Wednesday, 29 May 2019

DESKTOP 2128 - ANDROMEDA

Andromeda polifolia, common name bog-rosemary, is a species of flowering plant native to Northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. It is the only member of the genus Andromeda, and is only found in bogs in cold peat-accumulating areas.

It is a small shrub growing to 10–20 centimetres (rarely to 40 cm) tall with slender stems. The leaves are evergreen, alternately arranged, lanceolate, 1–5 centimetres long and 2–8 millimetres broad, dark green above (purplish in winter) and white beneath with the leaf margins curled under. The flowers are bell-shaped, white to pink, 5–8 mm long; flowering is in late spring to early summer. The fruit is a small capsule containing numerous seeds.

'Compacta' shown here is a small evergreen shrub to 20cm in height, with oval leaves and terminal clusters of clear pink, globose flowers.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

DESKTOP 2127 - UNIVERSE

Universe | ˈjuːnɪvəːs | noun
1 (The universe) all existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos. The universe is believed to be at least 10 billion light years in diameter and contains a vast number of galaxies; it has been expanding since its creation in the Big Bang about 13 billion years ago.
2 A particular sphere of activity or experience: The front parlour was the hub of her universe.
3 (Logic also universe of discourse) another term for universal set.
ORIGIN 
Late Middle English: from Old French univers or Latin universum, neuter of universus ‘combined into one, whole’, from uni- ‘one’ + versus ‘turned’ (past participle of vertere).

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

DESKTOP 2126 - PHILAE EGYPT

Philae (Greek: Φιλαί, Philai; Ancient Egyptian: Pilak, P'aaleq) is an island in Lake Nasser, Nubia. It was formerly an island in the First Cataract of the Nile River and the previous site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex in southern Egypt. The complex was dismantled and relocated to nearby Agilkia Island during a UNESCO project started because of the construction of the Aswan Dam, after the site was partly flooded by the earlier Aswan Low Dam for half a century.

Monuments of various eras, extending from the Pharaohs to the Caesars, occupy nearly the whole area of Philae. The principal structures, however, lie at the south end of the smaller island. The most ancient were the remains of a temple for Isis built in the reign of Nectanebo I during 380-362 BC, was approached from the river through a double colonnade.

For the most part, the other ruins date from the Ptolemaic times, more especially with the reigns of Ptolemy Philadelphus, Ptolemy Epiphanes, and Ptolemy Philometor (282-145 BC), with many traces of Roman work in Philae dedicated to Ammon-Osiris. The island is reached by boat and visitors can wander around and admire the temples inside and out. No visit to Egypt is complete without visiting this amazing site.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

DESKTOP 2124 - ACROPOLIS

Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 5000 years. Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BC, and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BC laid the foundations of western civilisation.

During the early Middle Ages, the city experienced a decline, then recovered under the later Byzantine Empire and was relatively prosperous during the period of the Crusades (12th and 13th centuries), benefiting from Italian trade. Following a period of sharp decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens re-emerged in the 19th century as the capital of the independent and self-governing Greek state.

Athens is rich in ancient sites and buildings, including the areopagus, the acropolis (seen below), the agora, various amphitheatres and various athenaea (temples of Athena, like the Parthenon), as well as numerous other architectural remains, and monuments, statuary and objects of everyday life. The Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and numerous other museums and galleries also have objects and remains of the ancient city.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

DESKTOP 2123 - SWAMPHENS

The Australasian swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus), family Rallidae, is a species of swamphen occurring in eastern Indonesia, the Moluccas, Aru and Kai Islands, as well as in Papua New Guinea and Australia. It is also found in New Zealand where it is known as the Pūkeko, derived from the Māori language. The Australasian swamphen previously was considered a subspecies of the purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio).

