Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Hint Of Rain ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 42, 2011

Date:  October 23

Season:  mid-Spring and 'dry' season.

We've had some funny weather lately.  It's been very overcast and dreary, with loads of dark grey clouds hanging around.

There was a sprinkling of raindrops for a couple of days but that's all cleared away now.   The plants appeared somewhat perkier even with just the faintest hint of rain.

Not very much further north, they received downpours of rain.  None of that made it's way here.  Still, it was lovely to have a break from the heat that's been building up and building up as we get closer to the end of our Spring.  La Nina has graced us with her presence once more, so the predictions are for another very heavy wet season with quite a number of cyclones thrown in, just for fun!  That La Nina has such a sense of humour.

Gardening chores lately have mostly been of the watering and weeding variety, with the occasional fertilizing and deadheading included as well.  I've become much better at getting most of the plants through the long dry season, and it's almost become routine to me now although there's always the pest problems that crop up and take me by surprise.

The monster weed Lantana camara has reared its ugly head in two places along the driveway garden beds.  This plant is a major environmental weed here and develops into huge clumps very quickly.  It's been known to pop up in a few places around the property close to the bushland, but it's never appeared down the driveway before.  I know the flowers are lovely, but it's not welcome in my garden beds.  I'm having the devil of a time trying to dig it out!

I'm afraid the wallabies and I are no longer the best of friends.  They've well and truly overstepped the boundaries of decent behaviour and good manners.  I've become a little fierce and started shooting hose water at the ones that flaunt their misbehaviour and invade my courtyard garden.   When they started munching on my beloved New Guinea Impatiens, the friendship was over!  I have to say, that since mean Bernie has shown her true self, there have been less visitors munching on my courtyard plants. 

I'm still keeping lots of potted plants up on the table though.  It's not ideal, but it's lovely to see the colour in my once idyllic courtyard garden space.  Work on repairing the pergola starts in a few weeks, so unfortunately the courtyard is going to look horrid for quite some time.  But I'm not going to dwell on that just yet.  I'll just enjoy the space as it is right now.

I've been out doing some much needed weeding down the driveway garden beds, which still look rather drab and depressing to me.

Thankfully though, there's the most welcome sight of the largest of the two Delonix regia or Poinciana trees at the front gates starting its flowering season.  It's comforting to see those blooms once more as neither tree bloomed last year.  That was probably because we had quite a wet dry season ... we received some rainfall in almost every month of the dry season last year ... and Poincianas bloom best when it's very very dry.

It's delightful to see those brilliant red flower sprays with the occasional red-streaked white petal thrown in the mix.

It's also been very delightful indeed to spot loads of flower sprays on the Crotons down the driveway.  They obviously appreciated the drenching they received when I turned on the irrigation for a day a couple of weeks back.  They've given a hearty thanks with fabulous displays of their little flowers.

These flowers look rather like pretty fireworks exploding all over the shrubs.

There were quite a few of these brown butterflies flitting around me while I weeded.  I'm not all that knowledgeable about butterfly varieties, maybe the Orange Bush Brown, Mycalesis terminus.  Whatever there were, I enjoyed their company.

The sound of droning honeybees filled the air as well.  Quite a few of the Golden Cane Palm stands are in bloom and providing loads of nectar for these busy creatures.  Can you see them?

Here's a closer look.

I noticed a Common Crow Butterfly, Euploea core, sharing a flower stalk with a bee as well.  We are so lucky to be able to see bees, butterflies and birds all year round here.  I do think we take that for granted a little bit though.

What else was happening in the driveway garden beds?

Well, the Graptophyllums seem to have new growth popping out all over and no longer look like dead sticks poking out of the ground.

There's new lovely new bright green growth on all the surviving Duranta repens shrubs.  They're all still rather short and stumpy, but it's great to see these signs of new life.

Blooms have burst forth on the largest Duranta near the front gates as well.

Okay, moving on to other spots around my place.

There's some great colour out in the shadehouse garden now, with the Asiatic Lilies, Costus and Dragonwing Begonias putting on a marvellous show.

Most of the Asiatic Lilies blooms, from the mixed pack of bulbs planted up back in winter, have been orange and yellow,

although just a day ago, this brilliant deep plum bloom opened up.  I just adore the colours from this 'Matisse Collection'.  They're my sort of colours.

One of the most delightful finds out in the shadehouse around about three weeks ago now, was the appearance of the very first flower buds on my Hoya bella.  I've had this plant for two years now and it's been very, very (yawn) slow growing.  I'd almost given up on it and maybe that was the answer.  I was just about ready to throw the thing out, but decided to re-pot, or should I say re-hanging basket, and move it into a different spot.  Voila!  Flower buds!  I'm now eagerly waiting to see the pretty pink flowers.

