Sunday, January 20, 2013

Waiting On The Rain ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 4, 2013

Date:  January 20th, 2013

Season:  mid-Summer, technically 'wet' season, despite evidence to the contrary!!

It's been quite a while since I added a Garden Journal post.   I think the last one was posted back in November.  After that I became very busy at work as the school year came to an end.  Then at the start of the long school holidays back in early December, I headed off down south and was away from home for a month.  Well I'm back and ready to add the first Journal entry for the new 2013 gardening year.

The dry conditions have continued as the summer marched on.  December saw mostly sunny blue-sky days.  Apparently a little rain fell on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but I wasn't here to see it.  The total fall didn't amount to all that much though ... only 14.6 mm  (0.6 of an inch).

January is our mid-summer month, and since my return home the mercury has hit between 31 and 34 deg C (87 - 93F) most days, with the night time temps slightly lower.  Of course the high humidity levels have added that extra touch of excruciating discomfort to the hot conditions.  Levels have reached between 80% to 90% in the middle of the day. 

Throughout the last few weeks, the skies have teased us a bit, with a smattering of dark grey cloud cover ...

... and then last week we started getting the occasional shower of rain.  They've continued for last few days now and whilst the rain hasn't penetrated the dry sun-scorched crusty ground around here, it has given the potted plants a very refreshing drink.

So far this month the rainfall total has only reached 54 mm  (2 inches), which fell over 5 different days.  For January we usually average over 4 times the amount that has fallen so far, but the heaviest falls often come towards the end of the month.  We will have to wait and see if this happens again this year.  The predictions are for a dry 'wet' season though.

In my absence over December / early January, my darling husband tried to keep up the watering in the Shadehouse and Courtyard garden areas in order to keep the potted plants going.  He managed to do that pretty well.  There were some losses, but nothing that broke my heart. 

I immediately took over the daily watering of potted plants, and I did a little bit of tidying up when I first got back.

I went round the courtyard garden giving some of the scraggly-looking plants, like the Coleus near the kitchen windows, a severe trim back. Everything needed feeding.  There was also a bit of dead-heading that had to be done, and I had to trim off quite a bit of dead or dying foliage.  But that didn't take long at all.

It's really down-time now, as both the garden and the gardener wait patiently for the wet season rains to arrive.  Of course, I get to wait indoors in the cool of the air-con!

Outdoors ... I arrived home to find the Cassia fistula, that grows in the hill driveway garden behind the courtyard, covered in golden racemes.  Such a sight always screams summer to me.

The Mussaendas were also putting on their show of colourful bracts and little yellow flowers.

My favourite is the white variety that grows at the back of the courtyard garden.

The top tier of the tiered garden beds outside the Shadehouse Garden was looking rather drab, but there are some blooms to be found.

The Iris domestica has begun another blooming cycle.

There have been the occasional late bloomers in the Hemerocallis patch.  This is Hemerocallis 'Maleny Tiger' still flowering.

The Lagerstroemia indica have just started throwing out flower sprays.

The Mussaenda 'Calcutta Sunset' shows off its fabulous multi-coloured bracts.

The very first seed pods on one of the young Adenium obesum have appeared.  I'm really excited to be able to gather its seed for the very first time.

The Justicia brandegeana continues to bloom.

The Mandevilla 'White Fantasy' is starting to spread its wings at last.  It's starting climbing up over the top of the Shadehouse Garden.

The bottom section of the tiered garden beds needs a good clean-up, but it's just been too hot and steamy to venture out to get this done. 

It's the same story with the Shadehouse.  Maybe next weekend, on the long weekend before the students arrive at school, I'll get up the energy to get something done in there.  At the moment I wander in, enjoy the few blooms that struggle to be noticed in amongst all the green, and wander out again.

These are all-year round bloomers out in the Shadehouse, and very much appreciated at this trying time of year.

The driveway garden beds are doing it on their own, as they have been for the last few months now. 

I'm always amazed at the hardiness of these drought tolerant plants.

I really must plant more of this Polygala.  It seems to thrive in the harsh conditions and the poor soil of the driveway rock garden.

Russelia is an absolute star in my garden.  It takes the heat, the humidity, the fierce sun and the dry conditions.  It will also stand up to the monsoonal rains when they finally arrive.  It's a must-have.

In the hill driveway garden bed, the Lagerstroemia speciosa or Queen's Myrtle has thrown out the first flower spray of the new blooming cycle,

and there are still a few clusters of flowers on the Plumerias.

