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