Thursday, 31 October 2019

DESKTOP 2281 - AZALEA

Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron, particularly the former sections Tsutsuji (evergreen) and Pentanthera (deciduous). Azaleas bloom in spring, their flowers often lasting several weeks. Shade tolerant, they prefer living near or under trees. They are part of the family Ericaceae.

Plant enthusiasts have selectively bred azaleas for hundreds of years. This human selection has produced over 10,000 different cultivars which are propagated by cuttings. Azalea seeds can also be collected and germinated. Azaleas are generally slow-growing and do best in well-drained acidic soil (4.5–6.0 pH). Fertiliser needs are low; some species need regular pruning.

Azaleas are native to several continents including Asia, Europe and North America. They are planted abundantly as ornamentals in the southeastern USA, southern Asia, and parts of southwest Europe. While azaleas are nowhere near as popular as they were some years ago, they’re still hard to beat when it comes to producing a mass of garden colour in winter and spring.

Azaleas vary in size from small, rather delicate shrubs that are happiest in pots, to the large, hardy indica varieties that seem able to survive all the climatic challenges that are thrown at them. The latter group includes salmon-pink ‘Splendens’, purple ‘Magnifica’ and white or bicoloured bloomers that can reach up to more than two metres tall.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

DESKTOP 2280 - QUAY

Circular Quay is a harbour, former working port and now international passenger shipping port, public piazza and tourism precinct, heritage area, and transport node located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on the northern edge of the Sydney central business district on Sydney Cove, between Bennelong Point and The Rocks. It is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney.

The Circular Quay area is a popular neighbourhood for tourism and consists of walkways, pedestrian malls, parks and restaurants. It hosts a number of ferry quays, bus stops, and a railway station. Often referred to as the "gateway to Sydney", the precinct has views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House and is a common location for viewing Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks.

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

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

MY DESKTOP 2279 - ESPERANCE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Esperance is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, on the Southern Ocean coastline approximately 720 kilometres east-southeast of the state capital, Perth. The urban population of Esperance was over 10,000 as at the 2016 Census. Its major industries are tourism, agriculture, and fishing. The Shire of Esperance is home to 13,477 people.

Near the town itself are numerous beaches, offering surfing, scuba diving, and swimming. Also nearby are a number of salt lakes, including Pink Lake, which gains its rosy hue from red algae living within its waters. Esperance is also home to the Cyclops wave, said to be the world's heaviest wave with massive amounts of water unloading on shallow reef. Cyclops is featured in the surfing films Billabong Odyssey, and the Bra Boys documentary.

There are five major national parks near the town. A major nearby tourist attraction, 20 minutes away from the town centre, is the Cape Le Grand National Park, which offers a picturesque coast of largely granite terrain and sheltered white sand beaches. The park is a popular spot for recreational fishing, as well as four wheel drive enthusiasts and hikers.Esperance also has a number of wind turbines supplying electricity to the town. Esperance had the first electrical wind farm in Australia, built at Salmon Beach as a research facility in 1987.

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.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

MY DESKTOP 2277 - SOUTHERN CROSS

Southern Cross (formerly known, and still colloquially known, as Spencer Street) is a major railway station in Docklands, Melbourne. It is on Spencer Street, between Collins and La Trobe Streets, at the western edge of the central business district. The Marvel Stadium sports arena is 500 metres north-west of the station.

The station is managed, as part of a public-private partnership with the state government, by Southern Cross Station Pty Ltd, a private consortium which includes ABN Amro, Leighton Contractors, Daryl Jackson Architecture, Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners and Honeywell Limited. The station is the terminus of the state's regional railway network operated by V/Line, The Overland rail service to Adelaide, and NSW TrainLink XPT services to Sydney.

It also served by suburban rail services operated by Metro Trains, being one of five stations on the City Loop, a mostly underground railway that encircles the CBD. It is the 2nd busiest railway station in Melbourne's metropolitan network, with some 16.8 million passenger movements recorded in 2011/12. These figures exclude V/Line passengers who use the station.

Southern Cross Station also has a coach terminal underneath the Spencer Outlet shopping complex. Skybus Super Shuttle services to Melbourne Airport and Sunbus Shuttle services to Avalon Airport operate from there, as well as Greyhound Australia, Firefly Express, Premier Motor Service interstate coach services, and V/Line coach services to Mildura, Yarram and Mansfield, and other parts of Victoria not served by rail.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

DESKTOP 2274 - SUTERA

Sutera is a genus of annual and perennial flowering plants and shrubs of the family Scrophulariaceae mainly confined to Africa. S cordata was named Manulea cordata in 1800 by Thunberg. Bentham renamed it Chaenostoma in 1836, Kuntze changed it to Sutera in 1891 on the grounds of Synonymy. In 1994 Hilliard considered the two terms subgenera of Sutera, but in 2005 Kornhall and Bremer separated the two again, placing S cordata in Chaenostoma!

