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Bernieh's Blog




Our Wet Season Was A No-Show.

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:45 pm

It's mid-Autumn in the land Downunder. In my part of Oz there are no huge seasonal differences, and certainly not much changes from our mid-summer to our mid-Autumn.


Bright blue sunny mid-Autumn sky ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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 and Agile Wallabies are having trouble finding food. ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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 - needs the sprinkler. ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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. ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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. ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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.

Right now there are not many plants showing off loads and loads of blooms.


Jasminum ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


Jasminum ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


Jasminum didymum subsp. racemosum ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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 ...


Gerbera ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

my new Gerbera with a couple of blooms,


Alpinia NOID ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

one bloom on my Alpinia NOID,


Hibiscus NOID ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


self-seeded Celosia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


Hedychium coronarium ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

the last flower spray of the Hedychium coronarium,


Iris domestica ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


Iris domestica seeds ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

which are turning to seed. You can see why its common name is Blackberry Lily.

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


Dendrobium bigibbum ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

one bloom on my Dendrobium bigibbum bicolour,


Dragon Wing Begonia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

and a few flower sprays on the Dragon Wing Begonias.

In the front garden beds ...


Mandevilla 'White Fantasy' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


Ixora ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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 ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Impatiens walleriana are blooming,


Spathoglottis plicata ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

as is the potted Spathoglottis plicata.


Azalea ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


Hibiscus schizopetalus ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


Torenia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I've also only just potted up some Torenias


Portulaca ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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


By the pond ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I've also planted some little Petunia seedlings, Petunia 'Bonanza', which are doubles, 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.


Acacia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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



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Supposedly our last day of Summer.

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:55 pm

Yes the last day of February is supposed to be our last day of Summer. Seasons in Australia are determined by months of the year. Of course, it's not really how Mother Nature works up here in the north. The summery temps and humidity levels will remain relatively the same for some time to come.


Summer sky ... lots of blue and white ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Our wet season, which coincides with our Summer, has not amounted to much at all this year, but we're still holding out hope that it will show up soon, or at least make a last ditch effort!

We've had around 32 mms of rain this month, our last summer month, and our average for February is 305! Not really close at all. We have our fingers crossed that something happens in early March, our first Autumn month. Otherwise it's going to be a very, very long year when the dry season rolls around.

The little rain we have had this month has been most welcome and the plants have certainly flourished.


Lots of great foliage ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The colours always seem brighter after the rains come.


( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Everything seems to take off once the heavy raindrops start soaking into the ground.


Pentas lanceolata ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Clerodendrum ugandense ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Clerodendrum ugandens or Blue Butterfly Bush ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The flowers seem to be brighter in the strong summer sunshine.


Spathoglottis or Chinese Ground Orchid ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Celosia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Iris domestica ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There are always loads more insects buzzing around the garden during our summer.


Turnera subulata ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Polygala ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Here's hoping that our first month of Autumn, March, brings lots more rain for my lovely plants.



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First Friday in late Summer Downunder

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 11:47 pm

February is supposedly our last month of Summer, although there's little change even when March rolls around. At the moment it's hot and humid.


Summertime rain ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

We've had some lovely rain during the month of January and even in this first week of February, but it's been intermittent and not up to the usual wet season standards. Still, can't complain. The garden has needed some of that liquid sunshine after the usual long dry season last year.

I'm just sharing some of the lovely blooms that are out there around the garden this first Friday of February.


Citharexylum spinosa, commonly known as Fiddlewood ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Citharexylum spinosa, commonly known as Fiddlewood has the most beautiful perfume.


Hibiscus schizopetalus ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Dwarf Ixora chinensis 'Peggy'. ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Lagerstroemia indica, or Crepe Myrtle ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Mandevilla 'White Fantasy' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Galphimia glauca with its wonderful red stems ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Galphimia glauca with its wonderful red stems.


Sometimes the Galphimia is referred to as the Gold Shower bush ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Sometimes the Galphimia is referred to as the Gold Shower bush.


Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Summertime is the time for Mussaendas to put on a show. This is Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose'.


Allamanda cathartica 'Sunee' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Pseudomussaenda flava, commonly called White Wings. ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Gardenia 'Soleil d'or' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There's been some lovely perfume around the garden in the last couple of weeks. The fabulous Gardenia 'Soleil d'or', picture above, has filled the air with such a gorgeous perfume. It's been flowering for a few weeks now.


