Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bracing For The Coming Summer ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 47, 2011

The sun is setting on Spring here in the southern hemisphere and it's also setting on the 'dry' season in my north-eastern corner of Oz.   It pretty much feels like Summer already.  The mercury has climbed back over that 30 deg C mark, with daytime temperatures settled steadily around the 31 degrees C (87 F), which really feels more like 33 C (91 F).  Relative humidity during the day doesn't fluctuate much from the 60% - 70% level, and our night-time temps. are now around 23 C (73 F).

We've started to see dark grey clouds once more and we've had a few light showers, but they've been quite brief, barely touch the ground.

It has been wonderful to see the courtyard splashed by raindrops ...

... and to occasionally see the flowers dripping with little raindrops as well.  That heady intoxicating smell of rain after seven months of the 'dry' season, even for the briefest time, is just totally glorious!

Seeing all the Poincianas in bloom around the property is a clear indication Summer is just around the corner.

The native Sterculia quadrifida, or Peanut Tree, has leafed up again and is showing its bright red fruit.  This tree is a real asset in the courtyard during our hot Summers, providing much needed shade for many of the potted plants out there.

As I lament the end of our Spring, I've being reflecting on the much-needed joy it has provided after what proved to be a trying beginning to the gardening year.  The Hemerocallis, in the corner of the top tier in the tiered garden beds, have been putting on a great display.

There have been some beauties blooming for the very first time this Spring.  While they were planted back in early winter 2010, I think the rather damp unseasonable not-so-dry season during the 2010 Winter-Spring didn't really agree with the new plants.  They didn't bloom at all last Spring, so it's been an absolute joy to see their beautiful faces at long last.

Hemerocallis 'Velvet Eyes'.

Hemerocallis 'Jamaican Midnight'.

Hemerocallis 'Sabine Baur'.

Hemerocallis 'Picotee Bubbles'

Then there is 'Sweet Summer Heat', which will probably last into the early days of our Summer as that is now only ten day away.

Other joys to be found during the Spring were the gorgeous Asiatic and Oriental Lilies growing in pots out in my Shadehouse Garden.  I bought the mixed packs of bulbs back in early Winter and these new Lilliums put on a great show all through October into early November ... which are our mid-Spring and late Spring months.

Unfortunately I can't identify the cultivars in this mixed pack of Asiatic Lilies bulbs.  All I know is that the pack was labelled 'Matisse Collection'.

The pack of Oriental Lily bulbs were only labelled 'Oriental Lillium x speciosum', which is not much help either.

Preparing the garden and property for the coming Summer has proven to be a very different task this year.  Most of the pruning and cutting back that I do at the end of Spring has not been necessary this year, as so many of the trees and shrubs are still well and truly pruned after their drastic haircuts during Cyclone Yasi back in February.   The ensuing 'dry' season since then has meant that most of those damaged trees and shrubs have not exactly flourished and certainly don't need any more trimming back!!!

Of course, the shrubs in the front garden beds, which mostly escaped damage from Yasi, were just recently damaged by scaffolding plonked on top of them as repair work finally began on our wrecked verandah hood.

Thankfully, the scaffolding has now been removed and I've had a chance to get in and trim back all the broken branches.  Just to be clear, that brown patch is the 'lawn' after our long, long dry season!

Anyway, returning to those poor shrubs, most seem to be okay and should recover well.

The Acalyphas should have no trouble coming back.   I think they deserve the title "One of the toughest shrubs ever", especially here in the tropics.

On the other side, the two Hibiscus rosa-sinenses cultivars ... 'Snowflake' and 'Roseflake' will definitely recover well.  The Russelia will just power on now and the Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose' has decided not to be beaten into submission and is throwing out its gorgeous bracts and tiny flowers on some really short, stunted stems and branches.

Down at the very front of this bed is my oldest red-flowering Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.  It had once token pride of place in the front garden beds but, as you can see, is now looking rather ugly and stunted.  It wasn't the cyclone, or the scaffolding that caused this damage.  No, to top off everything else that has happened during this annus-horibilis for my garden, the wallabies decided for the first time ever that they should start munching on plants that they have never given a second glance before.  This Hibiscus was one of them.  The wallabies literally stripped the entire shrub of its leaves, and even went so far as pulling the huge tall branches down to their level, so they could munch away happily.

