Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 8, 2017

On my balcony

In Brisbane we live in an apartment close to the city. We bought it because it has a fairly large courtyard, a lovely bonus in sub tropical Queensland.

Because we are away for months at a time, we keep the garden fairly basic, so that it is easy for a friend to duck in and water the plants.

We have mixed success with geraniums and right now they are not looking happy,  but there are a couple of other things that are thriving. There is a huge tree just outside our courtyard that gives us lots of lovely shade. It drops leaves and makes a mess, but that is OK.

Highgate Hill tree

Right now it is covered with spiky seed pods. They will eventually turn brown and fall to the ground.

Seed pod

We brought cuttings from 2 frangipani trees with us from our old house and they have been in pots for 15 years and seem to be thriving. The white one has flowers, but the pink one is on a break.


We have a different type of frangipani, but it has not yet produced flowers.


These delicate white flowers appear from time to time.

White flower

White flower

Bromiliads seem to like our place.


Spathiphylums grow well and flower occasionally.


Agave are just about impossible to kill and keep having babies.


Best of all, another pineapple is growing. It is easy to see they are from the bromiliad family. It is tiny now, about the size of an apricot. The fruit grows very slowly and even when it is ready to eat it is only the size of an apple, but I love it when one turns up.



We have a little terracotta girl who has been with us for 15 years, but she has hardly aged.

Terracotta girl

Recently we had a visit from 2 baby kookaburras. One flew off quickly,  but the other stayed around long enough for me to fetch my camera and take his photo. I think it is great that we have these birds close to the city. PS. I have been reliably informed that the bird is a butcher bird. He is lovely anyway.

Baby kookaburra

My courtyard is hardly a match for the garden at Casa Debbio, but it very nice to be surrounded by greenery. I will be enjoying my sub tropical garden for just 5 more weeks before I head off to the northern hemisphere for some winter weather.


  1. It is beautiful, Debra! And it does not surprise me that you are unlucky with geraniums. I had the same problem when I lived in Australia…

    • Are a hybrid and supposed to be good in our conditions, but just lately they are looking dry ordinary.

  2. Beautiful , and the flowers so perfect . Thanks for sharing .

    • I expect my pineappple will be ready when I return in June.

  3. Love your sub tropical plants and obviously so do the birds. Great photo of the baby kookaburra.

    • The little bird sat quite still. I thought it was just a minor bird at first, but soon recognised the kookaburra shape.

  4. Your courtyard garden is lovely Deb and we have enjoyed many a fabulous dinner there –

    • We love our courtyard. It makes apartment living great.

  5. I love the flowers! I’m curious about how the whole space looks…I’m sure it’s gorgeous. You seem to have the magic touch and such good taste.

    • It is just a rectangular 65 square metre space with a roof over part of it. We eat all our meals here in the summer.

  6. Hello Debra,
    I very much enjoy you blog posts, including your wonderful photos! And by the way, the bird in this post is a Butcherbird.

    • Thank you for the correction. The head is a similar shape to a kookaburra.

  7. That’s a very special courtyard! Frangipani – I love it <3 Simply beautiful!

    • I love frangipani trees. They are a bit ugly in winter, but they certainly make up for it when they flower.

  8. That kookaburra is such a darling! c

    • I was mistaken. It is a butcher bird. He is lovely anyway.

      • Never mind – you are right – he is still lovely.. c

  9. Beautiful pictures…..I only can dream of ” summer” as I look out the window and see a dusting of snow and a very cold Atlantic Ocean. See you soon in lucca

    • I love our courtyard. I just wish our summers were not so hot.

  10. Beautiful photos Debra!

    • Thank you. It is nice to be in Australia for a while. I will be back in Italy in about 6 weeks.

  11. Lovely Debi

    • We have possums, blue tongue lizards and bush turkeys living with us. I love it, except that the possums eat my parsley.

  12. Love the baby kookaburra.

    • It seems it is a butcher bird. He was quite happy to sit there and be admired.

  13. You’ve made that space such a lovely and inviting area and you do have the green thumb. My geraniums are about to get the heave-ho. I think you might have another string to your bow as a landscape/courtyard designer. It’s always a thrill when any little wild bird allows you to get close isn’t it.

    • I’m sorry about the geraniums. Some have lasted for a few years, but they definitely are not enjoying this summer.

  14. I’m certain the bird is a grey butcherbird Deb. Beautiful shot nonetheless 😀

    • Someone else pointed that out and I am about to fix that, thanks. I was fooled by the shape of the head and the blue feathers on the wing. We have residents kookaburras as well. I love to hear their call.

      • The butcherbird has an amazing vocabulary! We had them around our house in Launceston, but not here in the North West.

  15. Love photos of your succulents Debra, we have a small garden of them here in Monterey, tore up old grass, now watching succulents bathing in the five days of rain we’re having, hopefully ending the six year drought CA has been suffering from. More than 100 million trees in CA died during the drought. Maybe the new rains will sprout new trees.

    Hope to see you in Casa Debbio next summer, and in Brisbane in ’18 when we return to Australia! We love traveling in Australia, will go diving in Outer Banks from Cairns, stay w/ friends on cattle ranch near Adelaide.

    • I am pleased to hear your drought may be at an end. We had an ongoing drought here a few years ago…then we had a flood.
      See in Italy.

  16. Wow, what amazing photos of plants and flowers.

    • It is nice to be surrounded by greenery.

  17. Nice pics

  18. This is just amazing. I’m inspired by your lovely garden.

    • Have a look at the top of the page to see Rent our Tuscan House to see our Italian garden.

  19. Seems like a tropical sanctuary to me! … and a delightful contrast with Bagni. Lucky you for both! 🙂

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  21. Beautiful flowers and I love the little bird at the end!

  22. Lovely post – frangipanis are one of my favourites.

  23. […] via On my balcony — Bagni di Lucca and Beyond […]

  24. Did you know Frangipanis are easily grown from cuttings? I have a post about it on my blog about one growing indoors in the UK which you might find interesting:

    • Thank you, I will have a look. We brought 2 cutting from our previous house to put in those pits. They are now about 17 years old.

      • If you have growth progress photos over the 17 years I would love to do a post on my blog about them!

      • I don’t have photos, unfortunately. I have documented the growth of our garden in Italy, but not in Brisbane. The trees have been pruned several times. They don’t get flowers for a couple of years after their pruning.
        They seem healthy enough in their pots. We have not repotted them.

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