Jasminum officinale ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

My Jasminum officinale has begun another blooming cycle and adding to the perfumed air.


Hedychium coronarium ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Hedychium coronarium, or White Butterfly Ginger, adds an amazing aroma.


Murraya paniculata ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The Murrayas have also added a stunning perfume to the early morning breeze and evening air.

Not only have I been treated to perfume in the garden, but I've also been witness to some fabulous forms and shapes in blooms as they mature.


Hymenocallis ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

This Hymenocallis, or Spider Lily, begins a blooming cycle with this fantastic shape where the petal ends are all joined at their tips. Slowly the ends fall away,


Hymenocallis ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

and the flower opens like this. It's simply amazing watching this happen.

Then there is the form of the brilliant Gloriosa Lily flowers as they open up.


Gloriosa superba ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Gloriosa superba ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The petals turn themselves upside down to create this wonderful spectacle. I just love these blooms.

So that's a quick look at what's going on around here at the beginning of February.

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It's Our Mid-Winter Month ... July 2013 ... What's Blooming?

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:59 am


Kookaburra sitting in a gum tree ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

July is our mid-Winter month, but we have a very, very mild winter here in the tropics. This year July has been particularly mild. Our daytime temps. have hovered around the top 20s ... 25 to 27 deg C (77 - 80 deg F).

Our night time temps this month have been all over the place though. We've a night or two where the mercury has dropped down to 10 deg C (50 deg F), which is very chilly for us; but we've also had nights where it's shot back up to 21 deg C (69 deg F). Over the last couple of weeks though it seems to have stabilised more and we're getting between 16 - 18 deg C (60 - 64 F).


Mid-Winter Sunrise 2013 ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

We've woken up to a few overcast, dreary days and we've had some very very light showers. Whilst it's been refreshing, the rain hasn't been able to actually penetrate the soil here. We've only had 3.4 mms of rain (0.1 of an inch) all month so far. We're in our dry season now. Our last really decent rainfall was back in March/April.

Let's see what's been blooming so far this month around my garden ...


Schlumbergera or Zygocactus - peach ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Schlumbergera truncata bloom ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Schlumbergera truncata ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Clerodendrum ugandense ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Celosia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Pelargonium ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Petunia 'Bumblebee' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Petunia 'Bumblebee' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Rosebud Pelargonium ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


dwarf Azalea ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


double white Impatiens walleriana ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Crossandra infundibuliformis ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


double Petunias ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


double Petunias ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Turnera subulata ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Euphorbia pulcherrima ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


dwarf pink Euphorbia pulcherrima ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Impatiens walleriana ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


more Impatiens walleriana ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Last edited: Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:00 am

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End-of-our-first-Winter-month Blooms - June 2013

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:25 am


Schlumbergera or Zygocactus ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

It's our Winter solstice today, and up here in the north, it's time for the beautiful Schlumbergeras or Zygocactus to show off their unusual blooms. Happy Winter Solstice to all my fellow Aussies.

Now while in other parts of the world the solstice indicates the beginning of a new season, here in Oz our seasons officially start on the first day of the appropriate month. So our Winter began about 3 weeks ago.

The temps. have become decidedly cooler here though, as our first Winter month gallops towards a close. I don't want you all to worry too much however, as our Winter temps here in the tropical north are rather mild compared to so many other corners of Australia, and indeed the world.

The mercury has been dropping down to between 10-14 deg C (50-57 f) overnight, so we've actually had to turn on the electric blanket for a couple of evenings this week.


Early Winter's morning sunrise ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

It's been difficult getting up early in the mornings, but I try most days just so I can take in the stunning sunrises we get at this time of year. It always seems to me that the sunrises and sunsets during our wintertime are just far more fabulous than at any other time of the year.

The daytime temps have been a lot warmer, between 23-27 deg C (73-80 F), which means I haven't as yet had to throw on a jumper or cardigan during the day.


Courtyard garden - Winter - end of June 2013 ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Out in the courtyard garden, the native Sterculia quadrifida or Peanut Tree has been busy dropping most of its leaves, being a winter deciduous tree. The leaves have been carpeting the courtyard pavers and creating a bit of a mess out there lately. No sooner do I finish sweeping up piles of them, then I turn around to see more of the blessed things.


Courtyard Garden - Winter - end of June 2013 ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Never mind, it means I'm forced to spend more time out in the courtyard where I can enjoy the lovely potted flowers and foliage.


