Enchanted Garden

All posts in the Enchanted Garden category

In Your Face Gene Simmons, Mine’s Blue!

Published September 12, 2012 by Robyn

Hello!

Since this area seems to be a haven for Blue Tongue Lizards, I thought I’d write a little bit about them for the readers in other countries who may not be too familiar with these very cool reptiles.

I come across them everywhere here – not just the backyard. When I walk Cindy (the dog) I see them poking out of drains basking in the sun, crossing the road and just generally hanging around. They appear to be so used to humans and other animals I can always get a really good look at them when I pass.

These lizards are slow moving and quite friendly. They are likely to let you get really close. I wouldn’t advise picking them up though unless they are really familiar with you, because if they are scared they do have a nasty bite, latching on and not letting go.

There are six types of blue-tongued lizards in Australia (hereafter referred to as Oz) :-

Eastern Blue Tongue Lizard – These dwell in South East of Oz and are the kind that live around here. They grow to about 30cm in length (not counting the tail). They are grey with brown stripes across their back.

Northern Blue-tongued Skink – These guys live on the savannahs of the tropical regions of Oz.

Western Blue-tongued Skink – This one is listed as a vulnerable species.

Central Blue-tongued Skink– Another vulnerable species.

Blotched Blue Tongue – From the Southwest of Oz, lives in highland areas. They are dark brown with light coloured splotches across the back.

Shingleback – Found west of the Great Dividing Range. It has a short, stumpy tail and large rough scales.

Pygmy Blue-tongue Skink– Only grows to about 90mm. They live within a very small area north of Adelaide and are listed as an endangered species.

Whatever species, the most noticeable feature is, of course, their blue tongue. Like all reptiles they are ectothermic which is why you see them sunning themselves during the mornings. When it’s cold they stay inside because they need a body temperature of 30 to 35 degrees C to be active.

They love to eat snails and slugs but will eat whatever they can get hold of, including dog food.

For most of the year they like to live alone, but during the mating season (September to November) the males pursue the females, which is why we see three-legged Louis (he is so cute, his little stump does the walking action too) making his trips up to the old barbecue to visit Lisa.

Mating seems like a rough old process. Many females carry scars from the male’s teeth during mating.

Their babies are born 3 to 5 months after mating. They are born live (not eggs) and have to look after themselves right from the start, beginning with eating the placenta, and go off to discover the great big world within a few days of being born. The Eastern Blue Tongue can have up to 25 babies at once and they breed annually where other species only breed on alternate years.

Blue Tongues can live for many years, up to 30 and like other lizards can drop their tails to avoid, daze and confuse predators.

The biggest dangers to Blue Tongues include :-

Cars – they love to lie on the road’s warm surface and tend not to move out of the way of cars.

Snail baits – cos they love to eat snails.

Lawnmowers – they hide in long grass and again tend not to get out of the way when the mower comes near them.

Cats and dogs – need I say more?

Other predators are eagles, poisonous snakes and large goannas.

So, there’s just a little bit about these excellent creatures. There’s lots of info around if you want to find out more. I love them.

V ❤

A Blotched Blue-Tongued Skink, Tiliqua nigrolu...

A Blotched Blue-Tongued Skink, Tiliqua nigrolutea , basking on open sandy ground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blue-tongued skink

Blue-tongued skink (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Sounds of Silence

Published September 9, 2012 by Robyn

 

Love

Love (Photo credit: praram)

Greetings!

When I came up here a couple of weeks ago what struck me most of all was the silence. After living right on King Street in Newtown (and anyone who knows the area – I’m talking Newtown in Sydney – will understand just how busy and noisy it is), I was not used to the quiet. For the first few nights here the quiet actually felt like a physical presence, thick and heavy. Now, a couple of weeks on I’m starting to recognise the sounds within the silence. I’ve taken to laying in bed after I wake just listening – something I could not have done just a short time ago. I used to have to get up as soon as I woke, before the thoughts kicked in, otherwise it would feel like the air would get sucked out of the room and I’d start sweating and shaking. How far I’ve come in two weeks!

Now within the silence I can hear the different bird calls both near and far away, and other sounds – some recognisable, others less so, and I lay there just breathing and listening.

I feel alive again.

Love V ❤

Greetings From The Sunny Mid-North Coast!

Published September 2, 2012 by Robyn

Hey!

It’s been a week since I last wrote here. My plan was to write every couple of days or so, but the week has somehow slipped by without me noticing. To be perfectly honest I don’t have anything wise, witty or even particularly interesting to talk about, but

here’s a bit of a roundup of the past week. I have more pictures to add, but me being technologically ignorant, I can’t seem to get them loaded here. This one was hard enough! What I will do is go through all the support stuff and load up photos through the week.

The photo above is my Mum and I having lunch at the Boatshed. It is on a jetty kind of thing. There are boats moored and you are able to feed the fishies. We went there after seeing “The Sapphires” at the local movie theatre, which is an old family run business with a lot of the old fixtures still there. It is quite beautiful inside.

