A place where I post a photo each day, which you can download and use as a desktop image.
These are all my original photos and you are welcome to use them for your personal purposes. If you wish to use them commercially, please contact me.
Loropetalum is a genus of three species of shrubs or small trees in the witch-hazel family, Hamamelidaceae, native to China, Japan, and south-eastern Asia. The name Loropetalum refers to the shape of the flowers and comes from the Greek loros meaning strap and petalon meaning petal.
Flowers are produced in clusters during spring and are similar to those of the closely related witch-hazel. Each flower consists of four to six (depending on species) slender strap shaped petals 1-2 cm long. Illustrated here is Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum, often called "Chinese Fringe Flower".
Plan your colours to begin with, when planting this shrub. This particular loropetalum looks great in a black pot for an oriental feel or try a bright contrasting colour for a real statement. As it’s low growing, plant it at the front of garden beds for maximum impact. Loropetalums in general prefer moist but well drained soils but are quite adaptable to less than ideal conditions. Pruning is generally not required, however, you can give a light trim after flowering to help keep them in your preferred shape. A feed with a slow release fertiliser in early spring is beneficial. They are ideal for low maintenance areas, rockeries and garden edges.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, or Pura Bratan, is a major Shivaite and water temple on Bali, Indonesia. The temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul. Water temples serve the entire region in the outflow area; downstream there are many smaller water temples that are specific to each irrigation association (subak). Built in 1633, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali. The 11 stories of pelinggih meru dedicated for Shiva and his consort Parvathi. Buddha statue also present inside this temple.
Lake Bratan is known as the Lake of Holy Mountain due to the fertility of this area. Located 1200 m above sea level, it has a cold tropical climate. Every Tuesday, the piodalan ceremony takes place at the temple, to ensure good water supply to all the rice farmers in Bali. As the day progresses, the lake and its surroundings become crowded with tourists and paddle boats, so if you want to experience the temple in all its glory, start early in the morning, or stay back during the sunset, to capture the beauty in a relatively uncluttered milieu.
The Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) also called the Maned Duck is very common throughout Australia and can be found in most suburban parks and waterways. They are also seen in woodland areas often perching in the trees. The male is on the right, front and has the darker head, while the female behind to the left is more speckled and has a lighter-coloured head. Here they are seen in the Darebin Parklands in Melbourne.
Thick haze descended on Melbourne today, with a north-easterly wind carrying smoke from the fatal NSW bushfires into our city, a distance of hundreds of kilometres. The temperature soared to a maximum of 45˚C making for apocalyptic scenery and a terrible day to have to be outdoors... This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.
Choisya is a small genus of aromatic evergreen shrubs in the rue family, Rutaceae. Members of the genus are commonly known as Mexican orange or mock orange due to the similarity of their flowers with those of the closely related orange, both in shape and scent. They are native to southern North America, from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and south through most of Mexico. In its generic name Humboldt and Bonpland honoured Swiss botanist Jacques Denis Choisy (1799-1859).
The species grow to 1 to 3 m tall. The leaves are opposite, leathery, glossy, palmately compound with 3-13 leaflets, each leaflet 3–8 cm long and 0.5–3.5 cm broad. C. ternata (shown here) has three broad leaflets, while C. dumosa has up to 13 very narrow leaflets. The flowers are star-shaped, 3–5 cm diameter, with 4-7 white petals, 8-15 stamens and a green stigma; they are produced throughout the late spring and summer. The fruit is a leathery two to six sectioned capsule.
Choisya species are popular ornamental plants in areas with mild winters, grown primarily for their abundant and fragrant flowers. The foliage is also aromatic, smelling of rue when bruised or cut. The most commonly found cultivars in the horticultural trade are the species, C. ternata, the golden-leaved C. ternata 'Sundance', and the inter-specific hybrid C. 'Aztec Pearl' (C. arizonica x C. ternata). All three varieties have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. The flowers are also valued for honeybee forage, producing abundant nectar.
xanthophyll | ˈzanθə(ʊ)fɪl | noun [mass noun] Biochemistry A yellow or brown carotenoid plant pigment which causes the autumn colours of leaves. ORIGIN mid 19th century: from Greek xanthos ‘yellow’ + phullon ‘leaf’. This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme, and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme, and also part of the My Corner of the World.