Courtyard Garden - Winter - end of June 2013 ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There are a few things blooming out there right now, like the Salvias, the Cleome, the Marigolds, the Impatiens, the Angelonias, the Celosias, the Violas, as well as the Ixora.


Petunia 'Bumbebee' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The first flowers have appeared on my Petunia 'Bumblebee'. It's one of my all-time favourite Petunias. I'm afraid the poor light out in the courtyard today means this bloom looks rather purple and green, when in fact it's black and yellow. Never mind, I'll take a better shot for next week's flaunt when hopefully it will be a brighter, sunnier day.


Justicia carnea or Brazilian Plume Flower ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

My particular favourite at the moment if the brilliant Justicia carnea. I adore the white plumes of this plant.


Salvia glechomifolia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Another favourite is the Salvia glechomifolia, but you need to get up close and personal to see its beauty. It does get a little lost in amongst all the other plants.


Cleome spinosa 'Senorita Rosalita' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The Cleome spinosa 'Senorita Rosalita', on the other hand, demands attention from appreciative eyes.


Yellow-bellied Sunbird ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The Salvia splendens have been attracting quite a few visitors lately, like the Yellow-bellied Sunbirds ....


Australian native Blue-banded Bee ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

.... and our native bee, the Blue-banded Bee. These bees are loners, and this morning this little chap was busy feasting on the nectar ...


native Australian Blue-banded Bee ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

... as well as drinking the waterdrops that remained on the plant after I had watered.


native Australian Blue-banded Bee ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Well at least, that's what it seemed to be doing to me.


Courtyard Garden plants ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Elsewhere in the courtyard, the winter-blooming Euphorbia leucocephala or Snowflake Bush, is still putting out bracts and blooms behind the Cycas revoluta and Cordyline 'Morning Sunshine'.


Euphorbia leucocephala or Snowflake Bush ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

This particular Euphorbia is a common sight around here, and it looks fantastic when covered in its stark white bracts and tiny flowers.


Dracaena fragrans ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There are also a couple of flower spikes on the Dracaenas that grow under the pergola.





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Striding Towards The End Of Our Autumn ... April 2013

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Wed May 01, 2013 10:10 am

I can't believe it's been over a year since I last added a blog post here. Time flies when you're busy. It's lovely to finally find myself with some spare time to pop by at long last.

Here in Oz, May is the beginning of our last Autumn month. Here in the north-east of Oz we've officially begun our long, long 'dry' season, and waved goodbye to our uncharacteristically dry 'wet' season. The rainfall totals during the 'wet' that's now over, were very low, about half of the rainfall we usually receive.

As a result, my garden is a little dull compared to this time last year and the year before. Of course, in the tropics, we always have something in bloom year round, so I'm just going to share the blooms I'm enjoying at the moment.


Dendrobium bigibbum ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Dendrobium bigibbum (terrible name!)


Justicia brandegeana ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Justicia brandegeana or red Shrimp Plant


Turnera ulmifolia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Turnera ulmifolia


Turnera subulata ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Turnera subulata


Salvia madrensis or Forsythia Sage ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Salvia madrensis or Forsythia Sage


Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita'


Allamanda cathartica 'Sunee' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Allamanda cathartica 'Sunee'


Streptocarpus caulescens or Nodding Violet ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Streptocarpus caulescens or Nodding Violet


Hibiscus schizopetalus or Japanese Lantern ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Hibiscus schizopetalus or Japanese Lantern


Vriesea bromeliad ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Vriesea bromeliad


Mussaenda philippica 'Aurore' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Mussaenda philippica 'Aurore'


Costus productus or Orange Spiral Ginger ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Costus productus or Orange Spiral Ginger


double Impatiens walleriana ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

double Impatiens walleriana


Polygala ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Polygala






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Bracing For The Coming Summer and Looking Back At Spring.

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 12:59 am

The sun is setting on Spring here in the southern hemisphere and it's also setting on the 'dry' season in my north-eastern corner of Oz. It pretty much feels like Summer already. The mercury has climbed back over that 30 deg C mark, with daytime temperatures settled steadily around the 31 degrees C (87 F), which really feels more like 33 C (91 F). Relative humidity during the day doesn't fluctuate much from the 60% - 70% level, and our night-time temps. are now around 23 C (73 F).


Sunset in Late Spring ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

We've started to see dark grey clouds once more and we've had a few light showers, but they've been quite brief, barely touch the ground. It has been wonderful though to see the courtyard splashed by raindrops ...


