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An end-of-summer gardening weekend in northern Oz.


By bernieh


Our summer is almost over … thanks goodness! Now it’s time to get back into the garden. I know for most people around the globe, summer is a time to be out in the garden … not so everywhere!

Our summer began in December with horrid high temperatures and levels of humidity … so even though the days were fine, it was far too hot and too muggy to do any gardening except for watering in the early morning or evening.

Then our ‘wet’ season arrived. We had torrential downpours for a couple of weeks, followed by weeks of either heavy showers or light drizzle almost every day. In January we had over 540 mm of rain – most of that fell in the last seven days of that month – and so far in February we’ve had around 220 with the majority of that falling in the last week.

Over these last two months of summer, we’ve also had very few sunny days … mostly overcast skies. All in all, this weather is hard on the drought, heat, sun tolerant plants.

But then this weekend, the rain almost stopped and the sun came out! It was time to tidy up, cut down, trim back and survey the damage.

First of all … I checked what had survived out in the courtyard garden. I don’t have to worry about the plants growing in the garden bed under the pergola or those growing in the screening bed at the back of the courtyard … those are all well-established now and need little attention.

It’s the potted plants I was most worried about … but it seems they have come through well. All the potted annuals were well past their best day by the time the rains arrived … and had been replaced by the summertime potted plants!

My two Croton ‘Zanzibar’ and my Trachelospermum jasminoides variegatum came through brilliantly…

as did my two Plactranthus ‘Mona Lavender’, my white Jacobinia and Euphorbia hybrid ‘Diamond Frost’, my two Cordyline ‘Morning Sunshine’ and my Tabernaemontana ‘Sweet Love’. These potted lovelies stayed out all through the horrid ‘wet’ season and look how they triumphed!

Meanwhile, around the pond area, my two Calatheas, my Alocasia, my Spathiphyllum, my two New Guinea Impatiens, my Schefflera, my Alpinia caerulea, my Torenias and my Erigeron karvinskianus all came through with flying colours.

My Canna, Ixora, Wrightia ‘Arctic Snow’, Acalypha and Torenias is these pots also came through happy and reasonably healthy.

My poor old Cosmos and my Belladonnas, however, didn’t exactly come through unscathed … but I’m hoping they’ll recover.

Meanwhile the grasshoppers had a healthy luncheon munching their way through the leaves on my two Acalyphas in these pots. I’m still out there every day like a mad woman swatting the grasshoppers with my thongs … Ooops! I mean ‘flip-flops’! (Just can’t get used to calling them that!)

The grasshoppers also did their best munching their way through my two Cleomes … but they’re coming back.

My poor pelargoniums didn’t do too well … you can see the ill patients down in front of the palms. I didn’t save them in time from the torrential downpours in late January … and by the time I had them undercover, they were looking rather poorly! At least they’ve still got some leaves … they might recover if only the sun would come out for more than a few hours! I lost all my regal Pelargoniums and my Pelargonium peltatums as well.

My coleus cuttings survived … I didn’t have any room left in the greenhouse so they had to put up with the rain. They’re coming good now.

All my other potted plants are doing well as they remained undercover for the whole season.

Then after doing the rounds of the courtyard garden in the sunshine, it was time to tackle the jungle in the greenhouse garden.

Every ‘wet’ season the giant sword fern goes beserk in there … it literally takes over with it’s metre long fronds flopping over the top of every other plant. Then there is the Neomarica which sends out its arching canes all over the place.

So off I went … and no mercy was shown. It was time to cut back and see what was still surviving underneath!

The pile of sword fern and walking iris builds….

and there’s more and more piles!

Finally … there’s order once more!!!

I could now put in some potted plants for extra colour …

like a bromeliad and coleus …

a calathea …

and a costus.

All of my Rex Begonias out in the greenhouse garden came through the summer very well …

… so did my new orchids and my coleus cuttings.

Now while I was attaching the greenhouse garden, hubbie was attacking the driveway garden beds. He was removing all the dead fronds from more than twenty stands of Golden Cane Palms … as well as the overhanging branches from around fifteen Duranta Repens shrubs … and all the branches from the gums that had dropped during the windy, wet end of summer. This is the pile now waiting on our campfire site …

… a big bonfire night coming up, I think!

