Depending upon which map you consult, Bellingen is either just inside, or outside the sub-tropical gardening zone. Either way, I knew that trying to establish a sub-tropical garden this far south was always going to be a bit optimistic. The problem is that I am drawn to the lushness of tropical foliage. Perhaps this is due to spending my formative years living in the outback desert town of Woomera ?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t an ideal summer to start the sub-tropical part of my garden … three months of spring drought, followed by a month of hot weather, then a severe wind-storm, a flood, then weeks of daily rain and no sun. Our rainfall total for the first three months of the year was 1084mm!
Many plants have been un-affected by the weather, others have sulked and refused to perform. The Ylang Ylang, which finished winter looking like a dead black stick, burst into life again, but other even more optimistic plantings just well … croaked !! The beautiful Barbeletta bamboo I purchased for $150.00 is stone-cold dead, whilst the bromeliads I rescued from a friend’s rubbish skip are looking fabulous and producing pups and flowers. Is this a lesson? The more expensive the plant, the more likely it is to die?
Some of the best performers this summer have been the gingers … the bees love them, they have flowered enthusiastically and their perfume has turned mowing from a chore into an aromatherapy session. The Thai Beauty which died down over winter, produced beautiful fragile blooms, but the torch gingers that I planted after falling in love with them in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, must have known they were doomed and didn’t even bother to raise themselves out of the ground.
As always, the bananas can be relied upon to go absolutely bananas !! The pink Musa velutina have flowered their heads off, and provided snacks for the honeyeaters, and the not-so-dwarf Cavendish provided me with a huge bunch of small sweet bananas. The Abyssinian has finally settled in and is producing spectacular leaves. ( I have five Abyssinian seedlings ready to go in the ground, and I suspect that these will be next summer’s stars.)
So now that summer is over, I should be having a sensible talk with myself … but next month I am indulging in some more masochism. Three weeks in monsoonal and truly tropical Sri Lanka and the opportunity to drool over plants that I couldn’t possibly hope to grow in my garden. Or could I …. ???