Going down the hill driveway towards the Courtyard Garden, there are lovely Portulacas thriving in the summer sun in their little pots,

and the Hibiscus schizopetalus is showing off its hanging lanterns.

Wandering down further towards the courtyard, the pond area seems to be getting through the summer fairly well.

The Jasmine is beginning to bloom,

and the variegated Chlorophytum comosum is starting to spread as the plantlets form roots and take hold.

A Water Lily or two appear in the pond every day.

I never tire of that sight.

Out in the Courtyard Garden,

the Kaempferia pulchra is blooming,

a Turnera ulmifolia has seeded itself in the pot where Ixora 'Twilight Glow' grows,

and there are still a few Petunias hanging on.

We've had quite a few garden visitors of the feathered kind over the last few weeks, particularly the ...

 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

and Rainbow Lorikeets.

Other visitors I've noticed include

this rather handsome lizard,

and the Neon Cuckoo Bee.

Our wonderfully over-protective dog, Albert bailed up this rather forlorn little Ring-tailed Possum,

and alerted us to the presence of an Echidna burrowing its way into the Shadehouse Garden in the middle of the night.

So that's the state of affairs as we approach the end of the first month of this new year.  Fingers crossed the long-awaited decent rains of the wet season arrive very soon.


  1. I loved this post. We grow some of the same plants and I am always inspired to jump up and work in my gardens after seeing yours. I love your shade house and your courtyard and your driveway beds. It's all wonderful and look at all of the colorful interesting critters you have too.

    Have a lovely day ~ FlowerLady

    1. I very much appreciate your lovely comment, Lorraine. To me everything looks rather drab and dreary, and in need of a very good soak. I'm missing the usual riot of colour that's out in the courtyard from early Autumn to late Spring. But I know that time of year is not too far off now.

  2. Bernie
    thank you for your wonderful garden walk.
    I am always surprised to see how plants and flowers survive
    your very hot temperatures!
    Truly a feast for my eyes!
    Thank you,
    Gisela - Toronto
    no snow - but windy

    1. It's great to see you visiting, Guild-rez. The old reliables never seem to let me down. I think every garden in the world has some of those plants, and it's those that keep us going through the really harsh times.

  3. Thank you for the garden tour! I laughed when I read that you thought everything looked drab and dreary because NOTHING is going on in my garden. But it is winter here in Arkansas and we are experiencing a drought as well. You have a beautiful garden and very interesting birds and other creatures. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the rest of your time off! Brenda

    1. Yes I know, Brenda. It's all in the eye of the beholder. My eyes see a tired, parched and rather drab place at the moment. That will change when the rains finally arrive though. I should be a little more cheerful and appreciative then.

  4. I enjoyed this post very much Bernie....just wondering what was coming next as I scrolled down through the photos, had me all excited.
    Considering that your rains have not come in as yet, everything looks pretty darn good in my opinion.
    Loved the white that a double or a triple?
    I've never seen so many hanging lantern hibiscus flowers on one branch before...very pretty.
    I'm very excited for you having a seed pod on your careful as it matures, secure it with twist ties, so that when it does pop open, you won't lose any to the wind. My girlfriend plants her seeds all the time and she always has 100% germination, so if you need any tips I can ask her when the time is ripe...
    Also loved that pretty lizard, maybe if we had those there, I won't be so jumpy when they run across my path.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my first journal post for the year, Virginia. I suppose things aren't too bad really. This is a down time for the garden, but also for me as I can't get out there to do much.

      That white Petunia is just a double. It's from the old-fashioned 'Bonanza' series. I really love the doubles.

      Thanks for the tips on the Adenium seed pod. As it's my first I don't want to lose all those valuable seeds. I'm just waiting for the seed pod to age a bit more, and looking out for the signs of it opening. I shall be keeping a very close eye on proceedings.

  5. Nice pictures and post. I'm glad to see that all of the gardening world isn't dull, dreary and depressing (almost dead), right now. best of luck on that rain.

    1. Thanks Ignorant gardener. To me of course my garden is looking quite dull, because I know just how thirsty the plants all are. They all look very limp and parched for most of the day, and are not at their best at the moment. There are signs that the wet season is on the way now as we're getting a few showers. Fingers crossed.

  6. And a nice state of affairs it is!

    It all looks so summery and colorful. I can tell how good it felt for you to walk your gardens after an absence. The greenery and the pretty plants look lovely, especially blooming trees against a blue sky, but it is the cozy wet courtyard, with that table glistening in the rain, that I really like.