The Neomarica longifolia are all bursting with blooms and whilst they don't immediately grab your attention, and are often hard to spot in the jungle out in the shadehouse, the soft yellows certainly add lovely little colour bursts throughout the predominant green.

When you get up close, you can truly appreciate their beauty.

Taking a closer look, I also noticed the Globba winitii or Mauve Dancing Ladies Ginger, has arisen from its winter dormancy.  When it's grown more and started to bloom, I'll move the pot in amongst the plants at the other end of the shadehouse where its gorgeous drooping flower sprays can be in plain sight.

My lovely Caladium has also woken up from its slumber and thrown out its first heart-shaped leaves.

Moving on once more ...

Outside, in the tiered garden beds, the Hemerocallis parade has begun.  These beauties have been front and centre for a little while now.  Starting at top left and moving clockwise:  Hemerocallis 'Jamaican Me Crazy', Hemercallis 'Archangel Eyes', Hemerocallis 'Francois Verheart' and Hemerocalis 'Blackberry Jack'.

Gorgeous Hemerocallis 'Rue Madelaine' joined the boys just the other day.  Such a great colour.

My newly planted just last year Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' continues to throw out its beautiful bottlebrush blooms.  I always get excited when I see a new bud opening.

Finally, onto that Courtyard Garden.

The Petrea volubilis or Sandpaper Vine, which suffered a great deal during the cyclone, has seemingly magically appeared and whipped out a few flowers sprays.  I was quite surprised with this.  I hadn't noticed that the vine had taken shelter and grown up through my Sterculia quadrifida tree.  Cheeky thing!  I'd actually thought I'd lost the vine altogether, so I was so pleased to see those familiar purple blooms.

They really are stunning little flowers, and come in my favourite colour.

I have quite a bit of purple, including pots of Gomphrena globosa, Torenias, Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', and I just wish I could put these pots around the courtyard as usual, rather then leave them sitting high and dry on the table away from those marauding Macropus agilis!  Agile Wallabies to you and me.

Thankfully, the Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' remains in its rightful place, alongside the Salvias.

There's also my other favourite ... splashes of white to cheer up the space.

Hark ... I hear thunder in the distance and so does the female Varied Triller!   She was busy searching for some tasty flowers but was suddenly startled by the sound.  Heck, it's lucky my camera and I have such a close relationship these days!!!

Those dark grey clouds are rolling across the ranges once more.  There's that hint of a light shower of rain on its way.  This time of year is sometimes referred to as 'the build-up'.  It's a distinctly northern Australia thing.  The transition between our long 'dry' and the short 'wet' or 'monsoon' season starts around October, when the humidity levels start rising and the mercury gets up around or over that 30 deg C mark.  It's that time of year again when we might get sprinkles of the wet stuff while we sit waiting and hoping for decent rain to come.   Of course, we're also hoping that when the decent stuff does arrive, it's not too extreme.

Yep!  I can hear the slight tinkling sound of tiny raindrops hitting our tin roof.  Let's see how long this lightest of light showers lasts.

Answer:  around 1 minute!  It was over by the time I'd published this post.


  1. So La Nina does have a sense of humor! I never thought that she would affect your weather too. We suffer her sense of humor here in Colorado. She will dump massive amounts of snow on the Colorado Rockies, making skiing the best ever. Aspen will rock. But some 300 miles to the east out here on the plains we will have a dry, very cold, windy winter with little moisture and below freezing temps. We don't so much mind the cold, nor do we really miss battling snow, but the lack of moisture--as you well know-- is very hard on the garden. And how do you keep up with all of your gardening? It is beautiful.

  2. Oh, by the way. Here lantana is an annual (we have to buy it, too) that we pot up in our patio pots. One gardener's weed is another's spot of joy.

  3. Dear Bernie ~ I would so love to have a patio filled with all the goodies that you have in yours. I am in awe of how lush and wonderful everything looks there. I do hope you get more than a few drops of rain soon.

    I have a sandpaper vine that I am waiting for it to grow large enough to bloom. It is at the back of my main garden. I got it as a little rooted cutting.

    Enjoy all that beauty you have surrounding you.

    Hugs ~ FlowerLady

  4. Between La Nina and the wallabies, you have your challenges. But from this reader's perspective it all looks good, especially your cool, restful courtyard. So much to look at!

  5. Ann, I think La Nina is just a girl who wants to have fun ... and lots of it! She manages to whip up some interesting weather conditions here too. We're expecting her best performance during the coming summer. I just can't imagine paying good money for Lantana. Just pop by one day and I'll give you loads of the stuff!

    Flowerlady, we had some more drops today but that was all once again. We're not really expecting decent rain for a little while longer.

    Laurrie, that peaceful looking courtyard will be a hive of activity in the near future and it won't be looking good!

