Christmas Bells

I photographed this beautiful cluster of bell-shaped flowers in the Tilligerry Peninsula at Port Stephens.   Christmas bells flower at the end of long, straight stems which extend up from the base of the grass-like plant.  Usually growing in coastal heath or swampy ground, the flowers appear in December or January.

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This beautiful Waratah was photographed in bushland at Strickland State Forest near the picnic area. The forest has a wide range of vegetation, including patches of rainforest along the creeks. There are many  walking tracks which take in some beautiful scenery and are maintained by the friends of Strickland, a volunteer group.

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Tomato crop

We harvested around 80-90 tomatoes from just one plant.  What an amazing result from a $4 Canabec Super tomato seedling.
Having a surplus of ripening fruit, we decided to preserve some of the excess. I sautéed a mixture of onion and garlic then added diced tomatoes, basil, oregano salt and pepper and simmered until thickened.

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Dahlia – happy single Romeo

With its wine-red flowers and near black foliage, this dwarf single dahlia – which only grows to about 26″ high – makes a stunning statement in summer.  Dying back in autumn, the tubers remained in the garden and the dahlia plant re-emerged to create a nice surprise and flowered in time for Christmas.

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2 egg-whites
a pinch of salt
4 oz (125g) castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
flaked almonds / hundreds and thousands
Beat the egg-whites with the salt until they are stiff . Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is again very stiff and fold in the vanilla. Place dessertspoons of the mixture on greased oven trays – press almonds into meringues, or sprinkle with hundreds and thousands. Bake in a slow oven 125°c for about 1 hour or until quite dry.

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Gifts for the garden

A blue brolga pecking in the native violet patch; a ceramic butterfly perched on a wall; a green frog settled in a group of succulents; and a “Welcome to our Garden” ornament nestled in a potted casaurina. These were all gifts from my daughter and her family.  Some of them I have had for years and they are always a welcome addition to our garden.

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Cheese Cake

1 cup biscuit crumbs
2 oz. melted butter
8 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sugar
2 dessertspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of salt
2 eggs
Combine biscuit crumbs and melted butter and press into a greased 8″ ovenproof pie dish. Beat cream cheese until smooth, gradually add sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, salt and eggs – beating constantly until smooth. Pour filling into crumb crust.
Bake in a slow oven at 160°c for about 35 minutes.
Chill before serving.

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Close-up photos

These close-up photos – a succulent with its jewel like drops of water; and the seed pod from a liquid amber, showing its multifaceted prickly spines – were taken by my 7-year-old granddaughter.   This liquid amber tree has grown to about 20 metres tall. It is particularly beautiful in the autumn, when its leaves change from a soft green to spectacular shades of orange, red and yellow.

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Grey tree frog

Hearing a loud croaking noise last night, we ventured outside to try and identify the source.  Switching on the spotlights, we saw this beautiful little grey tree frog sitting on the edge of our water bowl. It probably wasn’t happy with our presence but didn’t move as I took a few photos.

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