Sunday, 23 June 2019

Our Bee and Butterfly Friendly Tropical garden, some Exciting News, and a Delicious Quiche Recipe for you

Salvia, a perennial plant, loved by bees
We have been spending a lot of time in the garden lately, this time of the year in the
Tropics is beautiful one day, perfect the next. The mornings and evenings have turned quite cold here for us, 7 degrees minimum, but the days are sunny and clear. It is so relaxing and energising to be outside that I took some photos yesterday which I hope you will enjoy.  We have been focusing on planting annuals and perennials that our European and  visiting Native bees will be attracted to, and some herbs and vegetables,  and it is all coming together nicely. The birds and the butterflies are benefiting as well.

Basil is a mainstay in our garden, I can't have enough of it, and now that we have a beehive of busy European bees, I have let some of the bushes flower and go to seed, as the bees love the flower nectar. The native bees fly in from their hives to feast as well. Basil bushes look attractive in flower, however the bushes can become straggly, so they will need to be pruned back after flowering or just replaced if they become very woody. I haven't had much luck with sweet basil plants lately, however the Thai basil is very hardy, and is very flavoursome for making pesto. I'll be giving the sweet basil a try again soon though.

Do you remember this resilient old fashioned plant, the Coleus, which probably grew in your Grandmother's, Mother's or Aunt's garden? I think it is making a comeback and I don't know why it fell out of fashion from a lot of gardens in the first place as it is so colourful and the bees love the flowers. Frank the owner of our favourite local nursery, Country Garden's Mackay, recommended we grow it to attract the bees and they love it. It is a cinch to grow anywhere, takes very easily from cuttings, and is heat tolerant. I'm not sure how it would tolerate frost though as we don't get frost here. If you know anyone who is growing a Coleus plant, ask them if you can have a cutting or slip, plant it in the ground, and it should grow. Gardeners love to share. It needs to be pruned into shape regularly though as it grows quickly.

This pretty pink flower is a Buddleia. It is the first time we have grown it,  and we remember it growing like a weed in England, however Frank assures us it will be be a Bee magnet in our garden without any risk of it spreading like a weed, as it does overseas.

In this section of our sunny garden, the Buddleia, the purple Salvia, and the red salvia all invite the bees and the butterflies to visit. The large leafy caladiums provide a colourful contrast and the sunbirds love playing on their leaves after a heavy dew or a shower of rain as the water clings to the leaves and forms mini swimming pools for them to play in. Sorry I don't have a photo of the birds frolicking in the sun, you will just have to take my word for it. In the bottom righthand corner, are the last of the May flowering Chrysanthemums,  and some of my purple ground orchids flower all year round.

Our decorative and functional Garden wall.

The Garden Wall showcasing potted petunias is Mr. HRK's masterpiece and design. We also have lots of lilac and pink Pentas growing along the base of it.  The Pentas is a very hardy tropical plant, that the butterflies love, I am never without it.The bees fly around the Pentas but they are more drawn to the nearby basil and salvia at the moment. Orange, red and yellow Celosias in the square pot  at the end of the Garden Seat, also designed and constructed by Mr. HRK, make another nice show but don't seem to attract the insects. They just look pretty and self germinate very easily.

Our backyard Golden Penda, a tropical rainforest tree, is in flower at the moment and our bees think they have gone to Heaven. We watch them fly back to the hive covered in beautiful Golden pollen. The local Lorikeets haven't visited the tree this time so the bees can feed off the flowers uninterrupted. Whilst it's enjoyable to see the beautiful Lorikeets in the tree, they are aggressive feeders and the flowers and the leaves litter the ground after a Lorikeet feeding frenzy. The flowers also make a nice floral bouquet, if you can reach them.

Here is the Brazilian Red Cloak bush which makes a colourful addition to the backyard rainforest section of our garden, flowering in June. Whilst I don't think it is a Bee magnet, it provides a lot of beautiful red colour. Like all perennials, it responds to a good pruning after flowering.

