Sunday, August 26, 2012

The End Of Winter Is Here ... My Dry Tropics Garden Journal ... Week 36, 2012.

Date:  August 26, 2012

Season:  end of Winter, and mid-dry season

So this is our last Winter weekend and Spring is almost upon us.  This was the prediction for the weekend ...

Low: 18°C
High: 26°C
Low: 18°C
High: 27°C
Low: 16°C
High: 25°C
Low: 17°C
High: 26°C

... and that's pretty much how it all panned out too.  Our glorious winter daytime temps, which were hovering around the low to mid 20s (C), are now pretty much over and done with.  The mercury is now climbing up into the high 20s (C) every day, preparing the way for the rapidly approaching very warm Springtime temps. 

With one more week left before Spring officially arrives here Downunder, those of us who live in the northern tropics start bracing ourselves for the arrival once more of the fierce sunshine, the horrid heat and the awful humidity.

Our Spring begins in September and ends in November, and occurs towards the end of our 'dry' season.  There are predictions that a weak El Nino will develop, apparently the result of emerging warmer than normal waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and persistent warmer than normal waters in the Indian Ocean.
probability of exceeding median rainfall - click on the map for a larger version of the map

That raises the chances of 'drier-than-usual' conditions over the coming months.  Given that our long 'dry' season doesn't actually end until around early December, it seems that the end of this year's 'dry' is really, truly going to be DRY! 

There's only a 40% chance of exceeding the median rainfall total for Sept to Nov ... meaning there's a 60% chance of receiving well below the median rainfall total for Spring here in the north.

For the month of August, Mother Nature only managed 1.4 mm of rain ( 0.1 of an inch).  That has brought the 'dry' season total so far this year, from April to August, to 217.2 mm or 7.4 inches.  Compared to last year's total for the same period, April to August, of 128.2 mm or 5 inches ... this year's 'dry' has not been too bad.  Let's see how the next three months or so turn out.

Around my place, things are definitely drying up pretty quickly.  The grassed area at the front of the house is turning its usual winter / spring shade of attractive dead-and-dying brown.  As we received slightly more rain than usual this 'dry' season, we've been lucky enough to enjoy the green grass for slightly longer than most years.

It's interesting to watch both the Crotons and Acalyphas during our long 'dry' ... they both drop a lot of leaves during the dry months in an attempt to get through this harsh time of year.

Here you can see the pile of leaves that have fallen off the Acalypha wilkesianas ...

... and a pile of Croton leaves.  Of course, these water-deprived distressed shrubs are creating their own pile of mulch and thus helping themselves to survive.  I help out a little by giving them a deep watering every couple of months.

Out in the bush, the trees have started dropping their leaves as the 'dry' rolls on.  You can see the leaves browning off before they fall.   This is the time of year when bush fires can break out, and we may start to see plumes of smoke way off in the surrounding ranges, or perhaps a little closer in the foothills around here.

There are a couple of trees on my property that are deciduous in the 'dry'.

The Plumeria rubras have had no leaves now throughout the winter months ...

 ... and I just spotted the first little evidence of re-growth this week past.

The Lagerstroemia speciosas or Queen's Myrtles are also deciduous during the winter months /dry season ...

... and both are in varying stages of undress at the moment.

The young Lagerstroemia indicas or Crepe Myrtles look like sticks at the moment.  You can see them standing up tall and naked beside the dwarf pink Euphorbia pulcherrima, which blooms during the winter months.

The Hemerocallis, which have a corner at the end of this top tiered garden bed, are starting to show new leaf growth, gearing up now for the coming Spring.

Everything else in this top tiered garden bed has really slowed down and are not looking as lush as usual.  The Justicia brandegeana or red Shrimp Plant, and the Iresine herbstii 'Blazin Rose' however, are both blooming.  So is the Pentas, which can be spotted off to the right of the shot.

On the other side of the tiered beds, there's not much going on either.  The Dietes bicolor, old red Gerbera and the Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' are all putting on a little display, but the Salvias and Angelonias were all trimmed back a few weeks ago, and the Ground Orchid is just starting to send out new shoots.  Those pots sitting precariously on the slope in front of the tiered beds are filled with last year's Asiatic and Oriental Lily bulbs, and they're just starting to wake from their dormancy.

I had to do a little repair job on the end of the tiered garden beds this weekend.  This section was teetering on a very dangerous angle after our last 'wet' season, and I just hadn't gotten around to fixing it.  Well ... finally I made the effort!

Out in the Courtyard Garden, the native tree Sterculia quadrifida, or Peanut Tree, is completely bare of leaves but has the most spectacular display of fruit in varying stages of ripening.  

The Figbirds are having a feast on the seeds inside those fruit pods.

At the moment there are few gardening jobs for me to do, apart from the watering.  Most of the plants that grow here on the property have to get by without much help from me during our long 'dry' season.  I only regularly water the shadehouse and courtyard garden plants and fertilise every few weeks leading up to Spring.

Scattered around the courtyard I now have around 80 potted plants which provide lots of colour and interest to what would otherwise be a quite boring space.

You may notice some rather sorry looking pots in this corner of the courtyard.  I've had to cut the potted Petunias right back this weekend as they were getting very, very leggy.  They were planted back in April and I've only cut them back once since then.  The recent haircut will help keep them going throughout the coming Spring and into early Summer.

Most of the other potted plants in this corner go on and on for months, providing great foliage and flowers.