We went to Taree on Wednesday. My Mum was born there and went to Taree Public School (built 1902) – photo to come. That day we had lunch at a tea garden at Morelands (I have photos from here as well). I had a burger with “the works” – the works alright, complete with a skewer and a stalk of parsley sticking out of the top like a tree. It was huge but I managed to get through it all apart from one side of the bun! Piggy, piggy me, but it were yum! We met a lady(who’s name I am ashamed to say I don’t remember) and her dog Sassy, a beautiful black Kelpie.

The visit my Mum had to make to the doctor turned out ok. She has a problem, but one that can be managed easily. Yay! I had a fright when the doc called her name and when she got up I heard the doctor ask if someone was with her. Yikes!!! She is really independant and said yes she did but no, she didn’t need anyone to come in with her. I spent most of the visit standing outside the door trying to hear what was going on. The other patients must’ve thought I was a nutter!

We’ve been doing lots of ordinary things, watching girly movies(which my Mum loves), taking the dog for a walk, all that regular kind of stuff which I haven’t had a chance to do for years.

On a personal note, I really don’t think I am going to go back to Sydney. I’m sold on living close to the water, further away from the stinking rat race.

Well that’s about all I gotz to say. I will try and work out how to get the photos on properly. I see so many beautiful blogs with photos, I know there’s a way.

Oh, it is also Father’s Day here in Australia. “Happy Father’s Day Dad!” Miss you a lot.

Till next time

V ❤

Holiday!

Published August 25, 2012 by Robyn

Hola!

I caught a train yesterday (approximately 6 1/2 hours) up to visit my Mum on the mid north coast. It is a multipurpose visit. I wanted to spend a bit of time with my Mum, plus I want to be around when she gets some biopsy results next week. But I also realised that I am very unhealthy right now. I am not in good shape at all. Here there is clear air (I think this is why always for the first day or two I’m here I get dizzy spells – the air is a lot cleaner here and my lungs are used to sucking in dirty city air). Plus I needed to put some physical space between myself and some complicated situations in Sydney. I need clear space to think. I was digging myself a dirty little city grave. I can’t believe I have been treating myself so poorly.

So, I’m taking it easy for a couple of days. Already I have spent the morning watching pelicans wait for the fishing boats to come back, done some Op shopping (I bought a dress, a top, and an antique-looking necklace, all for $7.50! Yay me!), done a bit of harmless, friendly flirting with the man in the cafe bookshop, and caught up with my uncle (the husband of my very favourite aunty-she is no longer with us, unfortunately).

I spoke with my brother on the phone (he lives in Nth Carolina)- I don’t get to speak with him much as I only have a cell phone, so it is always nice to actually here his voice.

There are some Blue Tongue Lizards that live in the yard here. There is Louis, the three-legged big daddy one who lives under the house. Lisa who lives under the old barbecue, and various babies when it’s the season – there’s some little ‘uns there now. Plus, there seems to be a new man on the scene – a rival for Louis. Poor Louis, apparently Lisa and her new fella were canoodling up there the other day and poor old Louis was off a little ways, all on his lonesome. Louis, maybe you need to woo her. Bring her up some tasty snails or something!

I haven’t got any pix yet from up here yet. I tried to take some from the train yesterday, but the window reflection is on all of them, but I will take pix in the days to come and put them up.

Well, now I am going to put my feet up, and read a book.

Take care.

V ❤

I came across a new flower yesterday! Well, it’s new for me anyway. It’s called Orchis italica or Naked Man Orchid. I got quite carried away pinning images onto my Pinterest board – In The Garden. These flowers are intriguing and I wanted to find out more.

When I decide to do a bit of research on something I love to be bombarded with information and images. Well, there were lots of images, but information seemed to be a bit more thin on the ground. What I have found is mostly sourced from Wikipedia with some more sketchy little bits from others, but here goes….

Orchis is a genus within the orchid family. “Orchis” (Greek) means testicle, and these plants are so named because of the appearance of the paired subterranean tuberoids, which they have instead of pseudobulbs (which as far as I can gather is what other orchids have). They are extremely diverse in appearance. There were originally more than 1300 names contained within the genus “Orchis”, however, since it is polyphyletic (derived from more than one common ancestor or ancestral group species), it has been divided into several new genera – Ponerorchis;Schizodium;Steveniella.

These orchids have an erect stem and start flowering at the base, slowly progressing upwards, except for the Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia) which flowers in reverse order.

The Orchis italica – the central subject of my search appears to be from the Meditteranean region. The flowers appear to have little man faces on them (well most, I believe), plus arms, legs and penis. What more could a guy want?

I have also discovered there is a Naked Lady Orchid. I saw some photos of both Naked Man and Naked Ladies taken in Abruzzo, Italy, so I am figuring they are quite abundant there.

I’ve only added a couple of photos. still trying to find out how to work that photo thang properly, but there are lotsa images out there, or check my In The Garden board. I think I ended up keeping about 5 pix.

V ❤

PS: Since beginning to write this post I have also come across more on the Monkey Orchid. Amazing! – some links to articles below.