Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spring Swansong ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 49, 2012

Date:  November 25, 2012

Season:  end of Spring and 'dry' season

It's been quite a while between posts now, but at last I've got the chance to catch up with my Garden Journal.  I'm going to take a look back over the Spring months to make sure I'm up to date with these journal entries.

Spring begins in September here in Australia, and we're now just a week away from the official beginning of our Summer.  Most of our Springtime this year was very, very pleasant I have to say.  Throughout September and October, we had very comfortable daytime temperatures.  The mercury stayed around 27-29 deg C (80 - 84 F).  But from the beginning of November, it has climbed.  During this last Spring month we've had daytime temps. of 30-32 C  (86 - 89 F).  That 30 deg C mark is a defining marker for us.  Lower, it's comfy ... but over it starts getting decidedly hot and steamy.  The humidity levels have been climbing during November as well, with the levels are up around 70-80% most days. 

Of course, Spring is also towards the end of our dry season.  There was no rain recorded from September to around mid-November.  Then there were about five days when we received little droplets from the cloudy overcast skies above, but the total was only 7.4 mm or 0.3 or an inch.  Hardly touched the ground!  So we haven't had any really decent rainfall since March, which makes this year's dry around eight months long so far.

Just over the last few weeks though, we have been experiencing what we call 'build-up' - that time of year just before the wet season arrives.

We see dark clouds hovering in the sky.  We may even hear thunder far off in the distance, and we occasionally see some lightning flash across the evening sky.  There might be a sprinkle or two of rain.  It's a promise of what's to come.

In the meantime though, the surrounding bushland and yard are rather dry and parched from the months of dry conditions.   Most of the plants at my place just have to tough it out, as I only water the 'front-of-the-house' garden beds about once a fortnight, and the 'away-from-the-house' garden beds about once a month.

The trees in the surrounding bushland look mostly bare and undressed as they have dropped most of their leaves in an effort to get through the dry season. There is some new Spring growth here and there, but full leaf cover will not happen until the rains arrive.

Now let's look back at what was blooming over the Spring.

 The courtyard garden was awash with colour throughout Spring ...

... and the shadehouse garden was filled with fabulous foliage and flowers as well.

Back in September ...

Osteospermums, Torenias and Impatiens were all blooming in their pots out in the courtyard.  The Spathoglottis plicata or Ground Orchids, and the Neomarica longifolia or Yellow Walking Iris had started another blooming cycle.

The Dietes bicolor and Dietes grandiflora had also started another blooming cycle for the year.  The Corymbia torellianas or Cadaghi Gums had started flowering, as had the white Bauhinia variegata.  The various Salvias and Angelonias were all in bloom around the garden.

The first of the Lilies had opened.  These included Asiatics, Orientals and the L.A. hybrid

My favourites, the Petunias really started putting on a great show in early September and have continued ever since, with the occasional trim back and lots of deadheading.

By October ...

... the flower and foliage show out in the pond corner of my courtyard garden was in full swing.  All these plants have continued their great performance since ... and I expect that to continue for a few more weeks yet.   I will have to move some of the potted plants into shadier positions soon though, especially things like the double white Impatiens walleriana and the Salvia glechomifolia.  They won't like being out in the full summer sun.

The other Salvias and the Angelonias seem to thrive in full sun positions and carry on with little attention, other than regular watering in the early morning.

All through October, the Lilies put on a fabulous display ...

... and the Orientals and Olde World Lilies, in particular, added a beautiful fragrance to the courtyard.

It was during October that the male flower cone of one of my Cycas revolutas appeared, and the other Cycas showed its male flower cone in early November.

The Petrea volubilis threw out its first flower sprays since being cut back drastically after cyclone Yasi at the beginning of last year.  The Lilies continued showing off, and my first ever double Asiatic Lily flowers appeared.

October also saw the Plumeria rubra throwing out more flower sprays, while the Euphorbia pulcherrima was coming to the end of its blooming cycle.  The Brunfelsia was in fine form with its three different coloured flowers all blooming at the same time.  The pink and white Jacobinia carneas were blooming again, and the Hibiscus schizopetalus shrubs were finally fully recovered from their ordeal last year and were now back into their all-year round flowering cycle.  It was absolutely wonderful seeing the unusual lantern-shaped Hibiscus flowers back for all to see every single day.

The Eucalyptus platyphyllas or Poplar Gums, both on the property and in the surrounding bushland, all took their turn to break into full bloom, and the sweet honey perfume wafting from those puffy flowers filled the air day and night.

It was also time for our native Planchonia careya or Cocky Apple trees to bloom.

The final Spring month of November saw ...

... most of the Hemerocallis on show in the far corner of the tiered garden beds.

The Mandevilla 'White Fantasy' broke into bloom again, as did the white Salvia, the purple Thunbergia erecta 'Tru Blu', the Adenium obesum and the beautiful Clerodendrum ugandense or Blue Butterfly Bush.

It was also time for the Delonix regias or Poincianas to start blooming.  The tree canopy will be covered in bright red flowers for many, many weeks  to come.

