Sunday, January 16, 2011

Taking Stock After Weeks of Endless Grey Skies and Rain ... My Downunder Dry Tropics Garden Journal - Week 2, 2011.

Date:  January 8th, 2011 

Season:  mid-Summer and mid-'wet' season

(Gardening Zone:  'Dry Tropics' area located within Tropical Zone/Australia ... comparable to U.S. Zone 11)

More sunshine today … and it lasted all day long! What a treat! Yes it was hot, steamy and downright horrible outside … this is Summer downunder, after all … but it was so lovely to see the sun. When you’re used to sunshine for at least 300 days of the year, and that doesn’t happen, you start to pine for that great golden orb!

Anyway, enough about the sun. It was a disgusting 32 deg C (90F) in the shade today … humidity up around 70% and the UV index was registering Extreme. NOT the ideal conditions for working outside in the garden.
But I spent time dragging out all the potted plants that are at the far end of the Courtyard Garden to assess their health after the long period of rain we’ve had this Summer. They’re not looking all that great … not enough sunlight!

One set at back edge of the courtyard  ....

... another set beside the pond and pergola area ...

and yet another set near the Fern Alley.

There are more pots out in the courtyard but I usually start this job with the potted plants in pain.

So here’s the post mortem:
•  I’ve lost some of the Torenias, need replacing … simply can’t do without them!

•  The Salvia splendens are definitely leggy and need cutting back … will plant more seedlings in the two pots.

•  The Crossandras are just too leggy now and there’s almost no sign of their striking orange flowers … they   need cutting back and feeding.

•  The New Guinea Impatiens have made it through so far, but they’ve dropped all their blooms and need a good feed.

•  The Cordyline ‘Red Wings’ and ‘Morning Sunshine’ need to be potted up together and placed in the shadier section so they don’t continue to get sunburnt.

•  The Tree Fern needs to be moved as its outer fronds are getting singed by the hot sun.

•  I need more Gomprhena globosa (Bachelor Buttons) in those big round bowls as they seem to have come through very fairly well.  Have seeds for those, so need to get them started.

•  I should move the Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ out where it can get more sunlight as it’s not floweirng as profusely anymore.

•  I should also move the Wrightia so it can be in full light.

•  The two Croton Zanzibars are doing brilliantly.

•  The Dracaena marginatas need re-potting … could perhaps pot them up with the Acalyphas as they need something else of interest in the pots.

•  Need to trim back the Duranta repens.

•  Need to move the Seaside Daisies to the stairway for more direct sunlight … they haven’t flowered out in the Courtyard.

Oh boy … I’ve got some work to do! I will need to get more potting mix and pots! But, when I’ve done this bit of work, then I will think about adding more colour to that section of the Courtyard Garden.

  • Have Coleus and Celosia ready for potting up.
 One of the many flutter-bys who were watching me as I worked.


Date:  January 10th, 2011 

Season:  mid-Summer and mid-'wet' season

Lovely sunshine again this morning ... after a thunderstorm rolled around the hills in the late afternoon yesterday and more showers of rain last night.  So I headed back out to the courtyard to continue the cleaning up the end of the Courtyard Garden.

I had already dragged all the potted plants away from their usual positions at the end of the Courtyard Garden to get a closer look at just how they had come through the early 'wet' season.  Today it was time to do some trimming!
  • Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost', Salvia, Acalyphas 'Firestorm' and 'Inferno' Aralia, New Guinea Impatiens, Torenias and the Pilea all got a severe 'short back and sides'.

Then it was time to do some moving!
  • The big pots of Salvia splendens and the tray of Seaside Daisies were both moved to the outside staircase where they can be in full sun.
  • The Cyathea spp. 'W.A. Kalgoorlie Gold' Tree Fern  was moved to the raised section under the pergola next to the pond.  I'll leave it there along with both the Spathiphyllums and the Alocasia x amazonica.
  • Both hanging baskets of Evolvulus pilosus 'Sapphire Blue' were moved to the sheltered of the lattice near the 'Lots of Pots Spot' outside the kitchen. 
  • The hanging pot of Ipomea batatas was moved to the lattice out in full sun.