    Here's hoping you have a wet wet season and not a dry wet season! : )

    1. Laurrie, I too love the sight of the courtyard after a shower of rain. There's something very cheerful about seeing everything glistening with raindrops. At least in the courtyard there's evidence of the rain. Elsewhere it's hard to see the evidence as the rain hasn't starting penetrating the ground yet. Come on the wet wet!!!

  7. Wow wow wow - your plants are just sstunning and gorgeous. Such a welcome respite from our dark, icy grey cold

    1. So glad my post cheered you up, Patientgardener. I suppose you're waiting patiently for signs of the end of winter, whilst I'm looking for signs of the end of summer.

  8. Bernie,
    thanks again for a wonderful tour through your garden. We have at last got some good rains this weekend, hope you get some soon. Nothing soaks into the ground quite like rainwater.

    1. Africanaussie, we've only had showers lately, but it looks like some decent rain is heading our way now. We really need heavy rain to penetrate the ground here. It's still dry as a bone if you dig down just a little.

  9. Your garden looks wonderfull at the moment !!! We are covered in snow at the moment and when I see your pictures of all your flowers...they are a sight for sore eyes

    greetings from gwenniesgarden

    1. Gwennie, I'm glad my parched garden cheers you up at least. I'll be a lot happier with the state of affairs when we start getting really decent rain.

  10. Hi Bernie. I think your garden is looking amazing. No one would guess it's the end of your dry season. If you get too much rain you can send a bit down our way. We have been getting lots of heat but no rain yet.

    1. Missy, it looks like there's rain heading our way now from ex-cyclone Oswald. Maybe the rain will make it all the way down there as well.

  11. Dear Bernie.
    On an extremely cold grey winter monday morning, it warms my heart to visit your lovely blog, and look at all your gorgeous plants, and your amazing Aussie wildlife, which is taking place just outside your front door. Wonderful photos. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Think I should buy some Tulips to colour the day ;o)
    Have a great day. Best regards, Iris.

    1. Iris, did you get those Tulips? The lovely showers of rain are continuing here at the moment, and things are finally starting to turn green out in the bushland.

    2. Dear Bernie.
      Yes I did. I bought a colourful bouquet of mixed Tulips, and they lighten up my lounge, reminding me of the ones I put into my plant containers in October. They may be blooming in a few months.
      So happy for you, the rain is coming, like balm to your lovely garden.
      Best regards, Iris.

  12. Winter is just round the corner then? ;) Loved this post and cheers from dry Northern Tasmania :)

    1. Roadtoserendipity, Autumn and Winter are my favourite times of the year. I really am looking forward to it, as I do every year. It looks like our wet season has arrived finally, but that's the only good thing about the mid to end of summer up here.

  13. I do hope you get some rain soon. We have had some excruciating heat lately with only enough rain to wet the surface. Last week it got up to 46.7 degrees and it was hot, the next day the temp dropped to 20 degrees and now is on the rise again. February is usually our hottest month but this is unbelievable.

    1. Karen, I can't remember it ever getting to 46 C here. That must have been torture. Hopefully February will be far cooler for you.

  14. Those Hibiscus schizopetalus get me every time. They're fractal flowers!

    I hope you're getting some of this sweet, sweet rain from the combo of ex-TC Oswald and the monsoon trough. If you're not being soaked now, you soon will be. (But hopefully not too much.)

    1. Snail, the Hibiscus schizopetalus is my favourite Hibiscus. The flowers are just outstanding aren't they? I never tire of their beauty.

      Yes it seems the rain is on its way now. It's expected to arrive here on Thursday, so we'll see how it all pans out.

  15. Hello Bernie as always I've really enjoyed reading your post and looking at all the wonderful photos. All the more so as here in London it's cold, around zero at best, with plenty of snow as well.
    The promise of sunnier, warmer days when I'm able to start plotting again seems but a distant dream at the moment but it'll come soon enough.
    Take care, Flighty xx

    1. Flighty, just as you're looking forward to the coming spring, I'm looking forward to the coming Autumn. It's great that the end of our Summer is in sight now.

  16. dull and thirsty? My plants have hung out a little sign each - Need March rain soonest! Thank you! I did water the roses today, but the only flowers I could find to pick are Plumbago. Beautiful growing in the garden, but short-lived in the vase, so I hate to cut their life short.

  17. Gorgeous. Love the wildlife too. Hope you're getting good rain, but not too much.

  18. That's a brushtail, not a ringtail, possum.

    1. Yes thanks John. Obviously I was having a senior moment!


I appreciate your comments and will endeavour to reply to all. All comments are moderated, so spam will be fried.

Related Posts with Thumbnails