Courtyard Garden - end of Spring ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

... and to occasionally see the flowers dripping with little raindrops as well. That heady intoxicating smell of rain after seven months of the 'dry' season, even for the briefest time, is just totally glorious!


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Seeing all the Poincianas in bloom around the property is a clear indication Summer is just around the corner.


Delonix regia or Poinciana in bloom ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Delonix regia or Poinciana in bloom ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The native Sterculia quadrifida, or Peanut Tree, has leafed up again and is showing its bright red fruit. This tree is a real asset in the courtyard during our hot Summers, providing much needed shade for many of the potted plants out there.


Sterculia quadrifida or Peanut Tree fruit ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

As I lament the end of our Spring, I've being reflecting on the much-needed joy it has provided after what proved to be a trying beginning to the gardening year. The Hemerocallis, in the corner of the top tier in the tiered garden beds, have been putting on a great display.

There have been some beauties blooming for the very first time this Spring. While they were planted back in early winter 2010, I think the rather damp unseasonable not-so-dry season during the 2010 Winter-Spring didn't really agree with the new plants. They didn't bloom at all last Spring, so it's been an absolute joy to see their beautiful faces at long last.

Hemerocallis 'Velvet Eyes'

Hemerocallis 'Velvet Eyes' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Hemerocallis 'Jamaican Midnight'

Hemerocallis 'Jamaican Midnight' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Hemerocallis 'Picotee Bubbles'

Hemerocallis 'Picotee Bubbles' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Then there is 'Sweet Summer Heat', which will probably last into the early days of our Summer as that is now only three days away.

Hemerocallis 'Sweet Summer Heat' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Other joys to be found during the Spring were the gorgeous Asiatic and Oriental Lilies growing in pots out in my Shadehouse Garden. I bought the mixed packs of bulbs back in early Winter and these new Lilliums put on a great show all through October into early November ... which are our mid-Spring and late Spring months.


Asiatic Lilies ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Unfortunately I can't identify the cultivars in this mixed pack of Asiatic Lilies bulbs. All I know is that the pack was labelled 'Matisse Collection'.

The pack of Oriental Lily bulbs were only labelled 'Oriental Lillium x speciosum', which is not much help either.

Oriental Lilies ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Preparing the garden and property for the coming Summer has proven to be a very different task this year. Most of the pruning and cutting back that I do at the end of Spring has not been necessary this year, as so many of the trees and shrubs are still well and truly pruned after their drastic haircuts during Cyclone Yasi back in February. The ensuing 'dry' season since then has meant that most of those damaged trees and shrubs have not exactly flourished and certainly don't need any more trimming back!!!

Of course, the shrubs in the front garden beds, which mostly escaped damage from Yasi, were just recently damaged by scaffolding plonked on top of them as repair work finally began on our wrecked verandah hood. Thankfully, the scaffolding has now been removed and I've had a chance to get in and trim back all the broken branches.


Front yard, end of Spring, after house repair work ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Just to be clear, that brown patch is the 'lawn' after our long, long dry season! Anyway, returning to those poor shrubs, most seem to be okay and should recover well. The Acalyphas should have no trouble coming back. I think they deserve the title "One of the toughest shrubs ever", especially here in the tropics.


Front garden beds after house repair work ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

On the other side, the two Hibiscus rosa-sinenses cultivars ... 'Snowflake' and 'Roseflake' will definitely recover well. The Russelia will just power on now and the Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose' has decided not to be beaten into submission and is throwing out its gorgeous bracts and tiny flowers on some really short, stunted stems and branches.


Front garden beds after house repair work ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Down at the very front of this bed is my oldest red-flowering Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. It had once token pride of place in the front garden beds but, as you can see, is now looking rather ugly and stunted. It wasn't the cyclone, or the scaffolding that caused this damage. No, to top off everything else that has happened during this annus-horibilis for my garden, the wallabies decided for the first time ever that they should start munching on plants that they have never given a second glance before. This Hibiscus was one of them. The wallabies literally stripped the entire shrub of its leaves, and even went so far as pulling the huge tall branches down to their level, so they could munch away happily.


Front garden beds after house repair work and hungry hordes of wallabies ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The Courtyard Garden has been quite lovely during our 'dry', which has now lasted for seven months. I've been enjoying all the colour provided by the potted plants out there, despite the slightly annoying need to stash a whole lot of those plants up on the wooden table to keep them out of hungry wallaby arms ... and mouths.