Broome is a coastal, pearlfishing and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 2,240 km north of Perth. The urban population is estimated at 14,776, growing to over 45,000 per month during the tourist season. Broome International Airport provides transport to several domestic destinations.
Cable Beach is situated 7 km from town along a bitumen road and is named in honour of the Java-to-Australia undersea telegraph cable which reaches shore there. The beach itself is 22.5 km long with white sand, washed by tides that can reach over 9 m. The beach is almost perfectly flat. Caution is required when swimming from November to March as box jellyfish are present during those months. There have been cases where crocodiles have been sighted off the shore, but this is a rarity and measures are taken to prevent these situations.
Four wheel drive vehicles may be driven onto the beach from the car park. This allows people to explore the beach at low tide to a much greater extent than would be possible on foot. Sunset camel rides operate daily along the beach.
Zebras are several species of African equids (horse family) all having in common, distinctive black and white striped coats. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.
There are three species of zebras: The plains zebra, the mountain zebra and the Grévy's zebra. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, but Grévy's zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass, to which it is closely related, while the former two are more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus, along with other living equids.
Polygala myrtifolia, the myrtle-leaf milkwort, is an evergreen 2-4m tall South African shrub or small tree found along the southern and south-eastern coasts, from near Clanwilliam in the Western Cape to KwaZulu-Natal. It is a fast-growing pioneer plant, a typical fynbos component, and may be found on dunes, rocky places, along forest margins, beside streams, and in open grassland. It belongs to the milkwort family of Polygalaceae.
The thin, oval, mucronate leaves, 25–50 mm long and up to 13 mm wide, are arranged alternately and have entire margins - some forms of P. myrtifolia have thin, needle-like leaves. The attractive mauve sweetpea-like flowers, which close at night, may also be pink, magenta, crimson or white, and have a characteristic brush-like tuft protruding from the keel. For pollination an intricate piston mechanism is used. The fruit is an oval, brown, dehiscent capsule which is narrowly winged.
The species is often cultivated in South African and Australasian gardens. The genus of Polygala comprises some 360 species with a wide distribution in the tropics and temperate zones. 'Polygala' is interpreted as 'much milk' since the plant was thought to stimulate milk production in European cows - 'myrtifolia' translates as 'myrtle-shaped leaves'. This species has become naturalised in some of the coastal areas of Australia, Norfolk Island, New Zealand and California. This species is noted for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research conducted by the University of KwaZulu Natal found that aqueous extracts of P. myrtifolia proved effective against Candida albicans.
Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria and second largest city in Australia, has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) and is well known for its changeable weather conditions. This is mainly due to Melbourne's geographical location. This temperature differential is most pronounced in the spring and summer months and can cause strong cold fronts to form. These cold fronts can be responsible for all sorts of severe weather from gales to severe thunderstorms and hail, abrupt temperature drops, and heavy rain. In late Winter and early spring we do get a lot of weather and it's quite dramatic to see the sky darkening with clouds as the change moves in.
In the last few weeks we have experienced a great deal of weather and some quite spectacular changes that have come through and affected the city. I'm just grateful that we have not had the extreme heat and drought that have caused the massive bushfires that have been burning for months now in the Northeast coast.
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area. With a population of more than 9 million, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru and the second-largest city in the Americas (as defined by "city proper"), behind São Paulo.
Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes. It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Around one-third of the national population lives in the metropolitan area. Lima is home to one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the New World. The National University of San Marcos, founded on May 12, 1551, during the Spanish colonial regime, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas.
In October 2013, Lima was chosen to host the 2019 Pan American Games. It also hosted the December 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference and the Miss Universe 1982 pageant. In October 2015, Lima hosted the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.
Lima’s architecture offers a mix of styles. Examples of early colonial architecture include the Monastery of San Francisco, the Cathedral and the Torre Tagle Palace. These constructions are generally influenced by Spanish Baroque, Spanish Neoclassical and Spanish Colonial styles. After independence, preferences gradually shifted toward neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles. Many of these works were influenced by French architectural styles. Many government buildings and major cultural institutions were constructed in this period.
Ambling along the banks of the Yarra River on the South side, looking out towards the North. Picnicking, walking, boating, photographing, canoeing, or just having a lazy afternoon relaxing on the lawn, which is disrupted every now and then by the squawking seagulls...
