Healesville Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia

Healesville Sanctuary, a Zoo in Badger Creek, east of Melbourne, is a lovely place to enjoy Australian wildlife, native animals, reptiles and birds. Sharing just a few photos…

Echidna

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Australian Koala

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Kangaroos and Wallabies

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Pelican

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Native birds

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Reptiles, Snakes and Lizards

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Wild bird exhibit : owl, osprey

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Quite a few others not included here: the platypus, dingo, reptiles and birds, nocturnal creatures, emu and more. With a nice Cafe and facilities. A lovely day out.

 

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The Flight of the Bumblebee

The Bumblebee is a special little creature!

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As we don’t have Bumblebees in Australia, the photo above is of necessity a Honeybee. I haven’t seen bees around lately tho as it’s winter here in Melbourne. But soon the spring flowers will again attract our faithful little workers in busily pollinating the nectarines, plums, cherries, avocados, macadamia and apples.

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Pollinating the plum tree ….

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The first time I saw a Bumblebee was in Wales, UK. They were the furriest, fatest,  cutest bees I had ever seen!

If you have some time to relax, perhaps you’d enjoy a read of a short story I wrote some years ago …..

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”The Flight Of the Bumblebee”

Her flight was so fast that time stood still, and hung as it were, suspended in space while the colors of the spectrum merged into white. The scorching heat simmered all around her. She knew the way home, guided by signals from her three miniature eyes or photoreceptors which messaged to her the positioning of light.

Courageously she set her course, willing her every muscle to respond which did so with astonishing speed. The speed of her flight challenged the laws of aerodynamics as her wings flashed astoundingly fast at two hundred times every second. The buzzing sound generated by her flight merged harmonically with the summer hum of the scrubland. She flew with all the strength she possessed, skillfully navigating the rugged terrain covered sporadically with red-flowering bottlebrush, grevillea and tiny bush orchids.

Bombus was making her escape! Every instinct was now alerted to danger and her whole system focused solely on her flight of self-preservation. One thought motivated her return flight,

“To the safety of the colony!”

Resolutely, she flew the shortest route from the pollen source to her hive, a true bee line through the hot, dry scrub. Her thorax muscles vibrated like a taut rubber band as her nervous system sent rapid impulses to the muscles below her wings, driving her two sets of flight wings faster than the human eye could see.

Behind her, the heat haze of the summer noonday blended into the blue-gray mountains in the distance and the occasional yellow box gums towering around her stood at attention, motionless, as she sped in full flight.

She relived her encounter again and again.

“Terrible assassins!” She felt like shouting a warning to every living thing around her.

In awful clarity, her mind supplied the hideous image of the ambushing monster, for covertly hiding deep within the reddish bloom, a deadly red and brownish-black assassin bug had lain camouflaged, awaiting her arrival! The horrifying vision of her would-be assassin loomed even larger now in her imagination and filled her with apprehension.

It was in late spring that Bombus, now a mature trained worker, had been hatched into the busy colony which she called her home. The colony was comprised of more than a hundred bumblebees which included the queen, the workers and the drones. The dance of the worker bees in the hive that morning had clearly informed her of the location of the pollen she was to collect that day. The dance was actually a complex communication system, for as they circled together, the bees’ glands secreted a liquid and their antennae and bodies received the chemical messages held within the vapors. This elicited the required responses in the bumblebees. Thus receiving direction, unerringly, she had flown toward the prized bed of crimson blooms flourishing by a deserted homestead.

“I did not anticipate such a reception“, she thought grimly, as she retraced her flight, fleeing home with nothing at all to contribute to the maintenance of the hive.

Involuntarily, she quivered again at the remembrance of the horror she had found awaiting her. Cold eyes had lain focused upon her and worse, a deadly poisonous beak was raised at the ready to strike! She knew about these killers, they were called assassin bugs. All the pathetic victims of the dreaded assassin bug suffered the most dreadful fate. The assassin bug held its unfortunate captive in its powerful legs and thrust its long piercing beak into the victim’s body. It then injected a poisonous liquid which struck the nerves, liquefying the muscles and tissues of their prey, on occasion many times their size. Thus quickly overcome, the inside tissues of the unfortunate prey turned into a liquid…which the assassin bug then drank through its beak.

Bombus quivered at this ghastly prospect, nevertheless she bravely persevered in flight toward her home. She had often seen the tragic remains these marauderers had left behind after their rampage…nothing but an empty shell of some ill-fated insect, or even a small bird, with literally all the life sucked out through the assassin bug’s deadly beak. She shivered again.

