Australia, Urban Walking
Comments 107

Spring-ing over the Fence in Sandgate

All of the colors ran out
Round mid-November-o
We was a-scuttle about
Do you remember-o…

Robyn Hitchcock ~ “You and Oblivion”

I always experience the onset of Spring (yes, I like to capitalise the seasons!) in Brisbane with mixed feelings. As a walker here in the subtropics, I enjoy winter, at least when it’s sunny. You can walk for hours in comfort, and even a “cold” day here is well above 0° C. Nights I have survived for years, despite being quite cold-intolerant, without any artificial heating at all. If there’s one thing hiking has taught me, it’s how to layer!

So Spring means the cool-weather dream is fading and the long, hot Summer of less pleasant walking is not far off. Because, really, Spring in these parts is the narrowest of doorways before the serious heat and humidity barge in. I’m not much of a swimmer, don’t like crowded beaches or music festivals, and walking Moreton Island, say, in hot weather would be like an ant strolling through a microwave oven.

But I’m making the most of this narrow doorway. One of the pleasures of doing 10km or so of strolling each day is discovering the horticultural highlights of my neighbourhood. Here are some recent shots of Spring colour exploding onto the footpaths in my local area. Most of these flowers are in people’s front yards, most are exotics, and I particularly enjoy those that seem to be erupting exuberantly over fence, wall, or gate — softening edges between private and public space and smothering clean, sterile lines in anarchic colour.


These Hippeastrums near the waterfront a few weeks ago were the real harbingers of Spring for me, their riotous candy-striped petals held in check between fence and hedge:

A few weeks of glory and the uprising was quelled; now these solemn seed-heads make a more subdued but still bold statement:

A lone geranium stalk probes through the palings:

Bougainvillea bracts bolting over another fence. This is a very common vine in these parts — almost indestructible. I find some strains too harsh on the eye, but like these relatively subtle tones:

Lilies, bold and majestic:

Originally from Asia, star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, grows spectacularly in Brisbane gardens and is at its peak right now, spilling over front fences and gates all over my neighbourhood. As its scientific name attests, it’s not a true jasmine, but its flowers are the ones used to flavour Thai jasmine rice.

You can often smell it before you see it, one of the delights of Brisbane as it starts warming up:

This magnificent waterfront garden is one of the true masterpieces in these parts. Yes, a virtual roof of star jasmine over its gate:

On its street-side fringes, Agapanthus is just beginning to bloom. This southern African native is so common in street plantings as to be almost a cliche, but it thrives here with minimal attention:

It’s constantly windy here, but Agapanthus can take a beating and doesn’t mind the salt air at all:

Neither does lavender. I’m in the habit of pulling off a flower head to rub between my fingers every time I pass — surprised there are any left:

Strelitza, or bird of paradise flower, is another South African native that can take a hammering. This little waterfront flock looks like it’s ready to get airborne and ride the sou-easter out of here:

Some cottage-garden splendour in the backstreets:

Another iconic Brisbane bloom that is actually an import, the superb purple-flowered Jacaranda is a native of Brazil. It’s practically a symbol of Spring in this city and can be found on almost every street. This one’s at the local town hall:

Petals adorn the footpath outside one of my regular haunts:

And in the park where a magpie drew blood in September:

At last, a local identity, the Illawarra flame tree The second part of this beautiful tree’s scientific name, Brachychiton acerifolius, means “maple leaf”, and it is one of our few deciduous natives, losing half or more of its leaves after the dry season and right before it bursts into crimson bloom:

It’s not all flowers, though. Another iconic South-East Queensland tree, and another import, is the mango. At the end of my street, juvenile fruits spill out over the footpath:

Mango trees grow to prodigious size and provide deep, dense shade. Unfortunately for these young ‘uns, the local flying fox colony is right next-door, so their chances of reaching a ripe old age are slim!

