Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking For The Wet Season To Continue ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 5, 2015.

  Date:  January 30, 2015

  Season:  mid-Summer and 'wet' season

Here we are with the first month of the new gardening year almost over.  January, our mid-Summer month, has flown by so quickly it seems.  The summery conditions started off quite nicely at the beginning of the month, with quite warm but fairly comfortable summer temps - between 30 and 33 deg C  (86 - 91 f) and not-too-distressing humidity levels.  Skies were bright blue and mostly clear.

We then started to see the mercury climb up over 33 deg C, and for the last couple of weeks we've had between 34 - 36 deg C (93 - 96 F).  It's been hot, hot, hot.  Humidity levels have been excruciating and being outdoors for any length of time between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm has been hard work.  The air con has had a great workout lately.  The gardener hasn't!  This time of year is when I down tools and do very little out in the garden.

Not long after the first days of the New Year, we started to hear thunderstorms roll in.  There were some fabulous lightning displays and loads of heavy grey cloud cover.  At first it seemed we were just being teased with the promise of decent heavy rain, but then the heavy stuff eventually started plummeting earthwards and finally penetrated the sun-baked ground.  

We've had around 177 mm of rain that has fallen over about 15 separate days so far this month.  That's about 7 inches of rain which has broken the dry season spell thankfully, but it's nowhere near our average January rainfall.  Fingers crossed there's more of that liquid sunshine on the way very, very soon because the garden certainly needs lots more.

It's been a joy to hear the rain drumming on the corrugated iron roof and pouring like a waterfall over the verandah hood.

My heart sings when I see rain splashed plants

and puddles of rain water on the ground waiting to soak through the soil after a long dry season.

It's also wonderful to see rainbows in the sky once more.  We don't see them much during the year, especially during our long dry season ... of course.

They are some of the upsides that come with the arrival of the first rains of our wet season.

The biggest downside is having our home invaded by loads and loads of insect life in the form of flying termite ants, little black beetles, cicadas and various other things.  I collected a few of the corpses left one morning on the little table on the verandah, and arranged them artfully to show some of the variety of insects that try to keep us company in the evenings.

They come in flying battalions as they are all attracted to the lights in the house.  We literally have to barricade ourselves inside with all doors shut and the air con on.  Thankfully the windows are all screened, but they are able to slip in through the cracks at the top and bottom of the doors and breezeway windows above the doors. 

This is what happens when you don't close the doors quickly enough.  These are all flying ants, termite ants, that have died overnight and left a huge mess to clean up the next morning.

There are other forms of insect life that turn up in abundance at this time of year, and I don't mind seeing them at all.

With the rain, loads and loads of butterflies suddenly descend on the garden and look for yummy nectar in the various flowers around the place.  

I get to see so many different types, but the most common this year appears to be the Common Grass Yellows and the Common Crows. 

There have also been a few lovely moths flying around as well.  This one caught my eye one morning.  I don't think I've seen one with transparent wings before.  What an amazing thing.

Evening brings loads of fantastic looking moths, with their spots and patterns, to the lights on the verandah.

Now while all this action is happening in and around and close to the garden, there's not a lot of actual gardening getting done.  It's just too hot and humid most days.

Early in the morning I love to go wandering around the place to check out what's going on.  I might pull a weed or two, or dead head a plant, but it's more a case of just making sure everything is doing well.  I do a bit of watering and trimming back when needed, but then skedaddle back indoors to the cool as fast as possible.
One thing I've noticed during this year's mid-Summer more than any previous year is the amount of beautiful perfumes exuding from various plants in the garden.  It makes for a very pleasant stroll in the early morning or early evening.

There have been a few Murrayas here since before we moved in, I have encouraged the growth of a few of the babies that pop up every now and then.  I often bring the flowers indoors as a little bouquet.

I have been making a conscious effort in the last two years to add perfumed flowering plants to the garden and I'm finally reaping the reward of this effort.  Ive added things like my fabulous Gardenia 'Soleil d'or'.  The flowers open up as a lovely creamy white, then start fading to a lemony yellow and finally to a deep golden orange.  I love watching the changes.

I've also planted Hedychium coronarium, or White Butterfly Ginger, and Lonicera japonica, or Japanese Honeysuckle, (both can be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the collage above).  The Citharexylum or Fiddlewood, the Jasminum officinale and the Pseudomussaenda flava have been growing here for many years.

To end off this first Garden Journal entry of 2015, I put together a little video clip to show what's been blooming or what's been hanging around my garden so far this year.  


Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... January 2014 ... mid-Summer.

It's the beginning of another brand new gardening year, and this first post for the year is all about highlighting what is blooming right now in my garden.

January is our middle Summer month. Yesterday the daytime high was up around 33-34 deg C and the air con was definitely on.  Our nights are slightly cooler, hovering around 25 deg C which isn't too bad.  It means you can sleep with just the fan going and be quite comfortable. Humidity levels haven't been all that bad either lately.  Relative humidity seems to remain around the 60% level, which is bearable.

We had some really lovely decent rainfall nearly two weeks ago, with around 73 mms falling over the first weekend of the new year.

This was followed up by another 12 mms or so just last week.  There's been nothing since, so the wet season hasn't quite arrived in its full glory yet,

but now there are hints of green grass in the front yard whereas last month it was pretty much a dry parched shade of brown.

With the arrival of rain last month, the Rain Lilies started blooming and they've continued to flower off and on ever since.   There were splashes of lemon and pink in the garden today.

Summertime is always the time when the Mussaendas bloom.  The colours are wonderful.