As she made her escape, her short life flashed in vivid snapshots across her mind. Bombus thought of the day she was newly hatched…she was a larvae then, safe and warm in her own little cell of wax. For six days, her nursemaids had taken good care of her, feeding her a delicious soup of pollen and nectar. The remembrance of the sweet honey made her feel even thirstier, since the assassin bug had barred her from drinking any nectar. However, she didn’t linger now to quench her thirst but stoically continued her flight homewards.

The next period of her life was a black screen in her memory. They recounted to her that for twelve more days she had stayed in her little wax cell, not eating at all, while a most amazing thing was happening. From her life as a helpless, wriggling little grub to the day she emerged from her wax cell, she had undergone a complete change.

“Unbelievable“, she thought. Yes, she had changed dramatically from the larvae first hatched in her wax cell. Bombus had been transformed.

Her four beautiful wings of which she was so proud, were of finest gauze but very strong. Her two sets of wings were linked with tiny hooks and moved together in flight. She also had two large ‘compound’ eyes, wonderfully composed of hundreds of smaller eyes. These supplied her with the most wonderful vision. She also had three eyes on the top of her head to enable her to navigate by the position of the sun. Even on a cloudy day, Bombus could navigate using cloud-penetrating ultraviolet light.

Her antennae were a very special addition to her equipment. When she lifted them high, she detected new and exciting fragrances which filled her senses, awakening and exciting her to explore. She used her antennae when foraging among the flowers, not only to identify fragrances, but also to detect the slightest movement.

Bombus sustained her flight homewards without wavering. Her thoughts again reverted to her almost ill-fated visit that day. It was her antennae that had alerted her to the vibrations in the flower caused by the dreaded assassin bug surreptitiously hiding there. She kept her antennae folded back against her body to protect them as she flew. She didn’t breathe through her antennae, but tiny air holes called spiracles which were located along the sides of her thorax and abdomen allowed air in to travel through tiny tubes inside her body.

Bombus felt much safer now that she had flown quite a distance from that awful assassin and as she flew, she continued to think about her life.

“Yes, flight was the most incomparable experience of all!” The thought filled her with excitement.

Bombus’ first flight had been a truly memorable occasion. With unbelievable speed, she had flown that very first flight with a feeling of exhilaration and freedom hard to describe. Her speed was incredibly fast because her wings encountered dynamic stall in every single oscillation cycle. This speed had most likely saved her not only today, but from many predators, not the least of these were the crab spiders. Often called flower spiders, this enemy of bumblebees would lie in ambush waiting for unsuspecting prey and hunt by jumping on their victim. Looking like a crab with their flattened, angular bodies, they hold their first two pairs of legs out to the side. They also cleverly move sideways and backwards and Bombus knew that these venomous crab spiders whose bite, she was told, killed the cells and the tissues, were her bitter enemy, should she ever see one.

Not that she was unarmed for self defense or in defending the colony, for unlike the female honey bee who may die after she stings, Bombus had the weaponry to sting repeatedly, pumping a dose of venom through the barb at the end of her abdomen, and live to see another day. Though maybe of small comfort for the recipient of her sting, it was not as painful as the tormenting sting of the tarantula hawk wasps, bullet ants and velvet ants.

Still, as she flew, leaving the assassin bug far behind, Bombus continued to reflect about the many events of her life within the colony.

Bombus thought now of their queen, honored and respected in the colony and very, very old, at least four summers it was said. Decorated with bold black and yellow stripes alternating strikingly around her big, fuzzy body, the queen was particularly fine indeed. The golden fuzz, which wrapped beautifully around her like a lady’s fox fur, gave her quite a stately appearance. Larger than all her subjects, who were remarkable miniature replicas of their distinguished monarch, she was dutifully attended by all the female workers. Bombus knew that without her, their colony would eventually die out.

So Bombus continued to fly homewards. She was no longer fearful however, having greatly recovered from her shock encounter with the assassin bug, and so she continued to reminisce about life in her colony.

She had been told that some years ago, that at the very beginning of the colony, a young virgin bumblebee matured, who was to eventually become their queen. That first spring, after emerging, she had discovered a deserted rodent hole which lead underground and there the young queen had begun to establish her own colony. Bombus was informed that initially, the queen built hexagonal brood cells which she cleverly built of wax. Here, in these symmetrical polygon cells, she lay unfertilized eggs. Small workers hatched, developed, and were dispatched to visit flowers for nectar and to construct new brood cells. With the warmer weather, larger adults, including male drones, matured in the colony. Bombus knew that the queen mated with the drones and then laid fertilized eggs in the cells. These became the female workers and the emerging virgin females became new young queens which would grow and subsequently leave their hive to establish a new colony of their own, thus repeating the cycle.

Bombus continued her flight home along with her recollections of that summer.

