Monday, March 30, 2009

Chestnuts in the Garden

I have one Chestnut tree in the garden. It is about 3.5 meters tall and this year it has had quite a few nuts, about 1.5 kilos. The sub-tropics is not really the most ideal climate to grow chestnut trees as it is too wet and too hot. But it is a little bit of fun to have one in the garden. Chestnuts are really popular in the Northern Hemisphere like Europe and North America, where I can remember eating them hot bought from a street vendor during the colder months.
The Chestnut tree (Castanea) belongs to the same Fagaceae family as the Oak and Beech trees. There are four main species, commonly known as European, Chinese, Japanese and American Chestnuts[5]:
Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) (also called "Spanish Chestnut" in the US) is the only species of European Chestnut.
Asiatic Chestnut species comprise Castanea crenata (Japanese Chestnut), Castanea mollissima (Chinese Chestnut), Castanea davidii (China), Castanea henryl (Chinese chinkapin, also called Henry's Chestnut – China) and Castanea seguinii (also called Seguin's Chestnut - China).
American species include Castanea dentata (American Chestnut - Eastern states), Castanea pumila (American- or Allegheny Chinkapin, also known as "Dwarf Chestnut" - Eastern states), Castanea alnifolia (Southern states), Castanea ashei (Southern states), Castanea floridana (Southern states) and Castanea paupispina (Southern states).[6][7]
Chestnuts should not be confused with either Horse Chestnuts (genus Aesculus), or Water Chestnut (family Cyperaceae); these are unrelated to Castanea and are named for producing nuts of similar appearance but of no notable edibility in the case of the former, and tubers of similar taste from an aquatic herbaceous plant in the case of the latter.[8][9] Other trees commonly mistaken for the Chestnut tree are the Chestnut Oak (Fagaceae Quercus prinus) and the American Beech (Fagus grandifolia).[10][11]The chestnut (Castanea) belongs to the same family of trees as oak and beech trees. There are four main varieties; commonly known as European, Chinese, Japanese and American chestnuts. Most of the major varieties in Australia are hybrids of Castanea Sativa (European chestnut).
Chestnuts have been grown in Australia for over 150 years. The first recorded plantings of chestnut trees in Australia were in the 1850s and 1860s during the gold rush. Some of those trees are still growing today, and other trees in northern Victoria brought in from Europe are around 120 years old and up to 60 metes tall.
Commercial plantings have occurred in the last twenty five years or so. The south west of Western Australia is very suitable for the growth of chestnuts as they need cold winter temperatures and warm to hot summers. Chestnuts have been part of the staple diet of Southern Europe, Turkey and Asia for centuries, and are now slowly gaining popularity in Australia.
The texture of a cooked chestnut is similar to a firm baked potato (quite unlike other nuts which are crunchy), and it has a sweet nutty flavour. Until the introduction of the potato, the chestnut was a major source of complex carbohydrate in Europe.
Alexander the Great and the Romans planted chestnuts as they went across Europe on their various campaigns.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today's Flowers - Banksia Robur or Swamp Banksia

Thank you Luiz Santilli for having me as Guest today.

Few plants are as charming and striking as this beautiful banksia, which grows in my garden. This is a uniquely Australian plant. The Swamp Banksia as the name suggests is at home in damp and swampy areas. The flower spikes grow to around 18cm long starting as blue-green, changing to a gold colour and then to a rich rusty-brown. The plant flowers for long periods of the year from summer to winter preferring full sun for maximum flower development. The large serrated leaves grow up to 30cm long and 8cm wide and are a deep glossy green. It attracts lots of birds which feed on the flowers.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Full Moon

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today's Flowers - White Flowers in my garden

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White Climbing Rose

White Oleander

Yellow Wild Iris or Peacock Flower


White Rain Lily

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Skywatch, Friday

Solitary Islands Marine Park near Wooli,

North Coast of New South Wales

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some of my feathered friends in the garden

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Wonga Pigeon
It is a native to Australia found along the east coast from south-eastern Queensland to Gippsland, Victoria. It is a very shy bird.
Channel-billed Cuckoo
The Channel-billed Cuckoo migrates to northern and eastern Australia from New Guinea and Indonesia between August and October each year. The birds leave Australia in February or March. It lays its eggs in the nests of the Australian Magpie, the Pied Currawong, and members of the Crow family. Unlike many other cuckoos, the young birds do not evict the host's young or eggs from the nest, but simply grow faster and demand all the food, thus starving the others. Often the adult female will damage the existing eggs in the nest when she lays her own and she may even lay more than one egg in a single nest. This one in the picture above was reared by a crow because it was following "mummy" crow demanding more food when I took this picture.

Noisy Miner
These birds are native and belong to the Honey eater group. They are very territorial and can always be found in large groups, making a lot of noise. Some people think that they are actually a pest. They also like water very much and love to frolic in the bird bath.

Fig Bird
Fig Birds breed from October to February, and lay 2-3 eggs each. Both parents care for the young. This one is a female Fig bird which I photographed sunbathing in the Courtyard

Pale-headed Rosella
This bird is also native and is very timid and shy. They always visit the garden in pairs. So when you see one bird, the other one is also close by. They don't feed together. One bird always acts as the look out, while the other one feeds and vice versa. This one I was lucky to photograph through the window in the living room during winter. It was attracted by the seed from the bird cage which houses a cockatiel. It must have been hungry as they seldom come so close to the house.

"Birds of a feather flock together"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My first Award

I have received my first award from Maria, Vienna, Austria and I'm very touched as I'm rather a new blogger. Thank you Maria.

Today's Flowers

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