Sunday, May 27, 2012

Getting A Little Chilly ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 23, 2012.

Date:  May 27, 2012

Season:  end of Autumn, and 'dry' season

Who turned the thermostat down?  It's a little chilly here this weekend.  Even the wildlife is taking refuge in the warmth of sheltered spots around the garden.

When I began this post at around 10.30 am, it was under 19 deg C (66 F).  That is a little out of the ordinary for May.  The temperature dropped significantly on Friday.  On Thursday the mercury was hovering around the 30 deg C (86 F) mark, which is pretty normal, then suddenly ... out of the blue ... the mercury barely made it to 20 deg C (68 F) on Friday.  That was at least 8 degrees lower than the average daytime temp during May.  The last time the temp dropped that low in May was around 22 years ago.

Not only that, but there were gale force winds and rain!!!!   Rain ... at this time of year!!  That was even more unexpected.  We received around 60 mm of rain on Friday, and we've had light drizzly showers all over the weekend.  Until midday today, we hadn't seen the sun since Thursday and we had to plunge into the dark recesses of our cupboards to pull out jumpers and cosy PJs!!!!   (This is the point where northern hemispherians will be rolling their eyes and audibly groaning!!)

Obviously our winter has arrived a little early, and we're having a little break from our usual dry season.  Of course the garden is loving this wonderful gift of liquid sunshine (as we call our rain) instead of the more normal bright clear blue-sky weather.

I've been confined to the verandah for most of the weekend, just looking out over the yard and garden, as the showers keep on rolling in.  I'm so used to warm summertime rain that the idea of wandering around when chilly raindrops are falling is not all that appealing!!  

It was a very different story last weekend.   The weather was very warm and the skies were crystal clear.

My darling hubby was busy working with an unusual visitor. We don't see its type at our place very often. The skid loader was put to good use spreading and levelling out more of the fill needed for the new car shed area, as well as distributing some of the fill to the enormous dips and ditches that were scoured out down the long driveway during the wet season earlier this year.

It was my job to spread out the piles of fill and even out the roller-coaster of a dirt driveway.  This is something we have to do ever other year, as the wet seasons here take a huge toll on the driveway and the monsoonal downpours carry away a lot of the dirt and gravel away down the slope our property sits on.  One of these years we'll be able to afford to put in a concrete driveway ... I can't tell you how much my darling hubby is looking forward to that!

He's also looking forward to the day when the car shed area is finally finished ... and boy, so am I!  It's a project that's been going on for well over a year now, and when it's eventually done there's going to be a great ugly spot at the back where the huge pile of concrete and blocks sits very high on the slope.

There it is ... can you see it while looking up through the front yard tiered garden beds?  That's the wall that will support the concrete slab that will form the car shed floor.

Let's walk around the tiered garden beds and take a closer look.  Uuuu  ....  gly!  The whole of this area has been looking like a construction site for so long now, that I'm having trouble trying to visualize it actually finished and cleared.

Even when the floor is set and the car shed structure erected, it's still going to be an eyesore at this end.  I think it's a spot that's going to need a great big tiered garden bed on these two sides.  That will hopefully be a project for us next year as we're really hoping to get this car shed finished by summertime at the end of this year, before the next wet season arrives.

As well building garden beds around the car shed, I'm hoping to create another new garden bed in the area off to the right around that African Oil Palm and under the Triangular Palm behind that.   I'm getting very excited at the thought of having some new garden beds!  Roll on next year!

But for now there hasn't been all that much to do in the established garden areas, apart from the occasional weed pulling or branch snipping.

Everything is doing quite nicely, especially after the lovely downpour on Friday and the light showers every since.  The weeds are lying low, the pests seem to be on holiday, and there are some lovely blooms in almost every corner.

I'm happy to report that the sun is now shining and the mercury has climbed up to 22 deg C  (71 F).  I've just been out to wander around and warm up my cold little toes and fingers!

 I was lucky enough to catch sight of quite a few of the birds that frequent this area,

and I spotted loads of butterflies and bees hanging around as well.

