Saturday, May 31, 2014

Trimming and Tending, Weeding and Feeding ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 22, 2014.

Date:  May 31, 2014

Season:  end of Autumn,  'dry' season



My goodness it's been a while.  I haven't posted a Garden Journal post since January, and there haven't been many other posts since then either.  I'm afraid I have lost the blogging bug a little this year and have been finding lots of other things to do instead of writing posts.  I guess all bloggers go through this after a few years.  You feel like you're repeating yourself and just coming up with the same 'ole, same 'ole.


Anyway, today was a great day for those gardening chores I had been putting off for ages, and as I wandered around I felt the need to add a post about the state of things on this last day of our Autumn.


It's been a mostly overcast, lovely cool Autumn day with the daytime high only reaching around 25 deg C.  The sun has remained hidden behind a cover of grey for the majority of the day, and there have been a couple of very light showers of rain.  Perfect conditions for spending time in the garden and enjoying the butterflies that were hovering around.


I've been spending my time over the last few months doing the ordinary day-to-day maintenance jobs of weeding and feeding and tending, especially in the long driveway garden beds seen below.


I'm finally pleased with most of the spots along this entrance area now and it's just a matter of keeping them flourishing, especially during our long dry season months.



This weekend however, I've also finally caught up with a few of the bigger trimming and tidying up jobs that really needed doing, with some help from my lovely husband (who is NOT a gardener and does NOT enjoy these jobs at all!)


I finally got around to trimming back the dense, overgrown Duranta repens shrub that had taken over the middle tier of the tiered garden beds outside the shadehouse.  The branches were long and arching, and loaded with bunches of orange berries.  They were smothering everything else in the bed.



Trimming back all the lower branches means that the underplantings can get the much needed sunshine they require to stop looking so scraggly and unattractive.  There's a fabulous Dietes, a Deutzia, a Leucophyllum and a couple of Ground Orchids in there that need some bright light and room to grow and bloom and start looking good for a change.  There's a little white Impatiens and a couple of Chlorophytums that could fill out a lot more as well.


On the other side of the Duranta, looking across the top tier ... I had to trim back the Mussaenda 'Calcutta Sunset' shrubs, the Lagerstroemia indicas, the Pentas and the Acalypha 'Firestorm' that had created an impenetrable barrier.  The poor Hemerocallis at the end had been attempting to carry on underneath a blanket of branches.  Hopefully now they might get some sunshine and get ready for a Spring display.


The bottom tier is doing pretty well, although the Salvia madrensis does tend to take over quite a bit.  I'll be cutting that back in about another month's time.


There is a gorgeous little Salvia leucantha 'White Velour' in the bottom tier that really needs some care.  It's been trampled by hungry wallabies trying to get in to nibble on the Euphorbia 'Hip Hop' which I planted there a while back.  It's become a favourite treat for the wallabies unfortunately and seldom gets a chance to fill out and look spectacular.  So now I just try and keep the Salvia going.


I've started trying to get the Mandevilla to climb the Acacia tree that's growing in the middle of the bottom tier bed.  I'm hoping it will climb up the tree and have a chance to slow off its stunning white flowers.


Elsewhere ... hubby trimmed off a few spiky branches of the Elaeis guineensis, or African Oil Palm, that grows near the entrance to the pergola and stairway down to the courtyard garden.


There are a couple of Bromeliads sitting under the African Oil Palm that have been all crammed into pots while waiting for a suitable planting spot in the garden somewhere.  That's a job for another weekend.


Wandering down the stairway, under the pergola, to the courtyard garden means passing by lots of ferns and a few palms.  It's quite a tropical looking spot and looks pretty good at the moment.


The area of the courtyard below that, however, looks rather bare to me these days and brings me little joy.  It's a bit of an eyesore. I'm used to this outer courtyard space being filled with loads and loads of potted plants, filling up almost every nook and cranny.  Most of those have now been planted out in my new garden beds however, and while the plants are most certainly happier, I miss all the colour and foliage that's been a familiar sight down that end for the last few years.

