Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Hint Of Rain ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 42, 2011

Date:  October 23

Season:  mid-Spring and 'dry' season.

We've had some funny weather lately.  It's been very overcast and dreary, with loads of dark grey clouds hanging around.

There was a sprinkling of raindrops for a couple of days but that's all cleared away now.   The plants appeared somewhat perkier even with just the faintest hint of rain.

Not very much further north, they received downpours of rain.  None of that made it's way here.  Still, it was lovely to have a break from the heat that's been building up and building up as we get closer to the end of our Spring.  La Nina has graced us with her presence once more, so the predictions are for another very heavy wet season with quite a number of cyclones thrown in, just for fun!  That La Nina has such a sense of humour.

Gardening chores lately have mostly been of the watering and weeding variety, with the occasional fertilizing and deadheading included as well.  I've become much better at getting most of the plants through the long dry season, and it's almost become routine to me now although there's always the pest problems that crop up and take me by surprise.

The monster weed Lantana camara has reared its ugly head in two places along the driveway garden beds.  This plant is a major environmental weed here and develops into huge clumps very quickly.  It's been known to pop up in a few places around the property close to the bushland, but it's never appeared down the driveway before.  I know the flowers are lovely, but it's not welcome in my garden beds.  I'm having the devil of a time trying to dig it out!

I'm afraid the wallabies and I are no longer the best of friends.  They've well and truly overstepped the boundaries of decent behaviour and good manners.  I've become a little fierce and started shooting hose water at the ones that flaunt their misbehaviour and invade my courtyard garden.   When they started munching on my beloved New Guinea Impatiens, the friendship was over!  I have to say, that since mean Bernie has shown her true self, there have been less visitors munching on my courtyard plants. 

I'm still keeping lots of potted plants up on the table though.  It's not ideal, but it's lovely to see the colour in my once idyllic courtyard garden space.  Work on repairing the pergola starts in a few weeks, so unfortunately the courtyard is going to look horrid for quite some time.  But I'm not going to dwell on that just yet.  I'll just enjoy the space as it is right now.

I've been out doing some much needed weeding down the driveway garden beds, which still look rather drab and depressing to me.

Thankfully though, there's the most welcome sight of the largest of the two Delonix regia or Poinciana trees at the front gates starting its flowering season.  It's comforting to see those blooms once more as neither tree bloomed last year.  That was probably because we had quite a wet dry season ... we received some rainfall in almost every month of the dry season last year ... and Poincianas bloom best when it's very very dry.

It's delightful to see those brilliant red flower sprays with the occasional red-streaked white petal thrown in the mix.

It's also been very delightful indeed to spot loads of flower sprays on the Crotons down the driveway.  They obviously appreciated the drenching they received when I turned on the irrigation for a day a couple of weeks back.  They've given a hearty thanks with fabulous displays of their little flowers.

These flowers look rather like pretty fireworks exploding all over the shrubs.

There were quite a few of these brown butterflies flitting around me while I weeded.  I'm not all that knowledgeable about butterfly varieties, maybe the Orange Bush Brown, Mycalesis terminus.  Whatever there were, I enjoyed their company.

The sound of droning honeybees filled the air as well.  Quite a few of the Golden Cane Palm stands are in bloom and providing loads of nectar for these busy creatures.  Can you see them?

Here's a closer look.

I noticed a Common Crow Butterfly, Euploea core, sharing a flower stalk with a bee as well.  We are so lucky to be able to see bees, butterflies and birds all year round here.  I do think we take that for granted a little bit though.

What else was happening in the driveway garden beds?

Well, the Graptophyllums seem to have new growth popping out all over and no longer look like dead sticks poking out of the ground.

There's new lovely new bright green growth on all the surviving Duranta repens shrubs.  They're all still rather short and stumpy, but it's great to see these signs of new life.

Blooms have burst forth on the largest Duranta near the front gates as well.

Okay, moving on to other spots around my place.

There's some great colour out in the shadehouse garden now, with the Asiatic Lilies, Costus and Dragonwing Begonias putting on a marvellous show.

Most of the Asiatic Lilies blooms, from the mixed pack of bulbs planted up back in winter, have been orange and yellow,

although just a day ago, this brilliant deep plum bloom opened up.  I just adore the colours from this 'Matisse Collection'.  They're my sort of colours.