Comfrey, or the Knitbone plant, is a perennial herb which has a long history of being used as a poultice for healing and for other medicinal uses. It's strong root system also adds valuable nutrients to the soil. I chop up the leaves and add them straight to the garden as a compost or add them to the compost heap to accelerate the composting process.  Once you have it in your garden, you will never be without it. As an added bonus, the insects love the pretty lavendar flowers.

Mr. HRK and I visited the local Riverside city markets in Mackay last Wednesday and came home with some vegetable and herb seedlings from a local grower who germinates his own and they always produce excellent plants. We don't have a large vegetable garden now, but we grow what we enjoy eating and what suits our climatic conditions.It is always a pleasure to pick some organic produce in season that we have grown ourselves.Yesterday we planted spring onions and climbing beans, and I repotted my mint and added a fresh plant to the mix and placed it in a sunnier position. In Summer it will be moved back into a protected spot. Mint is such a wonderful addition to so many dishes and drinks. We grow a lot of herbs, which I am adding to our food on a daily basis, and they also save us a lot of money.

A plate of radishes picked straight from our garden yesterday. I buy Mrs. Fothergill's seedling strips and plant those, and they have never failed. It's a fast crop and the radishes aren't as spicy as those purchased from the supermarket. Delicious and fresh.

I also thought I would share with you one of my favourite quiche recipes, because if you have been outside gardening all morning like me, something quick, easy and nutritious is the way to go.

Quick and Easy Spinach Quiche in a dish

I have just quickly made this quiche for lunch. It took no time at all and is delicious. This one is a cinch to make. If you have fresh spinach or silverbeet on hand, by all means use that, however, defrosted spinach from the freezer is easy to use and always on hand. This is perfect for a quick and easy weekend meal and serves 4. Take out the spinach a few hours in advance if possible to defrost, or use your microwave.


4 eggs
100ml creme fraiche
100g grated Parmesan cheese or other flavoursome cheese
2 spring onions, diced
150g of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained (1/2 a packet)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg


Preheat your oven to 170 deg. C and lightly grease an ovenproof dish or use separate ramekins.
Whisk together the eggs and creme fraiche in a medium size bowl.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients and season with a little salt and white pepper.
Pour the mixture into your baking dish and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes. If you are using ramekins, bake for 10 minutes less.

Serve with a fresh salad for a light nutritious lunch.

Now for our exciting news. Last Saturday, we became Grandparents again, to beautiful little twins, a boy and a girl named Finn and Evie.  Being twins, they were born a few weeks early but thankfully healthy, however this week has been one of daily updates on their progress, lots of phonecalls from family and friends, and planning our visit to meet them. It's been busy. Premature twins require a lot of careful and tender care, however hopefully they will be able to go home tomorrow, after starting to gain some weight and overcoming a little jaundice. Our little Grandson Hugo, is so excited about his new brother and sister. We are ecstatic, and relieved that everyone is well.

I wish I was a better knitter, so that I could be making lots of warm items of clothing for our little darlings as they live in a cold Winter climate. That just might be my next challenge.

Best wishes



  1. Pauline, I bought creme fraiche today to try out your recipe. Hope you are getting my blog feed now but it is a bit quiet there until I get my new computer back as it was hacked last week. Love those plants you have. We are having frosts here.

    1. I did see your last post Chel and I hope it works out well with your computer, it is such a worry. Hope you like the quiche recipe, and that you are keeping nice and warm. Thanks, Pauline x

  2. hi pauline
    love all your pretty flowers. the golden penda were flowering some weeks ago. and it's only then you notice how many there are around the place. i really love their round and golden beauty. yes the native bees love basil flowers we found. can't grow them anymore due to turkeys and possums but i wish we could... loving this cold weather lately! cheers sherry

  3. Sherry, Bush turkeys and possums certainy limit what you can grow. The pendas are beautiful in Brisbane as well. Thanks, Pauline

  4. Congratulations on the arrivals of your new little darlings, Pauline, how wonderful. My cuz served in the Falklands years ago, it looks rather bleak and cold as you say, there are so very many free baby patterns on ravelry, have a look through there for the ones knitted with 8 ply as they knit up much quicker than baby wool. xxx

    1. Sue, thanks so much for the tip about Ravelry. I will be checking that out. The cooler weather here is encouraging for knitting. Best wishes, Pauline


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