I think it's time to get and do so fertilising and some more mulching to reap the benefits of the unexpected rain.  I'll finish off with a glimpse of some blooms that are looking pretty pleased with themselves.


  1. We are having strange weekend weather as well here in Michigan, USA. Saturday was 65 F and overcast with a cool breeze. Sunday is supposed to be over 90 F. Sitting under your veranda looks like a pretty nice way to spend the day.

    1. That's a huge jump in temps for you, Mary. One extreme to another. It seems it's going on in all corners of the globe. It was indeed lovely spending time just sitting out on the verandah. I got to read lots of lovely gardening magazines that had been neglected for some time.

  2. Dear Bernie ~ Thank you for this delightful, colorful tour of your gardens. I know you will create something to make the garage area beautiful, you won't be able to help yourself and you'll have fun doing it.

    It is hot and steamy here as summer starts in earnest. Some rain is expected over the next couple of days. Our humongous rain barrel is full.

    Enjoy your cooler weather, it sure sounds good to me. I do NOT look forward to the heat and humidity of summer.


    1. Thanks Flowerlady. I can empathise completely with your feelings about your summer. I'm exactly the same! Summers are getting harder as I get older. Thankfully this time of year gives us a great break. I do hope your coming summer won't be too horrid!

  3. I wonder if the early start to Winter means it will be colder than usual. It's been rather chilly here as well. The jumpers are well and truly out and being worn.
    I noticed the wallaby in your first photo is a Mum. It must be wonderful to have them share your home.

    1. Missy, the temps rose again today and ended up being quite a warm day ... no jumper needed! Yes you spotted correctly. That first shot shows a mother wallaby and her joey. We see mothers and joeys of varying stages of development almost on a daily basis, so we're very lucky and feel very privileged.

  4. Oh you just have so many wonderful plants in your garden - I get quite envious! It sounds as though you had just a decent amount of rain - not like us! It does make the weeds come out easily though! Ooooh that sounds very cold! we went down to 27!

    1. 27! Doesn't sound like you've been having very cool temps then. Today was more reasonable, but it definitely seems like winter has arrived here. Yes we did get quite a bit of rain over Friday and Saturday. I was out doing some weeding on Sunday because, as you said, the rain made it so much easier to pull them out. It was great.

  5. Bernie - We are dealing with Tropical Storm Beryl today. One of my rellies has lost power. As long as I don't lose power, I'm okay with all the rain as we've had a very dry spring. Are you sure a concrete driveway is the way to go? Can you get tarmac instead? Our concrete cracks from the weight of heavy trucks that sometimes have to come in to attend the septic tanks, downed trees and the like. I wish we had gone with tarmac because that could periodically be repaved and, to me, it looks more natural.

    1. Southernruralroute, I do so hope Beryl proves to be well-mannered and doesn't outstay her welcome. Hopefully all is well with you and others in your area. As for idea about getting tarmac ... we won't have to decide for quite some time yet as either way it's beyond our budget at the moment. I do take your point about tarmac probably being more feasible and looking a bit more natural. Good points!

  6. Bernie,
    You have quite a lot to your garden. So much to play with.

    And you are cooling down as we are warming up. Only in my case, it still isn't very warm, except for a few "teaser" days. Daytime temps still in the 60's and 70's. And still the rain.

    I love your wildlife shots with the beautiful birds and that little kangaroo (or one of his cousins) hidden behind the ferns.


    1. Hi Yael, yes we're lucky we have lots of space here. It sometimes feels like there's no-one else around for miles! We are definitely cooling down now. Our Winter officially starts tomorrow. Of course many across the world would never associate the word 'winter' with what we experience! Those are wallabies, which are indeed related to kangaroos. They are usually smaller and have different colouring.

  7. I remember some Ausies telling me that all the 4 seasons can sometimes be experienced in one day. You really have the normally different weathers, so maybe it will also be aggravated by these "climate change". Our rains also happened at the height of the dry season, just enough to break the dormancy of some crops. I love it because of the dissipated heat and some flowers emerging from some bulbs, but it is not good for the citrus which didn't get enough dry periods to induce flowering, meaning we will not have citrus fruits in Dec-Jan!

