Sunday, April 22, 2012

'Earth Day' On This Glorious Mid-Autumn Day ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 18, 2012.

Date:  April 22, 2012

Season:  mid-Autumn and beginning of our 'dry' season



Today is Earth Day, as you may be aware, and the perfect time to think about our role as caretakers of this precious world of ours.  Here in my north-eastern corner of Oz, I've just taken a bit of a wander round to appreciate what we have here on this rather challenging piece of property.


Since I began taking a more serious interest in looking after and developing the garden here around three years ago, I've had heartbreaks and triumphs, but through it all I've developed a much deeper appreciation of the wildlife and the plant life all around me.


I now wake up in the mornings trying to identify the birdsong around me.  Figbird song is almost a daily morning soundtrack.  But there is such a variety of bird life all around us, and birdsong can be heard almost all day long.


I find that whenever I'm wandering up and down the verandah, or in and out of the house and yard, I'm always looking to the trees and the skies to see if I can spot one of the daily winged visitors.


There's just so much joy in watching the antics of all the different land-bound creatures that visit our property.


It's a real privilege to be able to observe their daily lives up close, without actually changing their habits by interacting with them or befriending them.


I now pay more attention to the bushland that surround this place, and take note of the changes from the 'wet' to the 'dry'.  The change from green to brown in between the 'wet' and 'dry' seasons is an amazing spectacle to watch, along with the dramatic dropping of foliage.


It's also amazing how I now notice blooms out in the bush at various times of the year.  Last week there were many Melaleucas covered in their soft white blooms.


This weekend when I look out, I can spot bright pools of golden yellow in amongst all the green.


The Acacias are in bloom in the bushland all around us, and that's a sight I really love at this time of year.   In many parts of Australia, Acacias or Wattles are a common Spring bloomer, but here in the northern tropics, we see their flowers in mid-Autumn and through our Winter time.  Unfortunately, the golden yellow-blooming Acacia (I'm not entirely sure what variety it is) that's fairly common in the surrounding bush, has not popped up on our property anywhere just yet.


We are lucky though to have this gorgeous variety growing in the tiered garden beds near our house, and it's in full bloom right now.

I don't think I ever noticed the bushland blooms in the first eight or so years that we lived here.  Of course, in those days, I was completely absorbed with my working life and the autumn days of looking after young adult offspring, who have now left and begun lives of their own.


So now, I have more time ... more time to appreciate what's being growing since before we arrived, and more time to add to the garden spaces that had been created by the previous owners.  I'm now enjoying getting out as often as possible to do my bit.

Over this past particular weekend I've had a relatively easy gardening weekend.  The post-'wet' season clean up and clear out has now been completed.  Shrubs have been trimmed back.  Flowers yanked out.  Weeds mercilessly pulled out.   As a result of the post-'wet' activity, most of the outdoor garden beds are looking drab, and will only come back quite slowly over the coming 'dry' months.


The new rock garden still needs some filling out, but the plants established at the end of last year are coming along very well.  I've just added some more white Cuphea hyssopifolia and a Barleria 'Purple Gem'.  It's a slow process building this bed, as I wait patiently for cuttings to take off and develop to a point where they can be planted in the rather nutrient-poor soil.  I have just given all the newbies a lovely big feed though, so they get off to a decent start.  The mulching will be next weekend's job.  That will help keep the plants going as the 'dry' season rolls on.


This troublesome spot in one of the long driveway garden beds is showing some signs of progress.  The teeny weeny baby Callistemons I planted a couple of months back have not died, so I think they're going to be long-termers.  Hooray!  It's been an on-going problem trying to find plants that will grow in this difficult spot.  But slowly, slowly, it will come together.

The two protected, close-to-the house garden areas ... the shadehouse and courtyard gardens are now in the transition stage.  They've had their tidy up and trim back, and all the potted plants have been re-potted or topped up and trimmed back as well.  It's time to start the additions.  


Out in the shadehouse it's time to add the pots of newly struck Impatiens.  Most of my Impatiens plants don't make it through a long 'wet' season, so I take small cuttings for striking towards the end of the 'wet', and they're now ready to be potted up.  They will add some lovely colour during the months to come.


The Coleus and Salvia cuttings are doing very nicely out in the shadehouse at the moment as well.  Eventually they will be added to the garden area I'm creating under the new pergola out in the courtyard.


Out in the courtyard garden, I've pulled all the already established pots out and I've started moving them around in an attempt to create a fresher look.  I get tired of having the same old plants in the same old spots from year to year.  I also like to have different swatches of colour in different corners so my eyes don't get bored.  My darling hubbie has also been re-painting all the railings and lattice screens to help give the space a lift-me-up.

I've potted up some of my favourites ... my Petunia and Pansy seedlings ... to add to the courtyard.


This year I've got Petunia 'Giant Victorious' planted with some double white Petunias.


