Monday, October 11, 2010

My Place - Part 3: My Driveway Garden Beds.

While vista shots are commonplace amongst so many garden blogs, they are most definitely NOT common on my blog.  The position of this property ... it sits on the side of a rocky granite hill

... and the conditions here ... including non-existent soil of any worth or depth and the long hot, dry weather for most of the year  ... make it almost impossible to have long meandering garden beds filled with great colour, texture and seasonal interest. For those readers who want those sort of long views ... you have definitely chosen the wrong blog.

Garden beds on this property are few and far between ... and were created long before hubbie and I moved in here.  Those garden beds are now completely compacted following years of heat and drought with occasional monsoonal wet seasons ... the soil that was bought onto the property to create those garden beds has been properly cooked, pummelled and beaten into submission and now pretty much resembles concrete!!!!  I actually yearn to get out and dig into soil with a shovel! 

Since my interest in gardening was only re-vitalized around two years ago now, my efforts have centred on adding lots of potted plants to the garden areas close to the house ... my Courtyard Garden and my Greenhouse/Shadehouse Garden which I have written about in a previous post - An Inside-Out Garden View

I have not paid all that much attention to the other long-ago established, rather boring and uninteresting garden beds around the property.  Over the years since we moved here, quite a few plants have disappeared from these garden beds ... mainly the result of low rainfall and the watering restrictions that are in place in my part of the world.  Whatever was growing in those garden beds just had to survive without my help ... or perish and disappear forever. 

Two of those poor unloved garden beds are the Driveway Garden Beds that flank the rather long entrance to our property.  These beds have been watered very sparingly over the years ... the irrigation system that sits in those beds is only turned on every two months or so during the 'dry' season (which lasts for anything up to nine months of the year) and the continued existence of the plants in these beds rests almost entirely on the rainfall we receive during our 'wet' season (which usually only lasts for a few weeks at the end of Summer).

There are no gorgeous perennial flowers or any underplantings whatsoever. The planting does not change ... unless something dies!!  The only noticeable change would be when some of the shrubs or trees are in bloom .... otherwise it looks the same most of the year .... GREEN.  I need to make a note here ... I've tried to find photos of the various shrubs and trees at different times of the year when they are in bloom, otherwise it would be a pretty boring picture of this part of my garden.

Beginning outside the property from the street ...

you would see that the front gate is flanked by two Delonix regias (Poincianas).  This is what they look like when they're flowering during our Summer:

Right behind those two sections of front fence are my two Calliandras (Powder Puffs), two Pseudomussaedas, an enormous Duranta, a stand of Golden Cane Palm and a Triangular Palm.

Here's a closer look at the Calliandras ... Calliandra haematocephala (Red Powder Puff) on the left side of the driveway ...

... and to the right is Calliandra surinamensis (Pink Powder Puff):

These two Calliandras begin flowering in late Autumn and will continue to bloom right through to the end of Winter or the beginning of Spring.

This is the enormous Duranta repens just inside the front fence which now stands at over 5 metres and is in bloom for most of the year and, for some reason, has darker leaves and flowers than all the other Durantas.
This is my showiest Duranta repens. 

On the both sides there are two Pseudomussaendas  ...
Pseudomussaenda flava (White Wing) with its' fabulous white bracts and little yellow flowers ....

.. and on the left side just inside the front fence, there's a Dypsis decaryi (Triangular Palm).

Going further down either side of the long driveway into the property are the two long garden beds.  The one on the right side is edged with rocks.You can see from the photo below just how dry and desolate it is out there ... watering restrictions and our dry weather make it impossible to keep this part of the property looking lush and green all year!

These garden beds run the entire length of the dirt driveway, so let's take a wander and see what grows in the beds.   They contain:

... lots of Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (Golden Cane Palms) ... around twenty stands, I think,

... a Licuala ramsayi (Australian Fan Palm),

... a Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig Tree),

... a few Codiaeum variegatum (Crotons), 

... around six tall stands of Duranta repens shrubs, including two variegated ones, which all have beautiful purple flowers and orange berries at different times throughout the year,

... a couple of tall white Gum trees,

... a few scraggly Graptophyllum pictum (Caricature shrubs),

... a few clumps of Russelia

... a couple of Schefflera arboricola ... Dwarf umbrella trees,

... a couple of clumps of Philodendron,.
.. a sprawling climbing clump of Epipremnum aureum syn. Scindapsus aureus (Pothos) which is growing on an old gum tree trunk,
...  a Polyscias fruticosa (Ming Aralia),
... a Malvaviscus arboreus (Lipstick Hibiscus),


.. a large white Bauhinia variegata and a Tabebuia impetiginosa - which you can see in bloom here in this photo taken back during our Winter.

Right beside that garage at the end of the driveway there are several Acalyphas ...

 ... a Spathodea campanulata (African Tulip Tree) with its' strange tulip-shaped orange flowers  ....

and finally, at the end of the driveway, standing behind the garage, is a Jacaranda mimosifolia which has just started to bloom ....

and a couple more Delonix regias (Poincianas) which won't bloom until Summer.
To end off, I'll add a few 'vista shots' taken at the beginning of the year after the 'wet' season ... hence the green grass you can see!  That is a rare sight during the rest of the year.  Oh, to be able to get out there and dig and plant ... if only I had a magic wand!

