At the moment I'm still on a break from school, but I've already started doing a bit of preparation work at home. The beginning of our new school year is not far off now. It's mid-Summer here, and that really is downtime in my garden. Actually Summer is pretty much all downtime. I don't do much at all. It's the harsh end of the gardening year.
Conditions during December - January (early to mid-Summer):
Well our wet season has not arrived yet, that's the most prominent feature of the conditions experienced so far this Summer. Yes we have had rain, but we've seen nothing of the deluge we usually get when the wet season rain starts bucketing down. We've had more of the rather intermittent, soft, showery, sprinkley type of rain that barely touches the ground, but creates a feeling of anticipation that the real stuff is on its way.
During December we did get around 9 mm (0.4 of an inch) over 7 drizzly days. The average rainfall for December is around 132 mm (5 inches). So there's quite a bit of difference there. Actually 2013 was a rather dry year when compared to the average yearly rainfall. We saw 715 mm (28 inches) over the year. The average, since records began back in 1942, is 1147 mm (45 inches).
The drier weather has continued on into the beginning of 2014. So far this month we've had only 14 mm (0.6 of an inch). The average for January is 276 mm (10 inches). So to reach the average January rainfall total, we need a lot of rain in the next couple of weeks. That doesn't appear likely!
Maybe February will be the month when the heavens do open. The old-timers always say "the heavens don't open till the school holidays finish", and that happens in the last week of January.
Dark grey clouds do appear on the horizon, and as I've said, there have been showery days; but the place really needs an absolute drenching in order for the rain to actually penetrate the soil, make the ground moist and break the spell of the dry season.
That said, the rain we've had so far has certainly cheered up the surrounding bushland and it's looking quite lovely and green already. The native Eucalyptus and Corymbias respond very quickly to a little bit of rain, after a long dry season.
Of course, the temps have been hot. That's usual for summertime. We all tend to stay either in the shade, or indoors in the air-con, depending on whether you're human or not. Most summer days the temp. hovers around 32 - 33 deg C (89 - 91 F), although we did have a couple of hotter 35 - 36 deg C (95 - 97 F) days at the end of December. I was actually down in Brisbane at that time where it was even hotter.
There are some parts of Oz that have been experiencing heatwave condition, with temps up in the the 40s C. We don't usually get much of those sorts of temps, although we get the mid 30 s C consistently for pretty much the entire three months of Summer!
It's a hard time for the garden, and it's not at its best. While we wait for heavy, decent rain, the gardener spends time indoors in the comfort of the air-con neglecting her gardening duties, while the plants do their best to handle the heat and the harsh sunshine.
Some days the plants have a respite, when there's lovely cloud cover, and perhaps a refreshing sprinkle of a few measly raindrops, but thank goodness the garden bed plants are heat-tolerant, dry-tolerant and sun-tolerant. They do a mighty job of getting through.
The humidity levels have been rising too, which is totally expected. I do have to say though, that this summer so far has not been the hottest I can remember. It's been more on the pleasant side, although I haven't been tempted to spend much time outdoors doing gardening chores other than the watering of potted plants.
Starting with the trees on or around the property, what's blooming?
There are still a few pendulous golden racemes on my Cassia fistula, or Golden Shower Tree. They're a common sight at this time of year around my rural neighbourhood.
There are still a few blooms one of the Delonix regias at our front gates. This tree has the darker red flowers, and is always the first to bloom and therefore the first to finish its bloom cycle. Right now it's nearing the end of its summertime blooming.
The Delonix regia that grows right across on the other side of the entrance to our property is almost totally covered in blooms on the other hand. It has flowers that are more orangey-red in colour, not quite as dark.
They certainly stand out against the blue of the sky on a clear summer's day.
Compared to the this time last year, the Cassia has ended its blooming cycle a lot earlier. This also happened back in 2012.
The Corymbia dallachiana was blooming at this time last year, but this year they bloomed back at the end of December.
My Lagerstroemia speciosa, or Queen's Myrtles, are not blooming yet, although many in the neighbourhood have already finished their blooming cycle. There was a few buds on one of them back in mid-December, but nothing since. Mine were not blooming in January last year either, but in January 2012, both trees were covered in flowers.
The rhythms and patterns are interesting to watch.
Now onto the shrubs, what's blooming?
The Mussaendas are all blooming. This is usual for this time of the year. They bloom pretty much the entire summer season. They're bang on schedule again this year.
