Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Rains Bring On Recovery ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 51, 2011

Date:  December 21, 2011

Season:  early Summer and the beginning of the 'wet' season

Well this looks like the last Garden Journal post for 2011. It's been a year full of drama for my garden.  There have been a lot of lows and very, very few highs, but I'm pleased to say that the end of the year has bought a smile to this gardener's dial.  During 10 out of the 21 days of December so far, we've had some lovely decent showers of rain.  We've actually had around 165 mm or 6 1/2  inches, and after seven months of dry, I'm once more amazed by how quickly things turn green around here after the first summer rains arrive.

Front yard on November 7 ...

and front yard on December 7.

It's not exactly Brownsville around here any more.  The bushland surrounding our property does take a little longer to respond to the rain though, but there are some birds who absolutely love feasting on the remaining dried seedheads of the grasses out in the bush.

There have been quite a few Pale-headed Rosellas ....

... and Rainbow Lorikeets taking their fill.

It's been so very heartening to see the recovery out in the front garden beds speeding up a little now ...

... and even more pleasant to see the recovery happening down the driveway garden beds which suffered quite a bit of devastation earlier in the year.  I've been able to do some planting in the bald spots now that the dry season has come to an end.

I've added ...

Lonicera japonica or Japanese Honeysuckle,

Ceratostigma willmotianum or Chinese Plumbago,

a white Pentas lanceolata,

 the Crotons I struck from cuttings taken from the Crotons growing down the driveway already,

There's still a long way to go, but things are definitely looking up.

Out in the courtyard garden ...

Of course, the pergola area of the courtyard garden is still very much a 'work-in-progress'.  Most of the Giant Sword Fern and Yellow Walking Iris has, of course, been trampled underfoot as the workmen pulled down the old cyclone-damaged pergola structure and erected the new one, but there are some signs of re-growth on the climbers that all had to be chopped down to ground level.

The first of the climbers to bounce back was my dwarf variegated Bougainvillea.  Just look at the colour of that new growth.  What a welcome sight!

Thankfully, I"ve spotted one new shoot on my beloved Jasmine vine.  That was cause for great excitement!  What do they say about small things??

Anyway, the Petrea volubilis or Sandpaper Vine has sprung back brilliantly too and is bursting out all over with new shoots.

As if to cheer me up even further, my Cassia fistula has finally flowered ... a whole lot later than all the others in the neighbourhood to the point that I was despairing it would bloom at all this year.  But, better late than never!  It's a wonderful sight to behold at the back of the dishevelled courtyard.  The pendulous branches of the Hibiscus does block out all the golden yellow racemes on the lower branches, but I'm looking forward to seeing all those buds on the uppermost branches bursting into bloom.

These flowers are just fabulous when you get up close.

Of course, there's one view of the courtyard garden that's still an enjoyable one!   That's the view from the back verandah, where I can sit out and not really see the pergola area that's undergoing work.

While I have moved a lot of potted plants off the table and back onto the pavers now, I haven't been tempted to move the round pots of Torenias and Gomphrena yet.  I know the wallabies are enjoying the fresh green grass that's springing up at the moment, but I'm just not convinced that those particular plants will be safe from those hungry hordes just yet!

Elsewhere around the property ...

Another little spot in the garden that's been giving me some joy lately is the newly created rock garden out beside our driveway.  This was an area that I created a few months ago now, and then optimistically planted it up during our dry season, hoping I would manage to keep the plants going during  that harsh time of year.  Well I've managed it, and the plants are now starting to thrive with the arrival of rain.  There's just something special in rainwater that thrills the socks off plants!!

Even the bits of Cordyline I stuck in the ground have rooted, and are starting to take off nicely.

It's terrific to see the purple Fountain Grass thriving too, after being eaten to the ground by the wallabies.

Overall, I'm very happy with the planting choices in this new rock garden.  So far they've proven to be very waterwise plants, as well as being sun and heat hardy, which is exactly what suits the climate and environment here.  Of course, the next couple of months will test these plants even further, but I'm pretty confident they will make it through the coming wet season.

There's still lots of lovely colour in various spots around the place.

The first of the Curcumas has bloomed.  The Justicia brandegeeana and Hemerocallis 'Wedding Band' make a cute couple.  The dwarf Allamanda is lighting up the rather barren front garden bed, and the Pentas just keep powering on through everything.

I'm loving the blooms on the double white Impatiens walleriana.  There's still quite a few Hemerocallis flowering, and the first flower spray has apppeared on my Globba winitii.

The first buds have appeared on my new Lagerstroemia indica or Crepe Myrtle shrubs.  My Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' keeps on flowering, as do the pots of Petunias.

The Coleus provides a riot of colour.  The Iris domestica is blooming for the second time this year.  The Caladiums have risen from their dormancy, and the Ground Orchids keep on blooming.

In the tiered garden beds ...

... the Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' is just loving its new home, and makes a pretty pairing with the candy pink Pentas that I also moved out there.

I've been totally pleased with the progress of the two new Mussaendas 'Calcutta Sunset'.  The colours are just wonderful and everyone notices these plants when they arrive at the end of our driveway.

Out in the Shadehouse Garden ...

The first flower buds have appeared on my Alpinia caerulea or Native Ginger, 

and most of the older established plants have literally doubled in size since the rains began, so it looks rather like a jungle out there at the moment.  I won't be bothering to cut back and tidy up out there until the wet season finishes now, and anyway, it's a lovely cool spot to wander around in!