Summer also means the Cassia fistula and Delonix regias are flowering.  The bright yellow of the Cassia and the shade or orange and red in the Poinciana all scream summertime.

The arrival of rain showers has sent the Murrayas into a flowering frenzy.  The perfume from the flowers is simply heavenly.  I like nothing better than to wake up to the beautiful smell of Murraya flowers wafting on the morning breeze.

I just love bringing in a few sprays of flowers inside the house.  You don't need air freshener when you have a few little vases of these in your home.

Actually there are a few perfumed plants in bloom at the moment, which makes an early morning or early evening wander such a delightful way to start or end the day.  

There's Plumeria rubra, Murraya paniculata, Gardenia 'Soleil d'or', Hedychium coronarium (White Butterfly Ginger) and Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle).  Each one adds something extra special to the sights and smells in my garden right now.

One of the plants that is showing off its first ever flowers right now is this pink version of the Iris domestica, commonly known as the Blackberry or Leopard Lily.  I do have the more common orange variety as well, but I have to admit I think I much prefer this variety with the more subtle pink shades.

One other plant that does seem to respond to rainfall is my Phyllanthus multiflorus, or Waterfall Plant.  It's covered in pendulous red blooms at the moment.  These look rather like Christmas baubles to me.  They are tiny and rather hard to see though.  You have to get up close and personal to really notice them.

Elsewhere around the garden,

this lovely red Alpinia has bloomed for the first time ever,

the Mandevilla White Fantasy' is flowering,

 the Gloriosa superba, or Gloriosa Lily is showing off its peculiar flowers,

and the Galphimia glaucas are covered in golden yellow flowers.

I did notice as I was wandering around that there's a whole lot of red and white in my garden presently.  I'm such a fan of white in the garden, so I'm so very pleased that I've managed to get it spread throughout various corners of the garden.  Red is a must-have in a tropical garden, I think.  It just seems to blaze so brightly in our fierce sunshine.

There's also quite a bit of orange popping up here and there.

I did find one little splash of purple in the garden.  I almost walked right on by my little Brasso-cattleya Orchid in the shadehouse without seeing the flowers.  Thankfully I looked in the right direction, so I'm able to share it in this post today.

There have been literally hundreds of butterflies and other insects feasting on the nectar of the Duranta blooms and the flowers of the Neem trees.

I just had to share some photos of these beautiful creatures.

The Common Grass Yellows are swarming around in little clouds.  They are fluttering around every Duranta, Murraya, Hibiscus and Neem flower on the property.

I'm not sure about the identity of this little fellow, but he was certainly enjoying the nectar of the Murraya blooms,

and this beautiful little spider was having a great time chilling out on the Rain Lily petal.  I'm always amazed at the variety of insect life that is at home here in my garden.

I'm joining Carol for her Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day  meme.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... Early Summer ... December 2014.

It's been a while since I joined in Carol's brilliant GBBD meme.  I'm pleased that I've managed to fit in this post before 2014 ended.  December is officially our first Summer month.  Outdoors, the conditions here are hot, muggy and close. Daytime temps so far this month have been between 31 - 36 deg C  (87- 96 F), and there's only a slight change at night time when the mercury drops a degree or two. 

There have been a few dark clouds hanging around every few days or so, signalling the approaching end to our long dry season.  We've had just a couple of thunderstorms roll in, with brilliant lightning displays and some rain.  All up we had just over an inch of rain (37 mm), which fell in a couple of hours on two days in the last week.  Hopefully our wet season is not too far off now.

It's been another long dry season, which is typical for this area, and the soil is hard and parched.  While the surrounding bushland and our yard both look bleak and dry as a bone, there is some colour to be found in various corners of the garden where I've kept up the watering. There are no huge massed displays of flowers, rather little splashes of colour here and there amongst the garden beds.

There's a parade of various Hemerocallis blooms and it's a joy to spot them opening up one by one.  The colours are fabulous and a sight for sore eyes.

My one and only Cassia fistula is showing off its golden sprays, which are hanging from leafless branches.   The sprays could be mistaken for Christmas decorations hanging off the bare branches.  Great Christmas colour.

Another of the Christmas colours on show at the moment is the vibrant red of the various Delonix regias, or Poincianas, which are blooming on the property.  You'll see these splashes of red all over this rural neighbourhood  at the moment.  It a regular summertime sight.

Plumeria flowers are yet another of the usual sights here in the early summer, with my Plumeria rubra and Plumeria obtusa both blooming.

The Mussaendas are blooming,

and some of the Rain Lilies have been making an appearance.  I'm hoping that it's a sign of decent rainfall on the way, rather than a desperate effort to bloom with the merest hint of rain in the air.

Scaly-breasted Lorikeets have been enjoying the sweet flowers of the Eucaplytus and the Dypsis lutescens, or Golden Cane Palms.

Out in my shadehouse garden, there are pendulous blooms on my Anthurium gracile and Indian Rope Hoya.

In the tiered garden beds, there are blooms on the Iris domestica, Justicia brandegeana, Dietes, Gerbera and Adenium obesum.

In the driveway beds you will notice flowers on the Polygala, the Russelia and the Turneras.

Elsewhere, you will see blooms on the Lagerstroemia speciosa, the Wrightia, the Mandevilla, the Galphimia glauca, the Ixora and the Tabernaemontana corymbosa.

Lastly, I wanted to share the beautiful changing colours of my Gardenia 'Soleil d'or'.  I love watching the flowers change as they mature.  How I wish I could share the stunning perfume of these flowers as well.

That's it from this tropical corner of north-eastern Australia.  Summer is here and we're relaxing in the air-con while the plants tough it out in the heat and humidity outside.

I'm joining Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme.

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