She had heard there were some female bumblebees which looked just like Bombus and her companions, yet were deceptive and dangerous. These females were known as cuckoo bumblebees, who could not, or would not collect their own pollen. They were known to sneak into another colony and heartlessly kill the queen. Then the intruder would brazenly enslave all the workers in the hive and force them to supply her with food as well as all her own young.

“Would this terrible scenario ever happen in her hive?” Bombus wondered apprehensively.

“I am almost home”, she thought with relief, as she located familiar landmarks close to her hive.

Now this particular summer, Bombus was experiencing, and enjoying, her one and only opportunity to live Life. Cognizant that her close shave with the dreaded assassin bug and the great escape from its conniving devices had been a miracle get-away, she valued every precious moment of her short existence. Instinctively, she knew her purpose for being and fulfilled it without question or demand. However, sometimes, ignorance may be bliss and Bombus naively had no understanding at all of the sudden and final termination that the approaching bitter winter held for her.

For the present moment, her one aim was to gain the safety of the colony and at last her flight culminated in a rapid descent into the entrance of the hive. Safe at last! Wearily, slowly now, she climbed the entrance. Here she was among friends. She savored the familiar music of the hive, for her kind make a buzzing sound not so much when in flight, but prior to flight, as they can decouple their flight wings and vibrate the flight muscles to warm themselves, hence making their signature buzzing sound.

It was very cool in the earth, sheltered from the searing heat outside and her system adjusted to the lower temperatures and maintained her body at the right temperature enabling her to work comfortably. Sociable activity within the bumblebee colony now surrounded her and eventually resting in the shelter of the colony, Bombus sank her long thirsty maxilla into a welcome storage of food, savoring the taste of the sweet honey on her tongue. Foraging was thirsty work and there had been no time on this eventful almost disastrous trip to suck the sweet nectar from the flowers she had scheduled to visit.

Refreshed now, and systematically prioritizing her tasks within the colony, Bombus crawled deep inside the hive to the nursery. She, as with all the other adult workers in their colony, had a hormone which regulated the workers’ division of labor tasks in the hive. Surrounding her in the nursery, were many, many wax cells with other workers carefully attending the young of the hive called larvae. These larvae eventually became additional female workers or male drones, both very important to the survival of the colony. Bombus was a good worker and made sure her young charges had the sustenance they required, using the honey from her own body and also bringing bee-bread made of honey and pollen to the nursery cells. Later on, Bombus would return to the work outside the hive, foraging again among the flowers to collect the pollen and sometimes drink of the sweet nectar. With her tongue she was able to reach deep into the throat of the flowers to suck up the nutritious nectar. Once the nectar was inside her stomach it was converted into honey. Bombus and all the other workers used most of this honey to feed the young ones.

Gathering the pollen was one of her favorite jobs… when no assassin bugs were lurking. An expert forager, Bombus provided well for her hive, skillfully gathering a load in three minutes flat, visiting about sixty to ninety flowers. This awesome task sometimes took a less skilled worker up to eighteen minutes to accomplish. Expertly, she would bite and scrape the pollen from the flower with her beak and legs. With her moistened tongue, she then brushed all the pollen that had adhered to her body onto her back legs. Bombus completed the task by combing, pressing and compacting all the precious pollen onto the tibia of her hind legs and into her pollen bag. After storing her precious cargo for the flight home, she secured her load onto her leg pinning it with a single hair. On warm, still days the task was easy, but sometimes, when the wind blew and the flowers waved wildly, she would grip securely with the two sharp claws on each of her feet and just hang on. Yet even if her work had to stop during the gusts, it was a great sensation riding the flowers.

So the summer passed and the colony functioned as if guided by an unseen master designer. With her small perspective on life, Bombus was not cognizant that bumblebees are one of the most important pollinators in the world, both systematic and effective. Being bigger than their cousin the honeybee, and having a longer tongue, bumblebees are wonderfully equipped to do this very important work. Without workers like Bombus, the world‘s crops and vegetation would fail to fruit and reproduce in any abundance.

So Bombus proficiently fulfilled her destiny. All summer she worked, flying many, many kilometers. On occasions she foraged even further from her hive than the normal five kilometers, searching the scrubland up to a distance of thirteen kilometers, although she rarely did so unless absolutely necessary.

However, as the summer drew to a close and the days grew shorter and the sun lost its heat, Bombus somehow instinctively knew that she was nearing the end of her short existence. Already, many of her co-workers had died, but fortunately for their colony‘s survival, the loyal work of the bumblebees throughout the summer had produced many more young virgins.