I am also missing all my usual potted annuals that I add to the potted garden at the back of the courtyard about mid-Autumn.  I just haven't done any annual planting at all this year.


There are just a few pots left at the back that I can't bear to move, like the wonderful Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', the dwarf pink Azalea and the white Impatiens.


Thankfully, as you swing around the courtyard getting closer to the house, there's some lovely colour.



The Euphorbia leucocephala, or Snowflake Bush, is throwing out lots of beautiful white bracts and tiny flowers.  You know it's nearly wintertime when you see this sight in the northern tropics.


If you take a stance on the back verandah and don't look down the far bare end of the courtyard, things don't look too bad.



The spaces under the roof are always filled with potted plants, mostly plants with fabulous foliage, so that's some consolation. 


The shadehouse looks pretty much the way it always does ... lush and overgrown.  I have moved a few of the potted plants that used to sit in amongst the ferns and on the tiles out to the new garden beds as well.

One job that I really need to get around to doing is re-potting all the hanging pots of Impatiens walleriana on the left and the Dragonwing Begonias on the right.  Those poor plants have been in those pots for a couple of years now without any change in potting mix, just the occasional fertilizing and watering.  They've been absolutely brilliant, considering!

My new garden beds have been a slow work in progress.  I've been adding plants that were growing in pots out in my courtyard garden and shadehouse garden, or plants I've struck from cuttings.  I haven't, as yet, bought any new plants but I will have to soon as there are still so many little spots to fill.


The largest new bed was built up under the Triangular Palm and it's starting to come together nicely.  There's still so much space for me to add a lot more plants yet though.  I have been busy mulching this bed up quite thickly to keep it going through the coming dry season.  This weekend we also had to cut down some of the dead and dying palm fronds. 


Down at the end nearest the concrete hillside driveway, the plants have settled in really well and are starting to fill the space.  I've planted Diffenbachia, Acalypha 'Firestorm', Plumeria pudica, Hedychium,


Hippeastrum, Crossandra,


Gardenia 'Soleil d'or'


various Coleus plants,


Costus speciosus variegatus or variegated Crepe Ginger, Salvia,


Calatheas, Dracaenas and Cordylines.


At the other end, there are more Cordylines, Crossandras, Costus, Coleus, Hymenocallis and Rain Lilies.


Out in the front, mid stage, is one of my favourite shrubs, the Tabernaemontan corymbosa, and underneath that is a lovely dwarf white Ixora.  I've also got a few Begonia x semperflorens to plant up along the front of the bed.  That was a job I didn't quite get to today.  There will also be a few clumps of Spathiphyllum going in around the Tabernaemontana.


One of the other new beds - the deep bed at the end of our car shed - as been planted with Excoecaria, Impatiens walleriana, Begonias, Acalypha 'Inferno', an Azalea and a Stromanthe.



There's also a large Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' at the other end.


I'm planning on planting lots more Begonias as well.  The few that I've added already are just loving this shady spot and are doing so very well.

Elsewhere around the property, the native Acacias or Wattles are in bloom.  That's usual for this time of the year.  They flower during our mid to late Autumn through to early Winter.  There are a couple of shades that can be spotted around here, either out in the surrounding bushland or on our property.


There's the golden yellow,


and the light lemony yellow.


Another indication that it's almost winter is the appearance of the first fruit pods of the native Sterculia quadrifida, or Peanut Tree.  My tree, which spreads its canopy over the courtyard garden, is slowly dropping its leaves and getting ready for the winter pod display.  The green pods will turn to a bright orangey-red in the coming weeks.


The first of the stark white flowers have started appearing on the Bauhinia tree,


and the Calliandras have started blooming as well, so roll on June 1st, our first official day of tropical winter.



I'm joining a fantastic meme for the first time with this post.  Helen holds an 'End of Month View' meme for gardeners to show how their garden spaces are looking month by month.
Pop by and take a look - End of Month View - May 2014


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... February 2014


February is our mid-Summer month here and today is yet another hot, steamy, bright-blue-sky-fluffy-white-cloud day. 