Springtime is really the beginning of downtime in respect to gardening jobs for me.  I don't plant during Spring, as that's when our dry season is in full swing.  I really don't do much at all aside from regular watering of the potted plants and some of the garden beds, general tidying up and fertilizing and deadheading of the annuals.  As the summery conditions carry on, it becomes almost impossible to spend any time out in the garden, so I'm enjoying every moment right now.

I thought I'd finish this latest Garden Journal post with a video clip.  I managed to capture a beautiful Forest Kingfisher sitting in a tree yesterday, but the soundtrack to the video is our daily summertime soundtrack here next to the bush.  You won't be able to miss the loud cicada song in the background.  That's what we hear all around us pretty much all day and into the night throughout the coming summer.


  1. Gosh Bernie, all your plants look so well-cared for. Lovely photos that could reside in a Garden Plant book.
    I enjoyed the video too...that cicada background noise would need some getting used to though!!
    Although we have crickets here at night, that I only seem to hear when I have friends over that point out the noise to me. I guess our ears tune it out after a while.

    1. Thank you Virginia, my old Canon still takes some great shots. The cicada song really does become almost unnoticeable most of the time for us, but in the middle of summer on very hot days when the humidity levels are soaring, somehow the noise just becomes deafening.

  2. That's a fantastic time-lapse journey through your spring. Beautiful photography! I agree with your camera comment as I still use my old Canon 350D to take very publishable shots. I'm amazed how you're able to keep your pots looking so good through such a long dry. Do you treat the potting mix with anything special? In Sydney we've had pretty much no rain for only 3 months and everything is SO parched and stressed. Some of your sticky humidity would be unpleasant, but helpful!

    1. Catherine, I'm glad you enjoyed the overview of our Spring up here. About the potting mix I use in my potted plants. I use either Osmocote or Searle's Premium potting mix, but I add water-saving crystals and sometimes even wetting agent to the mix. I make sure the pots are crowded with a plant to lessen evaporation off the surface, or I use some of my sugar mulch that I buy for the garden beds.

      I also find that I need to make sure that the plants are grouped together for protection, and also so that the taller ones can provide some shade.

      We actually had a few raindrops last night, and when I say 'few' I mean exactly that. The weakest of weak showers lasted for about two minutes, and the rain hardly touched the ground. I think it evaporated pretty quickly before it got anywhere near my plants. But that's what it's like during the 'build-up'. Roll on some decent rain for the both of us!

  3. I enjoyed your video - they are such cute little birds, and he seems unconcerned about having his photo taken. Is that a black taro in the first photo? Gosh I love the color of those leaves - they really pop out at you! all your flowers are gorgeous,

    1. AA, this little Kingfisher sat on that branch for ages and didn't seem to worry in the least that I was around. There is a black Taro plant in my pond, AA but I don't think you can see it in any of these photos.

  4. I like it so much. The flowers are really nice and I hope I can have all of them in my garden too. I had so much fun watching that video. Thumbs up to you.

    1. Thanks Garden Supplies, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to my blog. I love flowers and I seem to have just a couple more every year somewhere in the garden.

  5. Dear Bernie, it is so odd to see how things are blooming in the reverse of the plants on Long Island. You are going into Spring and Summer we are in Autumn and heading into Winter. Thanks for the comments about our super storm and the results. As you have done, we will all get back to normal eventually. Today almost a month later, I saw a huge boom truck taking down one of the trees that was in my first post about Sandy. It was hanging in another tree, but between two houses. I guess by comparison, it wasn't at the top of their list until now. I was very lucky compared to most. There wasn't much rain so I didn't flood this time. Managing huge trees is sad when they have to be cut down, but replanting comes after, and new trees will take their places. Cheers from Long Island, New York. Lori from the Jarvis House.

    1. Lori, I'm glad you came through the super storm relatively unscathed. Eventually things do get back to normal, but it can take a while. I think losing the really huge trees is what causes heartache for so many people. When they're removed, there's just a huge gap left behind, and of course there's the knock-on effect on the creatures that call them home or enjoy their flowers and fruit.

  6. Your garden is just a rainbow of color and bloom Bernie, it's just gorgeous! It's just so strange seeing spring and summer in your garden, when we're heading in to winter here!

  7. We are just now in that taunting, just a few drops of rain stage. Your garden is clearly a loved and cherished place.

  8. I'm so jealous of what your climate allows you to grow, even if they do have to "tough it out" during the dry season! We've forgotten what a dry season is like here in the UK!

    Particularly love the various members of the Iris family that you have. The Neomarica longifolia is just stunning.

    My Clerodendrum is now back indoors after taking a couple of light frosts, and despite the low light levels it is bursting out in flower buds all over.

  9. Wow, Bernie. There is so much happening in your garden I hardly know where to start. Your shadehouse plants look fabulous. I especially love the very dark foliaged plant. My other favourites are the white jacobinia, the angelonia, the petrea, and those lilies. It's always interesting for me to see other people's daylilies. There are just so many different varieties, and you have some stunners - I think the white and purple, and the pink and purple in the middle row are my favorites.

  10. This looks like a wonderful season for your garden. With so many lovely flowers in so many shades. I really enjoyed myself ogling at your floral display. Now, I'd like to wish you Happy Merry Christmas!


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