One of the most delightful finds out in the shadehouse around about three weeks ago now, was the appearance of the very first flower buds on my Hoya bella.  I've had this plant for two years now and it's been very, very (yawn) slow growing.  I'd almost given up on it and maybe that was the answer.  I was just about ready to throw the thing out, but decided to re-pot, or should I say re-hanging basket, and move it into a different spot.  Voila!  Flower buds!  I'm now eagerly waiting to see the pretty pink flowers.

The Neomarica longifolia are all bursting with blooms and whilst they don't immediately grab your attention, and are often hard to spot in the jungle out in the shadehouse, the soft yellows certainly add lovely little colour bursts throughout the predominant green.

When you get up close, you can truly appreciate their beauty.

Taking a closer look, I also noticed the Globba winitii or Mauve Dancing Ladies Ginger, has arisen from its winter dormancy.  When it's grown more and started to bloom, I'll move the pot in amongst the plants at the other end of the shadehouse where its gorgeous drooping flower sprays can be in plain sight.

My lovely Caladium has also woken up from its slumber and thrown out its first heart-shaped leaves.

Moving on once more ...

Outside, in the tiered garden beds, the Hemerocallis parade has begun.  These beauties have been front and centre for a little while now.  Starting at top left and moving clockwise:  Hemerocallis 'Jamaican Me Crazy', Hemercallis 'Archangel Eyes', Hemerocallis 'Francois Verheart' and Hemerocalis 'Blackberry Jack'.

Gorgeous Hemerocallis 'Rue Madelaine' joined the boys just the other day.  Such a great colour.

My newly planted just last year Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' continues to throw out its beautiful bottlebrush blooms.  I always get excited when I see a new bud opening.

Finally, onto that Courtyard Garden.

The Petrea volubilis or Sandpaper Vine, which suffered a great deal during the cyclone, has seemingly magically appeared and whipped out a few flowers sprays.  I was quite surprised with this.  I hadn't noticed that the vine had taken shelter and grown up through my Sterculia quadrifida tree.  Cheeky thing!  I'd actually thought I'd lost the vine altogether, so I was so pleased to see those familiar purple blooms.

They really are stunning little flowers, and come in my favourite colour.

I have quite a bit of purple, including pots of Gomphrena globosa, Torenias, Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', and I just wish I could put these pots around the courtyard as usual, rather then leave them sitting high and dry on the table away from those marauding Macropus agilis!  Agile Wallabies to you and me.

Thankfully, the Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' remains in its rightful place, alongside the Salvias.

There's also my other favourite ... splashes of white to cheer up the space.

Hark ... I hear thunder in the distance and so does the female Varied Triller!   She was busy searching for some tasty flowers but was suddenly startled by the sound.  Heck, it's lucky my camera and I have such a close relationship these days!!!

Those dark grey clouds are rolling across the ranges once more.  There's that hint of a light shower of rain on its way.  This time of year is sometimes referred to as 'the build-up'.  It's a distinctly northern Australia thing.  The transition between our long 'dry' and the short 'wet' or 'monsoon' season starts around October, when the humidity levels start rising and the mercury gets up around or over that 30 deg C mark.  It's that time of year again when we might get sprinkles of the wet stuff while we sit waiting and hoping for decent rain to come.   Of course, we're also hoping that when the decent stuff does arrive, it's not too extreme.

Yep!  I can hear the slight tinkling sound of tiny raindrops hitting our tin roof.  Let's see how long this lightest of light showers lasts.

Answer:  around 1 minute!  It was over by the time I'd published this post.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mid-Spring Snapshots ... October 2011 ... On This Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Continuing my 'Snapshots' series for this mid Spring month.  Yes, October Downunder is the middle of our Springtime.  In my north-eastern corner, Summer has gate-crashed the Springtime Weather Party.  It's heating up and the sun is practising its fierce glare.

Conditions during October?
It's our 'dry' season here, and the grand total of rainfall during Spring so far  .... 0 inches ... 0 mms.  The last rainfall recorded was mid-April (mid-Autumn), so we've had six dry months since then.  That is the usual pattern for this part of our great country at this time of the year.

The heavy wet season we had earlier in the year, accompanied the destructive cyclone that hit this area, left a lot of debris and thick grass lying around on the ground of the bushland in the mountain ranges and foothills here.  We've experienced almost non-stop bushfires raging in those ranges for nearly three months now.