While hubbie was slaving away down the driveway … he had company. There were a pair of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos squawking away at him for most of the afternoon. I only got a shot of the female though…

Well …. that was yesterday’s effort! Today was much more fun … time to sow more seeds …

… and plant up new pots to start off the display of annuals/perennials for the Autumn-early Summer period this year.

There’s pots of Salvia splendens with Verbena, Petunias, Gomprehenas, Angelonia, Coleus and Hypoestes, Gazanias, Lobelia, Helichrysum, Portulaca, Celosia, some Pelargoniums and … my new one – vanilla marigolds. This, of course, is only the beginning … I will be adding more pots as the weeks go on.

Today I also visited a nursery … been missing the trips to the nursery … anyway I bought some more plants for my ‘white’ area in the new outdoor garden beds.

I got a creamy white Russelia (at the back),
a white Cuphea mexicana (centre left),
an Ozothamnus diosmifolius – commonly called the Rice Flower (centre right)
and a Baeckea ‘Mount Tozer’ (in the front).

I also bought some cute little hanging baskets for the lattice out in the courtyard … I’ll be adding those little pots of Pelargoniums when I know the sun will be out!

So … all in all … a great weekend. It’s simply glorious to be outside in the garden once more … now roll on Autumn and Winter!!

More blog posts by bernieh

Previous post: We're on the telly!! They made a TV show about a garden here!

Next post: Had enough of the rain now! An End-of-Summer Weekend in Oz!



i really enjoyed your blog bernieh, you have wonderfull plants in your garden, bet they didnt kn ow what hit them with that rain, a few casulties but all in all think you did well, i love your palms and all your pots to, must be a day in day out job keeping up with it all,your garden is beautifull, a real paradise garden :o))

21 Feb, 2010


Hey Bernieh, what a fantastic blog. Its easy to forget that other members have their excitement at different times of the year. You certainly gonna be busy over the next few weeks then. About the cosmos... i thought they tended to be annuals so every year I tend to sow new seed... whats the lowest temperature you get in Winter, do you actually get frost in Oz !!! That last picture is great, is it some sort of honeysuckle... Oh and the begonias are looking really healthy. I tend to take leaf cuttings from the previous year. You have so much going on in your garden, how many hours of labour do you find you need to put in to stay on top of it all ??
Anyway, keep up the good work, much love, TLG

21 Feb, 2010


Hi Sanbaz ... all in all the garden came out better this year than last ... thank goodness. Either I'm getting a bit smarter about my planting choices or I was just lucky ... probably a bit of both!!

It does take a bit of time looking after the potted plants ... most of the rest of the garden is now quite well-established and looks after itself. I just have to try and keep the other parts watered occasionally ... but the pots need more. Now though, without my family at home, there's more time to give to them ... and I enjoy it!

21 Feb, 2010


Great blog Bernie, so glad you explained about the thongs .... the thought of gardening in them made me wince, then smirk ;-)

Your garden looks good even though it's had a harsh summer :-)
I like the pots on the trellis, that looks lovely.

21 Feb, 2010


your doing a great job and think we all learn from previous years what to do and what not to do, looks lovely :o)

21 Feb, 2010


G'day Lonegardener ... glad you enjoyed the blog. It was a busy weekend ... but so good to get out there finally.

My cosmos seems to go on and on and on ... I'm not sure why because it's sold as an annual! The others didn't survive because the wallabies took a shine to them - I had planted the other cosmos in an outdoor garden bed! Won't be doing that again!

In my corner of tropical northern Oz, our lowest winter temperature is around 13 degrees C ( 55 F) and ... no... we don't get frosts here. Of course in other parts of Oz the winter temps. are very different!

That last photo is my white Jacobinia, also referred to as Justicia. As for the hours ... I'm out in the courtyard garden, the greenhouse garden and the new garden beds nearly every day to at least do the watering ... but the other garden areas would only get my attention every month or so.

21 Feb, 2010


Hi Louise ... yes I thought I should be very, very clear about the thongs!! Thanks for your kind comments ... I too rather like the new baskets so I'm hoping they work out well and don't create too much mess on the lattice work.

21 Feb, 2010


Loved your blog and all those lovely photos of your garden, sure i use to call flip flops thongs when i was over there aswell.

