Sunday, July 15, 2012

Snapshots On This Mid-Winter Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... July 2012

I'm adding to my Snapshots series with this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post.  The 'Snapshots' series is where I highlight what's happening around the garden mid-season throughout the year.











Conditions during July

It's our mid-winter month here in Australia, and up here in my north-eastern corner we've been experiencing some rather unusual weather for this time of year.  Mid-winter is almost smack bang in the middle of our 'dry' season here, and rain is usually very light on, or even just non-existent. 


Well, we had an unusual occurrence this week.  Rain teemed down from the leaden-grey skies on Tuesday.  Around 87mm or 3.5 inches fell from the heavens, and that made it the wettest July day we've had in over 70 years.  A 24-hour rainfall total like that is far more common during our monsoonal 'wet', but is most certainly not common during our 'dry'!  Since Tuesday, we've had overcast dreary showery weather nearly every day.

Our dry season began normally enough.  16mm/ .7 of an inch fell over just 2 days back in April  when our dry season officially began.  Around 70mm/3 ins fell over 8 days back in May, and we received 26mm/1 inch of rain which fell over 7 days in the whole month of June.   So far this month, rain has fallen over 5 days amounting to 100mm/4 ins already!!!!   Rather atypical and a little out-of-the-ordinary for mid-Winter and mid-dry season.  I'm left wondering what will happen next month.


Needles to say, our usual bright sunny blue-sky winter days have not happened this past week while the rain has been falling.  It's been overcast and dreary every single day and old man sun has taken off somewhere else.  Perhaps not surprisingly, given the amount of cloud cover recently, our winter daytime and night-time temperatures have risen quite a bit.   During our July days so far, the mercury has been up around 23 to 25 deg C (73-77 F), while at night it has only dropped to between 16 to 20 deg C (60-68F) ... well apart from two nights when we had 8 deg C (46 F) and 10 deg C (50 F).


Of course, I'm not complaining about the rain or the rise in temps.  I've been able to take a break from the usual dry season watering schedule ... and the recent winter temps has meant no need for jumpers and no need to put on the heating on the reverse cycle air-con.  The doors and windows have all been opened up again to let the breezes flow through, and we've enjoyed time out on the verandah once again. 

Dry season is usually the time when things slow down around our garden.  Usually the front yard has started to brown off in July, as the grass slowly dries up and dies.  As you can see in the photo above though, that hasn't happened as a result of the rather damp conditions.  The surrounding bushland is usually starting to dry up at this time of year as well.  By now the Eucalypts have usually started dropping their leaves and the grasses have turned brown.  Again, that hasn't happened this July.


Sometimes at around the beginning of July there may be plumes of smoke visible in amongst the ranges and foothills around here, as it's usually about this time in the dry season when bush fires begin to break out.  So far all I'm seeing is loads of whispy grey cloud cover, although I swear I could smell smoke in the air yesterday.

OK, moving on to just exactly what's blooming around my place this week in our mid-Winter month of July.

Starting with the trees around the place ... what's flowering?

After checking last July's Snapshot post Snapshots of Mid-Winter ... July 2011, things are remarkably similar.  Last year the winter-blooming trees were recovering from the disastrous cyclone event that hit our area just a few months earlier.  Well, those same trees are still in recovery mode and, whilst their growth has certainly progressed well, there's only one that is actually blooming right now.

While the usual winter-blooming Spathodea campanulata or African Tulip Tree, and Bauhinia variegata 'Alba' or white Bauhinia are showing no flowers at all, the Tabebuia impetiginosa is putting on a display.


The Tab. impetiginosa was showing just a few blooms at this time last year and there are a few more this year, but it's still not back to its' former glory just yet.  Still, the trumpet-shaped deep pink blooms are a great sight.


At this time of year, there are no flowers on the Plumeria rubras.  They are deciduous in winter and have dropped most of their leaves, leaving their rather bare-looking branches on show.



It's during our Winter that we see something close to Autumn colours here in the tropics.  The leaves of the Lagerstroemia speciosa or Queen's Myrtle trees start turning yellow, orange and red before they also drop.

Now onto the shrubs ... what's flowering?