Deborah Halpern's mosaic sculpture "Angel" is prominent in the second small shot. Deborah is one of Australia's most celebrated sculptors, known for her wildly colourful mosaic work. "Angel" stood in the moat of the National Gallery of Victoria for many years before it was moved to its current location.
Hydrangea (common names hydrangea or hortensia) is a genus of 70-75 species of flowering plants in the Hydrangeaceae family, native to southern and eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas, and Indonesia) and the Americas. By far the greatest species diversity is in eastern Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea. Most are shrubs 1 to 3 meters tall, but some are small trees, and others lianas reaching up to 30 m by climbing up trees.
They can be either deciduous or evergreen, though the widely cultivated temperate species are all deciduous. Having been introduced to the Azores, H. macrophylla is now very common, particularly on Faial, which is known as the "blue island" due to the vast number of hydrangeas present on the island. Species in the related genus Schizophragma, also in Hydrangeaceae, are also often known as hydrangeas. Schizophragma hydrangeoides and Hydrangea petiolaris are both commonly known as climbing hydrangeas.
The Yarra Valley is the name given to the region surrounding the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia. The river originates approximately 790 kilometres east of the Melbourne central business district and flows towards it and out into Port Phillip Bay. The name Yarra Valley is used in reference to the upper regions surrounding the Yarra River and generally does not encompass the lower regions including the city and suburban areas, where the topography flattens out, or the upper reaches which are in inaccessible bushland.
Included in the Yarra Valley is the sub-region of lower Yarra (or the lower Yarra Valley) which encompasses the towns of the former Shire of lower Yarra in the catchment area upstream of and including Woori Yallock. The Yarra Valley is a popular day-trip and tourist area, featuring a range of natural features and agricultural produce, as well as the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail.
The Yarra Valley is host to a thriving wine growing industry, with numerous vineyards making excellent wines. The area's relatively cool climate makes it particularly suited to the production of high-quality chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wine.
The Pinnacles are limestone formations contained within Nambung National Park, near the town of Cervantes, Western Australia. The raw material for the limestone of the Pinnacles came from seashells in an earlier epoch rich in marine life. These shells were broken down into lime rich sands which were blown inland to form high mobile dunes. The Pinnacles remained unknown to most Australians until the 1960s, when the area was added to Nambung National Park. The area receives over 250,000 visitors a year. A visitor precinct and interpretive centre was completed in March 2008.
The best season to see the Pinnacles is Spring (from August to October), as the days are mild and wildflowers start to bloom. The pinnacle formations are best viewed in the early morning or late afternoon as the play of light brings out the colours and the extended shadows of the formations delivers a contrast that brings out their features. Most animals in the park are nocturnal, but emus and kangaroos can be seen during the daytime, more commonly in the evening or early morning.
We are finally beginning to see some Summer days and the sky turns that brilliant pure blue that highlights the green gold of the eucalypts and the red of the earth. This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.
Rosa 'Slim Dusty' is a Floribunda Rose released to commemorate the life of the Australian Icon and Country Music Legend, Slim Dusty. This rose was released in Australia by Landsdale Rose Gardens and part of the proceeds from the sale of this rose will go towards the development of the Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey, NSW, Slim’s home town.
The Slim Dusty Rose is rich golden coppery orange – a colour reminiscent of the Australian outback. The flowers are carried on strong-stemmed clusters and produced in massive profusion throughout the flowering season. The bloom possess an old fashioned tea rose fragrance. The bush is very compact to a height of around one metre and a group planting or rose hedge would make a stunning, eye-catching border of the rose garden.
Cradle Mountain is a mountain in the Central Highlands region of the Australian state of Tasmania. The mountain is situated in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. At 1,545 metres above sea level, it is the fifth-highest mountain in Tasmania, and is one of the principal tourist sites in the state.
Cradle Mountain is composed of dolerite columns, similar to many of the other mountains in the area.Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park contains many walking trails, and is where hikes along the well-known Overland Track usually begin. Major features are Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff in the northern end, Mount Pelion East, Mount Pelion West, Mount Oakleigh and Mount Ossa in the middle and Lake St Clair in the southern end of the park. The park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Elevation of a tract of land as a Wilderness, or National Park, or a Protected Area, leads to the region remaining unspoilt and part of the legacy we leave our descendants.