Illustrated here is a garden hybrid, Sutera 'Dancop28'( SCOPIA® GULLIVER BLUE SENSATION, SCOPIA® SERIES) PP21551. They are pretty little pale blue-violet flowers with yellow throats cover the toothed foliage on the Scopia® Gulliver Blue Sensation. This hybrid cultivar from the Scopia™ Series is a vigorous, trailing, tender perennial, descended from plants native to South Africa. It was selected in 2007 by plant breeders at a greenhouse facility in Israel.

Like other Suteras, it is prized as a container plant and groundcover. The flowers rise above just the stems, facing upward, are larger than those of parental species and appear continuously as long as the plant is growing and conditions are sunny and mild. With a rounded habit and somewhat spreading branch tips, 'Dangul14' - marketed as Scopia® Gulliver Blue Sensation - grows and blooms best in well-drained, moist soil or potting mix. Its mounded, rather compact habit and tireless bloom make it useful for hanging baskets, planters and containers, or as a year-round groundcover where winters are frostless and summers are mild.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

DESKTOP 2273 - PLANTS

Plants are mainly multicellular, predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the kingdom Plantae. Historically, plants were treated as one of two kingdoms including all living things that were not animals, and all algae and fungi were treated as plants. However, all current definitions of Plantae exclude the fungi and some algae, as well as the prokaryotes (the archaea and bacteria). By one definition, plants form the clade Viridiplantae (Latin name for "green plants"), a group that includes the flowering plants, conifers and other gymnosperms, ferns and their allies, hornworts, liverworts, mosses and the green algae, but excludes the red and brown algae.

Green plants obtain most of their energy from sunlight via photosynthesis by primary chloroplasts that are derived from endosymbiosis with cyanobacteria. Their chloroplasts contain chlorophylls a and b, which gives them their green color. Some plants are parasitic or mycotrophic and have lost the ability to produce normal amounts of chlorophyll or to photosynthesize. Plants are characterized by sexual reproduction and alternation of generations, although asexual reproduction is also common.

There are about 320,000 species of plants, of which the great majority, some 260–290 thousand, produce seeds. Green plants provide a substantial proportion of the world's molecular oxygen, and are the basis of most of Earth's ecosystems. Plants that produce grain, fruit and vegetables also form basic human foods and have been domesticated for millennia. Plants have many cultural and other uses, as ornaments, building materials, writing material and, in great variety, they have been the source of medicines and psychoactive drugs. The scientific study of plants is known as botany, a branch of biology.

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, 22 October 2019

DESKTOP 2272 - FIJI

Fiji (officially the Republic of Fiji - Fijian: Matanitu Tugalala o Viti) is an island country in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km) northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and France’s Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north. Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands (of which 110 are permanently inhabited) and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres. The farthest island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the total population of 898,760.

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.

Monday, 21 October 2019

DESKTOP 2271 - PUMPKINS

It's interesting to see Melbourne's shops becoming filled with pumpkins even though they are out of season. It's all to do with Halloween of course, and the pumpkins are mostly imported, and yes you guessed it from the USA!

The triptych mosaic today is quite subtle, as I have taken a photograph and applied three different filters in Photoshop on three layers. The left part is the "poster edges" effect, the middle part is a filter of my own invention, which I called "sunny" and the right part is the "dry brush" filter followed by a blurring effect.

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

Thursday, 17 October 2019

DESKTOP 2267 - PROTEA 'PINK ICE'

Cold hardiness and beautiful pink and black flowers are the hallmarks of the hybrid Protea, 'Pink Ice.' A cross between the South African natives, mink protea (Protea neriifolia) and stink-leaf sugarbush (P. susannae), this evergreen is an upright to loosely rounded shrub that blooms in Autumn and Winter. Its stellar blooms are beautiful when cut and last for two to three weeks in a vase.

The narrow, oval foliage of this shrub is medium green with a leathery, hard texture. When Autumn and Winter days shorten and temperatures grow cooler, the leaf edges blush rosy pink. Each blossom resembles a torch with hundreds of magenta-rose bracts. The tips of the bracts are edged with feathery burgundy black hairs. This Protea is among the easiest to grow. It tolerates slightly acid and alkaline soils as well as climates that are wet in winter and dry in summer, or dry in winter and wet in summer.