Oleanders in a neighbour’s garden (mentioned in the previous post). They’re poisonous and — take it from me — digging out an unwanted shrub is one of life’s less joyful activities:

And through another fence, in an unkempt patch of lawn, some weeds (these are catsears) are putting on a less spectacular but no less beautiful show:

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote


  1. I’m impressed with your plant identification dedication. The ‘carpets’ from both the flame tree and Jacaranda look fantastic!

    • Thanks, Greg. I’m MUCH better with exotic garden plants than natives, sorry to say – but there are – what? – 20,000 natives! Still, I wish I knew a lot more.

      Agreed, I’m glad they let those carpets lie a while – surprised they haven’t been outlawed as potential lawsuit risks with the potential for a slip…

  2. The jacarandas are the petals littering the ground.

    To add to my Jealousy List of your area- flying foxes.

    • Agreed, Samantha. And I’m glad you like the flying foxes: a lot of locals don’t. I think they’re amazing, beautiful critters.

  3. Such gorgeous colors — here in the arid high-desert climate of Nevada, we don’t see anything quite that vivid or spectacular … even in springtime (though we’re now experiencing the onset of winter, and it’s forecast to snow tonight…boo…).

    Thank you for sharing these — incredible pix!


    • THanks so much, Mikalee. The Nevada high desert actually sounds very nice. I have spent some time in the American desert and it’s a magical part of the world.

    • Agreed, I ididn’t really notice till I started peering at them through a viewfinder – there’s colour everywhere in these parts right now!

    • Thank you very much, I enjoyed taking the photos, though lurking around people’s front gates with a camera is an exercise in paranoia!

  4. It;s glorious to see the seasons advancing in the right direction somewhere, now that Autumn (yes I like to capitalise the seasons, too) is passing thro towards Winter here. Wonderful plant photos – you’ve really cheered me up. Thanks for sharing

    • Hey, I cheered someone up! I don’t get accused off that very often ;). Thank you for reading and I hope to “see” you again. Hope your winter is tolerable this year.

  5. nearlynormalized says

    Thank you, man after my own heart regarding weather. Sub tropics-Las Vegas NV, USA. Fall and early Spring are my seasons.

    • You know what I’m talking about, then! Those are great times to be exploring all that magnificent landscape surrounding you in LV.

  6. Wow, what lovely pictures! Thanks for sharing with us all those different types of flowers and trees. I like seeing color in everyday life, and you captured it nicely. Congrats:)

    • Romantic Asian Guy, thank you so much for the comment and for visiting the site. It was nice to discover your blog as well.

  7. Hi there,

    I’m jealous that you are in the early days of spring — while the northern hemisphere is well into autumn and the darkness of an encroaching winter. As a garden blogger, I completely enjoyed your photos — and I’m looking forward to warmer days. Feel free to visit: Cheers

    • Thanks a million, Dirt Man! Great to discover your blog as well. Covering gardening here was new for me, although I often talk about plants – though gardening is an old passion of mine that has almost ruined my life more than once! So very addictive, calming and satisfying…

    • Yes, an amazing tree. I have some land in far-southern New South Wales, so far away I never see it. There are flame trees on my land, growing wild, but I’ve never been there when they’re blooming. Just an all-round beautiful tree.

    • Thank you so much, I have never got so much positive feedback over a post – must do more walks around the neighbourhood with my camera. No, wait on – I already do it for at least two hours each day!

  8. Exquisite, so lovely. It gives me the urge to live in the northern hemisphere during its summer, and likewise the southern. Spring and summer in equal rotation. Perfect.

    • I really appreciate your comment as I’m always trying to improve as a photographer and push my little compact camera to its limits! Thanks a lot.

  9. What a lovely walk through spring. It’s autumn in my part of the world.

    Also you reminded me of a musician that I had forgotten about–Robyn Hitchcock. I had one or two of his albums once and saw him in concert in Seattle a long time ago.

