It's a belladonna lily (Amaryllis belladonna if you want to be formal) and it gets the name of 'naked lady' from the way the flower spike seems to appear out of bare ground. Actually it grows from a bulb which doesn't put out leaves until it has flowered.
When I said it was dancing I wasn't joking. Getting the photo was quite a challenge because we've been having strong wind gusts that meant the first umpteen photos were blurred. Finally, though, I got this one which is just about clear. I love the way the centre of the blossom positively glows in the sunlight.
These lilies are often called Easter lilies here because they used to appear at about then. Now that our weather has changed so much - we've just had the second wettest day on record (over a hundred mms in twenty four hours) and the coldest February day on record (a maximum of 17.4 C) at a time of the year when we'd usually be expecting dry and hot (mid thirties) - the poor lilies are totally confused and so we have them flowering early in February.
Lovely as they are, they do have a dark secret. The sap and bulb are both toxic so if you have young children visiting your garden you need to be watchful to make sure they don't chew on it or come in contact with the sap.
Before I got sick - and it''s now more than two and a half months since I got the original infection - I had planted the summer vegetable garden. In fact I was already picking the first of the vegetables before I ended up in hospital. This has meant that, although I haven't been able to do much to keep up repeat plantings, we have been able to harvest regularly getting most of our vegetables from the garden. At present we are harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, burpless and Lebanese cucumbers, silver beet, rainbow chard, nasturtiums, capsicums, beetroot and spring onions as well as onion chives, garlic chives, flat leaved and Afro parsley and several kinds of basil.
This morning I went out to water and while I was there I took a few photos. Here they are.
This pretty little thing is the flower of the snake bean. These are the most successful beans I grow and they are prolific.
These lovely golden blossoms are zucchini
flowers. Spectacular, aren't they - and
they're good to eat, too
And finally here is some stunning purple basil, which also tastes as good as it looks.
I was out in my vegetable garden this morning when something white flashed past my shoulder about 30 centimetres away. It was a pair of little corellas which swept by me to land on the fence a few metres off next to the last sunflower seed head. I had caught sight of them helping themselves to the seeds before - or at least one was helping itself while the other danced around on the fence obviously uncomfortable with the situation.
This time, though, I had my phone with me so I lined up for a photo - and then Pisces came around the corner. The nervous one on the fence took off to the safety of my neighbour's roof where it stayed screeching warnings. Its mate was far too interested in picking and eating seeds to join it so I managed to get this photo.
Little corollas aren't native to Western Australia - they come from the Eastern States with those here descended from aviary escapes - and numbers are increasing mainly due to people feeding them. In some areas they are proving pests as they can form large flocks and this leads to damage caused by fouling from night roosts as well as other things. Despite this I don't mind having this pair call in occasionally and helping themselves. At least it stops the rats getting to the seeds if I'm a bit slow on cutting off a sunflower head.
As I was closing up the house around sunset yesterday evening I was greeted by a young magpie - or more accurately a young, very loudly begging magpie. It was sitting on the back of a chair on the veranda - and it was certain that I was a source of food. Nope. I don't feed magpies for a number of reasons although those living near us are delightful creatures, friendly and living and letting live. Not everyone is so lucky in their resident birds. Magpies have a well-earned reputation for launching attacks on unwary passersby during nesting season - and they can inflict a fair amount of damage - but fortunately it's not all of them. Most just go about their business and the clan that nests in the park behind us generally take no notice of us, just hunting for goodies like caterpillars in our gardens and pretty much ignoring us otherwise. Every time a new family moves in to our area there's few weeks of breath holding and finger crossing while we wait to see if they - by which I mainly mean the children - and the magpies will get along but so far all has been well.
Magpies are very intelligent birds and testing has shown they can distinguish between different people. Even those that attack are very selective as to who they launch at and will leave one person alone while attacking another. It's suspected that they are only targeting those who have harmed them or who resemble those who have harmed them in the past and since no one has so far interfered with our resident clan they have no interest in attacking any of us.
As I said I don't feed them for a number of reasons. It's illegal for one thing but also feeding them meat can cause nutrition problems and they can become dependent on hand outs. This little fellow has obviously learned that people will feed him and when his parents said 'Enough. It's time to leave home and fend for yourself' it thought it would go begging instead of foraging.
When I woke up this morning I could hear it begging loudly and this is what I found yelling loudly when I opened up the curtains.
It looked somewhat scruffy and bedraggled so I went out to check it for injury. Turns out it was still losing its baby fluff and it could certainly fly well enough to take off and land on my neighbour's roof at one point so it was fine. It kept yelling as it followed me around as I went out to pick some vegetables in the veggie patch, while I checked the pots on the patio and watered those in need and whenever I went inside it stood at the door and yelled even more. In its opinion it was hungry so someone should do something about it.
Three hours later it was still yelling and I was beginning to see why its parents thought it was past time for it to be independent. I decided that I'd see just how hungry it was and moved some of the pots out on the patio uncovering slaters, crickets and other assorted small beasties. It took a few moments before it caught on, but from then it gobbled them up with assorted squawks in between. Finally it quietened, grateful for the snack perhaps, and after a few more half hearted attempts at coaxing food from me - the two very ripe strawberries which had been attacked by something overnight did raise its hopes briefly when I picked them to throw away - it gave up and flew off back to the park.
And at last we had glorious silence. Long may it last.
- and this is a strange one as summers go. We have had hot days with maxima mid thirties to low forties centigrade but they have not lasted long, only a few days at a time. Then they've been followed by quite cool days where the temperature has been in the low to mid twenties. This is not the usual pattern. Normally we'd expect 5-7 days at the higher temperatures and then a period with temperatures in the high twenties.
With considerable effort - and a lot of help from Pisces - I've managed to keep up the watering to the pot plants and the veggie garden but even these are suffering because I was about to order the mulch that is essential for summer here when i got sick. Pisces is well intentioned but he's no gardener so ordering mulch did not rate highly in his list of priorities at a rather stressful time.
We're now heading into the hottest part of summer - well, it is usually but who knows what it'll be like this year - so we've decided we can't delay any longer and, although I'm still not well enough to do anything energetic like spreading mulch, we need to get it ordered and in place. Pisces is not enthusiastic - he's the one who'll have to spread the mulch - but he accepts that if he wants to keep being able to pick his vegetables from the garden he's going to need to do the work. Life is hard, isn't it.
Well, I'd like to say yes - but while there is a slight improvement in my health it is still very slow going as you can see by the fact that it's nearly 11.00 AM and instead of going to a dear friend's birthday lunch I'm going back to bed as soon as I've finished this post while Pisces is heading out to the fun.
Talking of Pisces, while he was at pilates on Thursday, he and the physio who runs the class got talking about infections and how I've been struggling to recover despite multiple courses of antibiotics. She'd had infection problems after she injured her foot and had some suggestions as to what had helped her. As a result he went off to the shops and came home with a load of probiotics and other supplements that are supposed to help you regain normal gut flora and boost your immunity. I'm entirely not convinced by the claims of some of these products but at this stage I'll try anything.
Fingers crossed things will improve - and soon. It's now eight weeks since this started and I'm very, very tired of it all.