Sunday, July 29, 2012

All Is Quiet On The Gardening Front ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 32, 2012.

Date:  July 29, 2012

Season:  mid-Winter and dry season

Our mid-Winter month is drawing to a close, and things are fairly quiet in the garden.  Actually things are always fairly quiet at this time of year.  As we're well into the dry season now I don't have to worry about weeding all that much, or trimming back and tidying up, as there's really no noticeable gain in plant growth when there are weeks and weeks and weeks of wide, wonderful, clear blue skies.

Whilst there certainly have been mostly blue-sky days during this mid-Winter month of July, there was a very unusual event about three weeks ago which created leaden grey, overcast skies.

87.6 mm or 3.4 inches fell and a record was established for the wettest 24-hr rainfall total for the month of July ever since records began 71 years ago.  It was a very strange turn of events ... something I've never seen in my lifetime!  There was a little drizzle every day for nearly a week following that day, but absolutely nothing since.  So our July total rainfall has been 101.6 mm or 4 inches over 7 days.  Our average July rainfall is 13.6 mm or half an inch!!!!

Shadehouse Garden, mid-Winter

Courtyard Garden, mid-Winter

The rain was so very refreshing and the dry garden certainly perked up!   The  (what I loosely term)  'grass' has stayed green for much longer than is usual,

and the abundant number of flowering weeds that grow in between the few-and-far-between blades of grass have provided the Pale-Headed Rosellas with an enjoyable meal.

One thing I did notice after the unexpected rainfall earlier this month, was the appearance of little Cosmos sulphureus babies out on the grassy area in front of our house.  It seems that some of the seeds have spread from the driveway to the front yard. 

I'm going to leave them though as I rather like the idea of these little flowers popping up out in the front yard.   Maybe I could end up with an almost wildflower-meadow look out there.

There are a couple of other lovely things that have popped up as well.   This purple-blooming plant to the left, and the plant with the white flowers pictured underneath.

I'm not sure if they're invasive weeds or desirable flowering plants.  Chances are they're probably something undesirable, so I will need to do some research before I decide if I get rid of them or not.

But, apart from an extraordinarily long green show put on by the grassed area at the front and side of the house, and the appearance of these new volunteers, the usual mid-Winter garden events have continued to occur.

The native Sterculia quadrifida or Peanut Tree, out in the courtyard, is looking very bare.  It drops its leaves during our wintertime and clusters of fruit pods are left to dangle from the leafless branches.

These pods slowly turn from green to a bright orangey-red and then open to reveal the seeds inside.

These become delicious food for birds like the female Figbirds (shown above),

... and the Great Grey Bowerbird, also know as the Queensland Bowerbird.

The bare-branched Sterculia has also become a building site.  The pair of Sunbirds that have been visiting the courtyard every day have been very busy building a new nest up high in the Sterculia's branches.

It's taken me a few days to notice it, as it looked so much like a green ant's nest.   But now I'm out there watching both the female and the male build this creation using leaves, little sticks and grasses.  It's way too high for me to get a close-up shot, but hopefully I'll hear the sound of little fledglings in a few weeks.

It's not just the Sterculia quadrifida that's deciduous during the wintertime here though.

The same is true for the Plumeria rubras, beside the hill driveway, and the Lagerstroemia indica, out in the tiered garden beds.

Both the Corymbia torellianas, or Cadaghi Gums growing beside the hill driveway, on the other hand, have a canopy that is now covered in blooms and seedpods,

... and the magnificent looking Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos have been enjoying the feast.

There are blooms on my still-recovering winter-blooming Bauhinia variegata 'Alba', growing beside the gravel driveway.  The tree itself is still very stunted and only about a metre and a half in height, but with the wet season that arrives at the end of the year, I think it will start another big growth spurt.

The other winter-blooming tree, Tabebuia impetiginosa which also grows beside the gravel driveway, is certainly displaying flowers on the side of the tree that was not damaged by Cyclone Yasi last year.  The other side though remains bloomless, but there's certainly vigorous and healthy looking re-growth there now.

