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Archive for March, 2014

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At last, we have enjoyed a few days of rain and clusters of Dietes are bursting into flower everywhere. These native grassesĀ  are growing in large spiky clumps near ponds, in garden beds and beside pathways. Their long strappy leaves are slender—somewhat sword shaped—and exhibit rich, dark green foliage.

But it is the flower of the Dietes grandiflora, that takes your breath away. This wild Australian iris (Fairy Iris) proudly displays its white blooms, lightly decorated in yellow and violet. Dark brown line markings are found at the base of the outer tepals. What a shame that its delicate beauty only flourishes in the garden, as the iris dies quickly if it is placed indoors in a vase of water.

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Another delightful member of this genus, the Dietes bicolour, is the yellow wild iris. Identified by three large brown spots encircled by orange gold, Australians affectionately call this flower, ‘Brown Eyes.’ Like its sister, the wild Australian iris, it is best left alone to sparkle in the garden where these gorgeous flowers give pleasure to the aesthetic gardener and the discerning viewer alike.

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“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds which you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

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A blast of cold air engulfs us. Looking at the agitated trees one can see something of the wind that stirs them as it sweeps over the forest from hill to hill like a rushing tidal wave, swirling through the treetops to strip, break, and scatter branches everywhere. Passing gusts are caught up in whirlpools of leaves that soar aloft on great drafts of air. Gales lash at the tall grass, creating whorls of circular movement that threaten to tear away the ground cover and carry it into the turbulence far above. Like a mighty river in full flood, the entire topography of this land is drawn into the grip of a great wind storm, moving only where its swift current chooses to take it. Awesome, elemental power, unleashed and unstoppable—this is the wind …

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They’re back again – kookaburras crowded on a branch – dressed in their familiar black, brown and cream feathered beauty. Their shrieking calls echo through the bush. No melodious or dulcet warbling is heard from these birds as their cries resemble a crazed cackle concluded with a lunatic-like laugh. When they sing in chorus they are broadcasting a territorial warning and they mean business. “Stay away from us or you’ll get hurt!” This call must be heard to be believed.

Kookaburras are tree kingfishers (Genus Dacelo) native to Australia and New Guinea. They have large heavy bodies growing between 28-42cm (11-17 in) in length. Their name is borrowed from the Aboriginal, guuguubarra, an onomatopoeic imitation of their call. The kookaburra’s bill is sharp and very strong – the perfect tool for killing its prey. These feathered hunters are carnivores, and have been known to eat the young of other birds, mice, snakes, insects and even small reptiles. Some locals feed them by leaving out little balls of raw hamburger mince. This practice is not advised as essential nutrients and calcium could go missing from a bird’s diet if they subsist on these offerings.

Kookaburras thrive away from water in open eucalyptus hardwood forests. We also find them in parks and suburban areas with tall trees and open spaces. They prefer the cooler seasons and act as a town crier to welcome in autumn and early winter. We love our distinctive wild life, and over time these majestic birds have reached the status of becoming an ‘Australian Icon.’

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Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra
gay your life must be.

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