For best performance, plant it in full sun and alkaline soil that is moderately infertile. Soil must be fast-draining and porous; moist soils encourage fungal diseases. Amend loam and clay soils with grit and coarse organic matter to improve aeration and drainage. Do not fertilise, especially with phosphorus which causes proteas to falter. Plant this showy shrub in a prominent location to show off its magnificent flowers. All proteas are short-lived surviving 10 to 15 years at most. Take stem cuttings from older plants to replace older, failing specimens. Trim spent flowers off in spring to encourage fuller growth and more blooms by early winter.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

DESKTOP 2266 - ORANGE

orange | ˈɒrɪn(d)ʒ |noun
1) A large round juicy citrus fruit with a tough bright reddish-yellow rind: Eat plenty of oranges | [mass noun] : A slice of orange | [as modifier] : Orange juice.
• [mass noun] chiefly British a drink made from or flavoured with oranges: a vodka and orange.


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

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

DESKTOP 2265 - NEW DELHI, INDIA

New Delhi is the capital of India and one of Delhi city’s 11 districts. Although colloquially Delhi and New Delhi are used interchangeably to refer to the National Capital Territory of Delhi, these are two distinct entities, with New Delhi forming a small part of Delhi. The National Capital Region is a much larger entity comprising the entire National Capital Territory of Delhi along with adjoining districts.

The Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham complex (seen below) is a Hindu mandir, and a spiritual-cultural campus in New Delhi, India. Also referred to as Akshardham Temple or Swaminarayan Akshardham, the complex displays millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture. The temple, which attracts approximately 70 percent of all tourists who visit Delhi, was officially opened on 6 November 2005 by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. It sits near the banks of the Yamuna River adjacent to the 2010 Commonwealth Games village in eastern New Delhi. The temple, at the centre of the complex, was built according to the Vastu shastra and Pancharatra shastra.

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.

Monday, 14 October 2019

DESKTOP 2264 - DAISIES

Osteospermum daisies in bloom at the moment.

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

Sunday, 13 October 2019

DESKTOP 2263 - SPRING

Arctotheca calendula is a plant in thee Asteraceae family that originates from the Cape Province in South Africa. It is listed as a noxious weed. The plant is a squat perennial or annual which grows in rosettes and sends out stolons and can spread across the ground quickly. The leaves are covered with white woolly hairs, especially on their undersides. The leaves are lobed or deeply toothed. Hairy stems bear daisy-like flowers with small yellow petals that sometimes have a green or purple tint surrounded by white or yellow ray petals extending further out from the flower centres.

It is cultivated as an attractive ornamental groundcover but has invasive potential when introduced to a new area. The plant can reproduce vegetatively or via seed. Seed-bearing plants are most likely to become weedy, taking hold most easily in bare or sparsely vegetated soil or disturbed areas. It is poisonous to cattle.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the My Sunday Best meme.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

DESKTOP 2262 - CURRAWONG

The pied currawong (Strepera graculina) is a medium-sized black passerine bird native to eastern Australia and Lord Howe Island. One of three currawong species in the genus Strepera, it is closely related to the butcherbirds and Australian magpie of the family Artamidae. Six subspecies are recognised.

The currawong is a robust crow-like bird averaging around 48 cm in length, black or sooty grey-black in plumage with white undertail and wing patches, yellow irises, and a heavy bill. The male and female are similar in appearance. Known for its melodious calls, the species' name currawong is believed to be of indigenous origin. Within its range, the pied currawong is generally sedentary, although populations at higher altitudes relocate to lower areas during the cooler months.

It is omnivorous, with a diet that includes a wide variety of berries and seeds, invertebrates, bird eggs and juvenile birds. It is a predator which has adapted well to urbanisation and can be found in parks and gardens as well as rural woodland. The habitat includes all kinds of forested areas, although mature forests are preferred for breeding. Roosting, nesting and the bulk of foraging take place in trees, in contrast with the ground-foraging behaviour of its relative, the Australian magpie. Here it is seen in suburban Melbourne, in the Darebin Parklands in Fairfield.

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

Thursday, 10 October 2019

DESKTOP 2260 - BLUE PEA

Clitoria ternatea, common names including butterfly-pea, blue-pea, and cordofan-pea, is a plant species belonging to the Fabaceae family. The flowers of this vine have the shape of human female genitals, hence the Latin name of the genus Clitoria, from "clitoris". 

