Season: mid-Summer and 'wet' season.
Decent rain has finally arrived, but it hasn't been the usual all-day-long wet season torrential downpours. We've had around 230 mm or 9 inches fall in the last two weeks but most of the rain has fallen in the late afternoons or overnight, so we only really get to see the dark gloomy skies towards the end of the day, when the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are heading home to settle in for the night. It's lovely listening to the rain falling as we're all drifting off to sleep.
This poor chap got himself into difficulties trying to cool off on a very hot day. The Kookaburras often have a dip in the pond and obviously relish the experience. Lately however, I've been slowly cleaning up the pond, draining off the water and digging out loads of muck and goo. This youngster decided to have a dip and unfortunately got so drenched in the little bit of mucky water left at the bottom of the pool that he couldn't fly out again.
I had to rescue the poor thing with a broom and sweep him out of the pond and onto some nearby rocks to dry off. The little one was shaking with fright and sat there in the sunshine for quite a long time. I'd go and check on him every ten minutes or so, but eventually he'd flown off and I was left talking to myself!
Anyway, in between working at my day job and rescuing drenched birdlife, I've been pottering around the place doing a few little jobs that really needed to be done. We don't worry about the big jobs, like mowing the grass, because that sort of work is just downright painful in this heat and humidity! Thankfully our mowing crew does help out a little!
The trick to surviving gardening in the summertime here is to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that over several early mornings and late afternoons. You have to make sure you wear a hat though, as the sun is fierce even at these times, and you absolutely must cover yourself in insect repellent, otherwise you'll be carried away by the mosquitoes and flies!!! Ah, the pleasure of gardening in the tropics during Summer!
So I've been out there indulging in these pleasures over the last two weeks and trying to get things like the weeding done! When the summertime rains come, of course the weeds appear magically in every nook and cranny. I know they'll all die off once the dry season arrives, but in the meantime I have to at least make the place look a little less like an overgrown mess! It's mainly the driveway beds that need weeding though, so it's not a job that takes forever.
The Crotons, Pentas, Brunfelsia, Plumbago and Honeysuckle I added a few weeks ago have settled in well, and I'm pleased with the new additions during this round of planting.
I've now added a Kalanchoe pumila, a Polygala, a Rhoeo 'Stripe Me Pink' and Ixora 'Twilight Glow' in with the Crotons I had struck. As you can see, the ground dries out very quickly here during a hot sunny summer's day, so the next job will be some mulching.
I'm just so pleased to see the Cosmos sulphureus taking off on the opposite side of the driveway.
This little patch is the result of a few seeds sent to me from a fellow Queensland gardener, Africanaussie. They seem to have happily made this spot their home and are spreading very well.
In the new rock garden established at the end of the driveway just at the end of last year, all the plants I chose for that spot continue to do well now that the Wallabies are leaving them alone. They just need another round of feeding once the rains have been and gone.
Under the new pergola out in the Courtyard Garden, I've started some planting as well. A very kind gardener, also a fellow Queenslander, sent me a little collection of Bromeliads which I've added to the area close to the pond. I'm not very good with identification of Bromeliad varieties unfortunately, so I have no idea of their names.
In this little patch next to the Brom in the photo above, I threw in a couple of Belladonna bulbs that have done absolutely nothing in the pots they've been growing in for two years, and I scattered some Amaranthus seeds. The seeds came up within a day and suddenly there's new growth on the Belladonna bulbs. I'm keen to see how they all get along now! To the right is the newly planted Strongylodon macrobotrys or Jade Vine.
The Jade Vine started throwing out new leaves after just a few days, so it seems quite happy to be in this spot too! I just have to provide some netting on that post to give it some support as it climbs skywards to the pergola roof.
Down the hill driveway, the ferns and the Monstera are just loving all the rain and are looking happy once again.
There is one ugly spot though, left after the neighbour's tree crashed over the fence during Cyclone Yasi last year taking out a couple of little shrubs. It's a tough spot ... very rocky and compacted and now in full sun for most of the day. It's also often used as a thoroughfare by the Wallabies, so whatever I put in there will have to be something they don't find delectable! I'm thinking perhaps some Oleander shrubs. I've been wanting to find a spot for a couple for ages now and this seems like the perfect time and place.
Another huge job that I've finally got finished is the cleaning up of the Shadehouse Garden. It's a regular job I have to do around this time every year. The rains bring on a sudden burst of growth from the Giant Sword Fern in the shadehouse and it tends to take over. Every year I have to get in there and rip out huge pile of it! I also had to trim back the hanging baskets of Dragon Wing Begonias and Impatiens walleriana.
I do so like the tidy look when I'm done! Here's a few photos taken as I wandered through the newly tidied Shadehouse Garden this weekend, starting from the doorway that brings you in from the front yard.
Looking straight ahead, standing at the doorway.
To the left
and to the right.
Walking further into the shadehouse ...
That's my teeny weeny little collection of Orchids on the cane table.
Walking down towards the end of the shadehouse that leads out onto the alley besides the pergola area.
Now we're at the end and turning around to look back to where we came in.
That's my teeny tiny collection of Rex Begonias on the shelf to the left.
Walking a little closer ... here they are.
OK, so now we're wandering back to the screen door where we started. Watch your head. There's a few hanging baskets of Streptocarpus caulescens and Dragon Wing Begonia.
Oh, it's so nice to be able to wander around without struggling through huge fern fronds!