Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking For The Wet Season To Continue ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 5, 2015.

  Date:  January 30, 2015

  Season:  mid-Summer and 'wet' season

Here we are with the first month of the new gardening year almost over.  January, our mid-Summer month, has flown by so quickly it seems.  The summery conditions started off quite nicely at the beginning of the month, with quite warm but fairly comfortable summer temps - between 30 and 33 deg C  (86 - 91 f) and not-too-distressing humidity levels.  Skies were bright blue and mostly clear.

We then started to see the mercury climb up over 33 deg C, and for the last couple of weeks we've had between 34 - 36 deg C (93 - 96 F).  It's been hot, hot, hot.  Humidity levels have been excruciating and being outdoors for any length of time between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm has been hard work.  The air con has had a great workout lately.  The gardener hasn't!  This time of year is when I down tools and do very little out in the garden.

Not long after the first days of the New Year, we started to hear thunderstorms roll in.  There were some fabulous lightning displays and loads of heavy grey cloud cover.  At first it seemed we were just being teased with the promise of decent heavy rain, but then the heavy stuff eventually started plummeting earthwards and finally penetrated the sun-baked ground.  

We've had around 177 mm of rain that has fallen over about 15 separate days so far this month.  That's about 7 inches of rain which has broken the dry season spell thankfully, but it's nowhere near our average January rainfall.  Fingers crossed there's more of that liquid sunshine on the way very, very soon because the garden certainly needs lots more.

It's been a joy to hear the rain drumming on the corrugated iron roof and pouring like a waterfall over the verandah hood.

My heart sings when I see rain splashed plants

and puddles of rain water on the ground waiting to soak through the soil after a long dry season.

It's also wonderful to see rainbows in the sky once more.  We don't see them much during the year, especially during our long dry season ... of course.

They are some of the upsides that come with the arrival of the first rains of our wet season.

The biggest downside is having our home invaded by loads and loads of insect life in the form of flying termite ants, little black beetles, cicadas and various other things.  I collected a few of the corpses left one morning on the little table on the verandah, and arranged them artfully to show some of the variety of insects that try to keep us company in the evenings.

They come in flying battalions as they are all attracted to the lights in the house.  We literally have to barricade ourselves inside with all doors shut and the air con on.  Thankfully the windows are all screened, but they are able to slip in through the cracks at the top and bottom of the doors and breezeway windows above the doors. 

This is what happens when you don't close the doors quickly enough.  These are all flying ants, termite ants, that have died overnight and left a huge mess to clean up the next morning.

There are other forms of insect life that turn up in abundance at this time of year, and I don't mind seeing them at all.

With the rain, loads and loads of butterflies suddenly descend on the garden and look for yummy nectar in the various flowers around the place.  

I get to see so many different types, but the most common this year appears to be the Common Grass Yellows and the Common Crows. 

There have also been a few lovely moths flying around as well.  This one caught my eye one morning.  I don't think I've seen one with transparent wings before.  What an amazing thing.

Evening brings loads of fantastic looking moths, with their spots and patterns, to the lights on the verandah.

Now while all this action is happening in and around and close to the garden, there's not a lot of actual gardening getting done.  It's just too hot and humid most days.

Early in the morning I love to go wandering around the place to check out what's going on.  I might pull a weed or two, or dead head a plant, but it's more a case of just making sure everything is doing well.  I do a bit of watering and trimming back when needed, but then skedaddle back indoors to the cool as fast as possible.
One thing I've noticed during this year's mid-Summer more than any previous year is the amount of beautiful perfumes exuding from various plants in the garden.  It makes for a very pleasant stroll in the early morning or early evening.

There have been a few Murrayas here since before we moved in, I have encouraged the growth of a few of the babies that pop up every now and then.  I often bring the flowers indoors as a little bouquet.

I have been making a conscious effort in the last two years to add perfumed flowering plants to the garden and I'm finally reaping the reward of this effort.  Ive added things like my fabulous Gardenia 'Soleil d'or'.  The flowers open up as a lovely creamy white, then start fading to a lemony yellow and finally to a deep golden orange.  I love watching the changes.