The winter-blooming Calliandras are putting on their usual show out at the front gates,

and there are some flower spikes once more on a couple of the Codiaeum variegatum, or Crotons, growing down beside the gravel driveway.

It's been so pleasing to see a couple of the Duranta repens shrubs throwing out their pendulous flower sprays and returning to their former glory.

I was also overjoyed to see lots of new little Cosmos sulphureus seedlings popping up in the spot beside the driveway, where I planted some pass-along seedlings sent to me by a fellow garden blogger last year.  The parent plants looked fantastic when in full bloom from February through to the middle of April this year.   They have self-seeded and now there's a whole new batch of plants ready to mature and bloom again in the coming months.  I can't wait to see these bright cheery flowers once more! 

At the moment though, these are the blooms I'm seeing when I stroll around the place.

Courtyard Garden blooms.

Shadehouse Garden blooms.

Tiered garden bed blooms.

Driveway garden bed blooms.

The only regular gardening job I have at the moment is the potted plant watering job.

I water with the hand-held hose every afternoon, taking turns to water the hanging pots and baskets out in the Shadehouse Garden one afternoon,

  and then watering the many potted plants out in the Courtyard Garden the next afternoon.

At the moment I'm really enjoying the glorious perfume from the Dracaena fragrans, which is in bloom under the pergola, while wandering around the Courtyard Garden with the hose.

I consider myself very lucky to be able to enjoy these two fabulous garden areas.  There's nothing better than coming home from work, grabbing a cup of tea, and heading out to do the watering as the sun starts to sink in the late afternoon, around 5.00 pm.  It's such a pleasant, calm, peaceful and restorative experience.

One job I really want to get to is planting up the Oriental and Asiatic Lily bulbs that arrived a week and a half ago. Unfortunately I haven't been all that well lately and I've just not gotten around to this important job.  The poor bulbs seem to have survived so far, but I'm not sure how much longer they can wait.  I'm hoping that my darling hubby will help me out filling and moving the large pots this afternoon.


  1. Bernie, everything looks so lovely in your garden...enjoy it, and PLEEEEASE get better soon.

    1. G'day Virginia, thanks for the well wishes. I'm slowly getting better. I didn't manage to get the bulbs planted up today after all, but I should be better able to do it in the coming days.

  2. Dear Bernie ~ I hope you are soon feeling much better.

    All of your blooms are as lovely as ever. I love your courtyard and shadehouse gardens. They do something to me. May you feel peace, love and healing as you walk around your wonderful spaces.

    Hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. FlowerLady, both the courtyard and shadehouse make me feel a whole lot better when I'm out there. They really do have a great restorative feel to them. If I didn't work during the day, I think I'd be out there from dawn to sunset!

  3. It's good you're not getting floods from those heavy rains. And your plants seem happy to have intensive rains. I can't imagine you like those smell from Dracaena fragrans, as we don't. We have a lot so we cut some of them before opening to lessen the smell. And your bulbs, that's a lot! You should see my photos at my other blogsite as i also posted foggy photos. I love fogs because we seldom see them.

    1. Andrea, no floods but there was certainly a lot of water lying around in huge puddles all along the highway into the city. I really enjoy the fragrance of the Dracaena fragrans, but then I only have a couple of them and they only bloom every couple of years here. I'm not sure why that is, but in the 11 years we've lived on this property I've only ever seen blooms on three of them, and that's only happened once for each!!! This is the first time I've ever seen blooms on the one out under the pergola.

  4. I also love getting home from work and messing about in the garden...watering, weeding, sniffing... I get to do this until 9:30, but still it is enjoyable. Lucy, (my 2 year old daughter) loves to walk behind me with her little watering can and "help dad". that is pure heaven.
    Best wishes on your recovery!