There are a number of Duranta repens shrubs planted on either side of the driveway that leads into our property. They were all decimated back in the great cyclone event of 2011, and it has taken a long time for them to come back. They're now almost as tall as they once were, and most have started regular blooming cycles. Some of these shrubs have the most delicately pale lavender flowers, which are sometimes hard to notice amongst all the green foliage.
A couple of the Croton shrubs have been throwing out flower sprays. This happens a few times every year. These teeny little flowers are quite hard to spot amongst the flamboyant colours of the leaves.
My beloved Hibiscus schizopetalus are blooming. These two shrubs are getting denser and denser every month now, and will be looking like their old pre-cylone selves by this time next year I think. It's simply fantastic to see the flowers once more.
There are only a few little blooms starting to open up on the Lagerstroemia indica, or Crepe Myrtle shrubs, planted out in the tiered garden beds. They're behind schedule, as they usually bloom mid-December into January. They may be late, but they're always welcome.
Out in the shadehouse, what's blooming?
Well to be frank the poor shadehouse has been rather neglected of late. While the Giant Sword Ferns and the Neomarica longifolia that grow in the ground are always just doing their thing without much help from me, the poor neglected potted/container plants are not doing all that well.
I'm speaking specifically of all the Impatiens walleriana and Dragonwing Begonias that grow in hanging baskets or containers in various spots of the shadehouse. They all need to be re-potted with fresh potting mix, and they all need a decent feed. I've been putting off this job for a while now, mainly because of the uncomfortable conditions of summer, but it's going to be the primary focus of my gardening work when our cooler Autumn rolls around in March.
The Aeschynanthus, or Lipstick Plant, growing in a hanging pot, is blooming quite nicely, without much care and attention.
My lovely Indian Rope Hoya is also still throwing out gorgeous flowerheads. I didn't know it had a perfume until a helpful gardening mate told me to take a whiff at night-time. I did ... and it does. There's a light chocolatey perfume to the blooms. It's hard to describe, but that's what the scent reminds me of.
Both of the pass-along Brassocattleya Orchids are blooming. They have such delicate flowers, and they last for days.
They're a delightful sight, and again, they're just doing their thing without any help from the resident gardener. You've just gotta love these little battlers.
My little collection of potted Gingers are not in bloom, as they were this time last year. They have however risen from their slumber and are starting to fill out the pots, so there should be blooms by this time next month.
Out in the courtyard garden, what's blooming?
Well it's a similar story out in the courtyard. I've been away for a while, and added to that, I do lose interest during the Summer, so the courtyard is looking quite dreary and lacking a lot of interest at the moment to my eyes anyway.
These self-seeded Torenias are blooming beautifully and showing off their gorgeous faces. They're certainly cheering up the rather drab courtyard garden at the moment.
Another cheery face in the courtyard is this pretty Begonia. I do so love Begonias. I really need to fill my courtyard with them I think. They're no-fuss, have gorgeous flowers and don't need a lot of watering.
The Angelonias and Salvias are simply carrying on, despite the absence of the dutiful care of their caretaker.
Thankfully there are some lovely foliage plants in the various corners of the courtyard, so it's not an entirely depressing place to spend time.
Those corners I don't mind, and I'm quite happy with them really.
I am however starting to re-think what I grow in the pots at the other end of the courtyard. I really need to have a change. I'm feeling a little disheartened by the display out there at the moment. I really would love lots more colour at this time of the year. I need to put my thinking cap on.
It will be a big job, and I won't start until the weather cools down, so I've got time to make plans and think it through carefully first. I do tend to be a little impulsive at times, and most of the time the courtyard garden looks the way it does because of impulsive decisions. More thought and impulse control is needed to turn this space into something I can love all year round.
I have actually started getting rid of some of the plants that have been sitting in the courtyard for a few years now and it's now starting to look a little bare to my eyes.
I started planting many of the old courtyard potted plants out into the ground in one of my new garden beds created up near our carshed. I've planted the Aralias, the Ixora, the Crossandras, some of the Coleus and Cordylines in this bed, along with a few other things I'd been growing in the shadehouse. I've added all the larger Gingers from the shadehouse, as well as a little purple Anthurium and a Diffenbachia.
It's starting to come together, but I've taken a break for now as Summer is not really the best time to be planting out new areas. The other two sections that are off to the right of the photo, around the car shed remain un-planted as yet. There's a lot of space to fill and I'm going to need to collect a whole lot more plants. It's going to be a busy Autumn!
Well to end this rather lengthy post, I'll just post a couple of photos of the first ever blooms on my Gloriosa Lily which is growing in the top tiered garden bed. It's a fabulous looking flower.
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme, which happens on the 15th day of every month.