Courtyard Garden at the end of Spring ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Courtyard Garden at the end of Spring ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The lovely colour out there has provided the perfect antidote to all the brown elsewhere on the property and in the bushland around us. I've really loved all the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, as well as the more sedate pinks and purples.


Courtyard Garden at the end of Spring ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Courtyard Garden plants at the end of Spring ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I'm expecting most of these potted plants will make it through the coming Summer/Monsoon season as I seem to be getting a little better each year at working out just what these plants need to survive the conditions experienced from December to March.


Gardenia augusta ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )





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Finding Delights In The Dry And Desolate ... mid-Spring 2011

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:31 am

The dry season marches on in my corner of the world, and it's now being flanked by the rising temps brigade and the higher humidity company. No rain has fallen here for nearly six months now, which is typical for this region. The mercury is creeping up over the 30 deg C (high 80s-90 F) mark every day and humidity is up around 60%. It's beginning to feel a lot like Summer, even though it's only mid-Spring.

Of course, the surrounding bushland has dried up considerably and the grasses have turned a brilliant shade of dead! Our property looks remarkably similar. The bushfires still rage in the mountain ranges that ring our outlying rural suburb and we've had many, many hazy days.


Looking over the bushland during 'dry' season ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

My gardening spirits have been brought low lately, not just because the dry season has created such a parched landscape ... I'm used to that happening every year ... no, it's a few other annoyances piled on the top.


Hungry Agile Wallabies ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

For the first time ever I'm seeing considerable damage being caused by ravenous wallabies. They've been nibbling away on so many plants in the outdoor garden beds, and then had the hide to move onto the courtyard garden plants!!! This has never happened before, so I suspect there might be a couple of slightly-brighter-than-the-average wallabies around, and they've figured out there's loads of delicious plants in pots scattered around the back of the house.

I've had to barricade off the seemingly most delicious plants ... like the Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost', the Crossandras and the New Guinea Impatiens ... and put most of the pots of flowering annuals and perennials ... like the Torenias, Nasturtiums and Plectranthus ... up on the outdoor dining table so they're out of reach. It makes for a great looking tabletop, but a rather barren and drab courtyard!

Then there's the unsightly view of the construction site that was a car shed at the end of our sad looking cyclone damaged driveway garden beds. There used to be a lovely Jacaranda tree and a massive great stand of Golden Cane Palm in this area. Not any more! This project just seems to go on and on and on. I know it's a hard, complicated job and my darling hubbie is doing it all by himself, so it's not been easy ... but I am getting rather sick of this sight when I come home from work in the afternoons, particularly at this time of year when everything around is so drab and dreary.


Work In Progress ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

To top it all off, there's the re-construction work that has now begun on our cyclone damaged house. It's been eight months since Cyclone Yasi ripped through here and caused not only damage to the trees and plants, but also damaged the bull-nosed verandah awning, and we've been waiting patiently for something to be done. Then, out of the blue, it's started!!


Repair Work On Cyclone Damaged House ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I'm hoping that the roof will be repaired and the scaffolding removed before the next wet/cyclone season is due ... that's now only two months away!! Do you think I'm being too optimistic?


Repair Work On Cyclone Damaged House ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

(Just a quick aside ... these shots give you a great idea of just what 'dry' season means around here. We don't water the lawn area ... trying to keep that green for around ten months of the year with sprinklers would cost an absolute fortune in excess water fees. Not worth it)

Back to it ... Oh yes, did I happen to mention that there's garden beds under all that scaffolding. It seems that the scaffolding team didn't notice there was a garden in front of the house. They just trampled over the beds and plants in their frenzy to get the walkways up ready for the roofing guys to come and do the repair work. Let's take a closer look, shall we? I hope you're not squeamish!


Repair Work On House ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Repari Work On House ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Now if I'd known the scaffolders were coming, I might not have baked them a cake, but I most definitely would have trimmed all the shrubs in those two front garden beds. The last thing I need right now is more damaged vegetation!!

Anyway all in all, this gardener is quite simply down for the count right now and I'm hoping that in writing this post, I will find some small delights around this dreary looking place of mine. Bear with me, I think this is going to be a long post!

Let's see .... do I sit down and moan endlessly about just how dry and ugly the view is around here, or do I sit and appreciate the stunning sunrises that light up the bleak dry landscape on so many mornings?


