my life in the land down under


Sky Show

The sky put on a show for us tonight.

Sunset, captured a few moments ago from our back yard:

Sunset #1

Sunset #2

Sunset #3

Just gorgeous. ūüôā



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Summer Flowers

I love the colourful lushness of flowering trees and plants here at this time of year. It makes me appreciate again how things grow and flower, cycling through the seasons with little or no intervention from us (we are not gardeners!). Some of the following are growing in our garden, others seen while driving around town; all photographed on the last day of 2012.




Jacaranda & church steeple




Pink silk tree (aka Mimosa, Albizia julibrissin)




Pohutukawa flowers




Australian frangipani


New Years Eve sky


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The Saga of the Cedar

Once upon a time…

…there was a Himalayan Cedar, aka Cedrus deodara, a huge tree which was planted next to our garage and overshadowed the house. In stormy weather we watched the branches toss and hoped none would land on¬†a car parked beneath. It dropped numerous cedar needles and bits of cone onto the house roof (and everywhere else if the weather was wild). The roof valleys and gutters had to be cleared out regularly or they would overflow when we had heavy rain. I’m not particularly afraid of heights, but still found it a challenge to climb onto the roof to carry out this chore; there was an instinctive discomfort caused¬†by the¬†change in¬†perspective.

Cedar & clouds

Cedar trunk

In spring¬†the tree dropped a fine yellow pollen which covered the ground and the vehicles, not good for the hayfever-prone members of the family. Several of our neighbours also complained about the size of the tree and the shadow it cast over their houses, especially as it blocked the low¬†winter sun. Eventually we approached the council with a petition to have the tree removed and replaced with a more suitable ‘street tree’. This involved attending a council meeting to formally put our case, including the use of photos we had taken as ‘evidence’. When¬†our desire to have the tree removed¬†was reported in the online version of one of the local papers, we received some criticism for being tree-haters – and the anonymous critic was sure we must also hate birds and children…!! Nothing could be further from the truth. Two members of the household at that time had chosen to work with children – one in the nursing field and the other teaching in an early childhood centre – so it caused us¬†a mix of amusement and annoyance. During this time we discovered some of the history of the tree and it proved to be over 40 years old, having been planted by the original owners of our house.

Cedar – new growth

Cedar needles & cones

Some of the discarded needles & cones that filled our gutters

I was sad to see the tree go as I loved the look of it Рbut had to be practical. I was at work when the arborists came to take it down, but made John promise to take lots of photos. It was a big deal with the street closed and traffic management personnel keeping an eye on proceedings as the tree was removed branch by branch. Some of the larger branches had to be lowered by rope and the main trunk was cut into thirds and lifted off with a crane. We were impressed to see a woman taking the lead in this job which obviously involved a lot of strength and skill.

Arborist at work #1 (photo by John)

Arborist at work #2 (photo by John)

Arborist at work #3 (photo by John)

Cedar removal (photo by John)

Topping the tree (photo by John)

Sectioning the trunk (photo by John)

Crane lifting cedar trunk (photo by John)

Before the event, we¬†had discussed whether we should get the tree properly milled and use the wood for a much-needed new fence, but the potential cost outweighed the benefits. We ended up with a pile of firewood which was sold as a fundraiser for a local group, and later in the week the aborists returned to grind the stump. I was able to count the rings to confirm the tree was as old as we had thought. We miss this landmark – it was a beautiful specimen – but don’t miss the mess it caused.

Forty-something rings


Cedar diameter

Trimming cedar stump #1

Trimming cedar stump #2

Stump grinding