A Special Pine Cone (and Pine tree)

¬†Although the ‘Pine Trees Estate’ sign has long since disappeared from our neighbourhood, I can clearly recall how exciting it was back in 1991 to buy a block of land situated in such a festively named location. Even more exciting is having a pine tree still standing in our yard so many years after building a house here. Memorable pine tree moments include checking its height (at the beginning barely up to my shoulders), decorating it with Christmas lights (before it grew far too big to decorate), several times fighting to save it from being cut down (for example when we added the music studio extension) and collecting the first pine cone that fell from one of its branches (not sure of the date but I’m bound to have noted it somewhere). Recently I was both puzzled and disappointed to discover the much loved ‘first pine cone’ treasure missing from its usual safe keeping place in the linen cupboard (which used to also be the hiding place for December stocking gifts) until I recalled having moved it to one (but which one?!) of many seasonal storage boxes during a major spring clean over twelve months ago. Very happy this week to finally stumble across the familiar white facial tissues, freezer bag and twist tie packaging and the prickly brown specimen of nature (plus a seed…hmm…I wonder if it would sprout?) within. To celebrate I’ve performed a little tender loving care with new wrapping and a sturdy plastic container. The red ribbon is a reminder that I once used red wool to create a protective border around our one and only pine tree and to attach a ‘Please Do Not Remove’ sign written in large red letters. I hope this special part of our garden continues to stand tall and firm and to sway safely and gently in the breeze for a long time yet.


Published in: on December 6, 2018 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  


One of my favourite vegetables is the choko, or chayote, from the gourd family and native to Mexico. Though the flavour is quite bland, the taste is greatly improved with the addition of butter and pepper. My parents would use it as a side dish whenever they cooked their ‘famous’ corned beef dinners. When I was a child they taught me how to grow my own choko plant by first sprouting the fruit in a dark cupboard. My recent attempt at this nature experiment is progressing well – and I hope before long I will be able to share photos of a vine laden with this edible delight.

Published in: on January 29, 2012 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  


My favourite type of yard is ‘small cottage’ or ‘secret garden’, a style not easy to achieve on acreage and requiring much effort and maintenance in our climate. But once in a while nature steps in to surprise me with something special……like filling this abandoned birdcage with greenery. Effortless on my part although I’m planning to make a ‘do not disturb’ sign for this magical place – surely the perfect miniature jungle for a variety of tiny six and eight legged creatures.

Published in: on January 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm  Leave a Comment  


“Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence?” Today it is definitely green on our side. For a summer’s day the weather is unusually cool with a light sprinkling of rain. The dogs are asleep high and dry on their mattress, the cats are in their hiding places avoiding wet feet, the chooks are braving the elements in search of worms – and the guinea pigs are waiting comfortably and patiently for me to take out the scissors and trim a few blades of this lush new growth as a treat.

Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 1:36 am  Leave a Comment  


My namesake plant ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ (Thunbergia alata)

As a child I loved to see this plant growing along our backyard fence in Sydney. I’m delighted that this same species is now the main feature of a small ‘once a puppy yard’ ¬†area behind our house – covering a gate, creeping along the wire fence and making its way across the ground.

Published in: on July 8, 2011 at 3:50 am  Leave a Comment