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birds fall silent
the sun – a rim of molten orange
over darkening hills –
another day is done

This, my 208th blog post, will be the last one for the next several months. I have been photographing, writing, and publishing these posts for 7 years and the time has come to completely free myself to work on two larger writing projects. I have enjoyed meeting so many of you and following your blogs.  Meanwhile – take pleasure in your own exciting writing and beautiful photography.

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Stalls at the Maker Festival, Photo – Peter Storer

Samford Village is located in semi-rural Queensland northwest of Brisbane, Australia. It is adjacent to state forests and close to the North and South Pine Rivers. Several majestic mountains of the D’Aguilar Range enclose the surrounding valley, creating a place of great natural beauty.

Within the village community, the Samford Commons is emerging as a world class, innovative and exciting showcase for sustainable living. Under the direction of its skilled and committed Board, this not-for-profit, community owned company works with local entities and government agencies. These include creative artists, writers, photographers, schools and environmentalists. The fundamental mission of the Samford Commons is to create a place where new possibilities are nurtured that enable its residents to build a sustainable and resilient future. Multiple focus groups form innovative projects that showcase sustainable living, and one fine example is Millen Farm.

Community farmers at work on Millen Farm, Photo – Peter Storer

Since the appointment of farmer, Arran Heideman, Millen Farm provides a vehicle for urban farming education through workshops in permaculture, aquaponics, organic farming, poultry and bee keeping. As Mr Heideman commented, “Farming is becoming a thing of the past whereas it should be a thing of the future. Millen Farm will contribute to this future; demonstrate a better way of producing local food; educate the community on sustainable farming practices, and act as a training ground for young farmers. It is a way of re-establishing the worth of the farmer in our society.” An adjacent community garden is also in the pipeline. Samford Village members meet here to garden, to yarn about their patch or the season, swap their produce, or do some shopping at the weekly farmer’s market.

The Samford Commons unique School of Sustainability has become its classroom without boundaries. The ESTEAM programs: Entrepreneurs, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, lie at the core of its offerings. In addition, Millen Farm, learning trails, an arts precinct, festivals and the new Community Library all feed into this. Local schools are participating and are now part of a consortium of community members, business people and organizations.

A quiet nook at the Community Library

The recently opened stage one of the Community Library is available for sharing donated resources in a comfortable space for study and reading. Staffed by local volunteers, it occupies several rooms in the Blue Hut and has space for small group meetings and discussions. The Samford Writers’ Group meets here for its monthly meetings while folks gather to swap or borrow books, have a chat, or listen to story time.

Many interesting topics have yet to be explored so a visit to the Samford Commons home page on the web will provide further information. Across the top are a row of tabs and of special interest are the Education Topics featured under the Learn and Grow tab. Peter Storer has beautifully photographed a gallery of flora and fauna found throughout the Samford Valley. With all these local opportunities available to the residents of Samford Village, our community has become a great place in which to live.

 

 

Autumn at Last

in gusting wind
the coloured leaves
swirl away

on every lawn
rests a patchwork
of gold and red

fall … fade … die
all autumn leaves
reach the same end

Past Years Recalled

We find them everywhere―old buildings and objects large and small―time washed and weather worn, covered in a patina of rust and peeling paint. Yet despite their abandoned and decrepit state, these objects still have character. They engage us in a poignant reminder of their past lives, spent in hard labour and service.

Worn fingers, aching muscles, and stiff backs – all were part of the legacy of our early settlers. As they toiled with primitive tools, these hardy souls carved out a living for themselves and their families in the early days of our untamed country.

Their personal possessions were few and far between. While early settlers could make do with simple things, these precious possessions were created with care and skill. If only these objects could speak to us what stories would they tell?

Hats off to these pioneers! Although their lives were difficult, they built the foundations of the country we enjoy today.

Bauhinia Beauty

Bauhinia variegata

Aren’t they lovely―our Hong Kong orchid trees―when they flower in multitudes of  blossoms? The five-petaled flowers, resembling orchids, appear in shades of white, pink, mauve and crimson. While this tree is native to China, it grows abundantly in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world.