Cagliari is an Italian municipality and the capital of the island of Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy. Cagliari’s Sardinian name Casteddu literally means castle. It has about 150,000 inhabitants, while its metropolitan city (including Cagliari and 16 other nearby municipalities) has more than 431,000 inhabitants. According to Eurostat, the population of the Functional urban area, the commuting zone of Cagliari, rises to 476,974. Cagliari is the 26th largest city in Italy and the largest city on the island of Sardinia.
An ancient city with a long history, Cagliari has seen the rule of several civilisations. Under the buildings of the modern city there is a continuous stratification attesting to human settlement over the course of some five thousand years, from the Neolithic to today. Historical sites include the prehistoric Domus de Janas, very damaged by cave activity, a large Carthaginian era necropolis, a Roman era amphitheatre, a Byzantine basilica, three Pisan-era towers and a strong system of fortification that made the town the core of Spanish Habsburg imperial power in the western Mediterranean Sea.
Its natural resources have always been its sheltered harbour, the often powerfully fortified hill of Castel di Castro, the modern Casteddu, the salt from its lagoons, and, from the hinterland, wheat from the Campidano plain and silver and other ores from the Iglesiente mines. Cagliari was the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1324 to 1848, when Turin became the formal capital of the kingdom (which in 1861 became the Kingdom of Italy).
Today the city is a regional cultural, educational, political and artistic centre, known for its diverse Art Nouveau architecture and several monuments. It is also Sardinia’s economic and industrial hub, having one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean Sea, an international airport, and the 106th highest income level in Italy (among 8,092 comuni), comparable to that of several northern Italian cities. It is also the seat of the University of Cagliari, founded in 1607, and of the Primate Roman Catholic archdiocese of Sardinia, since the 5th century AD.
The long-billed corella (Cacatua tenuirostris), or slender-billed corella is a cockatoo native to Australia, which is similar in appearance to the little corella and sulphur-crested cockatoo. This species is mostly white, with a reddish-pink face and forehead, and has a long pale beak, which is used to dig for roots and seeds. It has reddish-pink feathers on the breast and belly.
The adult long-billed corella measures from 38 to 41 cm in length, has a wingspan of about 80–90 cm and averages 567 g in weight. It has a long bone-coloured beak, and a rim of featherless bluish skin around the eyes. The plumage is predominantly white with reddish feathers around the eyes and lores. The underside of the wings and tail feathers are tinged with yellow.
The long-billed corella can be found in the wild around western Victoria and southern New South Wales. Feral populations have sprung up in Sydney, Perth, Hobart and southeast Queensland from the release of captive birds. This has implications in Western Australia where this species may hybridise with the endangered southern race of the western corella. It has extended its range in the past 15 years or so and can now be found (and is common) right through central Victoria including areas around Melbourne.
Here they are foraging in the Darebin Parklands in suburban Melbourne. Breeding generally takes place from July to November. Long-billed corellas form monogamous pairs and both sexes share the task of building the nest, incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Nests are made in decayed debris, the hollows of large old are laid on a lining of decayed wood. The incubation period is around 24 days and chicks spend about 56 days in the nest.
Ceratostigma, or leadwort, plumbago, is a genus of eight species of flowering plants in the family Plumbaginaceae, native to warm temperate to tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Common names are shared with the genus Plumbago. They are flowering herbaceous plants, subshrubs, or small shrubs growing to 0.3–1 m tall.
The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, 1–9 cm long, usually with a hairy margin. Some of the species are evergreen, others deciduous. The flowers are produced in a compact inflorescence, each flower with a five-lobed corolla; flower colour varies from pale to dark blue to red-purple. The fruit is a small bristly capsule containing a single seed.
Ceratostigma willmottianum shown here is a species of flowering plant native to western China and Tibet. It is an ornamental deciduous shrub that grows to 1 metre in height, with pale blue plumbago-like flowers appearing in autumn as the leaves start to turn red. Ceratostigma is derived from Greek, meaning 'horned stigma’. This is in reference to the ‘shape of the stigmatic surface’. Willmottianum was named for Miss Ellen Ann Willmott (1858-1934), a keen gardener and plant introducer from Warley Place, Essex.
