about this blog

This blog tracks the ongoing changes of my garden, and the wildlife I try to attract to it. It's a nature blog. It contains my thoughts and musings about anything and everything to do with nature - gardening, book reviews, philosophy, travel, science, history, art, design, politics.
Catmint is my signature plant because it has all the qualities I value in a plant: resilience, beauty and the capacity to spread prolifically . Unfortunately it's not indigenous. If I was starting again I'd probably choose an indigenous plant.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

xtreme heat alert

Melbourne is experiencing a heat wave which is the worst since 1908. Today the temperature was 44 degrees centigrade - for you Americans this is over 110 degrees fahrenheit!!!!!!!!!! And this searing heat, accompanied by hot sun and hot winds goes on and on. This is the fourth day, with no end in sight. Maybe in a few days the temperature might drop to the 30s, but there is no serious rain forecasted.

The problems caused by this heat wave include electricity blackouts, public transport cancellations, the danger of heat stroke especially in the very young and very old and bushfires. But this blog is about my garden experiences, so I will focus on that.

It's a shocking picture. I can focus on the glass half full - there are some survivors so far. Established Australian native trees such as Leptospermum - tea trees seem OK, they are in shade and near the neighbour who waters so they might be cunningly stretching their roots under the fence. But even the buddleia and salvias that I thought indestructible are succumbing. Things that have at least some shade during the day have better odds for survival. Lavenders, santolina, wormwood and other grey leaved plants seem OK. As do the grassy lomandras, the baby Alogyne heuglii and the Adenanthos sericea or red Flowering Albany Woollybush.

But this crisis is far from over. When it is over, if I have the energy to continue the garden, I will have changed dramatically. No more relaxed experimentation. I will give serious thought to serious mulching and probably just grow things like fig trees and succulents. Although EVERYTHING needs moisture to get established. The banksia roses seem OK, except one that was only planted a couple of years ago, which is wilting fast.


  1. all of ur photos are nice. i like ur blog so much. i am Rudy from Indonesia, a country in South East Asia. I want to make a friendship. Thanks

  2. Hi Catmint, that is so sad! I do hope you are safe and keeping cool yourself! As for the garden, here in the southeast USA the drought is at an extreme level for the last two years. Garden plants that have done well have perished and we are now considering xeric plants only to be added. The small leaves and gray, like th lavender and santolina do seem more drought tolerant. About that heat though, too much!

  3. Bit different from here for sure. That is tooo hot. An Australian friend sent me this joke which might cheer you:

    A Texan farmer goes to Australia for a vacation. There he meets an Aussie farmer and gets talking. The Aussie shows off his big wheat field and the Texan says, "Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice as large".

    Then they walk around the ranch a little, and the Aussie shows off his herd of cattle. The Texan immediately says, " We have longhorns that are at least twice as large as your cows".

    The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died when the Texan sees a herd of kangaroos hopping through the field. He asked, "And what are those"?

    The Aussie replies with an incredulous look, "Don't you have any grasshoppers in Texas"?

  4. Oh dear! Mother Nature can really challenge us-as you are experiencing. I hope it passes soon.

  5. My goodness, drink plenty of water and stay in the shade! Not hot here! Great photos.

  6. Hi Frances, thanks for your comment, I am trying not to think about it as sad (although it is) but part of the challenge of keeping up with change. We have to adapt as you have. 12 hours after I wrote this post the santolinas are looking a bit peaky so guess I will have to learn about xeric plants too.

  7. Hi Hermes, your joke definitely cheered me up. LOL, LOL. Makes me think about starting to collect garden jokes, some of which will no doubt be black.

  8. Hi Tina, yes, there are all kinds of mother nature, and this mother is behaving in a distinctly non nurturing way. But then we have treated her really badly, so it is a just punishment.

  9. Hi Darla, thank you for your concern about me. I stay inside a lot, outside even the shade is hot. I drink heaps of water. I haven't had the energy to do any gardening. Actually I don't know what to do. I think light pruning would help relieve the pressure plants are under, but on the other hand the dead bits shade the live bits - a bit!

  10. I heard of the heat wave and thought about you and your garden and how people cope. I have experienced a few extremes. We had so much rain that we had to lift the fruit trees because they wera drowning. After that the drought hit us and the fruit trees suffered again it was a no win situation. I hope that you can save some of your plants and that the heat breaks with some good rain.

  11. My goodness, talk about extremes! You are experiencing a heat wave, and we've been experiencing extreme Cold temperatures!!! Mulch is invaluable in either circumstance. Your garden path is beautiful!

    I like your name, Catmint. I have the plant, nepata, that is one of my favorites! Butterflies love it! :-)
    I just discovered you on blotanical.

  12. Oh Catmint, I'm so sorry that you and your garden are baking! Your pictures were so sad. I hope you have some survivors. I suppose that I should stop complaining about the snow that replenishes our local aquifer and keeps our faucets running. We had a bit more today and I groaned when I opened the curtains to see it, but I will try to remember your parched pictures and have a better attitude.
    Regards, VW

  13. You are experiencing a similar situation as many of those in the colder climes, only opposite.
    Your situation sounds so frustrating. Please take care of yourself first, then plants, second!

  14. Hi Titania, yes it is such an interesting challenge to work with nature instead of fighting it. I have seen reports of the disastrous floods in Qld. Maybe we need to accept that life consists of lots of starts and endings?

  15. Hi shady gardener, good to meet you, I plan to visit your blog as soon as I reply to these comments. Yes, I too am fascinated by the similarities between extreme heat and extreme cold. Thinking of exploring this more in a posting... and thank you for mentioning the importance of mulch. i have been very casual about this up until now. This will be my most important job from now on.

  16. Hi VW, well I guess if the weather was mild and damp and balmy all the time, it would get boring. Here, like Spokane, at least there is variety. There is also variety in my attitude, sometimes I look at what survives and even thrives, other times I focus on the glass half empty.
    cheers, catmint

  17. Hi Jan, thank u for your caring wonderful nurturing comments and blog.

  18. Catmint! I love your blog:) So nice to read about the opposite season and your wild garden!


I love to get feedback and comments, and getting to know other bloggers. I also appreciate corrections if you detect an error, because I'm not an expert, but a self taught enthusiastic amateur on a steep learning curve.

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