Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... April, 2015 ... mid-Autumn.

So, it's the 15th of April already and time for a Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post.  My last GBBD post was back in January, which was our mid-Summer month here Downunder.  Now it's mid-Autumn.   In my part of the world there are no huge seasonal differences, and certainly not much changes from our mid-summer to our mid-Autumn.

Loads and loads of bright, sunny, blue-sky days at the moment.
The weather conditions are exactly the same in one respect.  Most days the temperature high is up around 30 - 33 deg C (86 - 92 F).  However, there are some other small differences which make the weather slightly more comfortable.  The night-time temps are a little lower, only by a couple of degrees, but much more comfortable so we don't need the air-con on at night any more.  The humidity levels are lower too, which makes the daytime temps quite comfortable for most of the day, and the air-con only comes on briefly in the afternoons some days.  At the moment, the humidity is down to 50%, which is terrific.   All the windows and doors are open and there's a slight breeze wafting through the house.

Right now it's supposedly the tail-end of our wet season.  During some years it can last from late November to late April ... sometimes!  This wet season, however, has been pretty much a failure.  We've had one of the driest and hottest wet seasons on record.

The yard is drying out very quickly and the native wildlife is having difficulty finding food at our place.
We had 185 mm of rain back in January, which wasn't too bad considering our average for January is around 273 mm.  From then till now though, it's all been very, very disappointing.

Only 31.8 mm fell in February - our average is around 305 mm - and a teeny weeny 5.2 mm fell in March, when we usually average around 190 mm.  So, our total rainfall for 2015 so far has reached 230 mm.  Our average Jan-Apr total is around 836 mm.  Not good!  Not only were the rainfall totals very poor, but the falls were quite scattered and uneven, so not all parts of our city and surrounds received the benefit of even these meagre falls.  My little corner of the area is one of those spots!

The result of this failed wet season is, of course, a garden that's looking pretty dismal with few blooms to share.  Mid-summer to mid-Autumn is pretty much down time in my garden anyway, but it's been even more so this year.

One of the new garden beds established last year.
Right now, the new garden beds don't have all that much colour, but thankfully the plants are still hanging in there with help from the garden sprinkler.

Overgrown rock garden at the end of our long driveway.
Other areas that don't get a lot of watering from me, look terribly limp and thirsty once the sun gets high in the sky!

Along one side of our long driveway, the sprinkler system has been turned on in the last couple of weeks.
It's very early in the year for me to be watering the beds down beside our long driveway.  That doesn't bode well.  I think I'm going to have a hefty excess water bill this year. 

Finding loads of flowers for this GBBD post proved to be just a little difficult.

There are some flowers on the Jasminum that's climbing up the pergola out in the courtyard,

and the perfume that wafts across the courtyard into the kitchen is quite lovely.

The native Jasminum, Jasminum didymum subsp. racemosum, is also blooming at present.  It's growing in a distant spot along one of our fencelines, and climbing all over another of our native shrubs.

The perfume is quite delicate and you do have to get close to discern the scent.  Fortunately, I was strolling around the place very early in the morning and stumbled across the climber in bloom.  This is the first time I've noticed the whole climber covered in flowers.  Obviously I need to stroll around that corner of the garden more often.

The two Jasmines are the most prolific bloomers at the moment.  Apart from those two, there are only one or two blooms to be found on other plants scattered here and there around the place.

In the new garden beds located at the end of the driveway, you will find ...

my new Gerbera with a couple of blooms,

one bloom on my Alpinia NOID,

one tiny little flower on my teeny-weeny Hibiscus NOID,

a couple of flower spikes on the self-seeded Celosia,

the last flower spray of the Hedychium coronarium,

and one or two flowers on the clumps of Iris domestica,

which are turning to seed.

In my shade house, there's not much in the way of blooms either, apart from ...

 one bloom on my Dendrobium bigibbum bicolour,

and a few flower sprays on the Dragon Wing Begonias.

In the front garden beds ...

Mandevilla 'White Fantasy' is showing a couple of blooms.

Ixora NOID is blooming and you'll see the last bracts and blooms of the Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose'.

In the courtyard garden ...

Impatiens walleriana are blooming,

as is the potted Spathoglottis plicata.

The potted Azalea has just begun its blooming cycle, so there are a few lovely fluffy pink flowers to be found.

The Hibiscus schizopetalus throws out these fabulous flowers every week or so.

I've also only just potted up some Torenias

and Portulacas to add a little extra brightness to the courtyard garden.

I've also planted some little Petunia seedlings, my favourite annual.  Soon I'll have a little more colour to cheer me up.

