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Come and take a wander around my dry tropics garden here in north-eastern Australia.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
'Earth Day' On This Glorious Mid-Autumn Day ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 18, 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.