21 Feb, 2010


Hi Carol ... glad you liked the visit to my place. I thought I should be clear about what I was using to swat all those pesky grasshoppers ... it wouldn't do to give the wrong impression!!! I think I should have mentioned that the reason why I use the thongs/flip-flops is because of the size of the grasshoppers ... they're those horrible huge green monsters.

21 Feb, 2010


What a gorgeous garden Bernieh its nice to find how the same seasons are different in other parts of the world,where your plants are water damaged ours are frozen.I like your greenhouse garden, I would not be too keen on the grasshoppers though.

21 Feb, 2010


Thanks Mavis ... yes it's true ... while the snow keeps you out of your gardens there, the rain, heat and humidity does the same thing over here for a short while. Our summer here in the north-east is not a great time for gardening ... very little gets done.

21 Feb, 2010


glad you are able to do more gardening now... you have some really lovely plants Bernieh................

21 Feb, 2010


Well I'm worn out just reading that,what a lot you have done ! The plants look really healthy and all the better for thinning out I'm sure. Very interesting blog,reading of your problems,I think I'll put up with our pesky greenfly any day than your grasshoppers :)

21 Feb, 2010


Thanks Bernieh,I`ve had a moan about our snow and the fact its stopping me going gardening and then you cheer me up with photo`s of your beautiful garden. Your plants look fabulous especially in your courtyard and greenhouse areas, the way you have set them out reminds me of exploring the huge conservatories and hothouses in many of our stately homes,a favourite pastime of mine.
Have to admit I`m with Aster as regards your grasshoppers...LOL.

21 Feb, 2010


Hi Bernieh

Lovely blog you ahve a good slection of plants esp the lanted ones and your garden is breathtaking,very healthy looking plants

21 Feb, 2010


Lovely blog, Bernieh, your gardens look fantastic. Keep the pictures coming!

21 Feb, 2010


What a lovely blog bernieh. Your garden looks fantastic, I could only dream of having the plants that you grow. I`ve heard about the really high temperatures in Australia this year, you must be so relived that its so much cooler now. :o)

21 Feb, 2010


great blog bernieh,lovely plants and garden:o)

21 Feb, 2010


Loved your blog Bernieh as ever fabulous plants all looking lush after all that wet! love your lattice balcony with the baskets for pelagoniums and the Jacobinia is beautiful enjoy your great outdoors and planting. p.s. I don't fancy the grass hoppers any more than the green frogs!!

21 Feb, 2010


Lol ... Neellan, you'll have to toughen up a bit if you ever visit! Seriously though, you get used to the frogs and the spiders ... but I never get used to the snakes! Thanks for your lovely comment ... yes the garden did seem to come through pretty well for which I'm rather thankful after last year's disaster!

22 Feb, 2010


Appreciate all your comments Joanella, Labdancer, Pottygardener, Rkalyan, Linclass, Aster and Hollyeves!

Labdancer ... yes the temp. in some places further south reached around 41 degrees C which is 105 F and some of our capital cities reached over 35 degrees C (95 F). That's Oz in the summer for you! I'm rather lucky ... even though I'm closer to the Equator we don't get temps. that high very often. We might reach 35 degrees C for a couple of days during summer but we're usually more like 31 or 32 ... which believe me makes a difference!

22 Feb, 2010


keap up the good work one day my garden should look like that but need bigger grounds at the mo just got vege & a couple of small ones with not many plants try to get more photos next season as this one not good with weather

24 Feb, 2010


Will be looking forward to your photos Vege ... I do hope your garden plants are getting through the wet weather well.

26 Feb, 2010


Fantastic blog, Bernieh! I really enjoyed looking at all your plants!!! :-) You have a fantastic selection of really lovely plants!

26 Feb, 2010


Thanks Balcony ... glad you enjoyed the visit. I'm certainly working at my garden a lot more these days ... and enjoying it so much! We are just now coming into the best time for a garden here in the north ... the beginning of autumn ... and I'm getting ready.

26 Feb, 2010


I hope the spring gets underway here shortly as all we seem to have is more winter weather! Today we have more rain & winds.

28 Feb, 2010


Almost the same here too Balcony ... yesterday it bucketed down. We had almost 4 inches of rain overnight and it's been raining nearly all day again today. There's more flooding in some areas of our city and lots of water everywhere. Had enough of the rain now!

28 Feb, 2010

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