Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our 'Dry' Season Has Begun ... My Downunder Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 17, 2011.

Date:   April 30, 2011

Season: mid-Autumn and beginning of the 'dry' season

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

There's been very little rainfall for three weeks or so now which seems to be a sure sign that our 'dry' season has begun.  Typically, we will not receive much, if any, rainfall now until around mid-December ... hence the name 'dry tropics'.  Of course, 2010 was a bit of an exception to the rule around here ... it was one of the wettest 'dry' seasons we've had!  So it will be interesting to see how this year unfolds.  At the moment, though, we're experiencing those familiar clear sunny days.

So after the garden was pelted and pummelled during the last few months of the 'wet' season, it will be parched and thirsty for months and months to come.  This is the time of year when the outdoor garden beds have to tough it out ... many of the shrubs and trees are still in recovery mode after the cyclone, so without rain they will take ages to flourish once more.

Here's my beloved white Bauhinia variegata.  It's now got significant amounts of re-growth but with the 'dry', I don't think it will get all that much bigger in the coming months.

Lagerstroemia speciosa or Queen's Myrtle has continued to recover very well.  It will be interesting to see if all this new foliage growth will in fact start turning into the familiar reds and oranges for our winter.  This is my only tree that I could possibly say gets autumn colours ... except they usually appear in the winter. 

It will also be very interesting to see if my Plumerias will do their deciduous thing this coming Winter as well.  Considering Winter officially begins in June, and these Frangipanis are still trying their best to put on new growth ... will all the leaves fall?

The two Corymbia torellianas or Cadaghi Gums have come back beautifully after having most of their foliage stripped away.  It's nice having some tree canopy back once again in this spot on the property.

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis that grows underneath the Cadaghis has come back quickly and is showing a bloom or two here and there.

The same is true for the Malvaviscus arboreus or the Sleepy Hibiscus.  It's already recovered and those wonderful flowers and buds are peeping out in between the leaves.

With Cyclone Yasi's destructive winds causing the almost total removal of the tree canopy down the driveway on our property, the driveway garden beds had became almost overrun with weeds.  Finally, with the arrival of dry weather over the last couple of weeks, I've been able to get out there and do the much needed weeding of both sides of the driveway.  It's looking far tidier now.  

I was accompanied by hordes of lovely little red dragonflies the whole time.

It was amazing just how much was removed ... we thought we had done with having to use the fire pit to burn off garden debris and rubbish.  But no, I have managed to add another little pile to the fire pit after my efforts yesterday and today.

As well as removing huge amounts of weeds, I did a bit of trimming on some plants that were not included in the post-cyclone clean-up.  Mainly a Croton, the Pseuderanthemum, the Ming Aralia and the Graptophyllum.  They were all looking decidedly leggy and scraggly.

I found a couple of Philodendrons that I'd thought I'd lost.  Obviously they loved the long 'wet' season and had come back in some what were once hidden spots, but not hidden now after the weeding effort.

I also finally removed most of the horrid pile of Pedilanthus tithymaloides 'variegata' - the Slipper Plant - which had taken over one section of the long driveway bed and was looking absolutely terrible.  I pulled out most of it by the root ... moved one tiny little piece back towards the fence ... and dug over the spot where it had been growing.   

I'm looking to plant more Crotons and Pseuderanthemum in that section.  However, there will be no planting happening just yet.  Along with the new section added to the driveway garden bed closest to our car shed, the spots that need planting up will have to wait until the 'dry' season is over.  It's no use trying to start plant at this time of year here in the dry tropics ... it would add extra cost to our water bill trying to keep them alive over the next nine months or so when we receive little or no rainfall! 

In the meantime though, I have quite a few Croton cuttings that have taken off and need re-potting and lots of feeding so they're ready for planting during our rainy season.  I will also be on the lookout for some groundcover for both these spots.  Perhaps some native Viola for the shaded sections ... will think about the sunny sections.

In other spots around the property, it's lovely to see the Acacias are starting to bloom once more.

This is Acacia mangium showing its' lemony-yellow rod-like flower heads ...

... and Acacia auriculiformis beginning its' wonderful display.


  1. Looks like you have a lot of beautiful garden to take care of!

    Is the acacia mangium a tree or bush, because one of my fellow blogging pals just did a post on goats climbing acacia trees.

  2. Hi Wanda. Yes our property here is a little larger than the normal suburban residential block, so there are a few garden beds around the place.