Our Summer rolls on and it's certainly getter hot and sticky here.  Now, I only venture out to the garden early in the mornings and in the late, late afternoons to water, pull weeds, greet the new flower buds and converse with whatever wildlife just happens to be perched atop ....  

... or attempting to hide in the trees around my place.

Of course, not all the wildlife is as far off as the birds.  Just last evening I spotted these two whilst finishing off the watering of the potted plants on the staircase.

I fancied I was watching two best friends just hanging out together on the staircase post ... checking out the insect action!!!

Either that, or they were both asleep and had no idea the other one was right there beside them!

Well, it's truly been an absolute roller-coaster of a ride this gardening year ... what with an extreme wet season at the beginning of the year, closely followed by a disastrous cyclone, which was then followed by a lengthy dry season with hordes of hungry wallabies proving to be a pest for the first time ever, and fnally repair and re-construction work around the house and courtyard which involved the decimation of quite a few plants.  Let's see what 2012 has in store!

Thanks so much to all my followers for sticking by this blog and providing comments and encouragement throughout the year.  When I first began posting as a sort of discussion with myself (yes I do talk to myself quite a bit ... I make a great listener!)  I really didn't think anyone would find any of my text and pictures remotely interesting.  But it seems gardeners worldwide are universally interested in gardening and gardeners who love to prattle on about their gardening efforts.  So thank you ... and have a wonderful festive season and an even more joyous New Year!


  1. thanks Bernie, and I wish you happy holidays and happy new year. That photo of the frog and the moth is so funny, I think the caption should be something about peaceful coexistence being possible between different species / cultures! cheers, catmint

  2. Dear Bernie ~ What a wonderful end of year post about your gardens which have truly made a comeback after being pretty much devastated from the terrible cyclone you had. I love all of your blooms and look forward to enjoying your gardens in the coming year.

    Have a lovely Christmas and a great 2012.


  3. It's all looking so fresh and nice now! What a difference the rain makes, and how rewarding for you to see everything come in. Japanese honeysuckle is a terrible invasive pest here, but you must have much better experience with it since the dry period probably keeps it in check for you.

    Everything is looking good as the year ends in your dry tropics garden.

  4. Bernie, I do enjoy your blog because of the variety of plants that you have,some the same as here in Colorado, so that are house plants for us, and some that I have never seen. As a bird watcher, too, I enjoy seeing your wildlife. It's just fun "knowing" someone from Down Under. Happy New Year.

  5. That's a fascinating photo of the moth and frog/toad together. Your place is similar to ours. We've got much of the same plants and flowers. Lovely.

  6. I couldnt beleive the difference the rain bought to your front garden - quite startling. I love the new pergola and I knew your climbers would come back given time.

  7. Catmint, love your comment about peaceful co-existence. That's exactly what the photo shows. Those two sat there happily together all night long!

    Thanks Flowerlady, it's been an amazing year and the garden has truly amazed me with its survival and recovery efforts.

    Laurrie, the Japanese Honeysuckle can be a pest here too, but you're right about chossing the right spot for it. Out in the driveway garden bed it will be kept in check by the very dry exposed conditions there. I'm not expecting it to take over.

    Ann, thank you for popping in. It's always a joy to share what goes on in my little corner of Downunder.

    Pilgrimscottage, thank you for visiting. I will have to pop over and visit your blog now, especially as it seems we have similar conditions and plants.

    Patientgardener, the rain does indeed make a huge difference here. Our rainy season is rather short but it packs a punch when it arrives!

  8. Dear Bernie, it is so hard to hear someone say "It will be alright" after suffering such a hard year in the garden. My heart broke when I saw all the damage you all suffered in the storms - because, you see, I had the same experience back in June 2010. This winter, after our move north, I lost my greenhouse to a unusual snowstorm. Almost all my transplanted treasures were lost. I understand your joy when you see your twigs sprout life. You know what a miracle worker Mother Nature can be.

    I am here to tell you "it will be alright". May we all have a green and uneventful 2012.

  9. It looks like quite a paradise now. Its amazing how fast everything turned green again. We are in the middle of very few flowers, so i really enjoy all of your pictures. Have a great holiday season. I look forward to continuing checking on your garden across the globe through out the next year.

  10. Tufa Girl, I do so appreciate your supportive comment. It does sound like you've had a bit of disappointment over the loss of plants as well this year. It is a little heart-breaking isn't it? None of yours made it back?

    Ignorant Gardener, yes it is quite amazing how quickly the place turns green with rain. I'm hoping now that most of the damaged plants will finally take off once more.

  11. What unbelievably colorful birds! Never seen those before. Also lots of lovely blooms, I must try to get that Mussaendas 'Calcutta Sunset'.

  12. Everything look so good now! The garden is so lovely!
    Merry Christmas!

  13. Hi Bernie
    What a fabulous place you have. And a lovely series of pics.
    Hope you're enjoying the festivities!

  14. Oh, a very lovely post - I enjoyed it very much!
    Christmas blessings!
    Best wishes for the New Year!
    Mississippi, USA

  15. I enjoyed the pic of the frog and the moth... That was unexpected!
    I want more bird pics... Totally enjoy seeing stuff that I don't have...
    I've been disappointed with the golden showers tree, I expected it to serve as a butterfly host plant, and have never seen the first caterpillar in a number of years of growing them. Do your butterflies use them?


I appreciate your comments and will endeavour to reply to all. All comments are moderated, so spam will be fried.

Related Posts with Thumbnails