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!!!!
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.
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.