden... You have to cross its simple bridge to gain access to the rear of the yard... You can sit on the garden bench and be relaxed by the soothing sounds of falling water... Or you can admire it from the rear rooms of the home.

The fish are happy...
The frogs sing on summer evenings...
Even the birds are thankful... 

Just be mindful of that long-legged fish thief!

Monday, 21 September 2015

100 Years of Mango Tree

The 100 Years Old Mango 
Changkat Keruing is a small, scenic village in Perak, Malaysia. It lies between the larger towns of Ayer Tawar and Pantai Remis, and is not far from the major city of Ipoh. Its most outstanding feature is the beautiful river which wends its way past the town. 

Apart from the absolute serenity of this charming little village, there are two local icons which have attracted my attention. 

Some smashed sculptures beside the river
The first is a glorious mango tree, reputed by the locals to be in excess of 100 years old. This behemoth stands majestically above a roadside eating house (rumah makan). During the bearing season the tree still produces a profusion of small, plump, green-skinned fruit. These are very juicy but rather sour and less meaty compared with modern mango varieties. 

The second attraction has been less fortunate. Lining the banks of the river are a number of stone-carvings of animals and other figures, including a mermaid. Damaged by floodwaters, the carvings are a shadow of their beautiful past. In their heyday, these decorations must have been a source of pride and a focal point for the citizens.

The river itself is lined with mangrove trees... One of these days I would love to fish these rather peaceful waters. Catch or no catch, this would be a rewarding experience. Camera at the ready, I am sure that I would capture some splendid shots of the local wildlife.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Mango Flowering 
Maha Chanok Seedling

 It is pleasant to watch the development of flowers on prized trees. Of our mangoes, the Maha Chanok seedling is furthest along the path to flowering. It has many healthy, developing pannicles.

Nam Dok Mai Seedling
The Nam Dok Mai seedling has just begun to send up its flowering heads. These look healthy enough at the moment. Last year this tree flowered unsuccessfully, its flowers perhaps affected by anthracnose.

Our third backyard mango, a Harumanis seedling, is very young. Time will dictate whether developing buds are solely leaf or are the first flowers of a juvenile tree. We hold no expectation of fruit with our fragrant Harumanis... next year, perhaps.

All of the trees are being sprayed with a copper-based spray in an effort to fend off anthracnose infections which will cause flower-drop and a loss of productivity. I will follow the flowering and fruiting of the mango trees in future posts.

Harumanis buds
Young Harumanis seedling

Monday, 14 September 2015

Planting at the Moment
Bowl of colourful home-grown chillies

With warm days and warming nights, it is time to plant spring and summer crops. So here is a selection of the plants which we have begun to plant in our seed bed or plant out in our garden beds...
Beautiful Chinese purple eggplant

  • Yao Mak
  • Celtuce (Wo Sun)
  • Choy Sum
  • Bush beans
  • Long beans (Kacang Panjang)
  • Vitalis beans
  • Thai Basil (Selaseh)
  • Tomatoes
  • Chillies
Over the next few weeks we will also be planting...
  • Ginger
  • Okra
  • Eggplants
  • Lemon Basil (Kemangi)
  • Amaranth (Bayam or En Choy)
  • Water Spinach (Kangkung)

    Delicious okra

    Healthy Thai basil plants

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Brilliant Bird Attractors

A splendid sign of spring is the return of our honey-eating birds. These are especially attracted by two plants, strategically placed near the glass sliding-doors of our family room.
It is a joy for us to watch the birds feeding in the two large grevilleas. The largest shrub, Grevillea 'Caloundra Gem', produces a profuse display of pale pink blooms. The spring display is the most magnificent, but it will continue to yield its beautiful blooms throughout the warmer seasons and into the autumn.

The other shrub, Grevillea 'Honey Gem' bears a little later and its display is less profuse. However, what it lacks in volume of flowers, it makes up with its gorgeous golden blossoms.
A Noisy Miner inspects the Caloundra Gem

Both shrubs will grow to a height of about three metres. Our plants are becoming too tall, placing the new flowers above our line of vision from our family room. Consequently, we will be pruning the shrubs rather heavily in either October or November, taking off up to a metre of growth from our 'Caloundra Gem'.

These shrubs are wonderful attractors of birds. In fact, the birds which feed on our trees have become rather comfortable with our presence, and even with the presence of our environmentally-responsible cat! The gawdily-coloured lorikeets no longer fly from the trees when we pass below.

Grevillea 'Honey Gem'
Another visitor to the grevilleas has been an Eastern Spinebill. An image of the Spinebill can be found in our 'Wild Friends' tab.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Spring Fruit Tree Flowering
 As the weather warms, our fruit trees are pushing up to bud. The first flowers are forming on our Maha Chanok seedling mango. The seedling tree has strengthened immeasurably through the past growing season, and so we have an expectation of a fine little crop from this tree again this year. 

During the week I will be begin the first fortnightly application of a copper spray to combat any anthracnose infection: we have had four nights in succession of light rain and humid days which could encourage such an outbreak.

Our young pink pomelo is also producing its spring blossom. Note in the photograph that the young tree has been hit rather hard by citrus leaf miner over the summer months. These infected leaves will be removed and disposed of this week so that one infestation does not lead to another.

It would appear that this young pomelo is much more susceptible to this problem than two other small citrus trees growing nearby which only suffered light infestations of the leaf miner. All the citrus trees will receive regular sprays of eco-oil in an attempt to combat the leaf-miner.

Finally, our kasturi lime is in abundant flower, emitting a sweet aroma at the front of our home. The kasturi is an abundant bearer of little fruit for drinks and to season dishes.