    1. G'day Ignorant Gardener. I've never been lucky enough to stay outside in the garden until 9.30 at night. In the wintertime, the sun goes down rather early, and in the summertime it's just too hot and there's too many horrid insects. In between, it's possible to stay out until around 7.00 pm. I'd love to be able to stay out there longer! Recovery now well under way thank you.

  5. Beautiful photo's Bernie. I hope you feel better soon.

    1. Thank you kindly, Garden Girl. I've made it to work today and managed to get through pretty well. I really hate the 'bug' season with all the terrible virus bugs that are around. I always catch something!

  6. I always enjoy a tour of your courtyard garden and shade house. Even during your quiet season, you have a wonderful show! I also love the beautiful pods of your Peanut Tree. So sorry to hear you have been unwell. I do hope that each day will find you feeling better and stronger!

    1. Yep, feeling a lot better now, thanks Deb. I too love watching the changing colour of the fruit on the Peanut Tree. When they reach that final stage, they are a fantastic bright orangey-red. It's hard not to notice them dangling from the bare branches.

    2. Those seedpods are more spectacular than most flowers. Fun too!

  7. Bernie, it always such a pleasure to visit your garden, so much healing energy and love and piece - get well soon

    1. Thank you kind lady. I'm definitely feeling much better, and I'm sure the garden helped immensely with its restorative powers.

  8. That peanut pod is gorgeous! Isn't it marvelous that colour doesn't have to come from flowers, and you sure have plenty of colour! I warned you that cosmos could take over!, but I still enjoy them since they attract butterflies. So sorry you are still not feeling well and hope that lovely garden of yours works it restorative powers.

    1. Lol, yes you did warn me about the Cosmos take-over plans. I don't mind though. I planted your little seedlings in a spot down beside the driveway that could do with some filling in, so I'm only too pleased to see the Cosmos doing just that. They certainly do attract the butterflies and that's another great reason to keep them. I'm on the mend, thank you. Whatever the virus was, it certainly knocked me down for a while, but I suppose it is the season for it!!

  9. ah ! to have a cockatoe in your garden !!!!!! not in a cage but a free bird !!!!
    your gardenpictures are always a treat for sore eyes !!!!

  10. Bernieh,

    I do so enjoy taking strolls through your gardens. So many beautiful plants and wildlife. Many are familiar friends, but so many are very different from what we have here. The seeds of the peanut tree are spectacular and I am sure a beacon for the birds. I enjoy the great variety of flowers and trees with little spikey flowers. They remind me of the bottlebrush (Callistemon, popular in Southern California) which I discovered is an Australian native. Small wonder then that other plants have similar flowers. Hoping that you get to feeling better.

    Yael from Home Garden Diggers

  11. I love visiting your garden Bernie, and especially seeing your long-shots, your 'quiet time' is anything but quiet! Lovely photos of the birds, must be wonderful to be surrounded by such a garden with your kind of wild life :-)

  12. Hi there - great set of pictures - we had some very wet weather in Queensland a few weeks ago - so much for dry season!

    I really like the picture of the Rosella.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. My goodness Bernie, I can only dream of that kind of garden beauty in winter! I have ice and cold to deal with in winter, and all we can count on are evergreens and "winter interest", which simply means the sticks and stems of plants that are brown and dead, yet still give us something to look at. Lovely indeed.

  14. Hi Bernie, it's wonderful that you can relax while watering the pots and that is the main garden task for now. Down here the weeds never seem to stop growing, although they maybe slow down for a few minutes during the coldest weather. You have lots of goegeous winter blooms, mostly from non- native plants if I'm not mistaken. It's wonderful to see seedlings sprouting from ground that was hard and dry. And the bird photos - I just adore them! Good luck with the bulbs.

  15. Hi Bernie,
    What a wonderful garden you have, and you capture it beautifully in your pictures and words. I wanted to give you an ID on the vine with the white flowers. It's Thunbergia fragans and is a very nasty invasive species. It's such a shame, as it has such pretty flowers, but unfortunately it will take over your beautiful garden and is very hard to get rid of once it establishes. More info on it here...


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