Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hungry Hordes ... My Dry Tropics Journal ... Week 35, 2011

 Date:  August 28th

Season:  end of Winter and 'dry' season

While the Winter sunshine bathes the garden in bright light and the skies overhead remain bright blue, I'm taking every opportunity to be out and about the place.  This is our last Winter month and while many southerners will be jumping for joy with the thought of Spring just around the corner, here in the north we're not all that thrilled.  Spring heralds the start of the heat once again and the sun's intensity ramps up a notch or two.  I've already started turning on the fans inside the house in the afternoons!

So, as we head into the really warm part of the year, I've taken the opportunity to do some planting in the new rock garden now to let the new plants get a little settled in.  This was the spot where opportunity knocked after the cyclone and I had the chance to create a new garden bed which is a rare occurrence on this property.  After all the prep work, including carting in some of the readily available rocks scattered around here, I had an area ready for some tough sun, heat and humidity hardy plants.

I'd taken some time to think through what would survive in this new garden bed.  There's no irrigation system in this section, so apart from the watering it would receive in the establishment phase, this bed would have little chance of sustaining anything other than extremely waterwise plants.  So, I bought a few things from a local nursery and I had a couple of plants I'd started from cuttings to throw into the mix.  They are all in their new home now.

At the back of this new area, next to the Pseuderanthemum, I've planted a marvellous Melaleuca linariifolia, sometimes referred to as 'Snow In Summer'.  It's a small tree that's native to my home state and when it eventually grows up, it will be covered in creamy white flowers all during our summer.  It's a baby now and hard to spot, but I'm hoping it will settle in well.

Starting at the left of the top photo, there's a Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' or Purple Fountain Grass, with a Gardenia radicans in the front and a little behind that off to the right is the Caesalpinia pulcherrima.

Off to the right of the patch in the photo above ...

... the Pseuderanthemum has little Alternanthera 'Tricolour' planted around it.

There's a couple of Galphimia glauca shrubs, right next to the Fountain Grass, and a Turnera subulata in the front of those.  Down the front is a patch of Gazanias, with Gazania 'Sahara' right next door.  I've deliberately chosen lots of bright yellows for the middle of this new garden area.  I wanted something a bit more cheerful at the end of the driveway.

The 'Sahara' Gazania is middle top row of the collage.  It's a relatively new variety and has been bred in Australia as a plant that can withstand extended periods of dryness.   It's been billed as tough and reliable, so I'll be interested to see how it goes.

Galphimia glauca, seen on the far right of the second row above, is an extremely robust little shrub that tolerates full sun and high humidity very very well.  It has already proven how drought tolerant a plant it is as I've already got one little shrub in the front garden bed.

Turnera ulmifolia, seen on the far left of the bottom row, is known as a reliable drought tolerant plant and should do very well.  The Rudbeckia and Ixora 'Golden Ball' featured in the collage can be seen in the centre of the patch in the photo below.  I have no worries that they will both survive and flourish.

At the back of this section of yellows, off to the right there's this lovely Verbena ...

this gorgeous Thunbergia erecta 'Tru Blu' ...

and this Scutellaria ... which I picked up at the markets without a label unfortunately.  I'm not sure of its varietal name.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this new garden bed develops.  Sadly, there's already been a bit of a set-back ... thanks to a few hungry wallabies.

As it's our 'dry' season right now, the grasses in our yard and the surrounding bushland have withered and browned, and a lot of grass was also burnt off in the bushfire that swept across the adjoining hillside.

It's difficult for the little group of wallabies living around here to find a decent patch of grass to nibble on these days.

So, they've started searching for other little goodies to eat.  They do seem to like the leaves of the Gazanias ... not the flowers for some perculiar reason ... and they have nibbled all the Alternanthera plants down to a stub.  Having tried a product called 'De-Ter', which is supposed to deter creatures from nibbling on my plants and which failed miserably, I've decided I will have to erect some sort of barrier around this new garden bed to these poor plants have a chance of growing up!

I'll have to do the same thing with the bottom tier of the tiered garden beds outside my shadehouse.  It seems that Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' is a treat no self-respecting hungry wallaby can resist ... oh and apparently while they were busy gnawing away at that it seems that they thought they might as well eat the white Pentas to the ground and actually dig out and ravenously consume the Creeping Charlie as well.

It's not a great sight at the moment.

The wallabies also managed to eat the Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' growing in pots in the Courtyard Garden, and they found another delicious treat ... my Gomphrena globosa.  Again, apparently the flowers are not all that tasty, but the leaves and stems ... mmmmm!!!!  All this means I've had to do a bit of re-arranging of pots out in the courtyard, but I'm pleased with the way it's looking at the moment.

I'm managing to keep on top of the watering needs for all the pots out there, and wallaby damage aside, most of the plants are flourishing.  

The potted Azaleas always put on a great display towards the end of our Winter.  The Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' is flowering beautifully and those Shock Wave Petunias are a fabulous addition to this corner.

The Salvia 'Dusky Hues' are carrying on with their show, as are the Crossandras. The Lavender is just now showing the first tiny little flowerhead and the two Plectranthus 'Mona Lavenders' are beginning to put on their next display of flowers.  The foliage plants in the background are adding lots of great colour.

Out in front of the pergola the potted annuals have started flowering and will be in full swing in a matter of weeks.

I can't wait for those double 'Bonanza' Petunias to fill out and for the Gazanias to bloom.

