tropical garden

My “state of mind” as Summer ends…

It is March 1st, the first day of Autumn and it is raining, really raining, not just the dribbly showers that fell occasionally during February bringing no relief to the hot, parched earth, but the steady sort of rain that soaks into the soil bringing renewed life and vigour to the plants.

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Just look at it, can you see the plants smiling? In the past 12 hours we have had 70mm of rain and it is still raining…

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How do I feel? What is my state of mind as I stand under the deck awning and watch the rain soaking into the garden? I feel I am coming back to life. The listless, constant stickiness of the hot, humid summer is over (well I hope so!) I love Autumn, March is my favourite month of the year. I feel revitalised and ready to do things I have been putting off.

My state of mind is happiness.

Over at WordPress Ben Huberman asks us to share an image where you see a particularly strong connection between what we see and what you felt as you pressed that shutter button on your camera or phone. What was our “state of mind”…

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This sort of follows on, or really came before, when I went round the garden to see what was still in flower. I was in a reflective state of mind thinking and hoping for the cooler weather to come.

On the weekend it was very hot, I did a photo essay of what is flowering in the garden at the end of summer.

Grevillia flowers all year round

Grevillia flowers all year round

The main work during summer is pruning and the compost bin is almost full again.

My favourite flower is the gorgeous Fruit salad Frangipani. I’ve put this in for Jude “earth laughs in flowers” She is a passionate gardener and hosts a weekly “garden photography” challenge, I hope you will go over and have a look.

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How are you feeling? I hope these smiling flowers have put you in a happy state of mind.

Categories: Australia, garden, photos, state of mind, tropical garden, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , | 49 Comments

Some of my unusual plants….

After 2 weeks of intermittent but welcome rain and a total of approx. 100mm the garden has loved it. The humidity has been high and my tropical plants have thrived, while I have wilted. But today the breeze has turned South/East bringing a cooler, pleasanter temperature and I have been tempted out into the garden with my camera.

Being a Pom, born in Yorkshire, my first love is cottage gardens. The riot of annuals intermingled with roses bringing their unique beauty and perfume. Herbs and perennials scattered through. A glorious pallet of colour. That is the garden I had in New Zealand.

But that selection of plants wilted as fast as I do in the heat and humidity of a Queensland summer. So now I go with the flow and my garden is a tropical paradise. A backdrop of palms and broad-leaved plants of the rain forest. The bright, vibrant splash of colour as the various tropical plants flaunt their beauty among the many shades of green.

I will show you some of the more unusual plants and the more common ones that are flowering now.

These Birds of Paradise (Strelitzia) seem to be having a conversation

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While this Heliconia is home for ants.

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One of my favourites is the Croton. The flowers are quite insignificant, but the leaves are so varied.

This croton is called “African Bells”, if you look carefully you will see the small extra leaf formed on the end of the main leaf. I was given this shrub 12 years ago by the garden club as a thank you for opening my garden for the club to visit.

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There are many different shades of croton and they are a favourite as they always give a splash of colour.

This Bauhinia is a visitor from next doors garden. I trim it back after flowering but it always comes back.

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These variegated rhoeos, also known as Moses in the basket, make a neat and tidy edging and ground cover.

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The blue ginger is just starting to flower.

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The Banksia has long since finished flowering, but look at the interesting seed pod it leaves behind.

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Succulents are always easy care and love this climate.

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The next two unusual plants live on insects, flies and mosquitoes are tempted inside them.

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Finally I will leave you with a gallery of a few other plants in the garden.

Now the weather is cooling down slightly the next major job is pruning back the jungle growth.

Categories: Australia, garden, photos, tropical garden | Tags: , , , | 51 Comments

Sunflowers and then the rain…

Welcome to South-East Queensland.

For days the sun has shone and the heat rose to a steamy, humid, almost unbearable 34C.

It didn’t cool down much during the night. The hottest night in 10 years the media told us. They also said 83% of Brisbane households have an air conditioner, and they estimated nearly all of them were turned on.

We are in the 17% that do not have an air conditioner. It was a difficult night….

But the sunflowers love this weather.

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Then today the storm came. Torrential rain, thunder and lightning

sunflowers and rain pc 010_4000x3000It poured down in sheets and bounced and swirled along the driveway.

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The fish ponds over flowed.

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The paved area round the side of the house became a mini lake.

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And the rain forest area lived up to its name.

I will now be able to roll the hose up and put it away for a few days.

 

Categories: Australia, garden, Queensland, storms, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 56 Comments

The Garden in Summer.

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It has rained for over a week now. Good steady rain that soaks right down to the roots. Even our outback farmers have had rain, the first for them in over 2 years. With the rain comes the heat and humidity.

Look at my garden it is like a jungle and all the tropical flowers are flaunting their beauty.

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The fish ponds are covered in lilies and the water hyacinth makes its short but beautiful burst of colour.

Remember I grew some sunflowers from seed? Well they are now settled in to their bed in full sun and they are racing away.

They look so healthy and I talk to them every morning!!!!

They look so healthy and I talk to them every morning!!!!

Look can you see the flowers starting to form. I'm so looking forward to seeing them in full bloom.

Look can you see the flowers starting to form. I’m so looking forward to seeing them in full bloom.

The veggies are scattered around in different areas of the garden and we have eaten lettuce since the beginning of December. I am into the second crop and also rocket, spinach, silver beet and lots of herbs.

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Remember the cradle we built? Well I have put a shade cloth over it as well as the bird netting, the sun has been fierce, 30+ degrees by mid morning. But see how they are lapping up the attention.

The climbing beans at the back are racing up the frame and will soon be ready for Jack to climb them in search of that giant!!!!!

Rosemary in full flower

Rosemary in full flower

Spinach Aubergine and lettuce cluster around the rosemary bush

Spinach Aubergine and lettuce cluster around the rosemary bush

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Oh dear something else is sharing the kale with us. Baby grass hoppers have made an appearance, so it will be a race to see who gets the most, them or us…

Two more sleeps left in 2014 then it is a new year and time to start thinking of new dreams, decisions and destinations.

Best wishes to all my blogging friends, it has been lovely getting to know you through your comments and visiting you in your part of the blogosphere during 2014. I’m looking forward to following your adventures and sharing Word Press journeys with you all.

 

 

Categories: Australia, garden, photos, Queensland, travel, tropical garden, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 37 Comments

How does my garden grow?

It is a week since we built the no-dig garden bed. Did you see it in progress? (Here it is).

I’ve waited patiently for the heat from the compost to cool down. It is cooler now and rain is forecast for the weekend. A good time to put in the seedlings.

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Jack calls this a cradle for my babies! The crows and magpies thought I had built it for them to play in, so this fooled them and keeps them out.

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The netting is easily lifted to get into the bed. The green plastic wire at the back will eventually have beans growing up it.

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I planted these silver beet yesterday and they seem to have settled in OK, so now I am planting the other lettuce and rocket seedlings.

These are sunflower seedlings I carefully nurtured from seeds. This bed gets the full sun so I’ve put the old screen door over them for protection for a couple of days. I love sunflowers and these will grow to 5 feet, all being well…

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The seedlings are slowly taking over. Front right is the box I grew the sunflower seeds in. Still a few waiting to be planted out. On the seat I have some kale and rocket seedlings. Kale is one of the new super foods, even though the kale plants are still babies I pick one of the leaves as I wander by and nibble it. Maybe it will turn me into super woman (she says with a grin… )

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The first crop of lettuce have just about reached their use-by date. Home grown is so tasty, we have salad almost every day.

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This is the herb corner. Basil, coriander, oregano, parsley, rocket, chillies and at the end of the line a mini capsicum.

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These little beauties are just bite sized and I’m waiting, rather impatiently, for them to turn red.

This is a lovely time of the year. It is hot but cools down in the evening, that is when I love to be out in the garden.

Here are some flowers that add a splash of colour at the moment.

The clouds are rolling in, maybe we will get some rain, but I hope we don’t get the storms that hit Brisbane last week. (click here to see the storm) The poor folks in Brisbane are still struggling to clear up and another storm would be catastrophic. We are only 100 kilometres south of Brisbane but didn’t get any of the hail, torrential rain and winds that blanketed that area.