    • Thank you very much. I am very envious about you seeing RH. He has been to Australia a few times but never ventures north of Sydney. One day…

  10. Oh I love it, I love it!! I’m a fellow Brisbanite who spends the narrow winter-summer corridor gasping at the beauty of blooming trees, and indulging in the flagrant colour of spring gardens. It’s so breathtaking in these parts and the weather is simply amazing!! Oh and the storms….oh gosh those stunning sub-tropic storms!!!

    Here’s my own Wordless Wednesday tribute to Brisbane in Spring:

    Great post!

    • Thanks, Jezzmindah, it’s great to get a few more Brisbane readers. It’s a special time of year and our suburban gardens are one of the pleasures of walking around for me. And yes: I’m a storm freak as well. Will check out your writing when I get on top of this incredible mountain of comments today!

  11. odorunara says

    The flame tree and Jacaranda are stunning! Nice to have a reminder of spring elsewhere in the world as Japan heads for winter.

  12. energizeyourlifetime says

    Hello there I am so delighted I found your website, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Bing for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a incredible post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the great work.

    • I appreciate your comment and many of my favourite blogs were found by accident! I hope you manage to check out some of my other posts, and I will look into your blog tomorrow – tonight it’s all about catching up on this fabulous influx of commenters. Thanks, “Freshly Pressed!”

  13. Hi,
    they are so wonderful! = )
    I enjoyed watching them.
    Thanks a lot, may God bless you and your work.
    I tried to find “copyright reserved”, there wasn’t, so I saved them on my PC = )

    • Thank you so much for your nice comment. I am happy for you to use the pictures, just acknowledge me if any are published etc. Thanks again!

      • = )
        You are most welcome.
        Okey, I will do so God Willing.
        Thanks a lot for your nice reply, may God keep you in such wonderful happinies = )

    • Thank you very much – the lilies are actually in my parents’ garden! They’re supposed to be symbols of death but I love them. In Japan I was always thrilled to see them blooming in the wild.

  14. Hello, Goat. It’s nice to meet another Sandgate blogger, even if our interests are different. I watched those hippeastrums bloom and die too, but couldn’t possibly photograph them so beautifully. I even recognized our car in the background of some of the ones from Cliff St!

    • Ha, another Sandgate reader – I wondered of that would ever happen! You live in a great spot – you’ve probably seen me doing my daily slump around the neighbourhood. I’m sure many locals think I’m one of the legendary Sandgate eccentrics. Maybe I am…

  15. EW Phreak says

    It’s a beautiful time to be in Brisbane. Of course the old saying about students is (more or less)”If you haven’t got your studying done by the time the jacarandas are in bloom, you are gonna fail.”

  16. I LOVE This post – mostly for the huge, high res and high key flowers in all their glory against the blue sky but very interestingly because of your dubious heros – what a good idea to have those on your blog – I love Iggy Pop and Edward Abbey to name a few – love this post – thanks – Alison

    • Thanks a lot, Alison! Glad you enjoyed the pictures – I spend a lot of time (too much) on them, but I think I’m getting better with my trusty compact. The “heroes” bar is lots of fun — but I keep thinking of new additions. I saw Iggy in Brisbane in 1983 in a small club. A couple of Ed’s books are among my all-time faves.

  17. pichie vesagas says

    such beautiful flowers and pictures! you captured them so well. 🙂 makes me look forward to walking as I go home in the country (I’m in a major city now, and all I can see is concrete!).

    • Thanks for your nice comment. I hope you enjoy your trip home. And I hope there are at least some redeeming features to your urban exile! Most cities have some great walking if you know the place – and if it’s safe!

  18. It is such a delight to see all those signs of spring while the leaves are turning and dropping here in North America. Your narration makes it seem like we’re on a ramble through the neighborhood with you. If I ever visit Brisbane (and I’d like to one day) I’ll be sure to come in November so I can see all these lovelies in person. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thank you, Jennifer. If you ever do make it out this way, I can recommend some great spots. And your comment is much appreciated — making readers feel like they’re there is surely the goal of any walking/travel/whatever-I-am writer!