The Courtyard Garden has been quite lovely during our 'dry', which has now lasted for seven months.  I've been enjoying all the colour provided by the potted plants out there, despite the slightly annoying need to stash a whole lot of those plants up on the wooden table to keep them out of hungry wallaby arms ... and mouths.

The lovely colour out there has provided the perfect antidote to all the brown elsewhere on the property and in the bushland around us.  I've really loved all the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows ...

... as well as the more sedate pinks and purples.

I'm expecting most of these potted plants will make it through the coming Summer/Monsoon season as I seem to be getting a little better each year at working out just what these plants need to survive the conditions experienced from December to March.  

Whilst the potted plants sitting out on the courtyard have looked great, the garden bed at the back of the courtyard is looking terrible.  This is one spot where I have had to do some trimming back.  This patch has suffered a bit during the dry season this year as unfortunately the irrigation system snaking throughout here has been down for the count since Cyclone Yasi hit back in February.  I have put the sprinkler in there a couple of times over the months since then, but the shrubs need decent rain to look their best once more.

This past weekend we've been working on preparing the pergola area of the Courtyard Garden for the repair work that's about to commence.  The pergola was damaged during Cyclone Yasi when most of the posts holding up the pergola roof suddenly took on a bit of a lean.  The cyclonic winds actually blew the posts sideways, which didn't look all that great.

Here's the pergola area before the preparation commenced.

It was a lovely shady area with a little pond.

Jasminum officinale covered almost the entire top of the structure and hung down over the edges.  That looked fantastic when it was covered in little white flowers.

At the back of this raised garden, there were Palms ... a stand of Golden Cane, a Footstool Palm and a Bamboo Palm ... and lots of Giant Sword Fern.

Well here it is today after spending a day and a half removing most of the plants.  This is what's left of all the Palms and Ferns.  Of course, once the workmen start stomping about in there, there may not even be anything left at all.

It was truly heart-breaking to watch the Jasmine vine, the stunning Hibiscus schizopetalus that arched over one end of the pergola, and the Petrea volubilis that hung over the other end, all being chopped down.

Here's my darling other half, risking life and limb on top of the structure, whilst removing every last bit of the Jasmine.  That was not an easy job!  The entire pergola structure was rather shaky and wobbly!!!

In the middle of the photo above you can see what's left of the Jasmine vine.  I'm hoping and praying that it will come back, so I'll be watching out with eagle eyes to see signs of life on that old vine.

I know I should look at this as the chance to start again ... a clean slate ... but, right now I'm back to feeling a little low as the seemingly never-ending saga of the Cyclone Yasi aftermath just goes on and on!

For now, and probably for a little while to come, I'll be missing this sight ...  the sight that used to greet my eyes when I arrived home from work and started walking down to the house.

Let's hope this coming Summer and 'wet' season don't bring any more unwanted surprises for my garden.  Please Mother Nature no horrendous cyclone this Summer.  I'm well and truly over it!


  1. Your garden journal is amazing. Beautiful flowers! Thank you for this richly beautiful post.

  2. Your garden makes me want to pack up and move to a warmer climate so badly... even with storm damage everything is so beautiful.

  3. I know that the grass always seems greener on the other is, but with it being 25f here tonight I'd sure like warmer temps. I love all of the color. I'm looking forward to spring here when we'll start getting all that color around. Until then I'll just enjoy your garden vicariously!

  4. I can fully empathise with your heartsore. I, too, will hold thumbs (cross fingers) that your jasmine vine reestablishes quickly once the pergola has been repaired and hope no further cyclones will plague your peaceful existence this season! The new verandah awning on the house looks marvellous and I envy that deep, shady verandah of yours, wrapping itself around the house! What a wonderful (and necessary!) feature it must be during the hot summer months. Your courtyard garden is prizewinning! I'm sitting here, green with envy at the beauty of it all. The rest of your garden and the bush beyond is looking quite spectacular after the first rains. It has transformed itself into a tropical paradise overnight, it seems. You truly have a BEAUTIFUL garden!!!

  5. After what you have been through with Cyclone Yasi, I thank my lucky stars that my only losses have been few and far between and generally due to two hyperactive dogs in a small backyard. Your courtyard looks like a lovely cool haven. Love the potted plants on the table, and some more lovely daylilies.

  6. Sandy, thanks for your kind words. I never imagined when I began this blog that anyone would really be interested in this garden of mine apart from me.