I've also got my  Petunia 'Stars Mixed' started as well. 









I'll be adding some more during the week.  I can't go without my Petunias during our late Autumn and Winter.  They usually last until early Summer if I treat them right.



I've potted up my first lot of Pansies as well.  My trusty Blues are in there with some Pansy 'Faces Mix'.  


The Violas are on the way too.  Love, love little Violas.




But while most of the garden is lacking flowers right now, the foliage plants come into their own.  It's at this time of year, the transition between the end of our Summer and the beginning of our Winter, when I usually have flowers in as many wallaby-proof corners as possible, that I really appreciate the variety of fabulous foliage that's around the place.





So, that's the state of play for this particular garden caretaker on Earth Day 2012, as our mid-Autumn month draws ever closer to its end.

24 comments:

  1. Your plot blends so well into the landscape that the critters can't tell the difference. A perfect testament to Earth Day in this bountiful post of native plants and wildlife and full on foliage. Happy Earth Day Bernie x

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    1. Thanks Laura. It's brilliant to be able to see the birds and other creatures all around us every day, and to be finally appreciating it all the way we should.

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  2. You are taking wonderful care of your gardens Bernie. How fun to see parrots, kookaburras and wallabies around your property! That's a bit different from the old sparrows and squirrels we get, lol!. I love your shade house, I'm really envious of that! Happy Earth Day.

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    1. Jayne, I would love to see sparrows and squirrels! That would be fabulous to me. The shadehouse is looking quite tidy and neat these days, but I'll be glad when I get the pots of Impatiens scattered around for a bit of colour other than green.

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  3. It is really enjoyable watching and encouraging wildlife to visit. The bird songs are especially nice as you learn which comes from which bird. Happy earth day!

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    1. Ignorant Gardener, it's taken me some time to truly appreciate this little corner of the world, but now I think I'd find it hard to move elsewhere.

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  4. Happy Earth Day, your gardens are gorgeous! The courtyard is looking beautiful. I like your relationship with the wildlife, we do the same here with the deer.

    I am impressed with your planning from season to season which requires a great deal of thought and organization.

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    1. Hi Shirley, thanks for your kind comments once more. I think anyone who wants to garden successfully in areas like this really do need to do some planning to cope with the two seasons we have here. Otherwise the garden would be quite boring I think.

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  5. You have a little of my striped Sansevieria in there (mine as in Mexico ;~)

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    1. Oh yes there's quite a bit of the Sansevieria around here. It's regarded as a weed, but at my place it's growing where it can be contained fairly well. They are a fantastic plant though, despite the drawbacks of growing it in the tropics.

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  6. gosh Bernie your whole area is looking fantastic! Thanks for the little walk around! Your garden seems to blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. Great job!

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    1. Thanks Africanaussie, I wish we had a lot more natives growing here, but that's on the long term list now.

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  7. Dear Bernie.
    I´ve been mistaken, you do not only have a garden, ... you do have a Paradise on earth.
    Magnificant. Gosh, is it wonderful. You´ve just made me in the mood for making changes in my own garden. Thanks a bunch for the inspiration. Always a great joy to get inspired.
    Wish you a lovely week.
    My very best regards, Iris.

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    1. You're way too kind, thanks Iris. Of course the whole place looks so much better when the grass and the bushland is still green. After the dry season takes its toll, the brown surrounds don't look all that fabulous.

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  8. Happy Earth Day!
    You have a magnificient garden!

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    1. Thank you Malar. I hope you celebrated Earth Day as well, and enjoyed the day.

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  9. I found this post very moving. It's like you chronicle how you have developed a more serious interest in the landscape and its wildlife and have more time to do it, and it has changed you, and in a way the caring is reciprocal. Does this make sense? I'm not sure I have expressed myself clearly.

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    1. Catmint, I understood your comment perfectly well, and you're spot on. I do now appreciate what we have so much more than I did a few years back. I really love it here now and just don't ever want to move.

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  10. It sounds like it would be so easy to just sit on the porch and watch, listen, and learn. Paradise on earth.

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    1. Mary, I certainly do my fair share of that, lol! The verandah can be very appealing!

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  11. You are so lucky to live in such a place, and we are lucky to be able to see it through your eyes. Cheers from Long Island. We finally got some rain, and things are starting to green up a bit. Lori

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    1. I'm glad you enjoy a little view of my place Lori. It's wonderful to hear you finally got some rain. The garden must be looking so much the better for it.

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  12. Bernie, I am like you,in that, my face is always turned up to the tree tops looking for a sight of the birds who come to visit. It is a wonder I don't fall over more things in my path. I must say, I love all the tropical plants you are able to grow there.

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  13. aloha,

    the bushlands are gorgeous in your area....now my jungle behind my back yard on the other hand is scary jungle areas....love the acaccias from a distance since i'm really allergic to them. the chante of seasons is beautiful, funny its turning to our spring now.

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