    As for the Acacia mangium ... it's a small tree. There are two of them growing here ... one is around 3 metres tall, while the other is only around 2 metres. The position they're growing in has a huge impact on their height.

  3. It's looking wonderful, even if it is still recovering from the cyclone. I'm originally from England and I was amazed to see how many things you have growing outside that I used to have as house plants when I lived in England!

    BTW, I rather like the look of that Slipper Plant that you had to rip out.

  4. Hi Bernie, it's clear that the impact of Yasi will be felt for some time. Having a lot of your tree canopy ripped off is incredible. I've never experienced that kind of wind.
    I love the colorful dragonflies you have, they are gorgeous!

  5. Glad to see some of your trees are recovering after the cyclone. I think the plants are a bit confused this year. Some of our frangipani here are still trying to flower, but then we are still getting showers most days.

  6. The lushness in growths of your plants during rainy season is much much more than what i observed here! So it's a pity they will just succumb to the long dry season! As it is now, they dont show anymore the stress of the cyclone. You are just starting while we are already at the middle of ours, our temps now around 36C going higher.

  7. It is just as if the tap has been turned off isnt it? We normally still have some rain during our dry season but nothing so far.

  8. Hello Bernie! About the slipper plant... haha... yes I know! I have seen how messy it can look when overgrown ;-) I hope you will find more crotons and Pseuderanthemum soon. Love the sight of your beautiful acacia :-D

  9. At least we aren't the only place getting tons of rain! I don't think we've had a day in 2 weeks where it hasn't rained.

    And not to sound like a salesman, but I work for a company that sells garden irrigation products. We have these rings you can put around your trees or shrubs that will really help keep them watered without wasting water. Feel free to check us out :) Maybe a couple of our things could help during the dry season.

  10. Good grief! You have been one very busy lady it seems. Summer is here but the rest of the city has been getting occasional showers. Strangely enough, there has not been a single drop of rain where we live. Good luck with your plants this summer. Especially those that were used to the shade of your trees.

  11. So many of your plants obviously have deep roots as showing no sign of wilt unlike my plants. For once Bernie, our respective weather matches. It's the dry season here too and hose pipe bans are threatened even before we've reached summer. You've obviously been very busy in the garden and yet still found time to capture the fabulously fiery dragonflies. I like Corymbia torellianas - a name that rolls off the tongue...unless you've had too many tequilas!

  12. Jayne, that Slipper Plant does indeed look great when it's kept under control. Unfortunately, in the spot where it's growing down the driveway, it goes unnoticed until it's totally overgrown and horrible. I've just decided to move it even more out of sight, lol!

    Jenni, even the bush around us has the canopy stripped so it was looking rather stark for ages. It's starting to come back now though. Things will take a while to get back to some degree of normal.

    Missy, I'll be waiting to see exactly what does happen with some of these 'out-of-step' plants this year ... there's always something interesting going on in the garden.

    Andrea, the lushness was a result of a very different 'dry' season last year. We received rain throughout most of the year, and even though it was fairly light, it certainly kept everything green. Then the 'wet' season arrived with a vengeance and the plants just went mad.

    Africanaussie ... not a drop of rain down here so far, so perhaps we will get our usual 'dry' this year.

    Stephanie, yes it's great to see the Acacias blooming as usual. They've come through all the extremes last year very well.

    EvoOrganic ... our wet season was non-stop so it's pleasant to see sunshine and blue skies again. Thanks for the information about your products. We do have an irrigation installed, but it's too expensive to run during most of our dry season, which can last for nine months.

    Bom, our summer is well and truly over now. We get our dry season during autumn through to spring here. It's now the last month of autumn so the dry has begun. Fingers crossed most things will survive well.

    Laura, yes most of the drought tolerant plants here have very deep tap roots which helps them to survive the dry intact. Lol, there's quite a few botanic names I wouldn't want to attempt after just one tequila!!

  13. I LOVE all of your pictures!!!! Beautiful!

  14. Hi I haven't been buy your blog for quite a while. I see your garden is still thriving. Mine is a weed patch ... so much rain.

  15. Fantastic! I love all of your pictures!! Beautiful!I like it...
    Thanks for sharing... Flowering Pear

  16. Hey there Bernie! Sure is nice to see that beautiful blue sky in your photos!

    We are still in our unseasonably wet Spring (though we have not had flooding like areas further south - like Memphis, Tennessee). Taking another virtual tour though your gardens is always an adventure in exotic botanicals.... I just love it! :)


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