I've also planted Hedychium coronarium, or White Butterfly Ginger, and Lonicera japonica, or Japanese Honeysuckle, (both can be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the collage above).  The Citharexylum or Fiddlewood, the Jasminum officinale and the Pseudomussaenda flava have been growing here for many years.

To end off this first Garden Journal entry of 2015, I put together a little video clip to show what's been blooming or what's been hanging around my garden so far this year.  


  1. Un piccolo pezzo di paradiso sulla terra!
    Complimenti, il tuo giardino è stupendo e le immagini meravigliose!
    Un saluto dall'Italia.

    1. Thank you so much for you lovely comment, Luci, and for taking the time to visit. It is a little piece of heaven, although at this time of year I sometimes don't appreciate it as much as I should. Summertime here can be harsh and I often find myself wishing it was over very soon.

  2. Loved the video Bernie. The garden is looking magical and will definitely feel like a piece of heaven with all that scent! I guess it's only fair that you have to share it with some bugs.

    1. Rusty Duck, just last evening I did have what could be described as a magical experience. The perfume from both the Gardenia and the White Butterfly Ginger came wafting down from the garden bed to the back verandah where I was sitting enjoying a cup of tea. It was such a heavenly fragrance.

  3. clearwing moth. What skill to capture that so clearly in a photo!

    1. More like pure luck than skill Diana. I just happened to be in the right spot to notice the little creature. I didn't realise its full beauty until I looked at the uploaded photos. Such an amazing creature.

  4. What a wonderful blog. I am looking to put some more subtropical plants in my garden and this is great inspiration. You have some beautiful plants. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You will enjoy the results once you've added more subtropical plants to your garden. They can add so much texture and colour, and perfume. I'm glad I can help you along on your quest for these beautiful plants.

  5. I am so happy to hear you have had rain and so many gorgeous flowers....but ugh all those bugs...ick! But you do have some of the most beautiful butterflies!

    1. The tropics in summer and the insects go hand in hand unfortunately. Being so close to bushland doesn't help either. We see far more variety in insect life here than we ever did living in the inner city suburbs.

  6. I enjoyed this post on your garden, and I LOVED the video at the end.
    So happy that the rain has finally came for you.
    We have the flying termite ants here too. They seem to appear every so often in droves around dusk time. They are attracted to the patio light. I just put a basin of water under the light and invariably the reflection captures them and they fall in and beats spraying with insecticide since Brownie hangs out on the patio at night.
    You have a wide assortment of beautiful moths and butterflies, love their beautiful wing colours and patterns.

    1. Thanks Virginia. We've had some more rain during this week, but still far short of the usual wet season falls. It's all welcome of course, but the place really needs a good drenching so the moisture can get down deep into the ground. I've tried the buckets of water under the lights like you, but we just get too many insects and loads of them don't seem to go anywhere near the buckets. I don't use any insecticides either. I just clean up the mess every morning!

  7. Ugh! That collection of house invaders made my hairs stand up! I don’t mind creepy-crawlies in the garden but I want my house to myself :-)
    Lovely to see your collection of butterflies, there has been so few here in Britain the last couple of years – lots of bees and moths but very few butterflies. I enjoyed the video at the end, lovely to see the summery photos when we have such cold weather.

    1. Here in the tropics we get the creepy crawlies in the garden and in the house. That's why every house has to have screens on the windows. I even have a couple of retractable screens in some of the doorways. Unfortunately the insects can find the littlest of cracks and they still get through. Thankfully this only happens for a few weeks during our summertime. The rest of the year I don't really have any problems.

      I hope that your cold weather is starting to ease up and you're able to get out into your garden a lot more.

  8. Vackra bilder av underbara växter som vi här i Nordens land endast kan få se på bild. Vi har alla våra bekymmer var än i världen vi odlar våra älskade trädgårdar. Här är vintern snart besegrad av vårens ankomst men än är det kallt och inte ens Crocus vågar sig fram men snart så...

    Trevligt att titta in på en blogg på andra sidan jordklotet.

    Hälsningar från Sverige



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