Friday, 29 April 2011

Great Weather for Orchid Flowering

The household orchids are flowering very well.

We had the white flowered native orchid last week, in a one day spectacular flowering, now a lot of others are in flower........and quite a few of the Dendrobiums are in bud........two weeks maybe before they flower.

They look great!!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cane Toads - Yuk!!

Until recently we have seemingly been free of cane toads around the suburb of Rapid Creek.

Yes, the very ocassional one seen on a deserted street at night near a light post, or in a yard also near light - and rapidly despatched to the nether world. And I think that has been a common approach around the suburb.

However, over the past few weeks it seems they may be now on the move into Rapid Creek. A very dead one was seen along the bike way, near the Beachfront Hotel. We do have a tidal creek near this area, and I have looked extensively over several years, expecting to see them frequently along the bikeway path [close to the creek], a route regularly used to exercise the dog, mostly of an evening when they would be active..........yet none have been seen there, with the exception of the dead one.

But there has been the odd one seen on the streets near the creek, and a few dead ones that have been run over. More seen this wet season than previously. We even had a large one in our driveway last night............and quickly despatched with a shovel and into the compost bin!!

The drier weather over the past few weeks may mean they are moving in search of water, with house yards the obvious desirable place.

Watch....... search........... and destroy these horrible creatures. Remember that famous quote - "eternal vigilance is the price of freedom" [attributed to Wendell Phillips circa 1852].

[photo - attributed to Dept ERM Queensland]

Monday, 25 April 2011

Orchid Flowers for Easter

Cultivating tropical orchids can be fun. The vast array of Vanda, Dendrobium, Cattelya and related species with thousands of colourful varieties are truly spectacular. And we can grow them outdoors quite easily. I have quite a few in the yard, and enjoy their colourful and at times fantastic, flower displays.

And of late, flowering of most plants has been fairly regular, with a good sized flower stem.

Locally in the NT, we have a fair range of native orchids, but none have the tremendous flowers that are more common with the bred varieties.

Our relatively common local orchid does have one feature though that makes it special.......the whole plant on a tree flowers at once in a single monster burst of white flowers for a single day.

And Easter Sunday morning was the day. Is there significance in that, one might ask, on the Christian Feast of the Resurrection?

As soon as the back door of the house opened, the fragrance was superb [ and not all orchids have a fragrance], with all of the plants around the yard a mass of white flowers. The fragrance permeated around the yard, particularly noticeable in the windless early morning; by around midday it had virtually disappeared.

Flowering is not, as far as I can tell, day length or temperature driven.........but they do flower quite a few times each year..............and ALWAYS together! This time a few regular doses of fertiliser given when the other orchids receive their fertiliser spray might have paid off.

Flowering was fantastic. Ho hum............but just a single day each time.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Dry Season 2011

How quickly the season changes in the tropics.

Less than a week ago [16th April] we had a cyclone off the NW coast of WA heading for Timor, and wet overcast conditions in Darwin that were typically monsoonal, and regular almost daily rain.

And then a large high pressure system moved across temperate Australia.........and with that the dry season has kicked in.

Nights this week have been dry and cool, with the last few below 20C. That is the magic figure for a "cool" night in Darwin [ it is all relative]. Yes, we may get a few more showers, a storm even, over the next few weeks. But......a fantastic start to the dry season. Many people are planning camping over Easter, a trip that was not probably even on the agenda last week, and plenty more are planning a fishing trip.

You can feel a bit invigorated, after about four and a half months of very regular, just about daily rain, including a cyclone.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Blueberry - Good for You

Blueberries are incredible plants. They can grow wild practically anywhere in the northeastern United States and Canada, and are now grown commercially across temperate Australia and New Zealand. They are VERY tasty.

To go along with the plant's hardiness and the berry's deliciousness, blueberries offer great health benefits. Blueberries can have a positive effect on aging, metabolism, and inhibiting the development of fat cells.

The berry is great for the heart and cardio system due to its high polyphenol antioxidant content. These antioxidants can also be found in a variety of other fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, and grapes.

According to recent studies, blueberries could play a large role in reducing the epidemic of obesity.

Blueberry polyphenols play a role in adipocyte differentiation, and an adipocyte is an animal tissue cell specialized for the synthesis and storage of fat.

Plant polyphenols are known to resist the development of fat cells. They actively break down fat compounds and lipids. The idea is to see if these plant polyphenols could be translated into fighting fat cells in animals, i.e. humans.

So far, work has shown that feeding blueberries to mice can reduce fat cells.

So............maybe eat more blueberries if wishing to reduce your fat cells.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Cute Animals

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say.

One group has recently compiled a list of the cutest 500 animals.

What is your view?

Could not see the good old green tree is always cute.

Must be some generous benefactor spending money on the project!!

There are some predictable entries, near the top [ think domestic pets], and a few wierd ones too.

Check it out here: