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Change Is In The Wind - July 2011

Category: My Dry Tropics Garden | Posted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:56 am

Our last winter month begins August 1st, and our winter weather so far has been deliciously mild. Lots of lovely sunny, fairly clear, blue-sky days. Of course, our 'dry' season is well underway and there's been no rain.

View over the hills ... July, mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

So this was the view as I worked in my thongs and t-shirt in the front yard this past weekend. ('Thongs' being footwear, people!!!)

It's been a busy time in the garden here during the month of July. I've done such a lot of trimming back and clearing out in various spots around the place. As I mentioned in a couple of my last blog posts, I've managed to finish the cleaning up jobs so badly needed in both the Outdoor Tiered Garden Beds and the Shadehouse Garden, so they are both looking fairly decent once more.

There's a couple of little apparent changes right there, but there are a few others around the place.

We had a Category 5 tropical cyclone thrash its way through our area in February this year. That's the highest rating for a cyclone and it was the highest rated one to ever hit our coastline. Our place coped some damage, particularly many of the very tall trees and shrubs down our long driveway. These are slowly continuing on with their recovery and new growth.

There's a little more growth on my beloved white Bauhinia. It was a large tree, over 15 feet tall. It was felled during Cyclone Yasi and the root ball was almost completely ripped out of the ground.

White Bauhinia in recovery after being felled during Cyclone Yasi ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There were 16 stands of Duranta repens shrubs down our driveway which all stood at around 10 feet or a little more. They were all either felled or significantly damaged and had most branches ripped off. All were cut back to stumps and are slowly coming back. I have lost one though.

Duranta repens ... post-cyclone recovery ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There's a few flowers on the non-cyclone damaged half of my Tabebuia impetiginosa. This tree is usually covered in flowers at this time of year.

Tabebuia impetiginosa - post-cyclone recovery ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

It is lovely to see just a few of the Tab's lovely flowers though.

Tabebuia impetiginosa flowers ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Whilst there are no gorgeous white flowers on my white Bauhinia, which is also usually covered in blooms during winter, at least there are blooms on the white Bauhinia leaning over the driveway fence from my neighbour's yard.

Bauhinia variegata 'Alba' - White Bauhinia Tree ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

It's a delight to get to see a few of the usual winter blooms down the driveway even if it's not the usual display or in the usual places.

One of the other delights that I found down the driveway after the cyclone clean-up was a scraggly ugly looking Hibiscus that had been struggling to grow under a huge Duranta repens. With the drastic cut-back of the Duranta, the Hibiscus has once again become rather a looker!

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

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

I'm loving the new blooms that have started appearing on this re-vitalised Hibiscus shrub. They look like doubles to me. None of my other Hibiscus have double blooms, so this shrub will be receiving some special attention from now on.

Now to the garden beds down the hill driveway. There are a couple of deciduous Plumerias growing in that area and for the first time in at least fifteen years, these trees are receiving full sun once again. They had been permanently shaded by the canopy of my other neighbour's very tall 30 foot trees, but nearly every single one of those trees has now been chopped down as a result of the damage inflicted by Cyclone Yasi.

Here's the hill driveway garden bed early last year ...

Hill Driveway 2010 ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

... and here it is this year.

Hill Driveway 2011 ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

You can see there's a huge difference in the conditions. So, as a result of this loss of canopy, I'm expecting the Plumerias to put on a fabulous flowering display later this year. I'm hoping they will be absolutely covered in blooms for the first time since we moved into this property.

Of course, with this loss of canopy the underlying ferns in my ferny grove are now also exposed to almost full sun. While this isn't such a big deal during our winter, I'm a little concerned how they will fare during the summer at the end of the year. I'm hoping that the two Cadaghi Gums that are growing in that bed will be fully recovered from their cyclone ordeal and have full canopy cover by that time.

Righto ... onto another little area of change.

Front garden bed and cyclone damaged house ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The front garden beds had become very overgrown and needed a good clean-up. There was a more pressing reason for the clean-up though. We've finally got the go-ahead for the repair work to commence on all the cyclone damage around our place, including the damage to the front verandah hood. We've been living with the hood draped down over the garden beds ever since Cyclone Yasi hit in February. So, to enable the workmen to access this spot, those Acalyphas needed cutting back.

Acalyphas in front garden bed trimmed back ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Much better ... now it should be a whole lot easier for workmen to get in to fix the damage.

Aah ... now this photo shows clearly what happens to our place during the 'dry' season. Notice the brown grass cover all over the front yard. We're not in drought ... that's just what our place typically looks like during the seven to nine month 'dry' season we have here every year.

I know there are gardeners out there who complain bitterly when it doesn't rain for a month or two, and they start talking about a 'drought'. For many Australian gardeners, those conditions would not come anywhere near what we would call a 'drought'.

