Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winter Garden Happenings ... My Downunder Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 26, 2011

  Date:  June 29th, 2011

  Season:  beginning month of Winter and two months into our dry season.

Despite the fact that we are getting the occasional shower of rain, the effect of our drier weather is now becoming more visible around our place.

The rain we do receive barely touches the ground and the 'grass' (I use that term very lightly indeed!) around the yard now has huge brown patches everywhere, as is evident in this photo.

That's my collection of re-seeding pots and propagating pots basking in some sunshine. 

The wallabies are now digging down deep to get at the roots rather than simply grazing on the grass blades, or pulling down tree branches to nibble on the leaves or fruit.

We've even had some uncommon garden visitors using their fantastic long curved beaks to dig way down in search of grubs and other wrigglies.

Once you take your eyes off the busy burrowing bird, you will notice further evidence of just how well the grass cover dies off during our dry.

This bird, the Straw Necked Ibis, is not seen up here in the foothills very often, but is a more common sight down on the flats.   It has the most fabulous glossy blue-black back with a metallic purple, green and bronze sheen which is quite dazzling in the sunshine.

Now that the dry season is well underway, things slow down considerably around the place.  Well that's how it feels to me anyway.

Of course, regular readers know well that there are very, very few seasonal changes around here ... unless you count the changes wrought by a destructive wet/cyclone season.

The all-year round bloomers carry on business as usual.

There are some flowers and berries on some of the Palms around my place usual.


The foliage plants, like the Crotons, always add splashes of colour around about, as usual.

Now to some of the unusual for this year.  Everything that is still in cyclone-recovery mode, protracted now thanks to the arrival of the dry season, is really not doing much other than marking time.  Fingers crossed they all make it through the dry and don't give up easily.  To be honest I expect that will be the case, as they are all such drought tolerant, tough plants.

Here's a great example.  This is what was once my 5-metre tall Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana', sometimes known as the Corn Plant.  It was knocked down during our cyclone season and then trimmed back to a stump less than 30 cms tall.

Despite the lack of watering or care of any sort since then, it has sprouted quite a bit of new growth.  I'm sure it will take quite a long time to reach its' former height, but I'm pleased to see it powering on.

That's my Tabebuia impetiginosa with its' rather stunted looking shape after a post-cyclone haircut.  It has usually started blooming by now, but that is unlikely this winter.  I'm finding that when I drive down the driveway after work, I do rather miss it's usual wintertime display.

I'm really, really missing the flowers on my other usual winter bloomer, Bauhinia variegata.  There is no fabulous show of these delightful white flowers this year.

As a mater of fact, there has been no added re-growth on the stump that was left in the last month or so now.  The poor thing is still just a stump with some skinny branches and leaves.

In the midst of these losses though, there is some pleasure from other sights in my garden.  There are some plants that are carrying on with their usual winter show and that brings a smile to my dial!   Out in the tiered garden bed the Euphorbia pulcherrimas are displaying their showy bracts and tiny yellowish flowers.

This is my dwarf pink Euphorbia pulcherrima.

Here's the dwarf red Euphorbia pulcherrima which, even though it was planted well before the pink, has not done as well. I had to move it when I found it was getting flooded by the torrential wet season rains in its' original spot.  It looked dead, but I cut it back, moved it to a drier spot and ... voila! ... it's back.

Lastly here's the white, which was only planted a little while ago now and is the baby of the family.  Not a bad looking little bub, either!

I got the answer to a question I asked in one of my previous garden journal entries.

Would the deciduous Plumerias, that had started sprouting new growth after the cyclone damage had been trimmed off, drop their new baby leaves for the winter?  Yes.  The broken branches are pretty leafless now.

Out in the Courtyard Garden, the potted plants carry on, as usual.

I haven't got around to trimming the little weeds that pop up in between the pavers ... as you can see ... but I have being catching up with the fertilising, re-potting and potting up of more annuals and perennials. 

It helps that I'm on holiday from school right now, so I can get to these jobs at last.

I had some luck striking cuttings of my Plectranthus, so I will be potting up those with some Brachyscome, more commonly known as Swan River Daisies.  Unfortunately I lost all my Gazanias and nearly all my Portulacas, both potted and in the ground, during the wet, so I'm starting again.  I'm also potting up some more of the gorgeous 'Dusky Hues' Salvias that I love so much, some white Ivy Pelargoniums and some citrus coloured Violas.  That will certainly fill in a lot of the empty corners out in the courtyard.