In front of the Cycad the New Guinea Impatiens and the Begonia semperflorens are putting on their best effort.

I planted up a whole heap of Oriental and Asiatic Liliums just three weekends ago ...

... along with some Cosmos seeds I had been sent from a couple of kind fellow bloggers.

They have all started pushing their heads above the soil. 

One of my gorgeous Begonias is in full bloom ...

... and the beautiful double Impatiens walleriana hybrid I bought last year has finally shown the variegated blooms it was covered in when I originally purchased it.  After that first flush of lovely red and white splashed flowers, the Impatiens reverted back to just plain red blooms and I had almost given up hope of seeing these variegated ones again.  But it seems, re-potting and moving into a slightly sunnier spot has changed its mind about which flowers to show off.  I'm pleased to see these particular blooms back once more.

Elsewhere around the place, the cyclone-damaged trees and shrubs continue their slow, slow recovery, but it's good to see the signs of canopy growth once more in the tall trees left behind.  These trees, though still standing after Cyclone Yasi, were stripped of almost all their leaves and looked decidedly naked for months.  The leaves have returned and so have some of the birds that forage amongst these trees.


  1. Your courtyard garden is prizewinning! Such a beautiful spot, I'd find it hard to return indoors! The new rockery garden is looking very nice. I do so love your garden visitors :)

  2. Gorgeous pics, your place looks great. I particularly like your paved area and around your porchy bit.

  3. It is amazing how well your garden has recovered from Cyclone Yasi. You must be so happy with the recovery that all the plants have made. I love the little rock garden I am looking forward to seeing it flourish. The Courtyard garden is and as it always is simply stunning. I think we can officially say you are defiantly Head Gardener!

  4. Here in the US we sprinkle dried coyote urine around to keep out the wildlife. Is there any type of predator-product that will keep the wallabies away? Does the local Uni have someone that can suggest this type of product?

  5. I think your rock garden already is looking great; I look forward to seeing it mature.Your wallabies sound like the deer that ravage a lot of gardens in my area. Sometimes a fence is the only good protection. Your courtyard garden is a real treat — for human eyes, hopefully not for more wallabies!

  6. Oh wow what a beautiful garden you have and I love all the pots and plants round the house too. Really gorgeous. LOvely mosaics. I am going to follow you.

  7. Desiree, thanks so much for your great comment. We are indeed lucky to see such beautiful garden visitors.

    Bridget, the courtyard is the spot I spend most of my time outdoors. I'm out there first thing in the morning and last thing in the evenings.

    Sueb, yes you're right about the recovery. Many of the shrubs have done very well. Of course, I'm not showing all areas of my place in these photos. There's still quite a bit of the ugly!

    Rosemary, the De-ter I mentioned in the post was recommended to me by a local vet who's also a gardener. Apparently though the wallabies round my place don't have quite the same sensitive nose that other wallabies do!! It just didn't work. I'm still searching for another solution.

    Deb, thank you heaps! You've always got such positive things to say and it's much appreciated. I know the rock garden area will take a while to really take off, given that we're not expecting rain for quite some time, but I'll be doing my best to get it off to a good start.

    Riet, thank you for becoming my latest follower. I do so hope you enjoy popping in to visit my Downunder garden and all the visiting wildlife we see around here.

  8. Bernie, your courtyard really does look fantastic. I can imagine it gets really hot in your part of the world and you would prefer the Winter months. Here even in Summer we are always looking for the hottest and most sheltered part of the garden to relax in.

  9. Lots of planning, Bernie. Everything is looking great!

  10. Your wildlife is so different than mine. I can't imagine seeing wallabies and such colorful birds.You are beginning spring and we are entering fall. I love the differences and also enjoy the similarities in plants that we share.

  11. You have beautiful garden! I wish i can sit on the garden chair and read whole day!

  12. The courtyard is stunning and beautifully arranged. It's always interesting to see what you can grow in warmer climes. I have had pennistum grasses but they died on me, probably due to winter wet. Some wonderful zingy colours in your garden.

  13. Enjoyed every word of your journal Bernie and must remember 'waterwise plants'- a great term! Your garden always has me learning something new - many plants I have to google and research. Fortunately Australia has a lot of tough natives to choose from! The new rock garden is a sunny sign of hope after the cyclone's desecration but do not envy you muggy heat. Does the humididty not make watering less essential? As usual your courtyard is pure enticement to merely sit and wonder - hungry wallabies aside. A superb array of plants here but fave is the Caesalpinia pulcherrima - a touch of paradise.

  14. Bernie, i am always amazed with your diligence in gardening, and your hard work is always rewarded. I envy the time you have, because most of your plants are also here with us. Your brown backyard trully resembles that of ours in summer/dry months. But we also lack water in summer and we just allow our plants to die and salvage those which can withstand the heat. I pity your wonderful plants which might not be able to push through the dry season.

  15. Your garden is very beautiful and there is a lot of blooming flowers. The courtyard is very nicely decorated.

  16. Wow what a tremendous post. My parents used to live in Queensland but near Caboolture, about 50 miles south of Brisbane, and I visited for 6 weeks once, in May - very different from coastal California, with the large tropical blooms. But you have to contend with hot dry summers like us. It seems funny that you have wallabies instead of deer, and I'm somewhat envious of your colorful wild birds - though we have nice little hummers it's true. One person's exotic is another's normal to be sure! Your courtyard is stunning!


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