The eastern long-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) is an east Australian species of snake-necked turtle that inhabits a wide variety of water bodies and is an opportunistic feeder. It is a side-necked turtle (Pleurodire), meaning that it bends its head sideways into its shell rather than pulling it directly back.
This specimen sighted in the Darebin Parklands in suburban Melbourne. The head really shows off the resemblance to a snake! The species is found throughout south eastern Australia where it is found west of Adelaide (South Australia) eastwards throughout Victoria and New South Wales, and northwards to the Fitzroy River of Queensland. Where the species comes in contact with Chelodina canni they freely hybridise exhibiting hybrid vigour in the Styx River Drainage of Queensland.
The carapace is generally black in colour though some may be brown, it is broad and flattened with a deep medial groove. The scutes are edged in black in those individuals with a lighter background colour. The plastron is also very broad and is cream to yellow in colour with sutures edged in black. The neck is long and narrow, typical of the subgenus Chelodina, and reaches a length of approximately 60% of the carapace length. The neck has numerous small pointed tubercles and is grey to black in colour dorsally, cream below, as is the narrow head.
TheAlhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.
After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered in the Renaissance style. In 1526 Charles I & V commissioned a new Renaissance palace better befitting the Holy Roman Emperor in the revolutionary Mannerist style influenced by Humanist philosophy in direct juxtaposition with the Nasrid Andalusian architecture, but it was ultimately never completed due to Morisco rebellions in Granada.
Alhambra’s last flowering of Islamic palaces were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain during the decline of the Nasrid dynasty, who were increasingly subject to the Christian Kings of Castile. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site. The rediscoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers. It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country’s most significant and well-known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.
We have a large oil painting copy of Klimt's "The Kiss" hanging on one of our walls at home. I took some photos of it and digitally "deconstructed" it to come up with this mosaic. This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme, and also part of the Macro Monday meme,
Kookaburras are terrestrial tree kingfishers of the genus Dacelo native to Australia and New Guinea, which grow to between 28–42 cm in length. The name is a loanword from Wiradjuri guuguubarra, onomatopoeic of its call. The loud distinctive call of the Laughing Kookaburra is widely used as a stock sound effect in situations that involve an Australian bush setting.
These birds are found in habitats ranging from humid forest to arid savanna, as well as in suburban areas with tall trees or near running water. Even though they belong to the larger group known as "kingfishers", kookaburras are not closely associated with water. The genus Dacelo was introduced by the English zoologist William Elford Leach in 1815. The name Dacelo is an anagram of Alcedo, the Latin word for a kingfisher. The laughing kookaburras shown here are Dacelo novaeguineae (native to eastern Australia, introduced to southwest).
Kookaburras are almost exclusively carnivorous, eating mice, snakes, insects, small reptiles, and the young of other birds; they have also been known to take goldfish from garden ponds. In zoos they are usually fed food for birds of prey. The Darebin Parklands is a perfect habitat for these handsome birds and one may see these quite commonly right throughout the area of the park. Their laugh-like call is definitely a sign you're in Australia!
Brunnera is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae. They are rhizomatous perennials, native to the woodlands of Eastern Europe and North West Asia. They have hairy leaves and sprays of blue flowers in spring. Numerous cultivars are available, which are valued as groundcover in dappled shade. Some possess variegated foliage, such as the ‘Silver Heart’ hybrid shown here.
The best known species is Brunnera macrophylla, known as Siberian bugloss. It thrives in shade but also likes morning sunshine as long as it is in consistently moist, rich, organic soil. It does not tolerate dry conditions. It is often used in woodland gardens along streams of ponds and in naturalised areas as a specimen plant or clumped together as a border. Clumps slowly spread by both creeping rhizomes to form thick ground covers.
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (USDA Zone: 4-9) is a superb introduction, forming a clump of very thick, heart-shaped leaves that are silver with green edging and veining. Sprays of deep blue Forget-me-not flowers appear in spring. This is a choice collector’s plant, but an easy-to-grow perennial that performs well in all but the driest of shady conditions. Excellent for the woodland garden. Provided there is sufficient moisture, plants can tolerate full sun; as the leaves are so thick, little or no scorching occurs. Bred by Spitsbergen-Willemsen of the Netherlands. USPP#24685: Unlicensed propagation prohibited.