Bernie even though you're not too happy with your garden at present, in my eyes it is beautiful with all the lovely blooms.ReplyDelete
Please don't throw out all the plants that you're a bit disheartened with in the courtyard, but blend in some of the new colourful ones that your heart desires....don't make any brash decisions....after all those plants are already acclimatised to those surroundings now.
You may head over to Houzzdotcom and check out the landscapes and plantings for ideas....Best of Luck and have fun with your thinking cap on.
Thanks for your positive comment, Virginia. It is true that the plants that have been growing out in the courtyard are now well-acclimatised, but when I moved a few to the new garden bed and planted them in the ground, they almost burst with excitement. They're loving the conditions up there even more I think. Well at least they've settled in and started to flourish pretty quickly. I think I just need to decide on exactly the look I'm after out in the courtyard. It's tended to be a bit all over the place, with things just being added willy-nilly. Thanks for the link. I will take a look and see if I can find the 'look' I'm after.Delete
Bernie; an amazing garden; Paradise incarnation! The colours, the flowers, the setup just wonderful. Hoya is exquisite, I know it is a lot of work and a wonderful dedication. Thinking that your garden went through such a devastation and look at it now, like I said at the beginning AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL.ReplyDelete
You're too kind, Titania. I'm certainly pleased that there has been a lot of great recovery after the disaster at the beginning of 2011, but I still see so much I'd like to do. I guess that's the way it is with most gardeners. There are some spots that still annoy me and just aren't quite right to my eyes.Delete
OMG, i forgot again about GBBD, just realized when i saw your post. I have been fiddling about this last week but forgot to make a post waiting. Now its start of the year and i wont have something for it. Hmmm. I even posted early for Skywatch Friday!ReplyDelete
Don't worry I missed quite a few last year for exactly the same reason. Sometimes time just gets away from you and you can't fit in everything. I'll have to have a look at your sky shots.Delete
Such a lovely selection - though every time I visit here you've always so many things in flower. You might not like your courtyard planting at the moment but I think it's lovely especially with all those pots with different colours and textures of foliage. I've always been meaning to ask you this but how long Bernie does it take you to water those pots - is it a job you have to do every single day?ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Rosie. There is a bit of colour and texture out in the courtyard, but I guess I'm just getting weary of the same look. As for the watering, for most of the year I only have to water the pots every two of three days. During the worst of the summer though I sometimes have to water them every day. It's just as well that I'm on school holidays during the worst of the summer, so I can do that quite easily.Delete
I enjoyed the trip round your garden. What amazing plants you grow there, absolutely spectacular. Plants such as the Delonix regia (is that the same thing as Flamboyant Tree?) and the Mussaendas are things that we can only dream of here. And what gorgeous orchids. You have taken some very dramatic sky shots too.ReplyDelete
Chloris, yes the Delonix regia is also known as the Flamboyent Tree. The common name we use here is Poinciana. I'm pleased you enjoyed a look at some of my tropical blooms, and the tropical summertime skies.Delete
What an amazing collection of wonderful plants you have, so many beautiful photos. It's strange that you are longing for some decent rain and here we are in the UK with floods everywhere, wish we could send you some! Hope you get your much needed rain soon.ReplyDelete
Thanks Pauline. We are getting some rain, but the garden really needs the heavy torrential downpours of a wet season. Hopefully they won't be too far off now, although there are predictions of a disappointing wet season this year. I've have seen reports of the flooding over there, and it looked like it's been quite bad in some places.Delete
Oh so wonderful to see your beautiful flowers, especially when it is winter here in the USA - a very cold winter.ReplyDelete
Lovely, lovely blooms!
And I like the first photo, too. I've been trying to capture rain dops, but without sucess. Your photo is great!
Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!