One day, after the work of foraging and having subsequently returned to the hive to offload her precious cargo, Bombus exited her hive again for the last time. She rested for a moment in the cool sunlight, allowing the breezes to blow around her. She was still an exceptional bumblebee, ingenious and conspicuously striking. Carefully, she preened herself with meticulous attention to detail. Commencing with her wonderful antennae, Bombus dexterously used her front legs to preen them. Having attended carefully to this duty, she stopped for a moment, extending her antennae, listening and sensing. She was not far from the hive and as she listened, a high piping sound, like the sound of a child’s toy trumpet, could be heard coming from the hive.

“Something of great importance is taking place inside the colony,” she whispered to herself . Alerted, she heard the piping again and yet again.

“It’s a battle-cry!”

New emerging virgin queens were announcing their willingness to fight. Bombus knew that virgin bumblebees who have never mated with a drone, will quickly find, challenge and kill by stinging, any other emerged virgin, and even kill the ones still encased in their wax cell. Some of the workers had made a series of supercedure where they had carefully raised replacement virgins who would be suitable to become queen. At least one of these, the victorious one, would take the place of their old queen whose strength to increase the colony by laying many eggs had now diminished.

Bombus bowed her fine dark head. She was glad she would not be joining with the other workers who would ‘ball the queen‘. For as soon as the victorious virgin was accepted as the new queen into the colony, Bombus knew all the workers would gather around the old queen to form a warming ball that would cause her to overheat and kill her.

“Yes“, she thought, “when that big wasp threatened us right inside our own hive, we used that very strategy.”

For together, the bumblebees had bunched around the large predator and overcame it by the heat created by their own bodies.

She sighed.

“I am old. I will leave the responsibilities of the colony to the younger workers.”

The piping sounds from the hive had stopped now.

Casting all these deliberations away from her, Bombus began to prime herself once more for flight .

Decoupling her wings, Bombus vibrated her flight muscles as she had done thousands of times before. Now that the autumn days had grown colder, she more than ever needed this warming procedure to enable her to fly. She relished the feeling of warmth and the buzzing resonance, now so familiar. Though the temperatures were beginning to drop down to five degrees, the bumblebees were incredibly resilient to the cold, wind and rain, being equipped with splendid insulating fur coats. Of these impressive coats, Bombus and all her companions were rightfully proud. Wearing their coats, the valiant co-workers stoically persisted in the work of pollination when other species of bees could no longer exist in the lowering temperatures.

Somewhat tragically, unspoken, yet somehow instinctively understood, this was to be her final flight.

As she launched once more, there were no goodbyes and there was no applause. Navigating with her ultraviolet light detection under the darkening clouds, Bombus had covered some kilometers, when imperceptibly at first, but then alarmingly, the light diminished and the temperature rapidly plummeted toward zero. The stoic little creature, dramatically alerted to impending disaster, turned to retrace her flight. She was aware that the young fertilized females would already be hiding now in the shelter of hollow trees or under loose bark in a dry protected place, preserved there to hibernate until the winter freeze was over.

The temperature continued to plummet but even though sensing her life-threatening predicament, she bravely flew on. The storm broke with terrible ferocity and the cold was more than Bombus could endure. Weakened now, she endeavored to shelter under some bark, but being old and her body colder than even she could tolerate, the small worker knew her time had finally come.

As she began to enter her final sleep, once again she heard the beautiful pulsating music rising and swelling to a crescendo, filling her senses with the wild exhilaration of the flight of the bumblebee.

Author: Merryl Vaughan, 2008

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Note to the reader:

The information included in this short story about bumblebees has been carefully researched in Wikapedia and other sources.

This wonderful little insect has inspired my fascination and admiration.

Bumblebees are insects of the genus Bombus* in the family Apidae – hence the name I have chosen for the main character, Bombus, used in this story.

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Rimsky-Korsakov composed the music “The Flight Of the Bumblebee”:

A couple of wonderful musical versions of this on the web:

https://youtu.be/cdGwOmijRJ4

Eight grand pianos in concert (video) :

https://youtu.be/xXHd-ZLN

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*According to Wikapedia, there are many species of bumblebee:

Bombus hortorum, Bombus ruderatus, Bombus cullumanus, Bombus subterraneous, Bombus distinguendus, Bombus Sylva rum, Bombus territories, Bombus affinis, Bombus appositus, Bombus ashtoni, Bombus binaries, Bombus immaculate, Bombus borealis, Bombus citrinus, Bombus fervid us, Yellow-faced bumblebee, Bombus flatirons, Bombus fraternus .Bombus frigid, Bombus griseocollis , Bombus impatiens, Bombus insularis , Bombus kirbyellus, Bombus lucorum, Bombus lapidaries, Bombus occidentalis, Bombus pascuorum. Bombus pensylvanicus, Bombus perplexus, Bombus polaris, Bombus pratorum, Bombus rufocinctus, Bombus sylvicola, Bombus vagans.