Another distinctive feature of the bauhinia lies in its unusual bi-lobed or twin lobed leaves. The resulting heart shape has given rise to the Afrikaans popular name of kamelpoot, meaning camel’s foot.

The pink and cerise toned flower of the Bauhinia blakeana, is the source of its name, Hong Kong orchid tree. An added pleasure this tree provides is the fragrant scent of its blooms. Such is its popularity that it has become the official floral emblem of the Chinese colony of Hong Kong.

Bauhenia red

The scarlet coloured blooms of the Bauhinia galpini, add a wonderful splash of colour to any garden. Growing to a height of 5 – 6 metres, when mass planted these Bauhinias create a superb hedge or a stunning line of street trees. Even after vigorous pruning they keep right on growing and blooming throughout early summer into late autumn. It seems they have the ability to carry their flowers for long periods of time.

Bauhinia variegata 1

The white Bauhinia variegata,  provides a good example of how multiples of blossoms can also decorate a single branch of this amazing species. The sight of an entire tree covered with flowers makes it quite a show stopper. Happy are those who can enjoy the pleasures provided by the Hong Kong Orchid tree.

Standing Tall

In the tree tops 2

When we were children, we may have had a special tree.  My own tree was located in our Southside Park, a block away from our home. Many times I climbed to its second fork, there to dream and gaze at the sky through its lace-like canopy of leaves. This tree became my refuge, and in its branches I experienced my first connection to nature and to all of life.

Great bark shot

Our park was planted with an abundance of old, established trees. These became our playground where we freely skylarked in this perfect place for hide and seek—ducking in, out, and around their broad trunks. I loved to study the shapes and textures of tree bark, letting my fingers travel over imagined roadways and discovering pictures of funny faces hiding in the rough surface. I was always happy when I spent time among the trees, and when something made me sad I cried into their trunks.

Queen's Park 1

Over the years I have studied and photographed trees, watched them grow, be felled, chipped and burned. We plant saplings to create green corridors, and embed new trees to mark the memory of someone we loved. Trees shelter us from sun and storm, their timber is used in a hundred different ways, and their beauty and strength always inspires. Trees will always remain and everything must be done to protect them and ensure their healthy living. After all – we depend on the trees breathing in sunlight and breathing out life giving oxygen to sustain our very own lives.

 

Chill Out in Style

Japanese Lake

Whew—it has been so hot for so long now. Some time ago we promised ourselves a visit to Toowoomba, our garden city, where we could cool down in its high altitude setting. Here we discovered a gorgeous Japanese themed garden, a treasure that became the perfect place in which to relax in comfort.

A formal ‘sister city’ agreement between Toowoomba and the Japanese city of Tokatsuki was officially established on the 13th November, 1991. A signed Declaration of Friendship agreed to deepen this relationship through mutually beneficial exchanges in educational, sporting, cultural, and commercial areas.

Japanese Pagoda

As Toowoomba is also the central campus for the University of Southern Queensland, its Japanese walled garden has paid a magnificent tribute to its sister city. The garden’s 3 hectare site includes elements of a mountain stream and waterfall, a dry stone garden, a central lake, azalea covered hills, and 3 kilometres of paved pathways. Many species of Japanese and Australian native trees and plants combine in seamless and restful harmony. Its name, Ju Raku En, means, ‘to enjoy peace and longevity in a public place.’

Japanese Bridge 1

Several small pagodas and wooden bench seating add spaces for rest and contemplation. Splashes of colour will also greet you in this stunning haven. While other Japanese gardens have appeared Australia wide, Ju Raku En is the largest and most developed.

In closing, I was attracted to a red Japanese gate I couldn’t resist photographing. I discovered it some time ago in the Cable Beach Resort Garden at Broome, in the Australian Kimberly Region. Its distinctive architectural form and blaze of colour cried out to me, ‘I am proudly Japanese.’ As it seemed to belong here I have included it.

Red Gate