This plant is native to tropical equatorial Asia, but has been introduced to Africa, Australia and America. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, with elliptic, obtuse leaves. It grows as a vine or creeper, doing well in moist, neutral soil. The most striking feature about this plant are its vivid deep blue flowers; solitary, with light yellow markings. They are about 4 cm long by 3 cm wide. There are some varieties that yield white flowers. The fruits are 5 – 7 cm long, flat pods with 6 to 10 seeds in each pod. They are edible when tender.

It is grown as an ornamental plant and as a revegetation species (e.g., in coal mines in Australia), requiring little care when cultivated. As a legume, its roots form a symbiotic association with soil bacteria known as rhizobia, which transform atmospheric nitrogen gas into a plant usable form, therefore, this plant is also used to improve soil quality through the decomposition of nitrogen-rich tissue. In animal tests the methanolic extract of Clitoria ternatea roots demonstrated nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity. The active constituents include tannins, resins, starch, taraxerol and taraxerone. Other compounds form the pant have shown promise as antibiotics and anti-cancer agents.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

DESKTOP 2258 - CRADLE MOUNTAIN

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.

The 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.

The Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is a significant location of Tasmania's endemic species — 40–55% of the park’s documented alpine flora is endemic. Furthermore, 68% of the higher rainforest species recorded in alpine areas in Tasmania are present in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. The park’s alpine vegetation is very diverse and has largely escaped forest fires that have caused neighbouring regions to suffer. Animals present in the park include: Pademelons, Bennett’s wallabies, quolls, Tasmanian devils, echidnas, platypuses, wombats, possums, ravens and currawongs.

The park has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it provides habitat for 11 of Tasmania’s endemic bird species, as well as for the flame and pink robins and the striated fieldwren. The IBA is important as a representative protected area in north-central Tasmania for those species.

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, 5 October 2019

Thursday, 3 October 2019

CAMELLIA

Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–250 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. The genus was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia.
 
This genus is famous throughout East Asia; camellias are known as cháhuā (茶花) in Chinese, "tea flower", an apt designation, as tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, as dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese. Of economic importance in the Indian subcontinent and Asia, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the popular beverage, tea. The ornamental Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua and their hybrids are represented in cultivation by a large number of cultivars.
 
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

DESKTOP 2253 - MOSS

Mosses are small flowerless plants that typically grow in dense green clumps or mats, often in damp or shady locations. The individual plants are usually composed of simple, one-cell thick leaves, attached to a stem that may be branched or unbranched and has only a limited role in conducting water and nutrients. Although some species have vascular tissue this is generally poorly developed and structurally different from similar tissue found in other plants. They do not have seeds and after fertilisation develop sporophytes (unbranched stalks topped with single capsules containing spores). They are typically 0.2–10 cm tall, though some species are much larger, like Dawsonia, the tallest moss in the world, which can grow to 50 cm in height.

Mosses are in the phylum (division) Bryophyta, which formerly also included hornworts and liverworts. These other two groups of bryophytes are now placed in their own divisions. There are approximately 12,000 species of moss classified in the Bryophyta. The main commercial significance of mosses is as the main constituent of peat (mostly the genus Sphagnum), although they are also used for decorative purposes, such as in gardens and in the florist trade. Traditional uses of mosses included as insulation and for the ability to absorb liquids up to 20 times their weight.

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, 1 October 2019

DEESKTOP 2252 - BEIJING, CHINA

Beijing (Mandarin: [pèi.tɕíŋ]), formerly romanised as Peking, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and the world’s second most populous city proper and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipality under the national government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts.

As a city combining both modern and traditional architecture, Beijing is a megacity rich in history, exemplified in its global influence in politics, economy, education, history, culture, and technology. Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation's political, cultural, and educational centre. It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies and is a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport has been the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic since 2010, and, as of 2016, the city’s subway network is the busiest and second longest in the world, after Shanghai’s subway system.

The city’s history dates back three millennia. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political centre of the country for much of the past eight centuries. With mountains surrounding the inland city on three sides, in addition to the old inner and outer city walls, Beijing was strategically poised and developed to be the residence of the emperor and thus was the perfect location for the imperial capital. Beijing was the largest city in the world by population for much of the second millennium A.D. (about 25 million people).

The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls and gates. Its art treasures and universities have made it centre of culture and art in China. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural centre of an area as immense as China.” Beijing has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, as well as parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal, all popular locations for tourism.

Siheyuans, the city’s traditional housing style, and hutongs, the narrow alleys between siheyuans, are major tourist attractions and are common in urban Beijing. The city hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and was chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, making it the first city to ever host both Winter and Summer Olympics. Many of Beijing’s 91 universities  consistently rank among the best in China, of which Peking University and Tsinghua University are ranked in the top 60 universities of the world.

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.