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Mulberry leaves, Silkworms and Mulberries

Our first mulberries….

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but let me start at the beginning….

The tree was bought to supply mulberry leaves for my latest acquisition…..  one hundred and seventy-eight silkworm eggs!

The new tree was about five feet high and was thought to be adequate for the food supply. Little did we know!

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The modest supply of eggs obtained hatched almost one hundred percent. You can see the developing silkworm inside the egg in the macro photo above. Below: young silkworms and the next photo is a macro.

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However, extremely enthusiastic munching of the tasty mulberry leaves and the resulting very rapid growth of the grubs demanded I search for mulberry leaves farther afield.

It wasn’t long before our car boot was full of juicy mulberry leaves offered by a kind donor in the country. And so the munching continued…

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Fatter…. and fatter they grew. The boxes were increased until the living area was filled with many more boxes of fat silkworms!

 

 

After they could eat no more, the silkworms started wandering around looking for a suitable place to spin.

 

 

Once the silkworm found just the right place the task began.

Spinning so cleverly with glistening silk thread the silkworm completely housed itself in a beautiful cocoon, where an amazing miracle of change took place!

Eventually a beautiful moth emerged from the cocoon!  With much fluttering the males each found a female who subsequently laid many eggs.

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… and the Cycle starts all over again!

The silkworm is a wonderful creature! It’s amazing Life Cycle is a series of miracles. It is an absorbing and fascinating experience to observe this amazing journey in detail.

I have shared several photos here, but if you would like to, you may visit my blog, Amazing Silkworms which is detailed with many more photographs and information not shared fully here.

Amazing Silkworms:

http://amazingsilkworms.blogspot.com/

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We observe, we wonder…. but human beings cannot create these miracles.

As a person of faith in The Creator God, the things I observe around me in nature, the things that the Holy Bible declares that God has made, direct my gaze to Almighty God in awe, humility and praise.

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Footnote: I discovered a very interesting blog about mulberry farming in Hanoi. My handful of mulberries has paled to insignificance! However, as space in my garden is at a premium, I am attempting to “bonsai” our mulberry tree in a large crate.

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/92270376/posts/32576

A hard nut to crack… macadamias

 

 

Planted a grafted Macadamia Nut tree quite some years ago, maybe ten years or so. About four years ago it started flowering, just a few flowers, but no nuts formed that I could find.

 

Last year, I picked a small green fruit up from the ground. It looked like a small green orange about 1” diameter.

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To my astonishment it was our first macadamia nut! The green skin split open to reveal a brown casing and inside, hopefully, the delectable macadamia nut!

 

After five minutes of my attempt at hammering “my” nut, the man of the house swung the hammer and the result, well, it tasted good, even if in pieces!

As usual, ever hopeful for a fruitful crop next season.

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There are four species of Macadamia, two of which are used for production of Macadamia nuts in Australia (Macadamia tetraphylla and M. integrifolia.

The macadamia nut tree is native to Australia. It is Australia’s only native food tree export.

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Following is a brief history of the Macadamia Nut Tree in Australia, (Ref. Wikipedia.org and Macadamias Australia):

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1828 

Allan Cunningham, a British Botanist and explorer was the first European to encounter the macadamia plant.

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1857

German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller gave the genus the scientific name Macadamia– named after von Mueller’s friend Dr. John Macadam, a noted scientist and secretary of the Philosophical Institute of Australia.

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1858

Walter Hill, superintendent of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens (Australia), observed a boy eating the kernel without ill effect, becoming the first nonindigenous person recorded to eat macadamia nuts.

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1860s

King Jacky, aboriginal elder of the Logan River clan, south of Brisbane, Queensland, was the first known macadamia entrepreneur, as his tribe and he regularly collected and traded the macadamias with settlers.

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1866

Tom Petrie plant macadamias at Yebri Creek (near Petrie) from nuts obtained from Aboriginals at Buderim.

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1882

William H. Purvis introduced macadamia nuts to Hawaii as a windbreak for sugar cane.

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1888

The first commercial orchard of macadamias was planted at Rous Mill, 12 km from Lismore, New South Wales, by Charles Staff.

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1889

Joseph Maiden, Australian botanist, wrote, “It is well worth extensive cultivation, for the nuts are always eagerly bought.”

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1910

The Hawaiian Agricultural Experiment Station encouraged planting of macadamias on Hawaii’s Kona District, as a crop to supplement coffee production in the region.

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1916

Tom Petriebegins trial macadamia plantations in Maryborough, Queensland, combining macadamias with pecans to shelter the trees.

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1922

Ernest Van Tassel formed the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Co in Hawaii.

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1925

Tassel leased 75 acres (30 ha) on Round Top in Honolulu and began Nutridge, Hawaii’s first macadamia seed farm.