Then it was time for fertilising with Power Feed.  All the potted plants have gone without feeding for several weeks now because of the rain ... not only was it difficult to get out to do this job, it would have been rather futile anyway as the fertiliser would have been washed out pretty quickly with the heavy rainfall.
While I was busy feeding the collection of potted plants out in the courtyard I swear I heard a collective murmur of appreciation!  I thought the hanging and potted plants in the Shadehouse Garden would also appreciate a fine feed, so I added that to the list of things to do today.

So ... job done for today.  All trimmed, fed and ready to be re-potted where necessary and re-organised around the courtyard.  That's the next job!


  1. I remember sunshine! (Or maybe I'm hallucinating?)

    Don't envy you having to deal with plants in that heat and humidity. But as long as they're grateful, it's worth it.

    (A dirty great big lightning bolt just made the phone light up. I had better sign off!)

  2. I envy your garden but not the work especially in the tropics, I have started tidying the garden after the rain. I started with the pathways and cut back so that I can get into patches that need weeding..lots of them. I'm hampered by a sore back.

  3. It's been grey sky here as well. Oh I have no space to move around like you. I am keeping my fingers crossed for them to spring back nicely. I already noticed that a couple of my plants that are out in open are not faring well. Leaves turned less green... Nonethelesss, I hope you will have sunny sky soon. And all your plants to be growing happily for you :-D

  4. I hope you get some help, that's a lot of work. Also it's good you did not get the flooding experienced in Queensland and now Victoria. We see them always on TV.

  5. The sunny summertime is spilling out of your pictures! You do have a lot of work to do. I know how hard it is to work with the hot, humid days; drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks to enjoy it all. Your garden really is beautiful and so full of color. It is worth the effort! My winter will soon be ending, and I have a long list of stuff to do before spring...

  6. Hi Bernie,
    I've been worried about you since Brisbane and the massive floods have been on the news even here in Houston, Texas this past week.
    Your garden looks so, so lovely. We grow a lot of the same plants...except for ferns. I have some ferns, but most of those magnificent ferns I see in your garden would waste away with our dry spells and temps near 100 most summers.
    What a wonderful post. Thanks.
    David/ Houston

  7. Oh my gosh, Bernie! That is a lot (a bunch, a ton, holy mackerel..) of work! It all looks fabulous!! (By the way - it's going to be a HIGH of 6 degrees **Fahrenheit** here on Friday! Will be all bundled up ... and the plants are in deep hibernation!!)

  8. Snail ... sunshine has most certainly been a rare sight around here for the last couple of months so it's lovely when it shows itself. Sounds like you're getting thunderstorms as well up there!

    Diane ... no use attempting work when your back is playing up even if things are getting out of control. Take it easy ... the garden can wait.

    Stephanie, lets hope the rainy weather we've both getting gets lost soon! Had enough of it here!

    Andrea ... I have to do this work on my own. Hubbie does help but only with what he considers the 'big' jobs such as cutting down trees! Moving pots around is definitely my job.

    Deb ... just as you can't wait for the Spring, I'm hanging on for the Autumn-Winter. That's just the best time of year for my garden.

    David ... we've been safe and sound up here in north Queensland, thankfully. Cyclones are our biggest worry as the summer progresses. Those huge ferns you see can stand the heat here as long as their in a shaded spot. They're the toughest ferns I've found so far.

    Shyrlene ... oohh that does sound cosy. 32 deg C here today and I'm snuggled up in the air-con checking out my blogs. The work out in the courtyard is just much needed at this time of year otherwise the place would look dreadful. I don't really mind the work, it's just that it takes a while because you can only do bits and pieces before the heat and humidity, or the rain defeats you!

  9. That is a lot of pot moving. It seems worth it because your garden is so lush in the pictures. I prefer to work in the early morning and late afternoon so that the heat and humidity don't get to me as much. Do you have a preference?

  10. Dear Bernie, Your hard work truly pays off. Your garden is so lush and beautiful! I love all that GREEN - my garden is still under ice and snow here. I hope you haven't had any cyclones! P x

  11. I must admit that if you hadn't pointed anything out I'd have never noticed. Your plants look magnificent to me!

  12. It must be so fun to garden in such a sunny climate. I'am envious! Great photographs, it was nice to have a peak at your garden.


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