For such a bulky bird, the Swamphen is an accomplished flier and will readily take to the air to escape danger. In flight, the long legs and elongated toes trail behind or hang underneath the body. Purple Swamphens are proficient swimmers, but prefer to wander on the edges of the water, among reeds and on floating vegetation. The diet of the Purple Swamphen includes the soft shoots of reeds and rushes and small animals, such as frogs and snails. However, it is a reputed egg stealer and will also eat ducklings when it can catch them. The Purple Swamphen uses its long toes to grasp food while eating.

This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme,
and also part of the Weekend Reflections.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

DESKTOP 2121 - ARCTOTIS

Arctotis is a genus of annual and perennial plants in the family Asteraceae. Arctotis is native to dry stony slopes in southern Africa. Some of the plants are alternatively placed in the genus Venidium. The common name is "African daisy", or "Gousblom" in Afrikaans.

These plants have daisy-like composite flowers which tend to close in the late afternoon or in dull weather, but numerous cultivars have been developed for garden use which stay open for longer, and are available in a wide range of colours. Tender perennials are often grown in temperate regions as half-hardy annuals. The garden hybrid A. × hybrida hort. 'Flame' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

DESKTOP 2120 - TREES

Beautiful gum trees (eucalypts) in the Darebin Parklands in suburban Melbourne, Australia.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

DESKTOP 2119 - PERTH, AUSTRALIA

Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia. It is the fourth most populous city in Australia, with an estimated population of 1.74 million living in the Perth metropolitan area. The metropolitan area is located in the South West Division of Western Australia, between the Indian Ocean and a low coastal escarpment known as the Darling Range. The central business district and suburbs of Perth are situated on the banks of the Swan River.

Shortly after the establishment of the port settlement of Fremantle, Perth was founded on 12 June 1829 by Captain James Stirling as the political centre of the Swan River Colony. As the business and administration centre for the resource-rich state, Perth has grown consistently.  Perth became known worldwide as the “City of Light” when city residents lit their house lights and streetlights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead while orbiting the earth on Friendship 7 in 1962. The city repeated the act as Glenn passed overhead on the Space Shuttle in 1998. Perth is tied for eighth place in The Economist’s 2011 list of the world's most livable cities.

Perth’s residents have traditionally enjoyed the highest standard of living of any of Australia’s big cities.  Until recently, the reason for this has been that, for most occupations, wages were only a little less than could be found in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne while house prices in Perth were considerably lower than the other cities.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the  Wordless Wednesday meme.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Thursday, 16 May 2019

DESKTOP 2114 - VIOLET

Viola is a genus of flowering plants in the violet family Violaceae. It is the largest genus in the family, containing between 525 and 600 species. Most species are found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, however some are also found in widely divergent areas such as Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes. Some Viola species are perennial plants, some are annual plants, and a few are small shrubs.

A large number of species, varieties and cultivars are grown in gardens for their ornamental flowers. In horticulture the term "pansy" is normally used for those multi-coloured, large-flowered cultivars which are raised annually or biennially from seed and used extensively in bedding. The terms "viola" and "violet" are normally reserved for small-flowered annuals or perennials, including the type species.

Viola odorata is a species of the genus Viola native to Europe and Asia, but has also been introduced to North America and Australia. It is commonly known as wood violet, sweet violet, English violet, common violet, florist's violet, or garden violet. The sweet scent of this flower has proved popular throughout the generations particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances and perfumes.

The scent of violet flowers is distinctive with only a few other flowers having a remotely similar odour. References to violets and the desirable nature of the fragrance go back to classical sources such as Pliny and Horace when the name ‘Ion’ was in use to describe this flower from which the name of the distinctive chemical constituents of the flower, the ionones – is derived. The leaves are edible and contain mucilage.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

DESLTOP 2112 - CARDIFF, UK

Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) is the capital and largest city in Wales and the eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is the country’s chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. The unitary authority area’s mid-2011 population was estimated to be 346,100, while the population of the Larger Urban Zone was estimated at 861,400 in 2009. The Cardiff metropolitan area makes up over a third of the total population of Wales, with a mid-2011 population estimate of about 1,100,000 people.

Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic’s alternative tourist destinations. The city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan (and later South Glamorgan). Cardiff is part of the Eurocities network of the largest European cities. The Cardiff Urban Area covers a slightly larger area outside the county boundary, and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth.

Cardiff Castle (Welsh: Castell Caerdydd) is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the city centre of Cardiff, Wales. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort. The castle was commissioned either by William the Conqueror or by Robert Fitzhamon, and formed the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff and the Marcher Lord territory of Glamorgan.

In the 12th century the castle began to be rebuilt in stone, probably by Robert of Gloucester, with a shell keep and substantial defensive walls being erected. Further work was conducted by Richard de Clare, 6th Earl of Gloucester, in the second half of the 13th century. Cardiff Castle was repeatedly involved in the conflicts between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh, being attacked several times in the 12th century, and stormed in 1404 during the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Thursday, 9 May 2019

DESKTOP 2107 - FAIRY FAN FLOWER

Scaevola is a genus of flowering plants in the Goodenia family, Goodeniaceae. It consists of more than 130 tropical species, with the centre of diversity being Australia and Polynesia. Common names for Scaevola species include scaevolas, fan-flowers, half-flowers, and naupaka, the fan flower's Hawaiian name. The flowers are shaped as if they have been cut in half. The generic name means "left-handed" in Latin.

Many legends have been told to explain the formation of the naupaka's unique half flowers. In one version a woman tears the flower in half after a quarrel with her lover. The gods, angered, turn all naupaka flowers into half flowers and the two lovers remained separated while the man is destined to search in vain for another whole flower.

Scaevola is the only Goodeniaceae genus that is widespread outside of Australia. In at least six separate dispersals, about 40 species have spread throughout the Pacific Basin, with a few reaching the tropical coasts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Hawaiian Islands are home to ten Scaevola species, nine of which are endemic. Eight of the indigenous species are the result of a single colonisation event. Scaevola aemula (Fairy Fan-flower or Common Fan-flower, shown here) is a small shrub native to southern Australia.

It grows to 50 cm in height and produces white or blue flowers in spikes up to 24 cm long from August to March in its native range. These are followed by rounded, wrinkled berries to 4.5 mm in length. The species occurs in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The species is thought to be the most commonly cultivated of the genus Scaevola, and a large number of cultivars have been developed. Most of these are mat-forming to a height of 12 cm and spreading up to 1 metre in width.

It prefers a sunny or partially shaded, well-drained position and tolerates salt spray and periods of drought. Pruning and pinching of tip growth may be carried out to shape the plant. Propagation is from cuttings or by layering.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

DESKTOP 2106 - ROMAN RUINS

Rome is a city and special comune (named "Roma Capitale") in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and of the Lazio region. With 2.9 million residents in 1,285 km2, it is also the country's largest and most populated comune and fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of Tiber river. Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Famous artists, painters, sculptors and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic. Rome has the status of a global city. Rome ranked in 2014 as the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments, ruins and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world's most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Monday, 6 May 2019

DESKTOP 2105 - FREMANTLE, WA

Fremantle is a city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829. It was declared a city in 1929, and has a population of approximately 25,000. The city is named after Captain Charles Howe Fremantle, the English naval officer who had pronounced possession of Western Australia and who established a camp at the site. The city contains well-preserved 19th-century buildings and other heritage features. The Western Australian vernacular diminutive for Fremantle is Freo.

The native Australian Noongar people inhabited the area that is now Fremantle, which was known as Walyalup. The area was considered as a site for possible British settlement in 1827, when Captain James Stirling, in HMS Success, explored the coastal areas near the Swan River. As a result of Stirling's report, Captain Charles Howe Fremantle of HMS Challenger, a 603 ton, 28-gun frigate, was instructed to sail to the west coast of Australia to establish a settlement there. On 2 May 1829, Fremantle hoisted the Union Flag in a bay near what is now known as Arthur Head, and in accordance with his instructions, took formal possession “of the whole of the West Coast of New Holland” in the name of George IV of the United Kingdom.

