Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Garden in Flower - Winter 2010 (June to August)

Time to update the record of my garden through the Seasons.  Whilst we don't experience four distinct seasons here, we do have two ... the 'wet' and the 'dry'.  Our 'dry' season usually begins in Autumn and lasts until early Summer ... but this year there has been a slight change in the weather pattern.  Our 'dry' this year has not been as dry as usual.  Over Autumn and Winter this year, my area of north-east Oz received around 300mm of rain.  This is not typical at all ... nor were the number of dreary overcast days!!!  Usually during the 'dry' we have endless clear blue-sky days ... but not this year.

There was also a slight change in the temperature range ... with slightly warmer temps. than usual.  The Winter temps. this year remained mostly around 26 deg C (78F) during the daytime and around 17 deg C (52F) in the night-time ... although there was the occasional below 10 deg C night. Given these variations in weather conditions, it's time to take a look back at what was going on in the garden during Winter ... smack bang in the middle of an atypical 'dry' season.

Most of the large shrubs around the property, like 'Snowflake' and 'Roseflake' Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the Ixoras, the Mussaendas, the Poincianas and the Plumeria, take a break over Winter, but there are a few large trees that do flower during this time of year.

In early Winter the magnificent Bauhinia variegata 'Alba' begins its' show.  It will bloom right through mid- to late-Winter and there will still be a few flowers in early Spring.
The Spathodea campanulata, or African Tulip Tree, is another great Winter bloomer.  You will spot these tulip-shaped bright orange flowers all over the top of the tree for most of the Winter months.

Yet another of the large trees around the property that flowers during Winter is the beautiful Tabebuia impetiginosa.  This year, probably as a result of the unseasonal rainfall, my Tab and the Tabs next door had two flushes of flowers.  They bloomed from the end of June right through July ... and then the second flush suddenly appeared at the end of August!!  It was so unexpected ... and so lovely to see!
The large Calliandra shrubs display their unusual powderpuff flowers all during our Winter.  Calliandra haematocephala and surinamensis usually begin flowering in late Autumn and will continue producing blooms through to late Winter ... although the Pink Calliandra (Calliandra surinamensis) will bloom on into Spring most years.
A medium-sized shrub that only ever flowers during our Winter here is the fabulous Euphorbia leucocephala ... the Snowflake bush.  Every Winter it puts on a great display of these bright white bracts and tiny little flowers ... and this display lasts pretty much all through Winter.

A much smaller shrub that grows in another of the outdoor garden beds is this dwarf Azalea and it has put on a fantastic display all through the Winter ... the last of the blooms are only now fading away.

My new baby Poinsettias bloomed brilliantly through the Winter months as well ... as a matter of fact, they're both still blooming now in early Spring.  I just can't wait for them to mature and grow much larger.

Another great Winter bloomer is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.

There are also the plants that flower all year long scattered around the outdoor garden beds ... plants such as Pentas, Russelias and Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'.

The other Winter blooms can be found either in the Shadehouse/Greenhouse Garden or the Courtyard Garden on potted plants such as:

Azalea ...

Bracteantha bracteata, Scutteliaria suffrutescens, Pelargonium peltatums, Dahlias .... 

Pelargonium 'Passion', Impatiens walleriana, Verbena, Bromeliad and Pansies ...

Violas and Petunias ....

Snapdragons ...

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' ...

Calibrachoa ...

Crossandra and Angelonia ...

Salvia splendens ...

and lots more Pansies and Violas.

Of course, the Begonias continued to bloom through Winter ...
as did the Gazanias.

I also had some success with the bulbs I had planted at the beginning of Winter.  It was limited success though ... mostly in part, I'm sure, because of the consistently warmer temperatures we experienced throughout the Winter this year.

So, that was the Winter here in my north-east Australian garden ...  now for a short video that shows some of the flowers blooming out in the courtyard potted plant garden on the very last day of Winter.

To end, I'm adding a link to a post I did last Winter just for comparison.  Take note of the words in the last paragraph, where I talk about the temperature range during a typical Winter.  You will see that this varies significantly to the temperatures we've experienced this Winter.  This one was definitely warmer, more overcast ... with a sprinkling of rain thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'

This gorgeous evergreen, quick-growing, herbaceous perennial is a definite favourite for this dry tropics gardener.  This fabulous showy compact plant belongs to the Lamiaceae or Mint family.  It's a beautiful hybrid of Plectranthus saccatus and Plectranthus hilliardiae, developed in South Africa, and well-suited to a hot, dry climate.
Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' loves to grow in a shaded to semi-shade location with a moist but well drained soil.  It will form a small, dense, rounded shrub, reaching around 1 metre in height if planted out in the garden.  I grow two Mona's as potted plants, and they only reach around half that height!

The foliage of this Plectranthus is so attractive.  It has dark green glossy leaves with a purple-coloured underside ... but it's the dainty little flowers that are simply stunning.  I absolutely love the frothy, frilly purple cloud that appears when it's in full bloom.  'Mona Lavender' produces spikes of lavender coloured flowers that are dashed with purple markings.  They look a bit like cute little mini-orchids!

The flowers usually appear in early Summer and last right through to late Autumn. The plant will die back a little during the Winter here, so it's a great idea to give it a good trim at the end of Autumn, after flowering.  This will help maintain a neat shape and encourage denser foliage.  Fertilise with a slow release fertiliser during early Spring and you will be rewarded with a fabulous display.
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