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.