Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Big Bird

We had a large visitor during the week.  Up on the ridges behind the house there are usually plenty of emus but it is not so often we see them strolling around down here on the valley floor.

The  Mudgee Tourist Office has added a link to this blog onto their website so the pressure is on now to ensure that the birdwatching stuff is as good and as useful as we can make it. More photographers are needed.  There are over 150 species of birds in Munghorn Gap and so far we have photos of only 3.   Get in touch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The High Pergola is So Cool.

The shade-giving grape vines on the High Pergola are flourishing, and by this time next year should be providing dense coverage.   A canopy of  actively growing, moisture rich leaves like this can reduce the daytime summer temperature by a massive 30%.  This is the result not just of the shade, but also of the cooling effect of moisture evaporating from the leaves, in effect operating just the same way that an evaporative air-con system does.  The cooled air is then drawn into the house through the ground level doors whilst warmer rising air from inside the house is expelled through the windows set high up in the walls.

This design helps make it possible to keep  the house cool during the hottest of summers without the need for those horrible old energy-intensive, costly recyclers of stale air still being used in so many poorly designed Australian houses.  Simple domestic design features such as the High Pergola will become increasingly important as global warming continues.  

Professor Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton U, said today that "Action to reduce greenhouse emissions is lagging so far behind what the science tells us is necessary that some degree of warming is now inevitable.  We should take pragmatic measures to prepare for an inevitable degree of warming" .   We are following his advice here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Bird is That?

The Swamp Banksias in the Water Garden are proving to be a major hit with the some of the local honeyeater populations.  Dozens of new flower spikes are appearing after the rains over the holiday season and there are large flocks of the bird in the photo down there all day. 

But I realized I am not sure which species they are.  The New Holland Honeyeater and the White Cheeked Honeyeater look identical to my untrained eye.  Is there an easy way to differentiate them? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Notes from the Library

Stacks of new books are being added to The Library,  all funded by having quit smoking.  What a win-win this is!  The new purchases fall into four main categories covering photography, garden/landscape design, food and art.  Recent highlights include

  • "The Wirtz Gardens".  A sumptuous two volume edition featuring all the gardens created by the legendary landscape designer Jacques Wirtz over the last fifty years.   Inspired by these masterpieces we  have commenced the mass production of Box hedging and soon the hill behind the house will begin a transformation influenced by Wirtz. The goal is to plant one thousand new Box plants each year from now on.

  • "The American Wilderness"  Published in 1990 this is the final large format volume of works by the photographer who did more than perhaps any other individual to help the world understand the importance of preserving wilderness areas in National Parks. He was one of the original greenies and a true hero.

  • "The Big Fat Duck Cookbook".  Terry Durack wrote that  "This is not just a cookbook.  It is not just an art book.  It is not just a record of the most innovative and exhilarating self-taught cook ever to have come out of the UK.  The Big Fat Duck Cookbook transcends all others because Heston Blumenthal transcends all others."   Yep!!!