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1931

Tassel established a macadamia-processing factory on Puhukaina Street in Kakaako, Hawaii, selling the nuts as Van’s Macadamia Nuts.

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1937

Winston Jones and J. H. Beaumont of the University of Hawaii’sAgricultural Experiment Station reported the first successful grafting of macadamias, paving the way for mass production.

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1940s

Steve Angus, Murwillumbah, Australia, formed Macadamia Nuts Pty Ltd, doing small-scale nut processing.

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1946

A large plantation was established in Hawaii.

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1953

Castle & Cooke added a new brand of macadamia nuts called “Royal Hawaiian”, which was credited with popularizing the nuts in the U.S.

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1997

Australia surpassed the United States as the major producer of macadamias.

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2003

The Australian company, Macadamias Australia introduced Macadamias – further diversifying the Steinhardt brand and today maintains over 130,000 trees and produces 2000 tonnes of macadamias, which are distributed both in Australia and throughout the world. Macadamias Australia is one of Australia’s largest single variety plantations.

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2019

May 2019, the harvest has just begun in one of Australia’s key growing areas, Bundaberg, and the national forecast is looking good.

This year’s crop was expected to produce 53,500 tonnes in-shell, topping the record-setting 2018 harvest. (Ref. ABC News)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avocados – Patience pays off

F733EECD-18B1-4712-BC47-EA95C2C7569BMmmmm…. the avocado has been cut! Delicious! Had to wait seventeen years for this! Unsure of the variety, but it may be a Reed Avocado. The fruit is quite rounded as shown in photo.

 

I planted the seed nineteen years ago and waited…. patiently. After about twelve years it started to flower but no fruit until two years ago. Six beautiful  avocados!

6116ACA4-71BA-4F29-8EF6-374A0C2EF49CTrying to keep the water up plus fertiliser,  but a large Gumtree nearby doesn’t help I’m sure,  as the roots reach far and wide and leave the ground dry and devoid of goodness. So lots of fertiliser, mulch and water and a bit more patience.

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The avocado tree is quite large, about 4 to 5 metres high and still growing. I’ve left it unpruned at this stage as it is an excellent screen tree and blocks the hot western sun.

So looking forward to next spring and hopeful the next season’s blossom will result in lovely avocados.

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Many Bible verses encourage Believers to develop and exercise patience in our Christian walk:

“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.”  ‭‭James‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭AMPC‬‬https://www.bible.com/8/jas.1.3.ampc

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:25‬ ‭GNB ‬‬https://www.bible.com/296/rom.8.25.

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Intergalactic visitor to our Aussie garden

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Astounding!

Didn’t know where he came from.

We only knew that his flight on beautiful wings had brought him into the safe haven of our leafy green deck. His final flight.

Who was he? Where had he come from?

There was something special, something fascinating, and a sort of sadness, in his wizened expression.

I felt strangely drawn toward our “Intergalactic visitor”….I wanted to know more about him.

Sadly I reminisced, now I guess I will never know.

But….   so glad he came.

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The above portrait photos of this wonderful Dragonfly and photos below were taken with an App on my phone, using magnification and camera. (Photos Copyright: Merryl Vaughan)

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Our visitor “from Space” now has me intrigued and has started me on a journey to learn more, some of which is shared here.

Dr Dan Bickel, an entomologist with the Australian Museum, says that the dragonflies’ powerful eyes and impressive flying abilities are chief among their abilities.

“They can fly further, higher and faster than most insects, sometimes at speeds of up to 70km per hour.”

Dragonflies are able to propel themselves upwards and downwards, backwards and forwards, side to side and hover in midair.

And many of these flying abilities are thanks to the insect’s distinctive wings.

The dragonfly has two sets of wings — one behind the other — that can be used in tandem or independently.

Running through each wing is a network of veins that adds strength and flexibility. This allows the dragonfly to curve and cut through the air.

It’s a very dynamic sort of system — it’s very lightweight, flexible and strong.

This vein structure is held together by a very thin, shiny film made from chitin (pronounced kite-en); a starch variation that makes up the exoskeletons of most insects.”

Dr Ken Walker, Senior Curator of Entomology and Arachnology at Museum Victoria says chitin in its natural form is translucent and it’s the “extreme thinness” of dragonfly wings that make them appear glassy.

Also, not all dragonfly wings appear glassy. With some 6,000 species worldwide — 320 of which are found in Australia — there is a great variety to how their wings look.

Some are transparent while others are brightly coloured, reddish, brown or even metallic. Those which lack pigment look more pure and glassy.”

The following is quoted from “Backyard Buddies”, an education initiative of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife (Australia): “Dragonflies have another secret, making them one of the best predators in your backyard. They have mastered the art of camouflaging themselves while flying.

