Community Garden

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This week I stumbled across the Melbourne Uni Community Gardens. It’s a bit strange that I’ve never seen them before, because I walk within about 50m of them to get to the OEP building. But as usual, if you’re not actively looking for something, you usually don’t see it. (How much of life do we simply miss because we are not expecting it?) Anyway, its a lovely little spot where a wide variety of plants are grown in a communal way, often for educational purposes. Recently a herbal tea workshop was facilitated where talks on which herbs are the best species to grow, including demonstrating how to propagate them from garden plants. Mint varieties and lemon balm are really easy to grow from cuttings, whilst ginger and lemongrass also do well in Melbourne in a sunny, sheltered position. New varieties of spearmint and sage seedlings were recently planted in the herb spiral for the next batch of tea.

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MEI lecture 7 was all about ANOVA statistics. Enough said.

Tulip Tree

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There are so many beautiful deciduous trees around campus that the grounds vibrantly come alive with colour in autumn. There are little pockets all around of yellow and red and orange, that it is hard to have any favourite location. This big old LIRIODENDRON TULIPIFERA (Tulip Tree) predates the 1974 landscape works performed around where it is found at MacFarland Court. The large tree has excellent form, and high amenity and aesthetic value. An outstanding specimen of this tree found within the Melbourne area, it has high heritage value to the university. One of the largest and most valuable hardwoods of eastern North America, it is native from Connecticut and southern New York, westward to northern Ohio, and south to Louisiana and northern Florida.

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Originally described by Linnaeus, Liriodendron tulipifera is one of two species in the genus Liriodendron in the magnolia family. The name Liriodendron is Greek for “lily tree”. It is also called the tuliptree Magnolia, or sometimes the tulip poplar or yellow poplar. However, it is not closely related to true lilies, tulips or poplars. Liriodendron tulipifera is generally considered to be a shade-intolerant species that is most commonly associated with the first century of forest succession. It can however, persist in older forests when there is sufficient disturbance to generate large enough gaps for regeneration. Individual trees have been known to live for up to around 500 years.

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Coldest start to days for 17 years

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The thermometer read minus 4 degrees this morning, as the flowers were hammered for a second straight day. I’m not sure if they will survive at this rate. The whole backyard is a sea of ice, not even the trees are spared as leaves are frozen solid.

In the city, the temperature dropped to 1.8 degrees at 7.15am, although it felt like minus 1.9. The previous record was set in 1997, with readings of 0.3 and 0.8 degrees on August 4 and 5.

It has been a mild winter however, with June being 2 degrees above the long-term average, while July recorded an average of 14.7 degrees, 1.2 above the long-term average.

Records smashed in May warm spell

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The tulips were out early this season. Very early. Normally they first flower around early June, but this year they were out in the third week of May. The weather has been so warm in late May I’ve heard stories of trees thinking spring had come and started to blossom. In fact, my standard roses have already started new growth even though winter has not even started. Its all very confusing for nature.
All the predictions are for a warm, dry winter on the way. There looks to be no real cooling of the weather until mid June, so the ski season will start minus the white stuff this year. This will be compounded by the super warm ground meaning the first few snowfalls will surely melt. May was an absolute belter in terms of temperature. It will be in the top three warmest Mays ever, and Melbourne and Sydney both experienced 12 days in a row of well above normal temperatures for this late in autumn (Melbourne above 20 degrees, Sydney above 24 degrees). In Melbourne, there is an 80% chance that winter will be warmer than usual, and a 65% chance of less rainfall than usual. That doesn’t sound too good for the ski season.Looks like I’ll be riding my bike up Falls on Queens Birthday Weekend.

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It’s Harvest Time!

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The tomatoes have really come along in the past few weeks. They were planted about 14 weeks ago, so I think they are a little late this year. Hopefully there will be no early frosts, and we can enjoy another 4 weeks of tomatoes. This bed has 4 varieties: Yellow, Father Tom, Black Russian and Beefsteak. (See below). Father Toms are just gorgeous this year, and go well in lunches, whilst the Beefsteak are simply massive and add a punch to any napoletana sauce. We took over 5.5kg of tomatoes off this week, previous weeks have been around the 3kg mark. The weather needs to warm up a little for all the crop to rippen, its been a little cool of late which is a concern…..

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