Here comes the rain

MarcusIs your garden ready for it?

December is probably one of the most exciting times of the year for gardeners in the tropics as it’s usually the time when we see the strongest signs that the dry season is coming to an end and the real wet is about to start. It’s the time of the year when new plants get planted, and failures get excavated. Everything starts to grow like mad with the onset of warm heavy rains, and you assume you can just sit back and watch your garden grow. Unfortunately the weeds and lawn also go into overdrive and gardening turns into a race between you and everything green. So before you get left behind and your beautiful garden turns into an accidental jungle, there are a few things you should get on top of.

Basically just think of all the things that turned into a drama last wet season, and fix them. You know yourself it’s easier to clean out gutters or unblock drains in the sunshine than during a tropical downpour. And I’m not just talking about the home handyman or woman, but it would also show consideration for those professionals you may employ to do the work for you. After all, the hot-and-sweaty look is always more attractive than the drowned-rat look.

Plants that become unruly during wet season growth-bursts can be cut down to size and any branches or palm fronds that look like they could become a problem can be removed. Maybe your backyard drainage needs an overhaul so that you can actually mow the lawn this wet season instead of having to wait till April for it to dry out enough to support the weight of the mower. Also of great importance is weed control. They may be okay now, but once they get the upper-hand they’ll take more than just a couple of minutes to remove and you know the kids won’t volunteer to help.

It’s also a good time of the year to carry out some plant evictions and then to replace them with some more suitable tenants. Personally I give plants in my garden a generous two to three year trial period. If after that time they’re still not living up to my expectations they get forcibly evicted with the help of my friend the mattock. I know this sounds a little cold, but it’s all part of maintaining a garden. It is amazing how bad one sick or dying plant can make a whole garden look. It just seems to be human nature that if we are confronted by a wall of green our eyes will focus on the one sickly plant with the yellow leaves and dead twigs. Anyway, you have to look on the bright side. When there are gaps in your garden, you’ll have the perfect excuse to go out and buy some new plants. Preferably native ones.

Marcus Achatz
Yuruga Nursery

(Published in Cairns City Life magazine, December 2008)