For Part 4 of My Place, please click on this link My Greenhouse / Shadehouse Garden


  1. Bernie ~ you have a fantastic array of trees and shrubs you have colour on your trees mine are mostly just green! It all looks pretty good to me.

  2. I would love a driveway like that. It is in no way boring Bernie. You have a wonderful range of trees. It would be a pleasure to come home to all year round.

  3. Sue ... you're gracious comment is much appreciated. I'm in colour-other-than-green crave mode ... as you know ... and this part of the property just doesn't do it for me!!!

    Missy ... more kind comments, thank you. The drive is quite pleasant after some decent rainfall ... but for most of the year it does look rather dry and desolate.

  4. You live in such a beautiful place! It is so lush with such a variety of interesting foliage and pretty blooms. I don't think I have ever seen a duranta that big before...very pretty.

  5. Amy ... the 'lushness' comes from choosing plants that will survive here and look reasonably happy and healthy. As most of them have lots of green foliage it does tend to make the place look lush when in fact it's terribly dry here. Those Durantas just keep on getting a little more taller every year!

  6. Dear Bernie - your garden sounds like mine as I have dry soil and vista shots would only look like a scrub woodland. In terms of looks, although no lush borders, those big and bold tough lifeforms are still amazing, with their leaf shapes and flower colours. Lots growing in your dry tropical garden


  7. I was prepared for a wasteland after your introduction, but I knew it wasn't so! Green is good, and when the flowers come, what wonderful accents they provide. I love it! Your drive looks lush and exotic to me. If it's not that way all year, then those are seasonal changes that reveal other forms of beauty.

    About your hard baked soil - have you tried raised beds near the house? Although your potted plants are wonderful and your garden does not look to be lacking!

  8. Laura .... you do have a way with words! Bold and tough lifeforms is exactly right ... that's definitely the way to describe the plants that grow along the driveway. They are amazing given the conditions they thrive in ... what I would call the work-horses of the tropical plant world!

    Deb ... you're so generous with your kind comments. I guess we can look at the same landscape with different eyes ... to me it's anything but lush and exotic. Of course, it's a matter of what you're used to ... and the plants along the driveway really don't excite me.

    Thanks you, Deb for your suggestion too. I have given it lots of thought ... unfortunately there really is very little flat ground on this property. It could be achieved with some earthworks but that will come after we win big in the lotto, lol! I've been trying to find a spot for a vegie garden over the last year and still haven't found it.

  9. Oh Bernie, what a lovely site! You have a wide area there and every tree and plant seem to be growing nicely and not wanting for water. The bad rocks you are telling us earlier dont seem to matter with these plants. They really look more beautiful than ours in the province. We have almost same vegetation, but our soil is clay-loam which crack during the long dry seasons, and the plants look lonely by then. My Duranta repens does not grow that big because i prune it severely during the berry season, before they get ugly. So the flowers arise again from newly developed stems and look beautiful. Our crotons also have to be pruned at the start of the dry season and the rest follow. But i envy the blue jacaranda, which i badly want when i was in Sydney but was not able to get seeds. I also wonder if that will thrive her as nicely as there. BTW, i pity you for having to do lots of digging and making the soil friendly to plants. That is quite a lot of labor to do. take care.

  10. You have the prettiest drive, all that color, bloom and variety. I love those gum and palm trees. And I bet they are come in Australia.

  11. And . . . this is just your driveway!! Glorious! What a paradise you live in. It looks so natural and like an eden. It is morning here and evening where you are . . . I love thinking of our lands sitting upon a globe wobbling, tilting and turning. Sweet Dreams Bernie. ;>)

  12. Color, color, color! I almost got overwhelmed with it. Beautiful plants! I ate with my eyes your Scindapsus aureus. Should I run and feed mine? It's many years old, but doesn't have such huge leaves.

  13. Wow, wow, and double wow! You do so much with so little rain and here I am whining about or mini-drought. I don't have any VISTAS as well, but mostly closeups for many reasons. It's nice to have a kindred spirit in this regard.
    If I could have one would be that we could grow Golden Cane Palms in Houston. I have a few, but it's just a tad too cold for them and they stay small.
    I love your garden blog and garden.
    Happy Summer as we start Happy Winter.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

  14. All is fine except those palms. If they look out of place here in every corner, they certainly look odd in your otherwise handsome installation.

    Do you have a shredder? What do you do with the seeds, fronds and other organic waste from these?

  15. Wow, I can't believe that you don't like this part of your property! I see what you mean about not being able to underplant, but all those palms, shrubs, and gorgeous trees are amazing! Believe me, it looks really good. Have you thought about planting succulents, cycads, and bromeliads beneath the taller plants? Aloes bloom, as do bromeliads, and all of those groups come in colorful foliage. Lime green, orange, pinks, purples, silvers, blue-greens, deep and bright reds, even almost black, you can get with those kinds of plants. The reason I'm recommending them is not only because of their beauty, but they are very drought tolerant. Have you also considered plumerias?
    I also read about your part of the world and in many ways it reminds me of here in South Florida, except our rainy season is longer, and of course, it is a different set of months because of the hemisphere. When I first saw the first few photos I thought it looked like around Honolulu on Oahu, or the Kona side of the Big Island. And a few photos down I thought it looked like the Hilo(rainy) side of the Big Island, and were it not for the hilly terrain you have(Florida is as flat as a pancake), I would say it's very much like Florida.


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