I like the look of a dry garden because it looks natural in a harsh climate. This December has had record-breaking high temperatures, and we are told this is the new normal, not a freakish early summer.
In nurseries, plants now are generally classified as one drip for drought resistance, two drips for needs seasonal watering and three drips for thirsty plants. What this doesn't take into account is position, position, position.
It's not only thirst that does 'em in, I've noticed. Sometimes I say the most important part of a plant is underground, what you don't see. This is to remind people that plants have roots. But of course leaves are equally important. If a plant is unshaded, and doesn't have the capacity to soak up the strong sunshine, its leaves will shrivel and it will die no matter how much water you give it.
|Tough grasses dotted irregularly along the path|
So what does gardening in this heat mean for me? It means looking and observing with minimum compassion and maximum ruthlessness. I selected a small number of plants to water because it is their first summer and I think they are tough enough and in the right position to survive in time. The rest, I just watch. Lots are happy and doing well, but quite a few just give up and become shrivelled and dried out.
|Gaps in the garden|
The gaps they leave become opportunities for me to replace them with tougher and more suitable plants. They also give a different perspective on the design of the garden. For example, I had a drift of Euphorbia martinii in the front. One of the five plants was larger than the others. It is the only one that has survived. Come autumn, I won't just recreate the drift with different plants. I'll change the planting pattern as well as the plants.
|Unknown Clematis species with small fluffy flowers|
... and when it's just too hot to go out into the garden I read nursery catalogues or browse the shelves of Bunnings and Masters for ideas.
|Yellow flowers of Bronze Fennel light up the garden |
between Leptospermum brevipes and Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)
I'm linking this post to Helen Johnstone's End of Month View meme in her blog The Patient Gardener. This meme has been going for 6 years now, and is a great opportunity to share the progress of your garden with others all around the world.
|Banksia marginata and Derwentia perfoliata - hot weather heroes|
As I write this it is raining - really hard. When it stops it will be exciting to see what has recovered - and what hasn't. Not that that's the end of it. We're only a third of the way into summer and it's going to be a long hot summer. The rain is just providing temporary relief. I'm not complaining though - that's the nature of gardening in Melbourne at this time of climate change. Other people in other places in Australia are doing it really tough - battling floods and bushfires.
|Some of the summer heroes: Plumbago, Euphorbia rigida, Dianella caerulea, Lambs Ears,|
Garlic Chives, Echium candicans, Lavatera, Dietes bicolor, Dodonaea viscosa (Hop Bush)
|More summer heroes: Euphorbia martinii, Canary Island Wormwood, Broad Leaved Sage (Salvia berggarten)|