Friday, February 15, 2013

An End-Of-Summer Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... February, 2013

It's the last month of our Summer here and the conditions have turned a little cooler.  Our daytime temps are now hovering around a much more pleasant 31deg C.  Today was a particularly lovely day with light showers of rain have drifting over the city.  We've seen a few days of grey cloud cover in the last week, but it hasn't amounted to much at all.  So far this month our rainfall total has only reached 8.6 mm (0.3 of an inch), which is a very different story to this time last year.  So it seem our wet season continues to be a dismal no-show!

Out in the still rather parched garden, there are the regular end-of-summer bloomers.

The Tabebuia heterophylla is blooming, although this blooming cycle started a little later in the summer this year compared to previous years.  The pale, pale light pink flowers are rather unassuming in amongst all the green foliage, and from a distance are hard to spot.  When you get up close however, you notice that brilliant yellow throat and crinkly texture of the petals.

Another of the tall, tall trees on the property that has begun its summertime blooming cycle rather late is the Citharexylum spinosum.  Finally though there are wonderful white flower sprays covering the branches and attracting all sorts of insect life.

There are still the occasional bunch of blooms on the Plumeria obtusa, although they're now becoming harder and harder to spot as its blooming cycle comes to an end.

The Allamanda cathartica 'Sunee' is showing off its golden yellow flowers once more.  These bright cheery blooms certainly add a great splash of colour in the front garden bed.

There are now rather large flowerheads on the old Ixora coccinea at the back of the courtyard.

Other Ixoras are also blooming nicely as well.  This lemony yellow variety is one of my favourites.

The trusty old common red Gerbera always makes me smile.  It's one of the most reliable year-round bloomers at my place.

The fabulous white Musseanda philippica 'Aurore' is covered in its white bracts and little star-shaped yellow flowers.

It's great to see the white flower sprays of the Salvia leucantha 'White Velour'  popping up out in the tiered garden beds.

Another of my lovely Mussaendas, Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose', is on the wane, but still looks fabulous against the background of the red Russelia.

I'm seeing the purple-pink plumes of the Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' one more,

and I've been surprised to see quite a few blooms on the dwarf Azalea growing in one of the front garden beds.   That's not a common sight this late in the summer.

My maturing Lagerstroemia indica shrubs are showing a few more flowerheads this year.

One of my Lagerstroemia speciosa trees is now covered in buds and some of its pretty purple flowers have opened.

Out in the shadehouse garden a couple of my pass-along Brassocattleya (Bc) Maikai hybrids are showing off for the first time.  I really love the form and the colour of these little Orchids.

One of my Hemerocallis, Hemerocallis 'Rue Madelaine' is turning out to be one of the longest blooming Daylilies in my little Daylily patch.  I've never seen a Daylily blooming this late in the Summer before.  Don't you just love the surprises that greet you when you have a garden? 

One of the blooms I'm particularly enjoying at the moment is my beautiful Water Lily.  It's another pass-along plant, so I have no idea of its varietal name.  I just call it 'Gorgeous'!

I'm joining Carol for  Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Return To Fairly Dry ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 7, 2013

Date: February 10, 2013

Season: end of Summer, and wet season

Well our wet season seems to have gone off track once more.  After reporting lovely decent falls of rain in my last journal, two weeks ago, we've had only a shower or two since with the miserable grand total of 4.2mm (0.2 ins).

The monsoonal low that brought us heavy rain back at the end of January, was ex-cyclone Oswald.  It travelled all the way down the eastern coast bringing torrential rain and catastrophic flooding to many of the towns and our capital city along the way.  Up here in my corner of the north however, the conditions turned very very still, disgustingly hot and humid, and  pretty dry once old Oswald had moved on.

The skies turned a brilliant shade of blue once again, and there have been lots of fluffy white clouds floating by.  This past week has felt a little bit cooler though, after the atrocious temperatures experienced the week before.  The mercury has now dropped back around the 30-31 deg C mark, but along with this slight drop in temperature, there has been a drop in humidity levels, and this has made the conditions far more comfortable.

At this time of year I don't do much in the garden.   Of course, there is the necessary task of hand-watering all my potted plants and hanging baskets, but the plants growing elsewhere in the outdoor garden beds have to rough it pretty much on their own.  I might turn on the watering system in the front-of-house garden beds once a week (if I remember to do so when I come home from work), but the other garden beds are watered by sprinklers only every three to four weeks.  Everything really needs another damned good drenching.

This weekend I did manage to get a couple of other jobs finished though, primarily because it's been a slightly cooler time and there's been a lovely breeze around the foothills here.  So firstly, I had a pleasant time hacking into many of the container plants out in the courtyard and giving them a rather severe trim back.  Consequently, the courtyard is not at its best.

Then I planted up various seeds that I had received from some generous nearby gardeners.  I have sown Zephyranthes citrina and primulina, Habranthus robustus, mixed Adenium and Agapanthus seeds.  I have to admit that I'm not a gardener who's had much experience growing anything other than annuals from seed, so fingers crossed I get good results.