Bushland during dry season and Sunrise ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Many of the cyclone damaged shrubs growing down both sides of our driveway are suffering quite a lot right now. Unbelievably it seems that a few of the Duranta repens shrubs have actually died off. Now, it takes a lot to kill a Duranta, but it seems the combination of cyclonic wind damage followed by months of dry season has been too stressful for some of them. So do I get upset with those losses ... or do I jump for joy that there are some flowers appearing on the remaining stunted Durantas that are still trying to recover????


Duranta repens ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

So many of the shrubs and Palms down the driveway are showing signs of distress from thirst, and I've had to resort to turning on the irrigation system once or twice, which has helped restore them to health but the downside will be a pretty high excess water bill at the end of the year. Do I get cranky about the impending expense of our water usage in an effort to keep plants going, or do I find delight in the fact that my beloved damaged white Bauhinia is actually flowering?


Driveway Garden Beds and white Bauhinia tree ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The Agile Wallabies have been finding it hard to feast on their usual diet of grass, and have been raiding the garden beds every night in an effort to fill their bellies. They pull down the branches, shred off all the leaves they can reach, nibble off almost every flower and even dig up entire plants. Should I feel down because the shrubs look broken and ravaged, or should I find solace in the fact that there are still some flowers blooming up high on the bare stripped branches where the wallabies just can't reach???


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Should I focus on the ugly mess of building materials lying scattered about the place, or look for the cute things like the sight of birds enjoying a quick shower under the sprinkler when I turn it on in the evenings?


Work In Progress and Bathing Bird ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Maybe I should just avert my eyes from the fern fronds being singed and burnt. They're now being exposed to the full force of the sun, since the tree canopy was stripped away from this garden bed during the cyclone.


Ferns and Brunfelsia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I should perhaps be more appreciative of the sight of all the Brunfelsia blooms. The 'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' shrub hasn't seen full sunlight in many, many years and it's just rejoicing in the new state of affairs since the removal of the tree canopy.

The Plumerias are also very appreciative of this change in conditions. They are simply loving the new full sun position. The deciduous Plumeria rubras have started sprouting their new spring foliage and one has even thrown out a flower cluster. Obviously very happy indeed! I'm fully expecting a fabulous show of flowers throughout the summer from these two deliriously happy Frangipani trees.


Plumeria rubra ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I know I really should stop fretting about the state of some of the older established shrubs in the driveway garden beds ... shrubs like this poor Croton below. Some are just doing it tough through this dry season and there's really not much I can do to help them along, apart from giving them the occasional watering. At least there's evidence of new growth!


Croton, Scuterllaria and Turnera ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

On the other hand, I should be totally overjoyed by the progress of the new plantings in the driveway rock garden. I have been religiously watering them just a little every other evening and they seem to have settled in well, especially the Verbena, the Scutellaria indica and the Turnera ulmifolia.

Maybe I need to cease trying to work out just what it is that's afflicting some of the older shrubs around the place. I just can't work out why one of the Crotons is suddenly becoming paler and paler and looking decidedly ill ... or why one of my oldest Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (the only one that's not been ravaged by wallabies!) has suddenly developed variegated foliage! Neither of these plants have given me any trouble previously and I'm at a bit of a loss.


Sick shrubs and peeling bark ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I think it would be far better to focus on the more usual occurrences ... such as the beautiful shedding of bark on both my Eucalyptus platyphylla and Corymbia torelliana.

Every year the Corymbia torellaina or Cadaghi Gum Tree sheds it outer covering to reveal a gorgeous green trunk underneath. It's simply beautiful!

The Eucalyptus platyphylla or Poplar Gum also sheds its bark every year to reveal a new trunk of the most gorgeous salmon pink colour. This eventually turns to the familiar smooth white trunk in the coming weeks. Both are sights that never fail to please me.

I must, I must, I must ... increase my tolerance level for wallaby-nibbled plants. There's really nothing I can do about it, because it's just been impossible to predict what they will eat next!!! They're chomping on plants that they've never touched ever before. So I will take comfort in the fact that the leaves on the Iresine herbstii will grow back ...


Poor Iresine and a lovely Hemerocallis ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

... and in the meantime, I will rejoice in the fact that the wallabies haven't yet developed the taste for Hemerocallis blooms. This is the first for the season and so far, there's not a trace of a nibble! Hemerocallis 'Blackberry Jack' has not yet made it onto the menu of Bush Bernie's Wallaby Restaurant!!