  19. Well, here in Canada we’re just entering Fall (yes, I capitalise all of the seasons as well) now and things are no longer beautiful and colourful…it’s nice to see how Spring is coming into action in other parts of the world. 🙂

    Your photos are absolutely beautiful and I’m so impressed that you know the names of all of the flowers and trees! I would’ve just called them “pretty white flowers with pink stripes” or “pretty red tree”…haha. 🙂

    • Ha, I know there’s a lot of season-capitalisers out there! I haven’t gardened seriously for a few years, but I went through a few years of hardcore horticultural mania, and accumulated a substantial gardening library. My Achilles’ heel is Australian natives, actually — quite weak on all but the obvious ones. Thanks for reading!

      • Ha-ha, Cameron, ha-ha. Stick around — I will surely revert to form with a rant about cynical commenters before long!

  20. Cameron says

    Those are some splendid plant shots, Goat. Those colourful petals and glorious stems have really brightened up my day. It’s great to find a wholesome blogger who is not tempted to write cynical rants or talk about negative things like drugs, rock’n’roll and hiking… God Bless!

  21. newauthoronamazon says

    Thanks for sharing … flowers are my favourite eye candy…. they caught my eye as you were freshly pressed.

  22. Lovely photographs. Two of them actually helped me realize the name of the flower that I’ve been seeing since childhood… talk about laziness. At least I know now!
    You definitely live in a beautiful city!

    • That’s fantastic, glad to help! Yes, I’m pretty fond of this city, and it’s in the suburbs where you see some of the real character of the place. Cheers!

  23. Beautiful photography, I must say! I love oleander, jasmine’s my favourite flower, and, last month, for the first time, I saw a bright pink coloured agapanthus in the East Midlands, UK…it looked gorgeous!
    Thank you for sharing.. 🙂

    • Thank you, Mal, great to get some readers in the Midlands. I hope to be strolling through your country in a year or so. I will take a look at your blog soon – just have to get on top of all this unexpected Freshly Pressed traffic, it’s amazing!

    • Thank you — sincerely! Not sure about London in winter, but it’s definitely on my list in a year or so — and in Spring!

    • Have you got a neglected pot-plant on the windowsill that can handle being shifted into the limelight? Yes, never underestimate the power of the “gardening” tag…

  24. Just had a closer look at your sudden influx, and note that they are all stunningly gorgeous women without exception. What”s going on here? Have you had any proposals of marriage? Or are you simply appealing to the flowery feminine side by revealing your colourful blooms? ‘Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan…’

    • Hey, I’m not complaining — even if they’re not real! And what about Romantic Asian Guy?

      Let’s face it, women love a sensitive man who prowls around people’s front gardens with a camera.

  25. I’m off right now round the village with a tiny, hidden Canon and with trespassing intent…

    Has this brought the comment count up to 100?! Cool!

    • Indeed it has. Though of course half of those are my replies! Still, I’m unlikely ever to see such stats again. I don’t drink champagne anymore but will enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate to celebrate.

      Watch out for those village policemen and the wise old ladies in sun hats and wellingtons who might blow your cover. If British TV has taught me anything, it’s that the villages are swarming with quirky-but-clever bobbies and crafty, elderly amateur sleuths.

  26. ahsanfiles says

    Bougenville also become beauty plant in my house… that’s very beautiful when the red, violet, white bougenville grow up in same tree…

  27. The warmth and sunlight is shining through from your photos, I loved the geranium poking through the fence, and am imagining the scent from the jasmine. A great walk!

    • Thank you very much! Funny, although those pictures were only taken a few weeks ago, it already feels, on a hot day, like summer — which it is, now, I suppose. Now the poinciana trees are in full scarlet bloom all over the city, so it’s still very colourful around here.

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