    I smiled when you said and showed the car platform, i immediately thought that you are having some areas again for planting, and i am right before i finished the paragraph! But i really envy your climate because of that Schlumbergera which we cant flower here. And you remind me of my childhood plants which are now gone, the Hibiscus and the Malvaviscus. I hope i can plant them again in the property soon.

    1. Kalantikan, those who live in places like Sydney or Melbourne can most certainly experience 4 season in one day. Up here in the north we don't really see those extremes in one day. But it's still unusual to have heavy rain in our last Autumn month, and to experience temps quite that low.

      Our very very mild (compared to some) Winter officially begins tomorrow but the temps have shot up again! It was really warm today and even tonight it's 23 deg C!!!!

      You're right about the Schlumbergeras. They do so very well here and they're such a delightful winter bloomer. I do hope you get to plant some Hibiscus and Malvaviscus one day soon. They're such reliable plants and always look terrific.

  8. Never quite sure where your garden begins and the bush ends which is always a good sign, Bernie. Some seriously hard landscaping work going on there and nice to have plans afoot as to 'how to cover the eyesore we made earlier.' So much blooming but love the last image best - what shrub is that?
    p.s. appreciate seeing your wildlife too -

    1. G'day Laura. Yes the hard landscaping is still going on. It's been a long slow process and there's still more to do. I suppose nothing good ever happens overnight! That last photo shows the Euphorbia leucocephala or what we commonly call the Snowflake Bush, which hails from Central America. It's a great winter bloomer here.

  9. Lovely pictures and wonderful story – as always. Thank you, Bernie!

    Ha, you were right about us northern hemispherians rolling our eyes about +20°C weather in jumpers :) When we have +15 it's t-shirt weather, teenagers change t-shirts and shorts on when it's +10. After many months of -5 to -30°C it really feels like summer then. We have to take everything out of our few months of green time here in Scandinavia.

    Love your pansies/ violas. Have you grown them yourself?

  10. We are having a couple of cooler days here, which I am greatly enjoying, with high temps only in the lower 80's and night temps positively cool! Each such day is a gift. I really enjoyed the tour of your garden, as always. I liked seeing the long views of your drive with all the tropical foliage along the sides.

  11. my fellow Aussies, the whole east coast is unseasonably cold and wet now - it shudders to make me think of what lies ahead~! Bernie you have a beautiful variegated crossandra, I've never seen one before! Are they rare?

  12. Bernie, you had me chuckling.... first of all, your garden is not UUUUgly.... it's AAAAAmazing. Secondly, was that a kangaroo, as in a real live kangaroo with a baby in the first photo???

    But what had me hooting is your having to rummage in the closet for warm clothes because it was 66=68 degrees F. -- 68 degrees is considered downright balmy for winter, here! When we go from fall to winter, the temperature usually drops into the 20's and 30's -- and that is F, not C.

    We had a very mild winter this past year, and when the temperature climbed to 60 degrees, Steve and I put on summer clothes and went out and did some work in the garden (cutting back the dried stalks of the perennials and raking out the leaves and such).

    Your birds and butterflies are gorgeous and your photos are amazing! I have been trying to get good pix of birds and butterflies but they refuse to sit and pose for me. So maddening!

  13. Hi Bernie,
    I'm finally out of school as of this week! Now I can come visit your blog. What a gorgeous tropical garden you have. We don't have that many plants in common, but still the language is the same from one tropical gardener to another....big and bold and filled with color!
    Oh those palms you have! I'd give anything to be able to grow them here in Houston. I think Galveston Island could get away with having them and it's just 60 miles away on the coast.
    I loved that butterfly closeup. Mine seem to know when I'm coming and flit away.
    Happy Winter gardening.

  14. I mentioned your blog in my latest post: Check it out, if you like.

  15. Hi Burnie,

    What are you feeding your crab claw to make it love you so much. Mine rarely flowers for me.


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