OK, now I'm just being silly ... "goin' troppo!" as we call it here in the tropics. I need something to soothe the weary gardening spirit. Thankfully, there are still some lovely flowers here and there.

First of all, here's what's blooming in the pots out in the courtyard garden, whether they be sitting atop the table or braving it out on the pavers.

There's New Guinea Impatiens, Black and Blue Salvia,
'Bonanza' Petunias, Salvia 'Dusky Hues', Gazanias, Streptocarpus, Rosebud Pelargonium, Torenias, Snapdragons, Bracteanthas, Tabernaemontana, Cleome, Vanilla Marigolds and Bumblebee Petunias.


Mid-Spring Blooms In The Courtyard Garden ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

It's also terrific to see the first ever blooms on my Diffenbachias and the first 'break' on one of my Cycas revolutas.


Diffenbachia blooms and a 'break' on a Cycas revoluta ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Here's some of the lovely sights out in the shadehouse garden.

There's Asiatic Lilies, a purple Anthurium, Cane Begonias, Impatiens walleriana, Stromanthe and Boat Lilies.


Mid-Spring Blooms In The Shadehouse Garden ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Finally, there are still a few blooms left in the tiered garden beds.

There's Scaevola, Callistemon, Ground Orchids, Caladiums, Hemerocallis and Ozothamnus.


Mid-Spring Blooms In The Tiered Garden Beds ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

So, all is not drab and dreary.



Last edited: Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:42 am

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Early Spring In My N.E. Downunder Garden

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:03 pm


Bumble Bee Petunias ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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.


Potted Plants in the Courtyard Garden ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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.


Potted plants in the Courtyard Garden ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Luckily there are still some plants they haven't yet acquired a taste for, so some colour remains in a few corners.


Potted plants in the Courtyard Garden ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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.


Vanilla Marigolds and Bumble Bee Petunias ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There's always fabulous foliage plants to appreciate, like this colourful Croton 'Zanzibar'.


Croton 'Zanzibar' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

I also 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 native Ozothamnus diosmifolius,


Ozothamnus diosmifolius ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

the striking white flowers of the unknown variety of Begonia,


unknown variety of Begonia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

and the happy faces of the white Gazanias.


Gazanias ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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.


Figbird ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Scaly Breasted Lorikeet ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

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 ....


Sunset in Springtime ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

... and this.


Springtime Sunset ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


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Spring Has Sprung Downunder! (September 2011)

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:01 am

September is our first month of Springtime Downunder, and whilst most gardeners further south will be rejoicing, those of us who garden in the far north are not so thrilled. Spring is really just an early version of Summer here ... and a reminder that the harshest time of the gardening year is close.

For now though, it's time to enjoy the last of the cooler weather and comfortable days. As if to celebrate the arrival of Spring, the first flower buds on my Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' have burst open. I've been enjoying watching each individual bud unfold slowly along the long flower spray.


First bloom on Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Callistemon 'Pink Champagne' is blooming ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

In the background of the above shot, you can see just how dry our front yard is now. There's a carpet of brown parched grass all around the house as our 'dry' season enters its fifth month. Thankfully there's some colour in the tiered garden bed where this pretty Callistemon is growing.


Salvia elegans ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The Salvia elegans is flowering once more.


Salvia splendens hybrid and Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia) ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

This pretty Salvia splendens hybrid hasn't stopped flowering for months now and it complements the dwarf pink Euphorbia pulcherrima perfectly


Dietes bicolor ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The Dietes bicolor continues to throw out flowerheads, and you can see the fan-like flowers of the dwarf lilac Scaevola spreading like groundcover in this garden bed.


Cuphea hyssopifolia ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The tiny white flowers of the white Cuphea hyssopifolia are on display all year round here and provide much needed colour at this dry time of year.


Rudbeckia 'Tiger Eyes' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The newly planted Rudbeckia continue to bloom ...


Verbena hybrid 'Burgundy Surprise' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

as does this fabulous Verbena hybrid 'Burgundy Surprise'. The colour just seems to be deepening as the plant matures.


Petunia 'Bonanza Series' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )


Petunia 'Bonanza Series' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The beautiful double blooms of the Petunia 'Bonanza Series' continue to please ...


Torenia hybrid 'Violet Magic' ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

... as do the gorgeous flowers of this compact Torenia 'Violet Magic'.



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