Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Just a quick post to send Season's Greetings to all who read this blog.  Enjoy your holiday season and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with laughter and joy.

Here's a bit of Aussie humour to cheer your day!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Rains Bring On Recovery ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 51, 2011

Date:  December 21, 2011

Season:  early Summer and the beginning of the 'wet' season

Well this looks like the last Garden Journal post for 2011. It's been a year full of drama for my garden.  There have been a lot of lows and very, very few highs, but I'm pleased to say that the end of the year has bought a smile to this gardener's dial.  During 10 out of the 21 days of December so far, we've had some lovely decent showers of rain.  We've actually had around 165 mm or 6 1/2  inches, and after seven months of dry, I'm once more amazed by how quickly things turn green around here after the first summer rains arrive.

Front yard on November 7 ...

and front yard on December 7.

It's not exactly Brownsville around here any more.  The bushland surrounding our property does take a little longer to respond to the rain though, but there are some birds who absolutely love feasting on the remaining dried seedheads of the grasses out in the bush.

There have been quite a few Pale-headed Rosellas ....

... and Rainbow Lorikeets taking their fill.

It's been so very heartening to see the recovery out in the front garden beds speeding up a little now ...

... and even more pleasant to see the recovery happening down the driveway garden beds which suffered quite a bit of devastation earlier in the year.  I've been able to do some planting in the bald spots now that the dry season has come to an end.

I've added ...

Lonicera japonica or Japanese Honeysuckle,

Ceratostigma willmotianum or Chinese Plumbago,

a white Pentas lanceolata,

 the Crotons I struck from cuttings taken from the Crotons growing down the driveway already,

There's still a long way to go, but things are definitely looking up.

Out in the courtyard garden ...

Of course, the pergola area of the courtyard garden is still very much a 'work-in-progress'.  Most of the Giant Sword Fern and Yellow Walking Iris has, of course, been trampled underfoot as the workmen pulled down the old cyclone-damaged pergola structure and erected the new one, but there are some signs of re-growth on the climbers that all had to be chopped down to ground level.

The first of the climbers to bounce back was my dwarf variegated Bougainvillea.  Just look at the colour of that new growth.  What a welcome sight!

Thankfully, I"ve spotted one new shoot on my beloved Jasmine vine.  That was cause for great excitement!  What do they say about small things??

Anyway, the Petrea volubilis or Sandpaper Vine has sprung back brilliantly too and is bursting out all over with new shoots.

As if to cheer me up even further, my Cassia fistula has finally flowered ... a whole lot later than all the others in the neighbourhood to the point that I was despairing it would bloom at all this year.  But, better late than never!  It's a wonderful sight to behold at the back of the dishevelled courtyard.  The pendulous branches of the Hibiscus does block out all the golden yellow racemes on the lower branches, but I'm looking forward to seeing all those buds on the uppermost branches bursting into bloom.

These flowers are just fabulous when you get up close.

Of course, there's one view of the courtyard garden that's still an enjoyable one!   That's the view from the back verandah, where I can sit out and not really see the pergola area that's undergoing work.

While I have moved a lot of potted plants off the table and back onto the pavers now, I haven't been tempted to move the round pots of Torenias and Gomphrena yet.  I know the wallabies are enjoying the fresh green grass that's springing up at the moment, but I'm just not convinced that those particular plants will be safe from those hungry hordes just yet!

Elsewhere around the property ...

Another little spot in the garden that's been giving me some joy lately is the newly created rock garden out beside our driveway.  This was an area that I created a few months ago now, and then optimistically planted it up during our dry season, hoping I would manage to keep the plants going during  that harsh time of year.  Well I've managed it, and the plants are now starting to thrive with the arrival of rain.  There's just something special in rainwater that thrills the socks off plants!!

Even the bits of Cordyline I stuck in the ground have rooted, and are starting to take off nicely.

It's terrific to see the purple Fountain Grass thriving too, after being eaten to the ground by the wallabies.

Overall, I'm very happy with the planting choices in this new rock garden.  So far they've proven to be very waterwise plants, as well as being sun and heat hardy, which is exactly what suits the climate and environment here.  Of course, the next couple of months will test these plants even further, but I'm pretty confident they will make it through the coming wet season.

There's still lots of lovely colour in various spots around the place.

The first of the Curcumas has bloomed.  The Justicia brandegeeana and Hemerocallis 'Wedding Band' make a cute couple.  The dwarf Allamanda is lighting up the rather barren front garden bed, and the Pentas just keep powering on through everything.

I'm loving the blooms on the double white Impatiens walleriana.  There's still quite a few Hemerocallis flowering, and the first flower spray has apppeared on my Globba winitii.

The first buds have appeared on my new Lagerstroemia indica or Crepe Myrtle shrubs.  My Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' keeps on flowering, as do the pots of Petunias.