The dragonfly manages motion camouflage by adjusting its position to always occupy the same spot in its prey’s retina – so they can track other insects with incredibly intricate manoeuvring that makes them appear motionless to their target. They achieve this by using a system even more sophisticated than the radar-avoiding technology of aircraft.                   

Dragonflies can catch their prey in mid flight by forming a basket with their spiny front and middle legs.”

An amazing creature!

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Nature speaks to us in so many ways. yet most distinctly it speaks of a Creator, The Creator, God Almighty, who made heaven and earth and all things in it. Jesus said that God clothes the lilies of the field and that He feeds the birds.

This is beautifully expressed in Psalm 104.

“BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great! You are clothed with honor and majesty–

Who lays the beams of the upper room of His abode in the waters [above the firmament], Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind, Who makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His ministers. [Heb. 1:7.]

You laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be moved forever. [Job 38:4, 6.] You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. [Gen. 1:2; II Pet. 3:5.] At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place which You appointed for them.

You have set a boundary [for the waters] which they may not pass over, that they turn not again to deluge the earth.

He sends forth springs into the valleys; their waters run among the mountains. They give drink to every [wild] beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst there.

Beside them the birds of the heavens have their nests; they sing among the branches. [Matt. 13:32.]

He waters the mountains from His upper rooms; the earth is satisfied and abounds with the fruit of His works.

He causes vegetation to grow for the cattle, and all that the earth produces for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food out of the earth– And wine that gladdens the heart of man, to make his face shine more than oil, and bread to support, refresh, and strengthen man’s heart.

The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly and are filled with sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He has planted, Where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the conies and badgers.

[The Lord] appointed the moon for the seasons; the sun knows [the exact time of] its setting. You [O Lord] make darkness and it becomes night, in which creeps forth every wild beast of the forest.

The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God. When the sun arises, they withdraw themselves and lie down in their dens.

Man goes forth to his work and remains at his task until evening.

O Lord, how many and varied are Your works! In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your riches and Your creatures.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭104:1, 3-24‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

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Magnolia Stellata Rosea & the Currawongs

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Spring, blue skies and magnolia buds. One of the first trees to burst into beauty, the Star Magnolia, or Magnolia Stellata Rosea is delicately beautiful.

At the end of the summer, as the seed pods develop and eventually begin to open, revealing juicy red berries, the call of the Currawong starts to be heard.

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They love, love, love (!) the red berries of the Magnolia tree!

Sharp eyed, they compete for these tasty treats with amazing agility. Their call is quite musical and beautiful. It feels that it ‘belongs’ among the Australian landscape. A link on YouTube is the closest to the sound of the Currawongs in our area, Victoria, Australia, every summer.

Summer over, the Magnolia is still beautiful in its Autumn display…

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Wandering Jew ponderings

 

This plant is causing me some duress in my garden, though it is with some sadness that it is removed. Not because of the plant itself, but because of its name.

As I work, there’s plenty of time to think about the history of the Jewish people and of the warnings recorded in the Bible that were given to Israel and Judah in the Old Testament and of the resultant defeat and dispersion of the Jewish people to distant lands.

God patiently pleaded with and warned His people to return to Him, but they didn’t listen to His pleadings….“and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Jehovah your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” Joel 2:13

Yet, even when the Israelites were captive in a foreign land, God still called them to Himself:

“For if ye turn again unto Jehovah, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that led them captive, and shall come again into this land: for Jehovah your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.”

‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭30:9‬ ‭ASV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/12/2ch.30.9.asv

Today, God still patiently calls His people to Himself with mercy, love and grace.

“Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end: while it is said, To-day if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:12-15‬ ‭ASV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/12/heb.3.12-15.asv

And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Jehovah your God, and there is none else; and my people shall never be put to shame. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:”

‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:13, 27-28‬ ‭ASV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/12/jol.2.13,27-28.asv

 

 

Tradescantia or Spiderwort is known by the common name Wandering Jew.

Here is a brief overview of the three species of this perennial plant:

Tradescantia fluminensis

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In Australia, this plant is listed in some States as an Invasive Species, and as I understand it, though not prohibited, it’s necessary to take reasonable steps to minimise any risks associated with it.

It is also toxic to dogs. When we had a small Westie, we had to be vigilant to remove this plant as it can cause irritation to the dog’s skin.

This species is native to South America. T. fluminensis leaves are ovate to oblong- with leaves that are dark green. The flowers are white. There is also the Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’.

Tradescantia zebrine

 

This species is native to Mexico and gets its name from its zebra-like leaves. T. zebrina leaves are paired, creamy white in the middle of each half, and silvery green on the edges. Its flowers are light purple.

