Two warm days in a row has suddenly seen me go from long sleeves to short sleeves. Although climatically speaking there are still three weeks before spring arrives measuring by the equinox, it has quite suddenly warmed here, enough to call it spring weather. The plants are similarly reacting, and fortunately so are the insects, or at least the bees according to my ears. Each day I hear our Weeping tea tree, Leptospermum brachyandrum, abuzz with the sound of honey bees in its blossoms.
But this was a garden management day. A time to start tending a few plants as the warm days encourage them into growth or stress them with heat and the need for more water. So I headed into the garden, watering can in hand. I found it necessary to fill the watering can several times over .
Those in need of water included the newly planted Corymbia ptychocarpa, the Coffee bush which appeared particularly stressed, although in the shade of the Cashew Nut Tree and Duranta erecta. The Corymbia looks good, no sign of transplanting stress. With the clay soil below and mulch above I've watered it 3 days apart, as the water pools before soaking in. Its common name being Swamp Bloodwood, I chose it for this position as it should tolerate an annual short inundation period in the wet season.
Being an understory plant the Coffee should be doing well in that position, but was looking worse for wear, seriously defoliated either through dry conditions or insects chewing off younger leaves and shoots. Some dieback was visible on two twig-like branches, but new growth buds were clearly visible at apex of the main stem plus on the trunk. Possibly the cooler winter weather has effected it or it may be suffering water stress, or more precisely, lack thereof, as we enter the driest period of the dry season (September -October from past experience) and the consequently lower watertable. So I gave it a good watering to compensate. However, it is breaking dormancy with the recent warmth.
I noticed that the Cashew Nut Tree is flowering. I plan to remove grass from underneath this tree and mulch the bed widely to include the coffee bush, and eventually extend this to the Sweet Orange, Guava and Duranta erecta in the Front Northern Corner garden. This will make mowing much easier and support the plants and local wildlife. Looking at the Duranta and Guava, both need pruning to remove the branches that have grown through the bars of the fence. They need to be cut back and trained above the fence. I also made a mental note to encourage the Guava and Orange over the Duranta. It can stay as a pioneer plant, to be removed or to expire earlier than the others.
While still in the vicinity of the Northern Fenceline garden I checked the plants growing along the fence. The Mystique appeared to be missing, several Orange Jessamines growing in their place. The Eucalypt that volunteered a few years ago is now a large healthy specimen. The Acalyphas and some Bird Chilli plants, on the other hand, have completed their lifecycles, so those branches that easily detached I pulled from the spent plant and added to the garden bed as chop and drop mulch.
Still in the Food Forest, I walked over to the Citrus trees to observe their condition. While Citrus tree (North) needs a vine pulled from its top branches and its height trimmed, the others appeared fine. I noticed the Curry Leaf Tree had turned a beautiful shade of burnt-orange to light golden-brown in its winter foliage and still held all its leaves. I watered it before moving on to the other side of the house. The Curry Leaf Tree in the Spice Garden was in similar foliage.
I checked along the fence on the north side of the Front Semi-circular Garden and pulled a few weeds. I loosely tucked a few surplus Cuban Oregano runners into the undergrowth, hoping to a establish them as a ground cover. I took them from the rampant growth at the Rainwater Tank Food and Herb Garden which I thinned to give the
Brazilian Spinach more light and room to grow. I also tossed a few runners under Citrus tree (North).
I noticed that the Musky Rat Kangaroo is still around. While not seen in person there was plenty of evidence of it still being there. There are distinct animal trails leading through the front fence and under the White Bougainvillea, and lots of holes dug in the soil from there, and going out along the full length of the summer ephemeral creek past fruit trees. It looks like he is very busy at night. I also found a fallen Mandarin that had been dragged over and through the northern fence, where it appears to have been heartily consumed under the sanctuary of the White Bougainvillea.
Wandering about the Shade and Fragrance Garden I noted the Henna is established and doing well, while the Frangipani is dormant and without a leaf in sight.
At the Spice Garden the Allspice has stopped wilting, even if the old leaf tips remain brown, probably from cold and/or drought. It perked up well following Monday's watering, and I followed up with more water today. I also watered the Grumichama which continues to struggle on. It appears stunted and relatively leafless with a lot of twig dieback. I must recheck its needs to see what is missing.
All the Habaneros are well finished. I need to trim down grass and tidy this area. Indeed, the whole Spice Garden needs line trimming and tidying.
At the Front Fence East Garden, the Cassava could do with pruning. I also checked the Pond area, thinned spent Papyrus at the southern side of the pond and pulled a few weeds. I need to trim the Bananas and move a couple of suckers to a better position.
At the Tropical Herb Garden I started raking down the Butterfly Pea vine from the lattice behind the Vetiver Grass and Cardamom Ginger. Found that I need to re-fasten the TV antenna pole to the wall as it is swinging freely and held in place only by one screw towards the roof. I managed to rake much of the weedy Butterfly Pea from one vetiver clump.
I checked the mower as I need to cut the grass at the earliest opportunity. I found 2 flat front tyres and a flat battery. It was late afternoon so I did not pursue mower maintenance further as I will be out tomorrow. I think it best to charge the battery and inflate tyres Saturday or Sunday, then mow Sunday or Monday. Well, that's the plan.
Curry Leaf Tree
Cashew Nut Tree in flower