I've had to do a bit of trimming of all my Pentas plants, in the Courtyard Garden and in the Downstairs Bed.

Every single one of them had become infested with what looks like aphids ... this amateur gardener is no expert on garden pests.

So every shrub has been trimmed back and given a lovely warm soapy water wash down.   Here's the before and after shots.

But it did give me an excuse to have a few little vases of flowers inside the house for a change.

As the mornings have been a little cool of late ... yes well, when the mercury drops down below 15 deg C, we call that cool!! ... I've been making late starts! 

You will find me still inside with my cuppa at nine in the morning, but by ten I'm usually out wandering around the garden taking a peek at what is going on.  So come on with me as I stroll around this fine winter's morning.  There's a light drizzle, but nothing that would keep me from my wandering.

There were quite a few birds around today, incluidng the male Yellow-Bellied Sunbird (above) and the Forest Kingfisher (below).

I noticed a very busy little Blue-Banded Bee laden with full pollen sacs.

Sorry it's a little out of focus, but you can see those heavy sacs!

I found the first bloom on my 'Super Swiss Giant' Pansies ... hmmm, not so super giant to my eyes though!!!

I'm loving the form of these cute 'Velveteen' Snapdragons ...

... and the weird little form of the first white Osteospermum 'Ecklonis Passion Mix'.

Hmm, I'm not so sure that's where your petals are supposed to be little one!

There's some of my favourite whites to feast my eyes on ...

... and some brilliant reds to brighten the day.

There's that busy litle Blue-Banded Bee hard at work on the Begonia blooms again!  Great to see!
Now to end off this rather lengthy wandering around ...

... here's a colour combination that I've grown quite fond of.  Purple and blue ... who knew?

I'm joining MsGreenthumb Jean at Bloomin' Tuesday with my post today and I would encourage you to go on over to see what's blooming around about.


  1. Poinsettias! You grow poinsettias in the ground! They are gorgeous and one of my favs. Of course here, we buy them for Christmas. Nothing says Christmas like a poinsettia. The one green house where I buy mine offers a range of colors, but the house that has the red ones is so bright with red that to step in there is blinding. I end up throwing them away at the end of the season, though they can kept alive and will even bloom, but too much trouble. I especially love your pink one. I am quite enjoying your writing, for your tropical winter sounds like our current summer--hot, dry, brown grass. Kindred spirits we are at opposite ends of the earth.

  2. Oh, my! What an interesting post!!! Love the flowers and the birds...and the photography! And the Courtyard Garden is just lovely. Poinsettias! Just amazing colors in the collages, too. Thanks for the wonderful tour!

  3. Bernie your garden is looking amazing. I love your blue-banded bees. We don't get them here.
    Don't quote me, but I think that infestation is mealy bug. If so, a good wash with soapy water and then some white oil will get rid of it if it's not too bad.

  4. Thanks for the garden tour! You have wonderful plants. Other than pest, rain is the other enemy of my plants as well. My gazania was infested by slugs during the prolonged rain last month and it was impossible for the plant to bounce back.

  5. Hi Bernie ~ Your garden is looking fabulous. You have had some very interesting visitors. The plumage of the Ibis is stunning. Do you think your Bauhinia will pull through? I hope it recovers I know how much you love it. You are going to be busy with all that planting and potting up.
    Now 15 deg C cool! Now that is a warm spring day Lol! It’s 8.45 am and 19 deg C the sun is shining so I’m out in the garden for the rest of the day. Enjoy your break from work..

  6. Your garden is looking gorgeous! I love that flower lined path. And the wallabys and ibises!

  7. Gosh, what a difference a climate makes. So amazing for me to see Poinsetta just growing in the open ground.Poinsettia is something we buy around Christmas time and protect it indoors in a heated room.
    Lovely pics.

  8. I enjoyed the stroll through your gardens. It is a little heartbreaking when we lose plants due to weather conditions. You still have some beautiful bloomers there. Interesting to see some of the same plants there as I grow in my gardens. Enjoy your time in the gardens.