Shown here is the fishing boat harbour, which as well as being a working harbour has numerous, cafés, restaurants, tourist shops and a micro-brewery.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

DESKTOP 2104 - LOOK CLOSELY

This post is part of the Mosaic Monday meme,
and also part of the Macro Monday meme,
and also part of the Through my Lens meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

DESKTOP 2102 - DUCK

The Pacific black duck (Anas superciliosa) is a dabbling duck found in much of Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and many islands in the southwestern Pacific, reaching to the Caroline Islands in the north and French Polynesia in the east. It is usually called the grey duck in New Zealand, where it is also known by its Maori name, pārera.

This sociable duck is found in a variety of wetland habitats, and its nesting habits are much like those of the mallard, which is encroaching on its range in New Zealand. It feeds by upending, like other Anas ducks. It has a dark body, and a paler head with a dark crown and facial stripes. In flight, it shows a green speculum and pale underwing. All plumages are similar. The size range is 54–61 cm; males tend to be larger than females, and some island forms are smaller and darker than the main populations.

It is not resident on the Marianas islands, but sometimes occurs there during migration. The now extinct Mariana mallard was probably originally derived from hybrids between this species and the mallard, which came to the islands during migration and settled down there. Here it is in the Darebin Creek in Alphington, in suburban Melbourne.

This post is part of the Weekend Reflections meme,
and also part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.


Thursday, 2 May 2019

DESKTOP 2100 - CASSIA

Cassia fistula, known as the golden shower tree and by other names, is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. The species is native to the Indian subcontinent and adjacent regions of Southeast Asia. It ranges from southern Pakistan eastward throughout India to Myanmar and Thailand and south to Sri Lanka. In literature, it is closely associated with the Mullai (forest) region of Sangam landscape. It is the national tree of Thailand, and its flower is Thailand's national flower. It is also the state flower of Kerala in India and of immense importance amongst the Malayali population. It is a popular ornamental plant and is also used in herbal medicine.

The golden shower tree is a medium-sized tree, growing to 10–20 m tall with fast growth. The leaves are deciduous, 15–60 cm long, and pinnate with three to eight pairs of leaflets, each leaflet 7–21 cm long and 4–9 cm broad. The fragrant flowers are produced in pendulous racemes 20–40 cm long, each flower 4–7 cm diameter with five yellow petals of equal size and shape. The fruit is a legume, 30–60 cm long and 1.5–2.5 centimetres broad, with a pungent odour and containing several seeds. The tree has strong and very durable wood.

Cassia fistula is widely grown as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas. It blooms in late spring. Flowering is profuse, with trees being covered with yellow flowers, many times with almost no leaf being seen. It will grow well in dry climates. Growth for this tree is best in full sun on well-drained soil; it is relatively drought tolerant and slightly salt tolerant. It will tolerate light brief frost, but can get damaged if the cold persists. It can be subject to mildew or leaf spot, especially during the second half of the growing season. The tree will bloom better where there is pronounced difference between summer and winter temperatures.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the golden shower tree is known as aragvadha, meaning "disease killer". The fruit pulp is considered a purgative, and self-medication or any use without medical supervision is strongly advised against in Ayurvedic texts. Though its use in herbalism has been attested to for millennia, little research has been conducted in modern times.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

DESKTOP 2099 - QUOKKA

The quokka (Setonix brachyurus), the only member of the genus Setonix, is a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat. Like other marsupials in the macropod family (such as kangaroos and wallabies), the quokka is herbivorous and mainly nocturnal.

Quokkas can be found on some smaller islands off the coast of Western Australia, in particular on Rottnest Island just off Perth and Bald Island near Albany. A small mainland colony exists in the protected area of Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, where they co-exist with the critically endangered Gilbert's potoroo.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.