In the surrounding bushland the Acacias are beginning to bloom, but most of these are a long way from our house and verandah so we don't get to see them close up.  

There is one located on our property though, and it's throwing out more and more flower spikes every day.

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking For The Wet Season To Continue ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 5, 2015.

  Date:  January 30, 2015

  Season:  mid-Summer and 'wet' season

Here we are with the first month of the new gardening year almost over.  January, our mid-Summer month, has flown by so quickly it seems.  The summery conditions started off quite nicely at the beginning of the month, with quite warm but fairly comfortable summer temps - between 30 and 33 deg C  (86 - 91 f) and not-too-distressing humidity levels.  Skies were bright blue and mostly clear.

We then started to see the mercury climb up over 33 deg C, and for the last couple of weeks we've had between 34 - 36 deg C (93 - 96 F).  It's been hot, hot, hot.  Humidity levels have been excruciating and being outdoors for any length of time between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm has been hard work.  The air con has had a great workout lately.  The gardener hasn't!  This time of year is when I down tools and do very little out in the garden.

Not long after the first days of the New Year, we started to hear thunderstorms roll in.  There were some fabulous lightning displays and loads of heavy grey cloud cover.  At first it seemed we were just being teased with the promise of decent heavy rain, but then the heavy stuff eventually started plummeting earthwards and finally penetrated the sun-baked ground.  

We've had around 177 mm of rain that has fallen over about 15 separate days so far this month.  That's about 7 inches of rain which has broken the dry season spell thankfully, but it's nowhere near our average January rainfall.  Fingers crossed there's more of that liquid sunshine on the way very, very soon because the garden certainly needs lots more.

It's been a joy to hear the rain drumming on the corrugated iron roof and pouring like a waterfall over the verandah hood.

My heart sings when I see rain splashed plants

and puddles of rain water on the ground waiting to soak through the soil after a long dry season.

It's also wonderful to see rainbows in the sky once more.  We don't see them much during the year, especially during our long dry season ... of course.

They are some of the upsides that come with the arrival of the first rains of our wet season.

The biggest downside is having our home invaded by loads and loads of insect life in the form of flying termite ants, little black beetles, cicadas and various other things.  I collected a few of the corpses left one morning on the little table on the verandah, and arranged them artfully to show some of the variety of insects that try to keep us company in the evenings.

They come in flying battalions as they are all attracted to the lights in the house.  We literally have to barricade ourselves inside with all doors shut and the air con on.  Thankfully the windows are all screened, but they are able to slip in through the cracks at the top and bottom of the doors and breezeway windows above the doors. 

This is what happens when you don't close the doors quickly enough.  These are all flying ants, termite ants, that have died overnight and left a huge mess to clean up the next morning.

There are other forms of insect life that turn up in abundance at this time of year, and I don't mind seeing them at all.

With the rain, loads and loads of butterflies suddenly descend on the garden and look for yummy nectar in the various flowers around the place.  

I get to see so many different types, but the most common this year appears to be the Common Grass Yellows and the Common Crows. 

There have also been a few lovely moths flying around as well.  This one caught my eye one morning.  I don't think I've seen one with transparent wings before.  What an amazing thing.

Evening brings loads of fantastic looking moths, with their spots and patterns, to the lights on the verandah.

Now while all this action is happening in and around and close to the garden, there's not a lot of actual gardening getting done.  It's just too hot and humid most days.

Early in the morning I love to go wandering around the place to check out what's going on.  I might pull a weed or two, or dead head a plant, but it's more a case of just making sure everything is doing well.  I do a bit of watering and trimming back when needed, but then skedaddle back indoors to the cool as fast as possible.
One thing I've noticed during this year's mid-Summer more than any previous year is the amount of beautiful perfumes exuding from various plants in the garden.  It makes for a very pleasant stroll in the early morning or early evening.

There have been a few Murrayas here since before we moved in, I have encouraged the growth of a few of the babies that pop up every now and then.  I often bring the flowers indoors as a little bouquet.

I have been making a conscious effort in the last two years to add perfumed flowering plants to the garden and I'm finally reaping the reward of this effort.  Ive added things like my fabulous Gardenia 'Soleil d'or'.  The flowers open up as a lovely creamy white, then start fading to a lemony yellow and finally to a deep golden orange.  I love watching the changes.

I've also planted Hedychium coronarium, or White Butterfly Ginger, and Lonicera japonica, or Japanese Honeysuckle, (both can be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the collage above).  The Citharexylum or Fiddlewood, the Jasminum officinale and the Pseudomussaenda flava have been growing here for many years.

To end off this first Garden Journal entry of 2015, I put together a little video clip to show what's been blooming or what's been hanging around my garden so far this year.  


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