    Tom, oh boy yes our climate here is definitely warm. Summer's though could be best described as scorching!

    Ignorant gardener, as our Summer rolls in I would love to share some of the heat! As I'm getting older my tolerance for summer heat and humidity is waning considerably. Hopefully I'll be able to share more lovely blooms over our Summer. Fingers crossed it won't be a bad one.

    Desiree, yes please keep toes and fingers crossed. I'd be happy with lots of rain over the summer. That would help the plants recover. I just don't want any more destructive cyclones for a while. The verandah is a real life-saver during the summer here and it's one of the things I love most about our home.

    Marisa, it has been a trying year this year for the garden ... and the gardener, lol! Thank heavens for the courtyard garden. It has provided solace in amongst the mess and mayhem that's been going on around here.

  7. this is a long and intense post Bernie with a lot of feelings - like the onset of a summer storm. So many memories entwined in that pergola. Acclimitisation could take a while but new and firm foundations offer a fresh palette. Besides I have found Jasmine to be almost indestructible - pop some roots into a pot for now. Meanwhile its blazing with colour in your courtyard and the peanut tree has to be the most eye-poppingly gorgeously strange fruit on the planet. I can almost smell the rain in the damp courtyard - lovely.

  8. Que lindo jardim e belas flores! Aqui onde moro, região sudeste do Brasil, também é primavera, e caminhamos para um verão bem quente! Neste momento, 20:51, horário de verão, a temperatura está 33°C. Imagine o verão! Suas flores parecem com as nossas, até a floresta é parecida. Amei o post!

  9. your courtyard garden is stunning! sorry that you had to re-do the pergola, but I know that with your magical green thumbs you will have it back up again more beautiful than before.

  10. I am still quite amazed at your beautiful garden. You have such a beautiful variety of plants. I love your oriental lilies. I miss mine. They are sleeping now. We will have record cold and you will have record heat. Isn't Mother Earth creative and talented. Loved your photos and narrative.

  11. Bernie - you have a big house, I still remember the scaffolding there during its repair. I love houses built like that with terrace or living room around it. It looks like a resort house, and you have a wide area for beautifying the garden. However, it really entails a lot of work. We almost have the same temps and humidity now, but this is our coldest for the year. I am sure your vines and plants will recover after the extreme trimming, and they will surely get back to their original lushness in due time. What is that blue profusely flowering plant at the courtyard? I love it. I hope my hemerocallis seeds sent by a USA blogger friend will germinate and grow here to flower just like yours, which inspire me to plant them because we almost have the same climate. Thank you, happy gardening. BTW, it is so sweet of your husband to be repairing that pergola.

  12. Excellent post and garden. Attached two reviews
    on from Spain, other from USA, of your humble servant.

  13. Bernie, I hope your long awaited rain doesn't arrive in a deluge. A terrific post with lovely pictures, your courtyard is truly outstanding.

  14. You have a beautiful garden with beautiful plants. I love your day lilies and lilium. Beautiful photos and collage.

  15. Dear Bernie ~ I don't know how I missed this post earlier. Oh how I love your wonderful bit of paradise. I'm always inspired when I visit here.

    Your lilies are all absolutely gorgeous, so many colors and several varieties.

    Your courtyard garden always makes me sigh with longing to have my spaces look like that.

    I'm glad you are getting necessary repairs done after Yasi and I hope you have no more storms like that. Once your pergola is restored, I'm pretty sure that jasmine will take right off, probably even before. The taking down of something as beautiful as that all was would be gut wrenching. Pretty soon though, you'll have it back to being a lovely, welcoming space.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  16. Your garden is amazing considering all the trials and tribulations of where you live. Did you know that where I lived prior to here the wallabies loved the geraniums and my need to prune.

  17. Oh so beautiful scenery! It's good to see vibrant colours and flowers at this time of the year: here in Finland it's the beginning of winter and its mainly gray outside. Soon it'll snow like crazy and all we can see is white white white. That's tough for gardeners!

    When I retire, I'll spend all these dead months somewhere else... I wish it would be Asia or Australia, Europe is a bit too chilly.

  18. Thank you for your kind comment on my blog.
    You have a gorgeous garden and beautiful photos. I enjoyed visiting here.
    Maria from Melbourne

  19. wow! I love your garden!
    Thanks for your visit and kind comment!
    (your link at Ewa goes back to Ewa's, not to you)
    Can I borrow a picture or two from you?


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