The renovated section under the pergola is coming along very well now.  I'm still working on cleaning out the pond though.  With one last push, and help from my darling hubby, it should be sparkling clean by next weekend.  Then it will be time to choose some water plants and turn it into something eye-worthy rather than the eye-sore it is at the moment.

The courtyard is not looking too bad right now,

but I'm waiting for this year's purchase of Asiatic and Oriental Lilies to fill out and bloom, adding some more lovely colour to the space.

Out in the Shadehouse Garden, I've had to trim back the hanging baskets of Dragon Wing Begonias and get them ready for a springtime show.

The hanging pots of Impatiens walleriana on the other side are all blooming away nicely, and the foliage plants just need a regular watering every second day or so to stay happy. 

Elsewhere on the property, the drought tolerant plants carry on with little attention from me.

It's lovely to see the display on my neighbour's white Bauhinia trees though.  Those trees hang over our fenceline and provide great splashes of white in amongst the other trees and shrubs,

... while my little cyclone-damaged stump is still limping through its recovery.

Of course, I'm very pleased that my little stump is showing so many stark white orchid-like flowers.

The two sections of rock garden newly established last year are also limping along quite nicely.  I've been slightly surprised that I haven't lost anything yet, so I can give myself a pat on the back for great planting choices.  I do expect these new plants will take off somewhat when the rains arrive at the end of the year, and both areas should start looking fuller.

Well, I started this post after having a bit of a break while I recovered from some nasty virus, and I was thinking I wouldn't find much to say!!!   Now I find I have to stop myself from prattling on any longer, as this is becoming a marathon of a post.  To finish off, I'll just add some shots of some of the blooms and colourful foliage around the place on this last Winter weekend. 

pinks and purples

whites, creams and yellows

reds and orange

fab foliage

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's A End-Of-Winter Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ... August 2012

I know I'm a little late for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month, but life sometimes gets in the way of blogging!  I wasn't going to bother, but then I was given a little push when I was at the supermarket doing the fortnightly shop and realised it was Daffodil Day today.  There were buckets of fabulous daffs near the check out and I just couldn't resist getting a bunch.  Then I felt I just had to share the beautiful blooms, which are definitely a rare sight here in my corner of Australia.

The closest we get to Daffodils here is this mid-week of August, when they are shipped in from down south to help raise money for a very worthwhile cause.   Daffodil Day is all about raising money for our Australian Cancer Council and I never hesitate in contributing.  As I write this blog post, it seems that Aussies have already contributed to the tune of $2.6 million!

Right now it's our end-of-winter month.  Up here in the tropical north-eastern corner of Oz, we're also in the 5th month of our 'dry' season.  Just to give a quick run-down ... it roughly began back in April and we've had around 20 days of rain in the four and a half months since then.  All in all, Mother Nature was shared about 213 mms or nearly 9 inches of rain over those 20 days.  This month we've received no rain at all and the forecast is more of the same.  By the time we get to this stage of our 'dry' my place is really drying out, and the garden has slowed down to a 'not-much-changes-from-day-to-day' stage.  So, those who tuned in last GBBD will recognise many of the blooms I shared last month. 

As you can tell by the photo above, Winter here comes complete with many, many sunny blue-sky days when you can look up and see loads of fluffy pure white clouds.  The temperatures are exceedingly mild winter temps in the eyes of many, but of course for us, things can get a little chilly sometimes.  This month we had three quite cold nights (for us!) when the mercury dropped to 6 deg C (43 F) / 7 deg C (45 F) / 8 deg C (47F) on three consecutive nights.  Those were some of the coldest overnight winter temps we've had in around 8 years, and many of us found that we needed a few layers just to warm up.  We're not used to wearing more than two layers in the winter, and the top layer is usually just a thin jumper or sweater. 

Anyway, on to what's blooming in the various corners of my place at the moment. 

Before I get to the same-oles, I should mention that my beautiful Dietes bicolor has started blooming once more.   I really want to plant lots more of this brilliant hardy perennial.  That's been on my to-do list for a while now, and I really must get some more planted before the wet season arrives at the end of the year.

I simply love the flowers of this plant and I'm looking forward to the day when I have well-established clumps of it in various corners of the property.

This is the time of year when I get to gaze upon the tiny, rather lovely, blooms of some of my Begonias. I know many regard them as rather unspectacular and inconspicuous, but a close-up view shows just how stunning these tiny little flowers really are.

Begonia 'Tiger Paws'

Cane Begonia - unknown variety

another unknown pink Cane Begonia

and this unknown.

Now for the usuals that I've been seeing for some time now.  Out in the courtyard ...

the Petunias carry on.

There are flower stalks on the Sanserviera, a flower spike on the Vriesea and some Pansy blooms.

The various Salvias continue to show their flower heads.

Down the driveway ...

the white Bauhinia continues to bloom,

as does the double flowering red Hibiscus, while the Tabebuia impetiginosa is showing its last blooms.

Out in the shadehouse ...

the Neomaricas continue their show and the Aechmea gamsepala has its pretty bright pink and electric blue flower spike still on display, while the Streptocarpus never stop blooming.


Of course, the Impatiens are always on show.

Finally, in the tiered garden beds, outside the shadehouse, ...

the Iresine herbstii 'Blazin Rose' blooms, the dwarf pink Euphorbia pulcherrima is still covered in its pink bracts and yellow flowers, and the Pentas lanceolata is still showing off its deep rosy pink flowers.

Spring is now just around the corner, and I'm eagerly waiting for some of my springtime blooms to open and capture my attention.

I'm joining Carol for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Related Posts with Thumbnails