Season: beginning of Autumn and towards the end of 'wet' season
Well, a few days after my last post, the skies turned a dismal shade of grey, the heavens opened and the rain has not stopped since then.
We had around 240 mm, or 9 inches in just a few days last week, and it keeps on pouring.
The endless drumming on the tin roof as the raindrops belts down is starting to drive us a little nuts. It's difficult to hear the television or radio, even with the volume yanked up to high!
We haven't seen the harsh summery sunshine, or any sunshine really, for what seems like ages and ages. Even when we sit out out on the verandah, it's dark and gloomy. We have lights on inside the house for most of the day, as we both have old old eyes these days, and can't see a damn thing without glasses and bright light!!!
The washing never seems to dry (I've never had a dryer!). There's mould appearing on the walls again, and there's that faint musky damp smell creeping through every corner of the house. This is the real 'wet'.
There are little waterfalls ...
and little lakes appearing around the place.
There are even little rivers making their way down the hillside ...
and the driveway. You risk life and limb trying to get up and down that slippery slimy surface. Can you see the green slime covering the cement? I think we could sell tickets for the extreme experience of trying to get into our house during a 'wet' season. It would be a fabulous ride.
Unfortunately the relentless rain causes a fair bit of destruction to the gravel driveway every 'wet' season. The little rivers that make their way downhill carry a lot of the gravel down the cement driveway and dumps it underneath the enormous Ficus benjamina tree outside my husbands' workshop underneath the house. We lose so much gravel every 'wet', that the driveway ends up looking like a rally track.
Of course all this means that the 'wet' is not the best time to be out gardening. It's a time when monsoonal rains can sweep in and pummel any foolhardy gardener who attempts to get outside. Flooding waters can suddenly fill up every dip and ditch and spread out from there making your yard feel like a mucky mire that threatens to swallow you whole. It's hot and humid, and there's a bountiful supply of biting insect life.
There's also a bountiful supply of wonderful weeds that pop up and seem to multiply like rabbits overnight. These are the most common pesky plants we see here during a wet season. They're running rife in my garden right now.
Clitoria ternatea or Bush Butterfly Pea
Stachytarpheta jamaicensis or Snake Weed
Tridax procumbans or Tridax Daisy
Passiflora foetida or Stinking Passionfruit
and Catharanthus roseus or commonly called the Madagascar Periwinkle or Vinca.
Keeping a handle on these weeds is a year-round job, but takes priority during a wet season.
Of course, there are some positives about a wet season. When we get the fantastic tropical summer thunderstorms, the lightening crackles and splits the sky, but it also makes the rain rich with nitrogen. That's a real bonus for plants and we get to see plants literally doubling in size overnight.
It also means the outlook is lush, green and verdant for a change. The bushland looks its best at this time of year.
Another of the positives is that in the evenings we get to listen to nature's twilight symphony ... the frog chorus. Although that can be drowned out if the rain is quite heavy.
One of the other bonuses about a 'wet' season though, is that it's the perfect time for propagating your beloved plants by taking cuttings. As the surrounding air literally drips with moisture, and humidity levels reach up to 99%, it's almost impossible for any cutting to dehydrate, shrivel up and die off in an untimely fashion. I'm not a gardener who propagates a lot of plants by taking cuttings, but I have started to try this out far more often these days. I find that I get almost 100% success in strike rate during a 'wet'. Of course, I've learnt a few tricks, thanks to great advice from more seasoned and successful gardeners.
Take cuttings early in the morning when the plant is full of moisture. Be sure to take cuttings off actively growing branches, preferably the growing tips of the plants or from branches that are 'green', meaning fresh and new.
I take all my Coleus and Portulaca cuttings at this time of year, and have always had great success with them.
I've also had a lot of success with ramming pieces of Cordyline and Dracaena straight into the moist soil out in the garden beds during the 'wet'.
I've been amazed at the way they take off when the rain has penetrated deep into the ground after weeks of decent liquid sunshine.
I've now started trying to strike Salvia
and Costus during the wet season, and so far so good!
Some of the waterwise or drought tolerant plants take much more of a liking to being transplanted during the wet season too. They settle into their new spots much faster and start to thrive before the 'dry' rolls around again.
Now I don't transplant all that often either, but this year I've moved some of the new suckers of my huge Ixora coccinea to a spot at the back of the newly constructed pergola. They doing brilliantly, so I think they will be very happy in their new home.