The Coleus provides a riot of colour.  The Iris domestica is blooming for the second time this year.  The Caladiums have risen from their dormancy, and the Ground Orchids keep on blooming.

In the tiered garden beds ...

... the Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' is just loving its new home, and makes a pretty pairing with the candy pink Pentas that I also moved out there.

I've been totally pleased with the progress of the two new Mussaendas 'Calcutta Sunset'.  The colours are just wonderful and everyone notices these plants when they arrive at the end of our driveway.

Out in the Shadehouse Garden ...

The first flower buds have appeared on my Alpinia caerulea or Native Ginger, 

and most of the older established plants have literally doubled in size since the rains began, so it looks rather like a jungle out there at the moment.  I won't be bothering to cut back and tidy up out there until the wet season finishes now, and anyway, it's a lovely cool spot to wander around in!

Our Summer rolls on and it's certainly getter hot and sticky here.  Now, I only venture out to the garden early in the mornings and in the late, late afternoons to water, pull weeds, greet the new flower buds and converse with whatever wildlife just happens to be perched atop ....  

... or attempting to hide in the trees around my place.

Of course, not all the wildlife is as far off as the birds.  Just last evening I spotted these two whilst finishing off the watering of the potted plants on the staircase.

I fancied I was watching two best friends just hanging out together on the staircase post ... checking out the insect action!!!

Either that, or they were both asleep and had no idea the other one was right there beside them!

Well, it's truly been an absolute roller-coaster of a ride this gardening year ... what with an extreme wet season at the beginning of the year, closely followed by a disastrous cyclone, which was then followed by a lengthy dry season with hordes of hungry wallabies proving to be a pest for the first time ever, and fnally repair and re-construction work around the house and courtyard which involved the decimation of quite a few plants.  Let's see what 2012 has in store!

Thanks so much to all my followers for sticking by this blog and providing comments and encouragement throughout the year.  When I first began posting as a sort of discussion with myself (yes I do talk to myself quite a bit ... I make a great listener!)  I really didn't think anyone would find any of my text and pictures remotely interesting.  But it seems gardeners worldwide are universally interested in gardening and gardeners who love to prattle on about their gardening efforts.  So thank you ... and have a wonderful festive season and an even more joyous New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's An Early Summers' Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... December 15, 2011.

Well here we are, it's the last month of the year ... and our first month of Summer Downunder!  Here in the north-east we've finally had a few showers of rain so it looks like the wet season is just sticking it's foot in the door and the dry season has left the building.

Our average daytime temps have soared in the last week, hitting around the 36 deg C (96 F) mark in the shade, and as if to match the temperatures, there are a few 'hot' colours out in the garden at the moment.

There's the brilliant fiery red of the Poinciana blooms ...

... the Russelia,

... the Callistemon

... the Justicia brandegeana, or red Shrimp Plant,

... and the Caladium bi-colour.

There's also some sizzling yellows and oranges around, such as

... Hemerocallis 'Shocking',

... Mussaenda 'Calcutta Sunset',

... Iris domestica,

... and the dwarf Allamanda, Allamanda cathartica 'Sunee'.

Elsewhere around the property, some plants that have been enjoying their first drink of precious summer rainwater actually have a real Christmassy feel about them, and look a little like Christmas decorations.

The first golden yellow racemes of flowers are appearing on my Cassia fistula or Golden Shower Tree ... special Christmas tinsel perhaps!

The Phyllanthus myrtiflorus or Waterfall Plant has beautiful fern-like foliage, and at the moment the pendulous branches are covered in what look like gorgeous tiny Christmas baubles. 

Perfect decorations for Christmas time.

There are wonderful colourful jewels to be spotted in one of the garden beds.  Portulaca to be precise, but our common name for this plants in Sun Jewels.  Thankfully the wallabies that seem to adore Portulaca, have now found grass to eat instead and have left these little plants alone.

In the same garden bed you will spot bright shining stars ...

...  the star-shaped flowers of the Galphimia glauca or Gold Shower Shrub, sometimes known as Golden Thryallis.

The Gazanias in the same bed seem to be recovering nicely after being nibbled down to the ground by hungry wallabies.

But there are also some wonderfully 'cool' colours to be found out and about the property as well.  Of course, there are some fabulous splashes of white ...

... such as Mussaenda philippica 'Aurore',

... Mandevilla 'White Fantasy',

... Murraya paniculata,

... and Planchonia careya or the Cocky Apple Tree.

Then there are my pretty pinks and purples ...

... such asThunbergia erecta 'Tru Blu',

... Salvia leucantha 'Santa Barbara',

... Scaevola,

and Duranta repens 'Geisha Girl'.

To enjoy a whole lot of other posts about mid-December gardens from around the world, make sure you visit Carol for her Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

and Gesine for her Blogger Bloom Day.

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