Friday, September 16, 2011

An Early Spring Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Early Spring ... and the garden is dry, dry, dry!  Typical of our dry season, there's been no rain for over four months during our Winter and early Spring, and my passion for gardening has waned a little.   In addition to the lack of rain, the wind has also whipped up considerably in the last few weeks and the potted plants that provide much of the colour here at this time of year, are drying out faster than usual.  

Not only am I spending a fair amount of time trying to water the poor thirsty plants, but the hungry, hungry wallabies have managed to get into my bad books this year by decimating so many plants they've never touched before.  I'm almost afraid to get up in the morning and wander around the place as I inevitably find something else that's been nibbled down to a tiny stump.

Luckily there are still some plants they haven't yet acquired a taste for, so some colour remains in a few corners.  So I do have some blooms to share on this mid-Spring GBBD post.

One of my favourite combinations at the moment is this gorgeous Vanilla Marigold and the Bumble Bee Petunia.  They do make a great looking pair.

There's always fabulous foliage plants to appreciate, and I do so love the splashes of white that just seem to lift various corners of the garden.  There's the little round ball shaped flowers of the Ozothamnus diosmifolius, the striking white flowers of the unknown variety of Begonia, the startling white of the Pentas and the happy faces of the white Gazanias.

Then there's the bright vibrant colours of the annuals and perennials like Impatiens walleriana, Rudbeckia, Nasturtium, Torenia, Russelia, Verbena, Pelargonium and Impatiens hawkeri.

One thing that really does lift the spirits of this dry season gardener is the presence of so many beautiful birds with their amazing songs.  They surround me every day as I wander through the garden and simply make my day.

I've also spotted some fantastic creatures, like this fabulous looking North Queensland Day Moth ...

... and this Ladybird, which is not a common sight around here!

Oh ... and then at the end of another day of being disheartened by the discovery of yet another nibbled plant or seeing plants in obvious distress because they're craving a decent drink, I get to see stunning sunset skies like this ....

... and this!

For fabulous posts on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, make sure you go and visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens

I'm joining Tootsie's meme Fertilizer Friday / Flaunt Your Flowers 

and I'm joining Gesine for her Blogger Flowers For September meme.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spring Is Here! ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 37, 2011.

Date:  September 11th, 2011

Season:  Early Spring and 'Dry' Season

The weather has turned a little overcast lately and there have been some ominous looking dark clouds hanging around, but no rain.  We're now just over four months into our 'dry' season and, with the beginning of Spring, it's the beginning of the end of the glorious cool comfortable climate we experience here during our Autumn-Winter.

Summertime is not something I look forward to in my part of the world  ... only 80 days to go, but who's counting ... so Springtime is not something I get all that excited about.  For northern hemisphere people this may be a little hard to comprehend, but for those who live in the sultry tropics you will know exactly why this is so!

It's still pleasant enough during the daytime though, to wander around the garden areas I call the Shadehouse Garden ...

...  and the Courtyard Garden.

I realise I show this view of the Courtyard Garden a lot.  It's what you see if you stand with your back to the main part of the house.

I thought I should probably show the courtyard from another angle, and you will see why this particular garden area is such a favourite of mine.  To me, the Courtyard Garden feels like it's part of the house.  It's like an outdoor room.  Here's the view looking towards the house for a change.

This area is where I spend a lot of my time.  It's my wonderful colourful haven.  When I'm not at work, I probably wander out there anything up to twenty times a day.  A bit of watering, deadheading, trimming.  There's always time for a bit of a chat with the residents whether they be plant ...

... or animal. 

The remainder of our property however, is not so much a haven as one huge expanse of dry parched ground where I choose not to spend a whole lot of time.

I don't share vista views of the property much, especially not during our dry season.  It's about now I can hear the voice of that robot in 'Lost In Space' saying "Danger, Will Robinson.  Danger!"  I feel the need to change that sentence slightly and say "Danger, dear reader. Danger!"  But, this is a garden journal, not a showcase of lovely garden photos!  You will understand completely why I'm not all that keen to share many vista views when you see the following photos.

Months without rain for the grass and plants on this rocky granite hillside means they die off, die back or look pretty horrid for most of the year.  But, of course, given the damage many trees and bushes suffered earlier in the year during a destructive cyclone, the place is looking far worse than usual because so many of the established plants are just not in top form.

So here's the view down the driveway garden from the gates this time last year ... during dry season.

This is the view this year.

Spot the differences!!

The Calliandras on either side of the gates are almost missing from the view as they had to be cut back a lot.  The huge stands of Duranta repens shrubs appear to be missing.  They're not actually missing.  They're just tiny, standing at less than a metre in height still.  There's one of the recovering Durantas in the photo below ... you can see the bright green new growth.  That shrub was over 3 metres high this time last year.

It's also obvious that the massive Golden Cane Palm clumps are not quite their usual lush and full selves.  So many of the fronds were broken or snapped off during Yasi, and a lot of the long erect golden stems had to be thinned out.  Cyclone recovery is still on-going for so many of the trees and shrubs in the driveway garden beds, but of course, this has been drastically slowed down by the lack of rainfall.

In spite all this though, there have been some delightful finds.  There's finally a spray of flowers on at least one of the severely trimmed Duranta repens shrubs.  It's terrific to see the pretty purple blooms once again, even if it's just one spray at the moment.

My poor beloved stunted white Bauhinia has also thrown up a bloom.  What a darling sight from this old trooper!  A valiant effort considering the tree is less than one-third the size it was last year.

OK ... enough of finding the good, here's another little tale of woe.  At the moment, I'm having trouble keeping the Agile Wallabies out of the garden beds around the house, especially the two front beds.  Now I know the wallabies are having trouble finding food during this dry season, but they have now resorted to nibbling on my plants ... plants like my oldest Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, which is usually covered in huge red flowers right now. 

This poor shrub not only had to put up with the indignities dished out by Cyclone Yasi, when it was stripped of most of its leaves and had its branches ripped off, it's now become a favourite with hungry wallabies. These creatures have never touched this shrub before in the more than ten years we've lived here and it's strange seeing the shrub looking so bare and forlorn.  The wallabies have now resorted to pulling down the branches and breaking them off to get to the leaves that are left.   By the way ... did you happen to notice the dead grass?   We're so used to the sight, but I know visitors are often taken aback.

One of the biggest jobs around my place at the moment, apart from attempting to keep ravenous wallabies at bay, is to keep an eye out for those plants in distress because of the dry conditions.  After almost five months without rain, there have been some signs that the older established plants down the driveway are starting to get a little thirsty.  Plants such as the Crotons have started dropping leaves.

The Giant Sword Fern clumps down the hill driveway have started sizzling in the bright sunshine, thanks to the removal of the tree canopy by Cyclone Yasi, and have started dying off because of lack of moisture.  I've had to actually put the sprinkler on for a couple of hours in the early mornings this past week to try and keep them going.

The old deciduous Plumerias in this area are not showing signs of distress though. They are starting to show the first signs of new foliage, so (as I said before) it's not all doom and gloom out there.  I have high hopes for a brilliant display of blooms this summer now that they have had so much time in full sun since the tree canopy was removed.

There have also been some firsts in the garden. 

The first red bracts have appeared on my Stromanthe sanguinea 'Triostar' out in the Shadehouse Garden...

... and the first bottlebrush bloom has appeared on my Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' which is growing in the tiered garden bed.

These are the things that gladden the heart despite the fact that all around is looking so drab and dreary There have also been some fabulous sunsets which have indeed lifted the spirits.  It's a fantastic way to end the day.

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