Finally I potted up my two new purchases, a Curcuma alismatifolia (top) and a Globba capicola (bottom), and a couple of punnets of Cosmos seedlings that I just couldn't resist when I visited the local nursery during the week.

It's been a while since I've planted anything, so it was a great feeling to get my hands dirty.  Actually it was just wonderful to get outside and not be sitting indoors in the air-conditioning.

Now as you can see, there's one big job that really needs doing, and soon.  I need to get into the shadehouse and do a big clean-up. It's like an overgrown jungle in there.  Everything took off after the couple of downpours we had at the end of last month.  Now the jungle needs taming.  I'm hoping that the daytime temps next weekend will match those we experienced this past weekend, and I'll be able to get out there with my gardening shears, thin out the ferns and Walking Irises, and be able to see what else is growing out there.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Special Australian Season.

Here in my part of the world we don't experience four significant seasonal changes.  Whilst I do refer to seasons like summer, winter, autumn, spring; in reality we really only have the short 'wet' season and the long, long 'dry'. 

There is another part of our weather cycle, another season that I refer to from time to time.  It's 'cyclone season'.  That is a time in our yearly weather cycle that can have devastating results on the environment and the people living here.

A typical Australian cyclone season begins in November (which is the last month of our Spring), and ends in April (our mid-Autumn month), with most of the cyclonic activity happening during our summer.  We average around 11 cyclones per cyclone season across northern Australia, with maybe half of those making landfall and crossing our coastline.

At the moment are now three-quarters of the way through the cyclone season of 2012-2013, and I guess on the worst scenario scale, we've managed to experience a fairly mild cyclone season so far, although it's all relative when it comes to severe weather events.   What one person experiences can be oh-so-different to another's experiences.

The predicted outlook for the current cyclone season was for "average to slightly below average cyclonic activity", which was good news to our ears.  I found this Wikipedia page which gives a very good round-up about the current cyclone season for those who are interested, and it appears that the predictions have been right on-the-money so far.

2012-2013 Australian Region Cyclone Season

Cyclones tend to affect the northern, north-eastern, north-western and western regions around the coastlines.  So far this cyclone season there have officially been 5 cyclones, the first appearing on the radar on Boxing Day, December 26th, 2012. 

Here's the summary map of the 2012-2013 cyclone season so far:

You can see from the map that only one of the cyclones has impacted on my home state of Queensland so far.  Parts of my home state of Queensland have really been suffering in the last couple of weeks.   A cyclone known as Tropical Cyclone Oswald developed a long way up north, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, over a fortnight ago.

The actual cyclonic storm only lasted for twelve hours up there, and was quickly downgraded to a monsoonal low soon after it crossed the west Cape York coast.  But Oswald didn't make a polite exit, as a gentleman should.  He made a little turn as he hit the Coral Sea coast, and the remnants of the cyclone continued all the way down the eastern coast, maintaining intensity, until he ran out of puff around about Sydney, and then moved out to sea.

As an ex-cyclone, Oswald caused severe storms, tornadoes and bought incredible amounts of torrential rain down the coast.  The impact has included the loss of 6 lives, evacuation of thousands of people, widespread devastating flooding and destruction of homes, roads and bridges.  We were very lucky up here in the north.  We only received a couple of days of heavy torrential downpours, which we rather appreciated after our long dry season. 

Many people further south must have had feelings of deja-vu.  They had been through catastrophic flooding just two years ago, so I can imagine how traumatic it must have been to go through this again after many had just recovered from the last experience.  The only positive I guess this time around, was that the extent of the flooding was not as bad. 

You can read all about the floods of 2010/2011 here:  2010-2011 Queensland Floods

Now while we northerners have not experienced a severe flooding event so far this year to compare with our poor southern neighbours, yesterday was a significant day for us as we remembered a cyclone season we never ever want to see again.

Path of Cyclone Yasi 2011:

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi, and as little articles started popping up in the news and in online communities, the memories came flooding back.  Yasi made a long journey across the Pacific Ocean directly to our part of the Queensland coastline, and then continued travelling a long way inland.  It achieved notoriety as "the worst cyclone in Queensland's history".

Regular readers of my blog know the devastation that Yasi caused here in my corner of north Queensland, as well as the effect it had here at my place.  It was a frightening, devastating experience.  One that I don't ever want to have to go through again in my lifetime.  

You can see a tab at the top of this blog - 'The Sad and Sorry Story of Cyclone Yasi' - if you're interested in revisiting my experiences of that infamous weather event; and here's a link to a Wikipedia page all about
Cyclone Yasi

So while I was re-living bad times yesterday, I was also looking forward.  There are still a few more months left before this current cyclone season officially ends, which means year's cyclone season story is not over just yet.  Fingers crossed.  Here's hoping we've seen the worst of it for 2013.

For anyone who wants to know the basic facts about cyclones ... how and where they form, how they're catgorised and named ... you might like to visit:

Get the Facts on Cyclones

The 'eye' of a cyclone, as seen from space.

One very interesting fact that I thought I'd add.  The name 'Yasi' has been taken off the list of cyclone names and replaced with 'Yvette'.  There will never be another cyclone named Yasi.

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