The pink-flowering Calliandra surinamensis has returned to its usual routine this mid-Winter, and is blooming.  Last July, flowers were conspicuously absent, as it had not recovered fully from the cyclone event in February either.


The red-flowering Calliandra haematocephala has not missed a beat in years, and is producing loads of its red powderpuff blooms again this winter.  Just call it old reliable!


The various Duranta repens shrubs have still not recovered or shown many blooms at all since early last year.  At the moment there's a spray or two, and some of the orange fruit evident on just a couple of these shrubs.  Maybe next year ... !!!


The young Lagerstroemia indicas or Crepe Myrtles have started dropping their colourful end-of-Autumn foliage.  Like the Lagerstroemia speciosa, the leaves of the Lagerstroemia indica change colour and then drop at this time of year, leaving bare sticks on show ...


 ... and clusters of dark brown fruit.

The winter-blooming Euphorbia leucocephala or Snowflake Bush is on show out in the courtyard. 


As you step off the back verandah to wander through the courtyard, you can see the stark white petal-like bracts of the Euphorbia behind the lattice work outside the kitchen.    I'm always compelled to stroll around the corner and take a closer look at the tiny little flowers.  Despite comments made by reputable gardening authors, I've never found the Euphorbia leucocephala to have any sort of scent or perfume.

Out in the Shadehouse Garden ... what's in bloom?


Dragonwing Begonias are always blooming, as is the Anthurium and the Impatiens walleriana in their hanging pots.  There are flower spikes on the Cane Begonias and the purple Streptocarpus caulescens, also known as Nodding Violet are flowering prolifically.  The clumps of Tradescanthia spathacea are in bloom and there are little white flowers are opening up along the arching stalks of the Chlorophytum comosum 'Ocean'.

 Now, out in the Courtyard Garden ... what's blooming?


 There's quite a bit of lovely colour amongst the container plants out in the courtyard at this time of year.


There are the usual Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', Azalea, Salvia splendens, Impatiens walleriana, Petunias and Coleus all blooming at the moment.


I really love the little Salvias that are scattered around.  Apart from the Salvia splendens cultivars pictured in the previous collage, there's also Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue', Salvia farinacea 'Victoria White', Salvia involucrata, Salvia farinacea 'Strata' and Salvia glechomifolia ... all seen on the top row of the collage above.

Other blooms to be spotted out in the courtyard today are the double white Impatiens walleriana, the variegated Crossandra infundibuliformis 'Glamour Puss', Azalea, Angelonia angustifolia, Viola hederacea, Neomarica longifolia, Pentas lanceolata and Pelargonium.


There are a few annuals in pots as well.  Winter would not be winter here in the northern tropics without a display of annuals such as Pansies, Petunias, Snapdragons and Celosias.

In the tiered garden beds ... what is flowering?


Out in the tiered garden beds there's definitely lots of red and pink in amongst all the green.


The Iresine herbstii 'Blazin Rose' is not only showing off its wonderful deep purple with pink foliage, but its spikes of white flowers as well.  It's time for the Euphorbia pulcherrima to put on its winter display of pink bracts and tiny red and yellow flowers.


The beautiful bracts and flowers of the Justicia brandegeana are on show ...


... and the flower spikes have appeared in amongst the dark burgundy-red winter foliage of the Acalypha 'Spitfire'.


On the other side of the tiered garden beds the Impatiens walleriana and Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' are putting on a great show.

In the front and side yard garden beds ... what's blooming?


In the side yard garden bed, the Pentas lanceolata are pretty much always in bloom.  They do need a decent trim back very soon though, so the flowers will be missing in the next few weeks.




For the moment though, they're a great source of nectar for the Yellow-Bellied Sunbirds and butterflies.


Out in the front yard garden beds the dwarf Azalea is putting on its usual wintertime display and the large stand of Cyperus involucratus is covered in flowers.


The clumps of Russelia juncea follow continuously all-year round ...


... and there's always a flower to be spotted on the variegated Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.




I'm joining Carol for her Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day  meme.



