Season: Beginning of Autumn and 'wet' season
March is the beginning of our Autumn here, and it's the beginning of my favourite time of the year in the garden. Whilst the hot, steamy weather will continue for a little longer yet, at least the end is in sight now. We've had a very mild 'wet' season this year compared to last year's fiasco. We've had no significant weather events at all really which has been most appreciated by this gardener.
Actually, our place is finally starting to look good once more. The repairs are now all completed, the debris from all the repair work has been completely removed now, and we're finally feeling like we've got our old place back again.
The garden has been appreciating the rainfall we've been having, and I've been planting in some of the bald spots left behind after Yasi last year. Planting out in the garden beds is not a regular activity for me as it is with a lot of gardeners. I've only actually done this a couple of times over the years we've been on this property. When we arrived here, most of the landscaping had been completed and it was almost impossible to dig anywhere because of the degree of soil compactness and the presence of so much bedrock and rocky outcrops.
When I starting becoming more interested in gardening around four years ago, nearly all planting involved planting up containers and hanging baskets for both the shadehouse and courtyard garden spaces. Then around three years ago, my husband and I built a tiered garden bed beside the shadehouse ... you can see the brown block creation in the photo above ... and I finally had a new garden bed to plant in.
It's been an evolving creation and I'm still working on suitable plantings as this area is in full sun, gets flooded during heavy wet seasons, and it's a spot that's very exposed to the winds that whip through the little valleys here in the foothills. Right now I'm pleased with the way it's shaping up, although it really needs a good clean out once the rains have finished.
When Cyclone Yasi paid us a visit early last year, some more planting opportunities opened up. First there was the space around the heavily damaged white Bauhinia tree. When the tree was enormous it covered this area and nothing much grew around it, but when it was knocked over and had to be trimmed back to a stump, there was a huge gaping hole left behind. With a little bit of work, I managed to create a new rock garden bed.
This new garden bed is still in development but has taken off surprisingly easily. Creating and planting out this area took up a fair bit of my time during the middle of last year and coincided with the dry season. I've been very pleased with the progress considering how dry the last dry season actually was. Of course, most of the plants still have a way to go before they reach maturity and fill in the gaps, but with the recent rain I can see it's going to work out well.
Towards the end of the dry season last year I also spread some Cosmos seeds, sent by a fellow blogger, in a spot left bare by the removal of Melaleuca tree that had been smashed to the ground by the cyclonic winds. I can't tell you how happy I am to see how well those Cosmos seeds have established themselves and spread to fill in that bare spot.
I think the patch of cheery orange and yellow flowers looks fabulous, and it always brings a smile to my face when I drive in at the end of a long working day.
At the beginning of this year, I started adding a few more new plants to various other bare spots down the driveway.
I did write a post about the plantings in this rocky section of the driveway beds a couple of weeks ago, but since then I've also added a little Ixora and some tiny little 'Captain Cook' Bottlebrushes ... all of which are very hard to spot as they're only wee little things at the moment.
Two weekends ago, I added a couple of baby Oleanders,
two apricot coloured ones, two cerise pinks and two double white ones, in three locations further along the driveway. I also added a couple of lovely Abutilons as well in two other spots.
There's a lovely lemony yellow variety,
and a couple of what I thought were going to be pretty pink ones.
It turns out one in rather more peachy in colour. It's gorgeous, but I'm not sure how they're going to go right beside each other. There may be a move for one of them in the near future. I certainly don't want to dig one up and move it right now, as it's hard going enough for little plants to get established during our Summers.
Indeed, Summer may not seem the ideal time to be planting, given how excruciatingly hot and humid it is here, and given how the soil cooks for most of the day. New plants do get a little singed at this time of year, but at least there's rain for the plants to drink. Planting during our dry season, which lasts anywhere from early Autumn to mid-Summer, is not really an option as young plants would find it particularly difficult to thrive even though the temperatures are slightly cooler and the ground is not being baked by harsh sunshine. Lack of rain really precludes any serious attempts at planting during the dry part of the year.
One of the other spaces where I've been able to do some planting is under the newly re-built pergola area beside the courtyard garden. It still jars a bit to see this area without the spreading canopy of the Hibiscus schizopetalus and Jasmine officinale, but both are recovering beautifully and I just have to be patient! I know they will eventually return to their former glory.
Anyway, underneath the re-built pergola I've been building up the beds a little and doing some planting.
It's not quite the barren landscape it had been for months at the end of last year. The Palms are coming back and the new plants seem to be settling in nicely. With some special attention and lots of mulching, this area should do well over the coming year.
So far, I've added ...
a couple of Caladiums,
a Dietes grandiflora or Wild Iris,
a Wrightia antidysenterica 'Arctic Snow',
two Spathoglottis plicatas or Ground Orchids.
One is the regular purple flowering variety and the other has these lovely white flowers.
There's a Eucharis grandiflora or Amazon Lily,
some Salvia 'Victoria Blue', a white Spiraea and some Plectranthus 'Cape Angel' which is the new waterwise variety being sold in our nurseries now.
I also had some other Salvias, started from cuttings sent to me by another wonderful garden blogger (thanks Titania). Unfortunately I've lost the sheet of paper with all the varietal names on it, so it will be a wonderful voyage of discovery finding out which ones are which.
The next part of re-vamping this area under the pergola is to work on the pond. I'm not sure what to do with it just yet although, now that there is no shady canopy over the top, I was considering finally adding some pond plants and not worrying too much about re-stocking with fish. Still thinking!
In the next few weeks it will be time to start planting up containers with annuals like Petunias and Snapdragons, and adding them to the courtyard garden display. Ooh, I do so love the beginning of our Autumn.