Six on Saturday – W10/2020 – Colour, near disaster and slithering

This has been an interesting and varied week in the garden!

1 Callistemon sp.

I thought I would start with a little colour this week, and this Callistemon certainly does brighten up the back garden!

The tree is at the bottom of the garden right next to the Queensland fire wheel tree (featured in W5/2020). I have no idea what the species or variety is. It is covered in flowers this week, and of course this has attracted the Rainbow Lorikeets and the Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, who flock to it in their droves. They feast on the nectar, and it’s a noisy all day long party outside. The birds move rapidly from flower to flower sipping up the nectar with their tongues. The Rainbow Lorikeets appear to be dominant and continually chase away the ‘Scalys’, who just flit to the other side of the tree to escape the harassment.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

I very nearly destroyed the number 2 for this week! Grown from a cutting, I have had this plant for about 4 years, and when we moved into our house just over two years ago, I placed the pot in the crown of a Tibouchina tree, and forgot all about it. I was doing some tidying up along the fence line during the week when I noticed a very dense vine loaded with berries on the dividing fence. I was so sure it was a weed, so I opened the secateurs and SNIP – just as I suddenly realised that it was my pepper vine (Piper nigra) that I had just snipped and the red berries were the peppercorns! OH NO!!!!!! Luckily I still have a fair bit of vine left, plus the original plant which will send out more branches some of which I will try and use for propagation. I have done a lot of research this week on how to harvest and prepare the peppercorns……. Hopefully next year?

The neglected pot in which the vine is growing
Peppercorns on the vine

3. A plague of moths

I have no idea what they are, but as you water or walk through the garden these moths take off in droves, and re-land about 3 big steps away and just disappear. They hide under leaves and are invisible until they are disturbed. One alighted onto the top of a leaf so I could get a photo of it. Any ideas as to what these moths are?

4. Seedlings

I have finally got around to sowing seed of annuals to provide colour during winter and into spring. I sowed the seed into a seedling mix in a polystyrene box and have covered it with a wire basket to deter the two little chickens, Teacup and Specks, from investigating and excavating. So far so good! (Introducing Teacup and Specks)

I marked the seed types using a Popsicle stick, sowed the seeds on Monday, and within three days some seedlings have appeared. From left to right: Cosmos ‘Sea Shells’, Red Hot Pokers (no sign of germination yet), Bells of Ireland (no germination yet), Give Bees a Chance mix from Green Harvest, self harvested Calendula seed from last season, and Marigold ‘Fiesta’ (no signs as yet).

Next up (5) are some cuttings I put into cuttings pots this week. I use a sand mix to strike cuttings, which I find works a lot better than the cutting mix sold here. The Coleus cuttings seem to have taken already, and I will pot them up in a couple of weeks time. The dead twigs are fiddle-leaf fig failures from a previous attempt. There are also cuttings from a Gardenia, Acalypha and Salvia which I put in a few weeks ago.

I have put in some cuttings of lavender and salvia into another cuttings pot.

And finally, number 6, the biggest surprise (well, as it turned out, 3 surprises) of the week!

On Thursday morning I glanced out of my window and noticed a funny green ‘leaf’ on the birdbath. Curious, I went outside to investigate. When I realised what it was, I rushed back inside and grabbed my camera, then slowly and quietly crept up as close as I could get to the birdbath (but not too close!), and managed to get a couple of shots in before it heard me and disappeared.

Tree snake. Its head is just above the left hand side end of the bird bath.

Yes, a snake! Luckily only a harmless tree snake, but still! On the first click of the camera it was alerted, and disappeared gracefully and with haste into the nearby bushes.

Later that evening when I was about to take the dogs outside for their last piddle of the day, I noticed that one of the chickens (Specks) was perched on the clothes dryer at the back door. ?????? I yelled for Mr S, who grabbed his torch, and we shot outside to the chicken pen, and yes, our worst fears – a snake was in with Teacup, the other not so bright chicken. Oh dear! We had forgotten to close the door of the pen for the evening, so our resident carpet snake (python) had taken the opportunity to have chicken for dinner. We pushed Teacup outside the pen using the long LED light, and I caught her and put both chickens inside the house while we moved the snake out of the pen.

Carpet snake with it’s beautiful markings

Mr S then suggested that he move the snake onto the grass so that I could photograph it ….. this was my reaction! 🙂

The carpet snake was clearly not hanging around for any photo session, and decided to move into the safety of the Tamarillo tree at the back of the chicken pen.

We estimate that this snake was close to 2 metres in length.

We also found a baby carpet snake investigating the other chicken pen (no photo of it sorry) which is on the opposite side of the garden. This little snake was too small to harm our chickens.

When we checked the chicken pen again on Friday night the big carpet snake was back again… trying to get as close as possible to the chickens. We really must remember to close up the chickens each night!

That is my Six on Saturday for the week. Hopefully there will be no slithering surprises during the coming week!!

Happy gardening, and if you would like to join in, then please visit , visit The Propagator for details, and to read about gardening around the world.


    • Thank you! I could not miss the opportunity as it’s not everyday we encounter one! I gently touched its tail once it’s head was out of sight of course!

  1. The python has beautiful markings. I’m happy to see them in a zoo but I wouldn’t want one outside the back door. The colours on the first Lorikeet are stunning.

  2. Gosh, what a six! The birds are lovely, but the snakes, no thanks. Even though yours are harmless, I can’t admire them. We had black snakes in our compost bin and that has made me very wary indeed.
    Your Callistemon is a show. Mine seem to have finished flowering now.

  3. Well….that is a rather unusual Six-on-Saturday! I can’t compete with that. Beautiful birds and surprising peppercorns – I hadn’t really thought about where they come from. Very interesting.

    • No need to compete at all! It was an unusual week, so I had plenty to write about for the SOS for a change. I agree. The peppercorns are very interesting. Happy gardening!

  4. I don’t relish the thought of having snakes in the garden! 😱 I’m not very brave – and I think I’d probably want to move house! 😁 Thanks for sharing the story.

    • Most snakes are afraid of humans, luckily, and do not stay around too long. Snakes in the garden are one of those hazards that come along with living close to a National Park forest.

  5. Oh, goodness, I can do without the drama of snakes in the garden! Looks like the python definitely has chicken on the menu. But the Lorikeets and the Callistemon are lovely 🙂

    • I think the python has decided against chicken…too much human intervention, and we did not see him last night. Hopefully he has slithered back into the nearby forest again!

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