I'm also joining Gesine for her Blogger Bloom Day


53 comments:

  1. Thanks for joining in. For "mid-winter" you have quite a bit in bloom. It looks lovely.

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    1. Thanks Carol. I'm always keen to catch up with your wonderful meme and am most appreciative that you came up with such a great idea. We are very lucky up here in northern Australia to have very very mild winters, so our gardens have something in bloom all year round.

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  2. Your sunbird has quite different colours to any of ours.

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    1. Diana, the male Sunbird here has the most fantastic deep blue bib. He's quite a striking little thing. The female looks lovely in her own right, of course, but as with many species, it's the male that really catches the eye!

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  3. Your garden is certainly enjoying the rain. I'm always amazed at the variety of plants you have and how you can keep them all looking so healthy over the dry season. We haven't seen much sun here lately either.

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    1. Missy, I'm a plant nut ... that pretty much sums up why I have so many different sorts of plants. Some woman buy shoes, I buy plants. Although, I have to say, I'm not quite as mad about plants as particular woman I know are mad about shoes, lol!!

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  4. Absolutely stunning garden - just LOVE your photos - and your lovely blog! Are you part of the Open Garden scheme? ... and yes, what's with the weather? I'm on the SUNshine Coast (ha ha!) People are joking we'll have to change the name with all this excessive winter rain and warm temps. Got all the firewood ready for cold nights and we've got summer downpours, the dam's overflowing and the ducks think it's heaven. Not so good for my edible winter garden. Oh well, anything happens in Queensland! Happy gardening Bernie.

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    1. G'day Anne, lovely to see you visiting. I'm glad you enjoyed your time here on my blog. As for being part of an Open Garden scheme ... no that's not really possible for me. My garden doesn't really afford lovely vistas or have lots of beautiful garden beds and long garden views. It's a difficult spot here and to be perfectly honest, I'd have to win the lotto to make it possible, lol!!!

      I was just down in Brissie a couple of weeks ago, and I don't think I saw the sun for a week. It rained non-stop for the first three days of my visit. Sunshine state ... definitely not right now. Liquid sunshine state ... yes! I think we're getting used to expecting the unexpected these days. We Queenslanders are rather a laid-back lot anyway.

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  5. Oh, I adore your garden, Bernie, such a treat to come and visit! It seems like the rain has spread down to you too, we have had it for 3 months now!! No let up on the horizon yet, I am dreading the winter if we don't soon get some sunshine, the winter will feel very long without having had a summer. Loved your 'spitfire', wish I could grow it here, but I don't think it would survive the winter.

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    1. Yes Helene we seem to be sharing the rain at the moment. 3 months of rain reminds me of our wet seasons. We certainly haven't had the rain for that long lately, but then we are supposed to be in the middle of our dry season so that would be extraordinary if it happened during out wintertime. Let's hope you see some sunshine very soon. Surely it will make an appearance in time for the Olympic Games!!!!!

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    2. Hmmm...I don't think the rain is going to make an exception, even for the Olympics! We are faced with at least 2-3 weeks more of this weather, well into the games. It means old myths that says it always rains in London is going to be confirmed for the whole world, and that is such a shame, it rains less here than in both Dubai and Sydney - well at least in 'normal' years!!

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  6. Even mid-winter, you still have so much in flower and so much colour in your garden, Bernie.

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    1. Marisa, it's really due to the potted plants I have added over the last two years. That's really what gives my place such a lot of colour at this time of year. I just have to have lots of colour close to the house.

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  7. So many flowers!Your garden is so beautiful. I enjoy visiting it virtually.Azelias are difficult to grow here.

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    1. Lotusleaf, Azaleas take a long time to settle in here. I've had my potted ones for many years now, and it's only been in the last three years that I've had lovely flowers. The dwarf Azalea that was in the front garden bed when we bought the place over ten years ago has also only really hit its stride in the last five or so years. I'm not sure how long ago it was planted, but the flowering display takes a while in this climate. They're worth persisting with!

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  8. Bernie, that's a lot of flowers in one post! I forgot GBBD, thought it's at the end of the month, and i also forgot it's now middle of the month, OMG what's happening with me! You really have the best climate in the world. We cannnot grow well some of those you have because it is so hot here. Azaleas only grow in our highlands. I remember going to the Blue Mountains in NSW to see the Rhododendron Festival, and it was majestic.

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    1. Hey, what's going on? You've forgotten GBBD! I will miss your post. Andrea, the Azaleas will only grow well here if given some shade, especially during our horrid summers, and treated with a lot of patience. They really do prefer cooler climes!

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  9. Your garden is lovely even in winter. Its always a joy to stroll through your garden. The sunbird is adorable. Those ove here are lighter with a bright yellow belly.

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    1. Thank you Stiletto. It seems Sunbirds are slightly different across the southern hemisphere. They are lovely little things though.

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  10. Oh those sunbirds are so elegant looking especially with their curved beak - we've nothing similar to that here Bernie. I've been comparing statistics and you certainly have had loads of rain. Loved that picture of the 'waterfall' coming off the veranda roof - that pic says it all! There's always such great colour in your garden even if it is winter with you. I've never seen flowers on Iresine before - it's sold here as a foliage annual.

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    1. The rain has been lovely, even if rather unexpected. The garden is certainly loving it. The curved beaks on those Sunbirds are put to good use when they're feeding on the nectar of plants like Salvia, Hibiscus and Schlumbergeras. They can dig right into the flowers!

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  11. Beautiful, really beautiful!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!
    Sunday blessings to you!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie
    Mississippi, USA

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    1. Thanks so much Lea. I'm heading off to see what's blooming in your neck of the woods now.

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  12. Gorgeous blooms and great bird and butterfly photos. I was surprised to see autumn foliage too.

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    1. Mac, autumn colours are very very rare here! Lol, as you can see the closest we come are the wonderful changing colour of the leaves on various Lagerstroemias in our wintertime!

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  13. What a treat to visit your lovely garden! We have many of the same plants, like Russelia, Justicia and Duranta. Duranta is easily rooted and I just keep spreading those lovely shrubs around for butterflies.

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    1. There's quite a number of Durantas here too Seedscatterer. I'm just waiting for them to recover fully from cyclone damage. Most are just now finally beginning to flower once more, after more than a year following Cyclone Yasi tore them to shreds and flattened all of them to the ground. Mine were around six feet tall or taller and will take some time to reach those heights again.

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  14. Once again Bernie, I really enjoyed wandering around your lovely garden. I love that euphorbia snowflake bush. Really I love all your flowers, and every pot always seems to be in flower! Don't you have any failures? you are an amazing gardener. :)

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    1. Oh yes, failures are fairly common Africanaussie. Pansies are always a nightmare for me. Every year they get some sort of fungal infestation. My Cleome has died ... again. I lose my Cleome every year and have to get another one. This year it was spider mites that killed it off. I've also chosen absolutely the wrong plants or put something in the worst possible spot. Believe me, I learn all the time by my mistakes!!

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  15. Your iresine can flower! Wow! I hope to be able to see mine flowering as well. For me, this week is going to be a rainy week as reported. But sometimes the clouds can be blown away leaving clear sky... The weather is also quite unpredictable here ;-)

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    1. Yes Stephanie, the Iresine definitely does flower. It flowered the first year I planted it in the ground and has continued doing so every since. I just love the floppy flower spikes! Weather here has been rather strange as well. Change seems to be in the air.

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  16. Oh, you always have a very beautiful garden, even in pouring rain and in mid-winter...!

    It seems to rain all over the world right now: in Europe we have had many serious floods because of the massive rain. Here in Finland farmers have faced big losses in their potato crop because fields have turned into lakes... And we garden enthusiasts are not happy either, everything seems to rot if the sun doesn't appear soon – and stay longer than half an hour. Temperature is between +16-20 °C. As we say here in Finland: the Finnish summer is short but only a little snowy :)

    Well I'm sure we'll get better weather soon because nothing lasts forever. And while waiting I'll admire your amazing flowers. Thanks for sharing them with us!

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    1. Here's hoping you get to see some decent sunshine soon, Geranium. I've heard about the flooding in the U.K., but was unaware there was serious flooding across Europe as well. The world seems to be rather damp these days!