Whilst that's quite some distance away and poses no threat to our suburb, it has meant many, many hazy days and some spectacular looking sunrises.

Daily temperatures during early Spring (September) were delightful, with the mercury rarely reaching 28 deg C (82 F).  Summertime temps. arrived suddenly on the first day of October though.  The high was around 35 deg C (95 F) that day and since then the daytime high has remained around 30 deg C and above.  It's getting decidedly steamy as well, with humidity levels up around 70%.

So here's the round up of what's been blooming since the beginning of our Spring and are still in bloom today.  There are no fabulous long views or fabulous garden beds to see ... that is not my garden.  Most of my plants grow in pots or in a few rather ugly looking beds on this challenging hillside spot.

Starting with the trees around the property ...
On this topic, I do have to mention that so far this Spring, as most trees continue their recovery efforts, there have been some noticeable abscences from the bloom parade.  The Corymbia torellianas or Cadaghi Gums are usually in bloom and so are the Planchonia careyas or Cocky Apple Trees.  But so far, they have both been bareft of flowers.

The damaged, recovering Bauhinia variegata 'Alba' has been throwing out  a few flowers here and there.  It's odd on two counts ... firstly, because it's usually a winter bloomer and secondly, each bloom is slightly marked with brown spots.  It's almost as if the tree is saying "This is hard work, given that it's the dry season and I'm still in shock from that horrid cyclone earlier this year."

One of the three enormous Tabebuia heterophyllas has only just started to bloom once more.

New bright green leaves are now appearing on all the Delonix regias and some flowers have appeared.

The deciduous Plumeria rubras are both showing off their new leaf growth as well.  One of these trees has even thrown out a flower spray, which is a delightful sight.

The star trees of the garden through early and mid-Spirng have definitely been the Eucalyptus platyphylla and the Corymbia torelliana, but not for their flower display.  Both have been shedding their old bark and showing off their new trunks.

Now onto the shrubs ... what's blooming?

The recovering Duranta repens shrubs are still mostly bare of blooms.  They is just the odd exception, so there's a couple of flower sprays if you look hard enough.  The dwarf Azalea out in the front garden has only just finishing its flowering, and the Euphorbia pulcherrimas are coming to the end of their display as well.

Pentas are now back in bloom after they were cut back severely last season.

The all-year-round blooming Hibiscus show flowers of course.

Out in the Shadehouse Garden ... what is blooming?

Right now the fantastic Asiatic Lilies are putting on their great display.

The Begonias, Impatiens wallerianas, the Costus, the Anthurium and the Stromanthe are all in bloom as well.

Now, out in the Courtyard Garden ... what is flowering?

Well, given that the hordes of hungry wallabies have been doing their darndest to nibble their way through most of the plants out in the courtyard, there have been some great shows from the potted annuals and perennials out there.

I've been pleased with the show from plants like the Petunias, the Pansies, the Nasturtiums and the Pelargoniums this year compared to last year.  The sunny, dry days have obviously made a difference with these plants.  I didn't bother with any Zinnias, Dahlias or Calibrachoas this year and I haven't really missed them.  It's been heart-breaking enough watching the overnight disappearances of so many plants, and I couldn't possibly fit any more potted annuals on the outdoor table in my efforts to keep them safe from nibbling night marauders.

There's all the usual suspects in their pots sitting out on or hanging around the courtyard ... Osteospermum, Salvias, Pelargoniums ...

... Streptocarpus, Tabernaemontana, Cleome, Bracteanthas, Crossandras, Impatiens hawkeri, Torenias, Spathiphyllums, Cane Begonias and Azaleas.

Elsewhere ...

If I wander around the other garden spots on the property, I can also see ...

.... Spathoglottis plicata, the first of the Hemerocllis for the season and the brilliant Ozothamnus.

The Neomarica longifolia or Yellow Walking Iris clumps are all in bloom as well.

I'm joining Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme today, so head on over there to see what's blooming in gardens around the world.

I've only just realised that it's also two years ago that I began this blog with a very brief post.  I found myself with little to do that weekend, and decided to give blogging a try, just to see if I could actually work it out all by myself.  I did ... and it's been such a fun activity ever since.  Thank you to all those who have read my posts and have left comments since that first intrepid step into the garden blogging world.  You've made this whole journey a fantastic experience. 

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