  9. Considering you are in your dry season their is still alot of color and interest in your garden. I can't get over all the tropical plants that you have planted in your garden that would be houseplants here. :)

  10. thank for sharing beautiful flowers designs. All are very nice and attractive.
    small garden design

  11. It is so odd to see Poinsettas in the ground. It would be way too cold here to do that...must be amazing to see them in numbers like that. I really enjoyed the tour...even in your dry the birds, especially the Ibis.

  12. Your courtyard garden is looking lovely - I don't know where you can see empty corners - I certainly cant :) Lovely photos - especially that sunbird - I like how you got the blue color in the sunshine. I only have a red pointsetta - love your pink and white ones.

  13. Ann ... yes we grow Poinsettias in the ground up here in the tropics. I really bemoan the loss of my mature ones, but I'm now looking forward to seeing these new ones mature over the coming years. It does sound like we have some similar climate conditions.

    Deb ... thanks for visiting today.

    Missy ... I think you're right about that infestation being mealy bugs. Luckily I had used warm soapy water on them already so it looks like I'm on the right track.

    Stephanie ... yes we both know how devastating endless weeks of torrential rain can be for gardens. It does keep our work as gardeners interesting though! We can never become bored!

    Sue, lol I knew you would chuckle at the 'cool' comment about our winter weather. Nowhere near what you would consider a winter. Yes I do think the Bauhinia will come back but it will take time. Maybe next year I'll see some flowers.

    Lotusleaf, I'm glad you enjoyed the winter wandering.

    Bridget ... Poinsettias growing outside are a common sight here and one we rather take for granted.

    Becca's Dirt ... I was feeling very heartbroken earlier in the year after the cyclone devastated so many of our enormous trees and shrubs, but things are looking a lot better a couple of months down the track.

    Perennialgardener ... yes we definitely enjoy seeing our tropical plants thriving in our gardens. Poinsettias growing as potted plants inside our houses is just unheard of here!

    Thanks Small Garden Design. I appreciate your comment.

    Sagebutterfly ... my Poinsettias will look a whole lot more impressive in a few years. Right now they're babies and not making much of a statement. But give it around five or six years and they will definitely be something to notice.

    Africanaussie ... huh I had to chuckle. My hubbie says exactly the same thing. He can't see any empty spaces in the courtyard at all and complains every time I'm potting up another plant, thinking there's just nowhere for it to go! Silly billy! The Sunbirds are very hard to capture. I take loads of shots and delete most of them.

  14. You may not have the best weather, but by far you have the coolest animals, birds and flowers. That red flower under the ibis image is gorgeous. And even your bees are different and prettier.

  15. Gorgeous photos! Love all of the flowers. Aphids and mealybugs used to destroy my plants, but some ladybugs ate the aphids and I'm not sure how the mealybugs disappeared, but I'm not complaining haha. The wildlife photos are lovely!

  16. Fantastic, beautiful, and wonderful post! You've given a tour of your garden with so many beautiful things to see.

  17. Wow! Such a lot happening at your place, even in winter --- and after Yasi. But what on earth is that ibis after? It looks as though it's digging a tunnel to Paris.

  18. I really enjoyed your dry season garden tour...especially all the wildlife. Must be something to see wallabies so close to home! Beautiful birds too.

  19. Wonderful photos Bernie. You have such a huge variety of blooms and wildlife, even in winter. I enjoyed my visit today. Thanks for the tour -- and the lovely music :-)

  20. Hi Bernie!

    I see you have joined as my newest follower and so I had to pop on over and meet you 'in person'! What a great discovery you are! I have really enjoyed visiting your beautiful garden! It's so FULL! I, too, can't see any bare spaces. You quite obviously possess two very green thumbs!

    I have become your 100th follower and am looking forward immensely to visiting regularly!

  21. What an interesting visit to Australia. I can't imagine what it would be like to see wallabies instead of bunnies hopping around my yard. The pink poinsettias are gorgeous. I love your lush courtyard. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Thank you Bernie for a wonderful tour in your garden! It was nourishing. Just love your story telling. And photos. And flowers :)

  23. Bernie, I am marveling at the outdoor poinsettias also. Where my parents live in New Orleans, LA - they grow as tall as five feet. Lovely photos!

  24. Bernie - excellent tour, thanks as always. (P.S. I absolutely LOVE your blog header! It is fabulous.)

  25. I was immediately taken by the poinsettias, and I see other commenters were, too. They are beautiful! It's amazing how our little house plants, like the corn plant I had for years in my house, turn into magnificent specimens when grown outside in their native habitat!