We are coming to the end of a rather disappointing wet season.  There's been some rain, but we haven't had the weeks of monsoonal downpours that usually characterise our short wet.   I think we've had somewhere around one-third of the average wet season total so far.

Still, at least the liquid sunshine has brightened up the garden somewhat.  ('Liquid sunshine' is our affectionate term for rain here, as we have a lot of sunny days ... around 300 rain-free, sunshine-filled days every year.)


The surrounding bushland is certainly looking fairly lush and green, so we have a rather picturesque outlook at this time of year.   There are a few blooms to be found here and there around the garden, so let's take a quick wander around.

Out in the courtyard garden there have been some changes.  I've planted out many of the potted plants in my new garden beds near the end of our driveway.  As a result, there are very few potted plants left out in the courtyard, compared to this time last year, or indeed the couple of years before that. 



There are a couple of Begonia semperflorens.


My Globba capicola is still growing in a pot out in the courtyard,


as is my Costus productus or Orange Spiral Ginger.


One of the potted Azaleas remains and is showing off just one pretty pink bloom at the moment.


There's still a pot of Torenias


and my potted Clerodendrum ugandense is still sitting out on the pavers in the courtyard.


The Jasminum officinale, which is slowly returning from the dead after Cyclone Yasi, has starting spreading out over the top of the pergola next to the courtyard garden.  It started flowering with the arrival of the summer rain.



The Water Lilies growing in the small pond under the pergola are always blooming and attracting some interesting insect life.


In the garden bed at the back of the courtyard garden, my old stalwart, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Snowflake' is blooming as always.


In the same bed the last of the bracts and flowers of my Mussaenda philippica 'Aurore' are showing



and the fabulous Phyllanthus multiflorus or Waterfall Plant is covered in pendulous flowers.  This shrub really springs to life with the summer rain.


If you look high above the bed at the back of the courtyard garden, you will see there are still some golden racemes hanging in the Cassia fistula, or Golden Shower Tree,


and there are little gorgeous white flower sprays on the Citharexylum spinosaum, or Fiddlewood Tree.


If you walk under the pergola, up the stairs towards the hillside driveway, you will see flowers on both of the Hibiscus schizopetalus, or Japanese Lantern Hibiscus shrubs.


You will also notice lots of blooms on the huge Hibiscus rosa-sinensis that grows under the Cadaghi Gum trees


and there are a few flower sprays to be found on the Plumeria obtusa under the same Gum trees.




In the new garden beds I found the Hymenocallis blooming for the first time,


the Plumeria pudica is throwing out more and more flowerheads ...


and there have been Zephyranthes popping up with the arrival of some summer rain.

In the tiered garden beds,


the blooming Mussaenda 'Calcutta Sunset' and the Duranta repens make a great pairing ...


and underneath, the Pentas adds some contrast.

In the driveway garden beds,



the Thunbergia erecta 'Tru Blu' is looking fabulous ...


and the Turnera subulata and cream Russelia make a great combination.

In the front-of-house garden beds there are splashes of gold ...


on the Galphimia glauca and


on the Allamanda cathartica 'Sunee'.

Elsewhere ...



the very tall Tabebuia heterophylla have begun another blooming cycle ...



and there are Pelargonium flowers to be spotted on the side stairs.  That is a sure sign that our true monsoonal wet season has not arrived this year.  I have absolutely no luck keeping Pelargoniums going through a true wet season.  The steamy, humid temps and torrential downpours of a true wet season is not to the Pelargoniums' tasts, and they usually shrivel up and turn to mush.



It's a rare thing seeing Pellie blooms at my place in February.  They've been enjoying the 'slightly damp' summer.  Let's see how long they keep on keeping on, as it looks to me like they're going to make it all the way through to the arrival of our long dry season.  That usually happens around mid/end of April. 


I'm joining Carol's fabulous Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day  meme.


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