I'm only too pleased to lift the winter blues for you just a little, Lea. I do hope your wintertime doesn't worsen, and maybe even come to an early end. It is indeed very hard to capture raindrops properly and my old Canon doesn't usually do a good job of it. I got lucky on this occasion though.Delete
I will send you some rain. Here we have snow and cold so your blooms are especially welcome. Happy Bloom Day.ReplyDelete
Send it all over here. We'll take it and be very appreciative, thanks Layanee.Delete
Wow! What a garden! What a post! So glad to have found you. I enjoyed the virtual warmth and color.ReplyDelete
Thanks for dropping by, CommonWeeder. It's wonderful to hear that you've enjoyed your visit.Delete
Your summer weather sounds much like mine in Italy, with weeks when you really don't wnat to go outside at all. But from the plants you have flowering I can tell your winters are much milder than mine. Fascinating. I love all the strong colours of your flowers which look so 'right' in the hot sun.ReplyDelete
Yes that sounds exactly the same, Christina. Gardening is not very enjoyable at all during the summertime. The winters here are very mild and that's the best time for gardening. Late Autumn through Winter, into early Spring is perfect for getting out into the garden.Delete
Your garden looks absolutely glorious to me Bernie! So many wonderful things that I'd never be able to grow in England, like the Hibiscus schizopetalus and Gloriosa lily. I am truly envious. Hope you get some rain!ReplyDelete
Thanks Rusty. The predictions aren't all that great, but if we know anything about the weather it's that it's hard to predict.Delete
I am always amazed when I visit your blog, no matter what season it is, you have such a great range of plants, many I haven’t even heard of! I can understand the need for rejuvenating an area after some years, we all get tired of seeing the same things year after year and the good thing about plants is that they can be moved around and often be happy somewhere else. I am redesigning a part of my garden too, but like you had to stop because of seasonal difficulties, not summer with me but winter :-)ReplyDelete
Let’s hope we both get things going again when the weather is a bit more appropriate. Happy GBBD!
It's always lovely to have you drop by, Helene. I think we'll both be very busy around March. I'm actually looking forward to re-vamping the courtyard, and finishing the planting in the new garden beds. I just have to be a little patient, and do some careful thinking.Delete
Down here in the 'cool' subtropics of Sydney we are also missing our usual summer rainfall, with only light showers, many weeks apart. Fortunately it's also been more humid so, like you, we haven't seen quite the same devastation in the garden as you might expect. I love walking around your garden with you Bernie! There's always so much to see and I feel like I'm right there. The Delonix against that bright blue sky is a stunning photo.ReplyDelete
It seems as if we're both missing out on the heatwave conditions so many others are tolerating right now. Thank goodness. It's hot enough for me right now. Fingers crossed we both get the gift of decent heavy rain soon. I'm happy to hear you enjoy coming to visit to see what's going on here.Delete
Here in upstate New York, our gardens usually sleep under blankets of snow this time of year - and it is so nice - dare I say "exotic" - to see what is in your Australian garden. That's why I love GBBD so much. It gives me hope that spring will come to our part of the world one day. I didn't have a favorite photo from your post - I loved them all! Thank you for visiting my blog - Ramblin' with AM.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed popping by to visit your blog, Bookworm, and thank you for coming to visit here. Gardens under blankets of snow look almost beautiful to me, but of course I never see snow and never have to live with it. I find it interesting whenever I drop by to see plants popping up after a harsh winter. There's no discernible big change of seasons here.Delete
Your garden is gorgeous, although I share your concern about lack of rain - here in the desert California, we're entering our second winter (usually our wet season) without rain... Thanks for posting to Carol's GBBD - I love discovering a wonderful garden blog that's "new to me"!ReplyDelete
Renee, our wet seasons are rather unpredictable. This year's doesn't look promising, but then you just never know. It sounds as if you really do need rain more than we do at the moment. Hopefully you'll get to see grey skies and smell rain in the air soon.Delete
Beautiful photos Bernie. Your garden is lovely. It is amazing how our gardens change throughout the year. We have had about 200mm of rain in Cairns over the last week, so I am sure yours won't be too far away now. Back to sun today I think.ReplyDelete
Fion RK, it doesn't look all that promising down here. The skies have been blue and the clouds white. We're all waiting with anticipation, hoping something really decent comes before the end of January.Delete
Your pictures are always a sight for sore eyes, I love them !!! Whilst you seem to get hotter and drier weather each year our weather becomes cooler and wetter in Summer ad warmer and wetter in Winter !!!! Wish I could sent you some of our rain !!!! And perhaps you could sent some of your sun ???ReplyDelete
G'Day Bernie! There is nothing that looks neglected about your garden. I love the courtyard and would probably stay there a lot. The shade house looks like a big lovely lush jungle to me and then I think where is that python? LOL! Don't apologize for anything about your garden. I think it's always beautiful!ReplyDelete
Bernie-your gardens look so lush and beautiful even without the rain. You have an amazing paradise there! It is a wonderful site while we are under thirteen inches of snowfall here. Your photographs are "chicken soup for the soul"!ReplyDelete
Bernie-your gardens are always so lush and beautiful looking despite your lack of rainfall. The Indian Rope Hoya is especially AMAZING! While my gardens are covered in thirteen inches of snowfall your garden photographs are "chicken soup for the soul"!ReplyDelete