    BTW - I love your banded bee photo!

  26. Wow, what a garden you have! Your weather must not ever get cold. Our winter is many feet of snow. Your bad bugs look more like white fly. Aphids are a pale green. Nancy

  27. GreenApplesGarden ... that red flower is the bloom of the Hibiscus schizopetalus or what we commonly call the Japanese Lantern Hibiscus.

    Thanks for visiting Aaron. It's nice to see you once again.

    Mumsy, so glad you enjoyed this little tour.

    Snail, lol, I have no idea what the Ibis was after. I'm thinking probably those horrid white grubs we get here.

    Cat, yes it's a real privilege and joy to be able to see the wallabies every day. We also get to see some fantastic birdlife here.

    Jayne, it's always great to see you popping in for a visit. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos today and the music. I decided to add the Playlist once again.

    Desiree, thanks so much for becoming a follower and I do so hope you continue to enjoy your visits.

    Rosie, thanks so much for dropping by.

    Geranium, you're most welcome to come and visit anytime.

    Girlsprout, I'm looking forward to having Poinsettias in the garden beds covered in their bracts and blooms once more. I had missed the ones that were lost during the drought years.

    Shyrlene, so glad you like the new header. I felt it was time for a bit of a change.

    Debsgarden, yes the Poinsettias and Corn Plant do love being outdoors here. I'm looking forward to them all taking off and flourishing.

    Porch Days, no I can truthfully say the weather here doesn't ever get really cold!! We call it 'winter' but it's nothing at all like a northern hemisphere winter.

  28. Dear Bernie, it is wonderful to see how the garden naturally recovers after the cyclone. I love your birds and your wallaby. I have that african daisy also and will check whether mine are also a bit confused about where to wear their petals (lol). cheers, cm

  29. Hi Bernie, your garden is beautiful and your blog too. I am looking forward to many happy hours browsing through your older posts.

  30. Catmint, it's terrific seeing so many of the trees and shrubs recovering. I have to admit though I wish this process would just move along a lot faster, but with the 'dry' now in force I know I'm going to be disappointed.

    Gardengirl, thanks for your kind comment. I do hope you find your visit to other posts interesting and enjoyable.

  31. Hi Bernie,
    Everything looks great for your dry season garden. Do those wallabies get into your potted plants? They look adorable, but I gather they like to nibble on most anything.
    That last image of the purple flowers is just fabulous.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ where we finally got a big!

  32. Hi Bernie - I think your tour took me longer than the one at the British Museum! Despite all the setbacks you have so much still blooming. Sad to see the years of growing felled in the Cyclone's swoop. Opportunity for lots of new starts though which is rejuventaing for garden and gardener alike! Looking forward to those Salvias and your white geraniums. Great garden visitors too.
    p.s. my grass looks like yours!

  33. Your garden is looking good, and I mean both flora and number of fauna. Lots of recovery has gone on, much more than I expected after seeing your post-cyclone pictures. Not much hint of the ravage in your images today. I can't wait to see the results of all that potting and repotting. I'm sure it can only add to the splendor.

  34. David, the wallabies only get into the potted plants occasionally. They have to come up to the courtyard garden to be able to do so ... that's up a little higher on the slope than the front and side yards where they spend most of their time. So very glad to hear you got some rain ... what a relief!

    Laura, yes there was period of heartache following the cylcone when the losses really hurt. But things are starting to come back which is great to see.

    Bom, no I haven't shown many of the ugly spots all around the place. It's hard looking at them still. I stick with the spots that are more favourable to look upon when it comes to my blog posts.

  35. Hello Bernie,
    You certainly have a lot to tend in your lovely garden. I do appreciate the details of season and effect as you are so far away and it is good to reflect on the differences. I can't imagine dealing with cyclones and then kangaroos digging in my garden for roots. I whine about armadillos doing just that and they are much smaller. :-)

    It was a fine stroll through your winter garden. Love the blue-banded bees and the sunbird. Shame you had to trim back all those pentas this time of year but they should return easily. Really enjoyed the combinations of flowers in your collages, too.

  36. I love to grow Osteospermum! It does wonderfully well here, continuing to bloom well into the fall in Alberta. It's an annual for us. Is it for you?

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