Categories: Australia, Burleigh, garden, Goldcoast, no dig vegetable garden, photos, Queensland, travel, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Come walk with me in the garden…

It is spring in Australia, the garden is thriving. The heat of summer is still around the corner but at the moment nature is revelling in the warm, gentle temperatures and all round my garden the flowers are showing their appreciation with a vivid tropical splash of colour.

I love to walk around early in the morning and welcome the new growth.

Come with me and I will introduce the beauty of tropical Queensland.

Paperbark tree.

Paperbark tree.

Winter has been kind this year, quite cold for this area, down to approx. 8-10 deg at night, but there has been a reasonable amount of rain. Unusual as winter is normally the dry season. It shows in the lush green foliage and this paperbark tree has never flowered so well.

Below are the fish ponds created, by Jack, from 3 old bathtubs.

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The bees are gorging themselves on the nectar. Can you see one coming into land?

The fish ponds

The fish ponds

When we arrived back home, after 8 months travelling around Australia and house sitting, I planted some herbs and lettuce seedlings in pots. In front of the ponds is a lovely sheltered and sunny position and now 3 weeks later they are almost ready to use.

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Oct 2014 garden pc 018_4000x3000

The Star Jasmine is in full flower and the scent wafts delicately around you as you pass this section of the garden.

Walk along to the other corner of the back garden and there is another pond.

This is the sunny corner of the garden and we have a raised bed full of plants grown from cuttings put in by my friend June, who looks after the garden while we are away.

Round the side of the house and through the gate hidden under the shrubs and into the front garden

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A rustic brick path meanders through the back of a wide border and past the compost bins.

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Can you see the bench? Jack made it from all old recycled bits and pieces he found at the rubbish tip. It is wide enough to have a lay down if you are tired. But today we will just pause to take in the view.

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I put folk art around the outside and across the top it says

“Sit and rest a while for the joy of life to catch up with you”

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There is another seat over the other side. Seats are everywhere.

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The house nestles among the trees and shrubs, so now let’s walk around the other side of this border. Past that other seat.

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The road is just in front of these beds but the shrubs hide it.

A selection of some of the things flowering at the moment.

Finally walk past the front of the house and along the drive.

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Look what Jack found.

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This walk is inspired by Jo over on “Restless Jo” she takes us on lovely walks each Monday and has formed a cyber walking group of people from around the world who will show you some of their favourite places to walk. Why don’t you join them?

walking logo

Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, Jo's Monday walks, photos, Queensland, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 45 Comments

A bouquet of tropical flowers to brighten your day

Yellow water lily

Yellow water-lily

Tropical water lilies

Tropical water lilies

Tropical water lily

Tropical water-lily

Water Hyacinth

Water Hyacinth

Heliconia

Heliconia

Heliconia

Heliconia

Nepenthes, insect eating pitcher plant

Nepenthes, insect eating pitcher plant

Frangipani

Frangipani

bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

Here is a splash of colour and the scent of summer for my Northern Hemisphere friends. I hope this will brighten your winter day and remind you of the summer to come.

For the short time I am at home I love to spend time in the garden. This morning I went round to record what is flowering at the moment.

Categories: Australia, flowers, photos, Queensland, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

A Word a Week Photo Challenge : High

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In 1998 we bought a house in the beautiful tropical paradise of the Goldcoast. It had been a rental property for many years surrounded by a patchy and weedy area of uncared for lawn. It was a challenge and we started creating a tropical oasis. First plants to go in were the majestic and stately Alexander Palms. They would create shade for the under story of ferns and other shade loving, tropical plants.

That was 15 years ago. Look at them now. They have become towering giants. They are so HIGH they look down on our two-story house and drop their huge fronds onto all the ferns and other plants they were put in to protect. They produce thousands of seeds that drop and then grow in the fertile soil of the garden. They create a lot of work.

Sadly the time has come to say goodbye to these tropical beauties.

Enter Big Jim and his team of skilled arborists.

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With spiked shoes and a strap around the trunk, Guy shimmies up to the top of the palm and makes short work of demolishing these giants. Look carefully at the bottom of the photo and you will see the roof of our 2 story home.

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The team collect the logs and fronds to take them away.

The team collect the logs and fronds to take them away.

 

Big Jim feeds them all through the mulcher

Big Jim feeds them all through the mulcher

 

Oops one of the branches drop over into the neighbours place

Oops one of the branches drop over into the neighbour’s place

No trouble Guy reaches over to haul it back and I help by holding the ladder...

No trouble Guy reaches over to haul it back and I help by holding the ladder…

 

In less than an hour Jim and his team had demolished 5 palms, one tree-fern and a decaying Ivory Curl tree. Leaving the garden open to more sunlight and me with the job of relocating a number of plants that all of a sudden had the wrong growing conditions.

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Sue of “A word in your ear” opens her dictionary each week to find a word to challenge us with. This week it is HIGH. How appropriate for me as today we had these very high palms cut down.

 

 

Categories: A word a week photo challenge, Australia, Goldcoast, high, photos, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Habit

When I am at home one of my regular habits is to walk around the garden every morning before breakfast. It is a visual treat.

I have been away for the 4 months of winter, house sitting in the warm tropical North Queensland area. (If you would like to see more of our time up north click here) Now I am home it is a pleasure to wander out into our patch of paradise each day. We have good friends stay in the house and look after the garden for us. It has been a dry and very windy winter and Rex and June have watered and nurtured the garden through this difficult season.

So come with me as I wander around…

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Bromeliads and succulents love this hot dry weather

Bromeliads and succulents love this hot dry weather

Jack created these ponds from 3 old bath tubs

Jack created these ponds from 3 old bath tubs

 

Buddha sits and meditates

Buddha sits and meditates

Matilda sits and relaxes in her corner wondering what the next adventure will be

Matilda sits and relaxes in her corner wondering what the next adventure will be

 

I hope you enjoyed your wander around our garden, now it is time to go inside and have breakfast

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Michelle has invited us to show a part of our life that is a habit. It will be very interesting to see the habits of other people from around the world. Click here to explore other people’s habits.

 

Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, habit, photos, post-a-week, tropical garden, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , | 32 Comments

How does the garden grow?

Our own private rainforest

Our own private rainforest

We are custodian/house-sitters of a 2.5 acre tropical North Queensland property. It is lush and green and has a small stand of tropical rainforest surrounding it. So far I have not seen any snakes or tree kangaroos lurking in the bush or up in the canopy, but I love to wander through it. Though first of all I smother my skin with tick repellent to prevent those insidious little nasties latching on to me.

Come with me for a look at part of my backyard…

Does anyone know the name of this creeper?

Does anyone know the name of this creeper?

Just look at this gorgeous flower. It is a vine and twines its way through the trees. I do not know what it is called. Here is another unusual tropical climbing vine.

Thank you Deanna Tennant Masterson for identifying the plants for me.

The yellow flower is: Thunbergia mysorensis (Wight) T.Anderson Common name(s): clock vine, lady’s slipper vine, dolls’ shoes, brick and butter vine.

The red flower is: Scientific name: Passiflora racemosa Brot. Common name(s): red passion flower

I wonder if anyone can tell me the name of this unusual flower.

I wonder if anyone can tell me the name of this unusual flower.

Here is a closer look.

Here is a closer look.

Meanwhile over in the vegetable patch every thing is flourishing. despite the up hill battle against slugs and snails, caterpillars and a sneaky little bandicoot. He finds the smallest gaps in the fence to push his way in. He does not eat plants or seedlings but digs down to find a feed of worms and in the process up-roots any thing in his way. At the moment I am winning the battle against the bandicoot after Jack reinforced the bottom of the fence. Pyrethrum, derris dust and a dish of beer seems to be helping keep the numbers of slugs, bugs and insects down.

Gardening is a challenge, but a pleasure to see the plants growing. Nothing tastes better than home-grown produce straight from the garden to the plate.

Part of the vegetable patch

Part of the vegetable patch

Courgettes and sweet corn

Courgettes and sweet corn

The tomatoes will soon be ready, but who will get to them first the bugs, birds or me

The tomatoes will soon be ready, but who will get to them first the bugs, birds or me

Categories: Atherton Tableland, Australia, house sitting, Malanda, photos, rain forest, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

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