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  17. The weather is crazy all over. We've just been given an El Nino warning for next month and it is just the start of our wet season. Hopefully the El Nino will not last too long. Better a little rain daily than constant heat and humidity.

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    1. Bom, we've been hearing similar things here. Apparently El Nino is returning later this year. We'll see how it all turns out. I understand perfectly why you would rather have rain than high heat and humidity.

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  18. I love the puff ball flowers of Calliandra haematocephala. What a treat to see all your blooms.

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting Patsy. I too love the Powderpuff flowers. They're always such a welcoming sight when I drive in the gateway after work.

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  19. aloha bernie,

    wow thats alot of rain, looks more like our type of rain....gorgeous collection it must be hard to maintain all the areas, its quite extensive.

    i love all the exotic birds in your garden, they are truly colorful and unusual.

    thanks for the garden tour, made my morning.

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    1. It is a lot of rain! It's eased off a bit now though, but we're still having rather dreary overcast days which is not typical of our wintertime. Maintaining the garden areas here is not too hard, Noel. Most areas are now well-established and need little help from me aside from watering. It's the many potted plants in my courtyard and shadehouse that do require most of my attention and time.

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  20. I could live in a mid-Winter like yours... beautiful! And the music is soothing.

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    1. We do have glorious mild Winters here Carolyn. Probably not worthy of the name 'winter' in many people's eyes!

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  21. It is odd that you are having strange winter weather. The weather must be strange all over. You do have so much going on in the garden...so many beautiful blooms. I am captivated by the calliandra....wow, what a beauty!

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    1. The dreary weather has continued here Sage Butterfly, but the temperatures have dropped again so it's feeling a bit more like our Winter. The Powderpuff flowers are eye-catching aren't they?

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  22. Hello Bernie, this is just to say how much I enjoy looking at your blog when I stop by periodically. Flighty xx

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    1. How wonderful to hear from you Flighty! I suppose you're battling the wet weather over there too. I know the recent conditions here were slightly unusual for this time of year.

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    2. Sadly my plot has been waterlogged for weeks. It's been cool, too wet and very little sunshine for most of the spring and summer. Germination has been poor or non-existent, growth slow and I've never seen so many slugs and snails which are eating everything.
      Flowers are doing okay but not fruit and vegetables. Some people have simply called it a day for this year which has been the worst that we can remember.
      Hopefully it'll be better next year! xx

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  23. The beauty of your garden is overwhelming. What is the plant on the right in the first photo in your tiered garden beds section? Its green leaves are edged with cream and pink and the new leaves at the top are dark pink. It is gorgeous!

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    1. Deb, the plant you were asking about is the Acalypha 'Spitfire' that I mentioned later in the post. I included a close-up of the flower spikes and the brilliant burgundy-red foliage that appears during the wintertime here. This shrub has pink and orangey edged foliage for the rest of the year. It's a dwarf Acalypha, so won't grow much bigger than it is now in my garden.

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  24. Great flowers as always. I remember your post with the grass so brown last year or the year before during the dry season. Is your lawn green this time?
    We are having a NORMAL summer here in Texas for the first time in many years. It is only 30C most days with a rain shower almost every afternoon. My plants are very happy and I don't have to spend time watering.
    I loved that little bird drinking nectar from a Penta. How sweet!
    Happy GBBD,
    David/:0)

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    1. David, the grassy area out the front and side of our house would usually definitely be browning off by now. It's been a damp 'dry' season so far so that's helped the grass stay green for a lot longer than is usual. How fantastic that things seem to have returned to some degree of normalcy for you. It looks like our dry is getting back on track now, but we'll see!

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  25. Your midwinter blooms are amazing! The weather continues to be atypical here too -- with more than half of the US under drought conditions.

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  26. Hi Bernie, that rain! sheeting down! I could almost hear it! So many flowers. Like you said in my blog, I do love the Aussie ones the best - they have so much character.

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  27. You have a wonderful blog. I am in new Orleans, Louisiana, USA. A world apart from you. I am into the heavy gardening and plant collection as you. I will continue to follow your site.


    Here our climate is hot and humid. Mixed with dry weeks and wet weeks of weather.
    My blog is of my garden here at- http://premierelandscapeinc.blogspot.com/

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