Tradescantia pallida (Purple Heart)

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This Spiderwort species is also native to Mexico and is arguably the most popular of the three. Its flowers are light purple.

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God is His great love for His People, desires that we have a “place” where we belong and where we are loved.

Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:2-3‬ ‭ASV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/12/jhn.14.2-3.asv

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Opening the front door

 

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The morning sky took my breath away! Just a regular suburban street, but for now it blazed with color and light.

Glancing down to navigate the steps, the concrete greyness lay in stark contrast.

Life is like that sometimes. The destination of my gaze affects my senses, emotions and mind, either in positive exhilaration or dismal negativity.

Faith directs the gaze up to God, to His positive promises, to His glory and beauty. Doubt and unbelief bring a greyness to the soul like the cold grey concrete.

At times the journey requires and sometimes demands a glance at the greyness confronting me, but a renewed and determined upward gaze fixed on the goodness of God restores His light to my eyes and is a lamp to my pathway.

“looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭ASV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/12/heb.12.2.asv

Overnight feat of engineering

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In the early morning sunlight, it glistened. A jaw-dropping feat of overnight engineering confronted me across our driveway. The eight-legged engineer was nowhere to be found but his astounding creation stretched three to four metres wide right across our driveway. It was anchored in a huge triangle from the ground to trees on either side up to 3 metres high!

How did the spider do this? The work was absolutely astounding! Surely, he must have laboured ceaselessly all night. One small insect had fallen prey in the trap but still the clever spinner was absent. I marvelled at his creation. I wondered “who” he was….

God’s Word speaks of His wonders that He has created. It says everything He has made is good. Surely He is worthy of all praise!

“I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

https://www.bible.com/8/psa.139.14.ampc

The following is the record in God’s Word of His creative power:

“IN THE beginning God (prepared, formed, fashioned, and) created the heavens and the earth. [Heb. 11:3.] The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it; and God separated the light from the darkness. [II Cor. 4:6.] And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. And God said, Let there be a firmament [the expanse of the sky] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters [below] from the waters [above]. And God made the firmament [the expanse] and separated the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heavens. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be collected into one place [of standing], and let the dry land appear. And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the accumulated waters He called Seas. And God saw that this was good (fitting, admirable) and He approved it. And God said, Let the earth put forth [tender] vegetation: plants yielding seed and fruit trees yielding fruit whose seed is in itself, each according to its kind, upon the earth. And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed according to their own kinds and trees bearing fruit in which was their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (suitable, admirable) and He approved it. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs and tokens [of God’s provident care], and [to mark] seasons, days, and years, [Gen. 8:22.] And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light upon the earth. And it was so. And God made the two great lights–the greater light (the sun) to rule the day and the lesser light (the moon) to rule the night. He also made the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth, To rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good (fitting, pleasant) and He approved it. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (suitable, admirable) and He approved it. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creeping things, and [wild] beasts of the earth according to their kinds. And it was so. And God made the [wild] beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and domestic animals according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (fitting, pleasant) and He approved it. God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. [Ps. 104:30; Heb. 1:2; 11:3.] So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. [Col. 3:9, 10; James 3:8, 9.] And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth. And God said, See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the land and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to all the animals on the earth and to every bird of the air and to everything that creeps on the ground–to everything in which there is the breath of life–I have given every green plant for food. And it was so. And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:1-31‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

https://www.bible.com/8/gen.1.1-31.ampc

Do we wonder Who this Creator is? His works speak to us.  Even by a Spider and his Web.

Affectionately to remembrance

51DF8F7B-6C9D-4560-BF34-EB8544D08CDCWe called it our “Taffy” Rose, chosen for it’s apricot shades in remembrance of our beloved cat “Taffy”, of  nineteen years.

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Memorials comfort and remind. We are so prone to forget.

Paul the apostle shared with the believers in Corinth:

“For I received from the Lord Himself that which I passed on to you [it was given to me personally], that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was treacherously delivered up and while His betrayal was in progress took bread,

And when He had given thanks, He broke [it] and said, Take, eat. This is My body, which is broken for you. Do this to call Me [affectionately] to remembrance.

Similarly when supper was ended, He took the cup also, saying, This cup is the new covenant [ratified and established] in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink [it], to call Me [affectionately] to remembrance.

For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are representing and signifying and proclaiming the fact of the Lord’s death until He comes [again].”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:23-26‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

https://www.bible.com/8/1co.11.23-26.ampc

 

Delighted yet again!

Delighted by yet another exquisite creation by my heavenly Father! This beautiful flower is a Bromeliad.

 

“All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:3

“It was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭AMPC‬‬
https://www.bible.com/8/col.1.16.ampc