Months without rain for many of us is just the 'dry'. Years without decent rain is 'drought'. Now I know, it's horses for courses. Months without rain is definitely drought for some, but I use the term very differently for a vastly different situation.

On the other side of the front garden, I got in and did a lot of weeding and trimming. The Russelia was getting out of control and the shrubs needed a little snip here and there.

Large Front Garden Bed - 'dry' season ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

(Notice the patch of green resulting from watering run-off. That patch is my one and only patch of green in the yard at the moment.)

Everything is doing quite well in that bed.

The old red-flowering Hibisbus rosa-sinensis ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The old, old red-flowering Hibiscus rosa-sinensis out the front is recovering from cyclone damage rather slowly. The Allamanada cathartica 'Sunee' just needed a trim back (it's not flowering right now), and the Mussaenda philippica 'Bangkok Rose' is recovering slowly but is showing new growth.

Azalea in front garden bed - unknown variety ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

The dwarf Azalea is carrying on with it's usual winter display (it hasn't missed a beat this year),
and finally the Hibiscus rosa-sinensi 'Snowflake' and the 'Roseflake' beside it, but not in the shot, are both doing very well ... tough as old boots those pair.

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

Now out in the Courtyard Garden I finished all the potting up and things are going along quite nicely.

Courtyard Garden - July 2011 mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Courtyard Garden - July 2011 mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

All the annuals are starting to do their thing and I'm looking forward to a better show of flowers as we get closer to Spring. I did re-arrange some of the pots because of the changing light conditions in winter out there, and everything seems quite happy in their new position.

Potted plants in the courtyard garden - July 2011 mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Courtyard Garden view - July 2011 mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

There will be quite a big change coming up very soon for my Courtyard Garden. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the repair work will be commencing soon on all those things damaged by the aforementioned cyclone. One of the major works will be the replacement of our pergola out in the courtyard.

Courtyard Garden - July 2011 mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

As you can see the wooden perogla is quite a large structure ... and you might notice that there's a considerable lean to the posts. The pergola was left leaning quite dramatically from the force of the cyclonic winds and the structure is no longer considered all that safe.

Presently, the entire pergola is covered in Jasminum officinale. There's also quite huge plantings of Hibiscus schizopetalus at two ends, a planting of another climber Petrea volubilis and an Allamanda cathartica. All of these will have to be chopped down ... yes I finally said it out loud! The thought of this has been weighing on my mind for some time now, but unfortunately it's a necessary evil in order to fix the damage.

I'm not looking forward to the disruption and mess that will be needed during the destruction and then construction work. I know it's necessary, but it's going to alter the look of my favourite garden space for quite some time to come. The newly constructed pergola will look rather bare and ugly to my eyes until that Jasmine gets growing once more ... and I know that will take a long time. So, for now, I'm out there every spare second just enjoying the space as it is before the workmen arrive.

Potted plants in the courtyard garden - July 2011 mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

Courtyard Garden view - July 2011 mid-Winter ( photo / image / picture from Bernieh's Garden )

So, there you have it ... little changes and some big changes are afoot at my place. Never a dull moment!

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cherylad wrote on Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:07 pm:

Glad you will finally be able to get the repairs done... but it's sad that you will have to cut down a few things. Hopefully the repairs will go quickly and the plants can all get back to "doing their thing".
Good luck!


toni wrote on Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:59 pm:

Beautiful gardens you have. Everything is so lush and green.
Hopefully everything will recover from the storm damage without causing more stress on the plants and you all.

Australia and Texas do have different climates. Several months without rain is part of your is not part of ours. We normally get rain at fairly regular intervals throughout the year so when we go months without rain that puts us in drought conditions. Right now my area is only in week 6 without rain and sometimes that is a normal summer for us. But there are portions of Texas that haven't had rain since last Sept and that is not normal for any of us.


Bernieh wrote on Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:02 pm:

Cherylad, yes it's a relief that the repair work will begin soon. It's just going to be disruptive and messy. Hopefully the job will be done in no time ... fingers crossed.


Bernieh wrote on Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:18 pm:

Toni, going months without rain is normal for us here. But of course that's not the norm for quite a few parts of our country. The southern states of Oz would consider months without rain a drought.

Up here, in my corner of the north-east, we're lucky that we don't get the extreme temperatures you're experiencing at the moment. We are on the coast and while we average around 200 days of temps hovering around 30 deg C, we certainly haven't had a heatwave like yours.

We do get the occasional 35 - 40 deg C day during summer, but that's nothing compared to the daily 40 deg C or more you're putting up with right now. How are the humidity levels? Ours can be as high as 90% during summer.

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