  6. Dear Bernie, I truly hope nothing too extreme awaits you, but I was very interested to read how you have learned to cope with the dry, and I know you coped with a cyclone, and still the garden is lovely. I laughed at the image of you threatening wallabies with a hose. I wish everyone would use such methods instead of nasty chemical warfare. And as usual, I adore your photos of wildlife, the birds, bees and butterflies. cheers, catmint

  7. I laughed at the mention of La Nina having sense of humor! I don't think it is joking when it poured a lot here last month together with the typhoons giving floods to many towns and provinces. You have a big shade house and the plants don't look like they are starving at all. I love most your purple blooms and the hemerocallis. I hope those sent from the US will grow well in our very hot clime. We almost have the same conditions, but you have times with lower than 20C, which we don't. Maybe ours is higher tropics and yours lower tropics, because you are down under! haha!

  8. As usual I'm amazed at the numbers and variety of beautiful growing things you have there, wallabies notwithstanding. Love 'Mona Lavender' too!

  9. Your garden is really lush and beautiful. The flowers are blooming like those in nurseries that I visit. Such a joy to visit.

  10. Bernie, I think I'm running out of adjectives to describe your garden... Breathtaking, I would say today :)

    Especially love the Neomarica longifolia flowers, so delicate. And the plants in the pots, oh what a luscious collection. In Finland it's mainly gray and brown now, these images gave me efficient colour therapy...

  11. Hi Bernie, your spring gardens are wonderful! I have planted crotons here as annuals, but I have never seen them flower. They are lovely! I hope the wallabies will leave your plants alone, but I suspect you will have to be diligent or they will sneak in again. We are beginning to have problems with raccoons, which we have never had before. Apparently there are no natural predators to these sneaky, intelligent creatures who come in overnight like a band of marauders.

    Happy gardening, and may the cyclones avoid you this year!

  12. Tyle pięknych kwiatów pooglądałam, których u nas nie ma w ogóle w ogrodzie. Są też i takie, które są, ale poszły "spać" na zimę. Dziękuje i pozdrawiam.

  13. Bernie, I am blown away by your beautiful garden. I spent so much time just scrolling up and down your photos -can't get enough of your beautiful plants and lovely arrangement! I would also put my flowers on a table if they are as lovely as yours. We did suffer from the terrible drought too! I lost some even... we are barely out, but am crossing my fingers! Thank you for sharing all these with us. I am now your latest fan! I am a follower now! *hugs*

  14. Bernie, everything so exotic, and Lantana a weed, well well. Take care and with Summer just around the corner I hope the heat doesn't get too unbearable. I am adding a picture of your garden with a link to your blog on my (Your Gardens) page, I dont expect it makes any difference to the visitors on your blog but I get a kick out of doing it. Do let me know if you would rather I remove it. alistair

  15. Bernie, what wonderful pictures! I like the one with a bee so much! And I just love your courtyard garden! So lush! Recently, I saw a wallaby for the first time in my life. My boys fell in love with it and asked for it as a pet! I need to look through your pictures and try to see if you have any photos of a wallaby.
    Have a great week!

  16. Hello - I just found your blog and LOVE your pictures! The ones of the moth and bee are incredible (and of course the flowers are beautiful). I'm a beginning "blogger" and was hoping you'd look and give me any tips or suggestions you have for my blog... (or for gardening, but I'm in the opposite climate - Washington State, rain about 13 months of the year :-)

  17. Hi Bernie... I stumbles across your blog after reading one of your comments on a fellow blogger I follow (discovering you are a QLDer) and I was not disappointed!!
    It has been very enjoyable and educational looking at your beautiful blooms and learning the names of numerous flowers I photographed at the Roma Street Parklands in Brisbane last weekend.
    Thank you for your post!
    It has been rather stormy here in bris this last month or so... a sign of an interesting summer I think but hopefully not a repeat of the devastating January floods.

  18. Hi Bernie; It's like in a botanical garden so many plants. All looking bright and cheerful. Your court yard garden looks just marvelous. I have admired your daylilies; Always had a soft spot for the Petrea vine. I really hope you wont get any cyclons this year. I like this last tropical picture with the dark clouds hanging around. You are a very dedicated gardener, the plant show of your care. I have certain areas which look nice and some are not presentable. When I finish one side the next beckons again. One day we had a lot of wind and many hours I had to spend to gather leaves and wood etc. and I had just cleaned up!! Anyway what am I expecting. Enjoy your wonderful garden it's a real treasure. Trudi.

  19. Hi Bernie , Loved all of your garden but was so happy to see the image of the Sandpaper Vine saw it for the first time at Scott's Head in N.S.W. and could not find a name for it ,thanks for finally ending my search no one I have asked in my area knew what it was.Just wish I was a gardener,your rewards are great. RB.

    1. I'm glad I could help out with an I.D. for you, RB. It's a fairly common climber up here in the north, and puts on a beautiful show when it blooms. Gardening is just the best!


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