about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Monday, 9 February 2015

too hot to garden



As far as gardening is concerned, our hot summers must be like winters in cold places. In cold places, there's too much snow to dig.  And who feels like gardening when it's very hot? When it's sweltering, I tend to go swimming or just stay inside with the blinds down to shade out the sun.  I only go into the garden to make sure there's clean water in the birdbaths.

Rainbow Fern - Calochlaena dubia - does well as long as it's out of direct sun
The garden's been loved and mulched. Now it's up to the plants to survive or not. I watch them, sometimes with anxiety, often with dispassionate curiosity. If they survive day after day of temperatures well over 30 degrees ( that's the 90s in fahrenheit) that's great. If they don't survive, or if they fail to thrive on the searing heat and lack of supplementary water, then they'll go to compost heaven. And that means a gap and an opportunity for a new garden look.



Euphorbia martinii, gone to seed
But now I can relax, because I won't do much until well into autumn when the hot weather's finished.
I've learned the hard way that pruning, even just cutting off dead bits, can cause a plant to die when the weather's hot.

Salvia spp. It's surviving, but not very happy with the heat. 
My main summer job is to cautiously trim the plants overgrowing the paths, sweep the paths and chuck the mulch onto the garden or into the compost. There aren't many weeds at this time of the year. Come autumn, I'll review the situation, and resume my pattern of weeding, mulching, pruning, planting and transplanting.

Broad Leaved Sage, Salvia berggarten - great plant for dry garden
The aim is to grow plants that are happy without supplementary watering, and happy to withstand searing heat - a sustainable, dry garden.  Silver plants tend to do well, but you can't have a garden with just silver plants because it would be too boring - oh, the delicious challenge of it all ...

Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber, gone to seed
Euphorbia rigida 
Banksia marginata - small but growing
Wallflower, Erysimum cheiri - ragged but surviving

24 comments:

  1. Nice to see a Green Garden, even if it is dry. We are buried in snow here. It seems to snow everyday. I am longing for Spring. Greetings from Canada

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    1. Hi Thel, It must be a relief when spring comes because it's such a great contrast. We don't get nearly as much variation, winters tend to be relatively mild.

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  2. It is very similar. My sister gardens in AZ where it is too hot in summer to do much and they are indoors more than out. Here I can only wish my plants well now and know they are safe under the 5-6 ft of snow waiting for the warm weather to come again.

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    1. Interesting how similar it is - and it happens at the same time, your winters and our summers. Your plants sound very snug, and much safer than mine exposed to such harsh heat.

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  3. Gardening presents dilemmas when it's both too hot and too cold. At least in summer you can see the plants even though may be be about to keel over from the oppressive heat. I like your observation about when plants don't survive in the heat it creates a gap and an opportunity for a new garden look. I hadn't looked at it that way before. Right now, though, all I can see is snow reaching halfway up the mailbox post. But I know there's life under there just waiting for May. sigh

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    1. It sounds amazing - like nothing I have ever experienced.

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  4. Here it's too wet to dig. Windy and rainy late winter weather isn't conducive to enjoying being outside and has left the ground very saturated. I wish I could send some of our rain your way! Your plants are looking great for it being so hot for so long. Happy gardening!

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    1. Thanks, Peter. Hope your plants are coping with the wet - I think wet can be as potentially deadly as drought.

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  5. Gardening certainly is challenging. I understand completely about those hot summers! We routinely have temps in the 90s, and sometimes above 100. Sometimes we have fairly wet summers, and sometimes we have drought. We always have a wet winter, with occasional very hard freezes. Finding plants to deal with these conditions can be difficult. Native plants usually do better.

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    1. I've found some non native plants do really well, like Californian ones, but I think they don't provide as a good a wildlife habitat as the indigenous ones do.

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  6. It's refreshing to have landed in a kinder climate. LOTS of silver velvet leaves are on my wish list. Indigenous preferably, but I may try lamb's ears again.

    I'm disconcerted by quite how exuberant our neighbour's Australian brush cherry and bottle brush are. We've only been here 3 months and his trees have eaten my mountain view - but the owners have plans to prune. Meanwhile I'm making great heaps of munch (as he call it)

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    1. By the sound of it those Aussie natives have certainly made themselves at home over there. So far as I know they respond very well to pruning.

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  7. Oh thank you! It's so encouraging to hear that it's too hot to garden somewhere in the world ... even if it's very far from me. Comforting, perhaps, because it means the world isn't freezing over. Your Euphorbia Martinii is lovely!

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    1. sometimes there's just no happy medium, is there?

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  8. I wish I had your discipline. Everything you say is exactly as I intend, but then I get all impatient and start planting at the wrong time. One day I will learn!

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    1. Oh Janna, I hope I will be disciplined. It's easy to write it. Chances are, like you, I'll get impatient and plant and transplant while the weather's still hot. Our plants need to be tough to survive. It's a jungle - survival of the fittest.

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  9. I well remember the suffocating heat of summer. We are still in winter here with about 5 weeks to go. I really liked your euphorbia martinii and the unidentified top photo.

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    1. The first photo is of a ginger lily, or Hedychium gardnerianum, a native of the Himalayas, which has been at home in my garden for years and years.

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  10. I too am watching some plants very closely. I've lost quite a few again this summer unfortunately. I like your idea of 'compost heaven', haha. Oh and I got the dvd, thanks so much! I'm going to watch it this weekend :)

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    1. Hi Amy, When plants die you know they're lost. I find it difficult when plants don't die, but they don't look really happy and don't grow much. Deciding whether to give them more time or replace them can be a difficult decision.

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  11. Plants that are happy without supplementary watering...I am also always searching for those. Hoe often does it rain in your garden?

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    1. Sometimes it rains quite a bit, but then other times it doesn't rain for weeks and weeks. This lack of rain combined with scorching temps - some plants love it and others can't cope. For gardeners like us I wonder if the search for these plants is the essence of our gardening.

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  12. I love the attitude of letting a plant go to 'compost heaven'; it's very necessary when gardening in Australia!
    Here in the Blue Mountains, I've already had over 600mm since the start of summer so it's the exact opposite, and this in what was supposed to be an El Nino year! While we normally have wet summers, my biggest worry is losing plants to rot and fungus. I am enjoying reading through your blog and the watching the lovely garden you are creating, Matt.

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    1. Thanks for the interesting comment, Matt. Rot and fungus are probably even worse than drought for plants. What a lot of rain you've had. This summer hasn't been as bad as I feared. Have you had bushfires, or the threat of fires? I am so pleased you enjoy the blog.

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