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Quote for the Day : Sunshine & Smiles

“…What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable…”

— Joseph Addison

 

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Mis-Beehaving

My Mum has a gorgeous garden.  She keeps it looking lovely, but also endeavours to make it as water-saving and bee/bird-friendly as possible.  She has lots of natives combined with more traditional, cottage garden plants.  It’s not easy having a nice garden in WA.  The Summers are so hot and even in the “wetter” months things can dry out. A couple of years ago, Mum got a landscaper in to help her design an eco-friendly (but still beautiful) garden that she could maintain herself and continue to work on.  She’s only a pensioner, my Mum, so it was all done on a strict budget, saving money where possible (the landscaper was brilliant).

What she ended up with is a low-maintenance garden that is pretty all year round and makes the most of every season.  It is also very welcoming to native birds and bees and the odd frog or two.  Mum’s been very keen on attracting the native Blue Banded Bee, a cute little species of bee that lives a solitary life, with the females building their nests in singular burrows, in mud or soft mortar (or you can build them a little house, like THESE).  They don’t create large stores of honey, so they are not suitable for honey production.  BBBs don’t mind having close neighbours, in fact they will often build their nests right next door to another bee, although they still do not behave in a “colony” kind of way.

They are excellent pollinators, using the “buzz” method, which means they grasp the flower and basically give it a good shake, by shivering their flight muscles, or banging their head on the flower (yes, really).  This releases the pollen, which is hidden in tiny capsules.  Many flowers require this type of pollination, so blue banded bees are very necessary to the continuation of several plant species.

While they do have a mild sting, BBBs are not very aggressive.  They move very quickly and can hover, unlike most other bees.  They are a total pain to photograph (ha ha) because they don’t stay still for long, and move at a much faster pace than regular bees, zipping around in a blur that causes the photographer (ie me) to swear a lot and dance around the garden, yelling “Keep still, dammit!”

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If you look VERY closely, you can just see the bee, hovering about, in the centre of the photo.

They are attracted primarily to white or blue flowers (possibly because it is better for camouflage) and are particularly good at pollinating tomatoes, eggplants and kiwifruit apparently.  So much so, there are plans to use them as greenhouse bees for large-scale tomato production.

BBBs are small critters, about 11mm in length, and have bands of iridescent pale blue-almost white on their abdomens.  When they fly, they look like a little flash of blue.
At night, the males cling to  plant stems, like tiny little chickens roosting for the night 🙂

Bees, in general, are so important to the well-being of the planet.  We should look after them and give them happy habitats and clean environments.   I personally love the little critters (probably because I have never been stung!) and enjoy watching them and their behaviour.  I find if you just let them get on with their business, they will stay out of yours.  Blue Banded Bees are really nice to watch and because they are not aggressive, you can get up close and personal with them, plus there is no risk of being attacked by a swarm!

You can find out more info about the Blue Banded Bee HERE

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Finally – a perfect shot!  It took me probably an hour to get this little guy to stay still long enough for me to take his photo.  Look at those amazing antennae and perfect stripes!
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Quote for the Day : Bees

“… the world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places: don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don’t be an idiot… If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a bee’s temper… Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved…”

— Sue Monk Kidd : The Secret Life of Bees

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Kings Park – Everlastings

Kings Park – Everlastings

It is Wildflower Season here in Western Australia and there are some gorgeous blooms popping up everywhere.  On a recent outing to the Botanic Gardens at Kings Park, with our visitor from the UK, we were treated to carpets of glorious Everlasting flowers in every shade of pink, yellow and orange. They are just beautiful, epitomising Spring and all its joyful, sunshiney goodness.  They are such happy flowers, with their papery petals and luscious hues.  Just look at the colours here – a small sample of the beauties on display:

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Pretty princess pink!

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The bees love them too 🙂

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Like a fiery sunset!

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This one reminds me of Coconut Ice…

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More pinks…

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Love this little bee.  Look at him!  So greedy!  Look at all that pollen he’s collected!  He certainly is the bee’s knees! 🙂

We saw so many beautiful flowers and plants on this chilly, but sunny, Spring day.  More pics to follow in upcoming posts.  I really must get some crafting done but I haven’t been in the mood, plus I have barely been spending any time at home anyway.  I had rent inspection this week, so I had to tidy up and get cleaning – after that I don’t want to make a mess ha ha.  It won’t take long until chaos reigns supreme again though, knowing me.  I am hopeless.  It’s why you love me, right?

Hope your day has been bright and sunshiney 🙂

Mum’s Garden

Mum’s Garden

A rainy, Wintery weekend just went by.  As much as I hate the cold, I do love the look of raindrops on leaves and frost on the grass, as long as I’m looking at from inside a nice warm house.  I spent some time at my Mum’s on the weekend and took a few snaps of plants and flowers (and critters!) in her garden.  It is really coming along and starting to look a lot more lush and inviting.  She loves her garden and it was hard to leave her previous one behind when she moved to the new house.  So she’s been working hard to get the new one up to scratch.  The front garden is mostly hardy natives which are drought-tolerant and don’t mind full sun.  The back garden is still a work-in-progress and that will feature more traditional, cottage-garden beds and plants.  She’s getting rid of the lawn as it is hard to maintain and needs way too much water.  Better to have mulched garden beds that will require less water and upkeep.  She’s enjoying all the planning and working with a landscape gardener to get it just so.  She’s only a pensioner, so things are being done on a budget and corners cut wherever possible.

For what it’s worth, I have been busy with my little garden too – re-potting all my succulents and cacti, propagating new plants and clearing away the bedraggled old ones that have seen better days.  My path is lined with succulents now and the colours are amazing.  You can almost hear them saying “Ahhh…” as they relax in their newer, larger pots.  Some of them had become quite root bound, poor things. Anyway, more on my garden later.  For now, enjoy a few colourful photos of various plants and flowers in Mum’s garden 🙂

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So pretty! The raindrops look like jewels on these colourful leaves…

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Poinsettia…

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Kalanchoe, ready to bloom…

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Begonia…

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Salvia (such a beautiful blue)…

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So many bees happily harvesting pollen from a lemon tree…

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Geranium…

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“Joey” – don’t ask me the proper name….

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(Neighbour’s cat, photo-bombing!)

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(Mole Cricket.  Dead unfortunately, poor little guy.  He made a tasty meal for the ants though…)