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, 14 March 2016

it's autumn but it feels like summer


Unprecedented! Record breaking!  These are some of the words being used to describe what is happening weather-wise. Officially, summer is over and it's autumn. But it's still hot, really hot. We are just coming out of a week of temperatures in the 30s (35 centigrade = 95 fahrenheit). Last night it rained and the garden isn't exactly smiling but isn't looking nearly as depressed and depressing.

There have been losses.  Geranium incana, supposedly a one drip plant, didn't manage to survive the brutal heat. Same with Euphorbia martinii. Even the ones in the shade dried out. I did hand water a few times to help the newbies that were in their first summer.

Valeriana officinalis
I felt pressure to water from a couple of friends who  seemed to get quite distressed seeing the struggling plants. You give water to the birds - plants are living things too! They don't understand my project - to find plants that will sustain themselves waterwise. These friends grow vegetables and have watering systems. Mine is a different kind of garden. I like the fact it looks like it belongs in a hot Australian summer instead of looking all green and pretty like a European cottage garden. At times my garden has looked like a European cottage garden, but in spring, never in summer.

Looking at the ravaged garden, I think the trick is to try to focus on what has survived, a glass half full approach. Echiums, wattles, gums, lomandas and lots more are all ok. It's harder now for plants to get established. I used to move plants around as if they were furniture and didn't have roots. Now I'm trying to leave them if they're doing well and not be so fussy about the growing picture they make.

After a few hours rain everything has perked up. It's surprising and makes me happy to see how much has survived and recovered from stress.

I'm linking this post with GBBD - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, at May Dreams Gardens.

Liriope muscarii
Acacia Iteaphylla 
Garlic Chives, with tiny mystery beetle 

16 comments:

  1. Over the years I have come round to thinking if the plant likes its position that's OK by me and it is amazing how they still look good even though it is completely unplanned. Although we have had some nice frosts and sunshine over the last few days the garden is still waterlogged here at the foot of the Pennines.

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    1. Hi Rick, Often it looks better when unplanned, I think, but if I left the garden entirely to its own decisions there probably wouldn't be enough variety. Waterlogged is another challenge unfamiliar to me.

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  2. We need many more gardeners like you as you are working with nature and helping to conserve resources. So glad you got rain. Sorry about the losses.

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  3. I see some familiar faces in your post. Garlic chives and liriope are two plants that will survive the high heat we experience here in the southeastern US without extra water or care. There are many plants like that. Heat is the main killer in my garden. At least we usually get plenty of rain, though we sometimes have summer droughts that add to the stress. I hope your weather soon cools off and brings additional rain!

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    1. Heat is probably the main killer in my garden too. You can always add water but you can't move them into the fridge for a rest! Since I wrote that the weather has been a bit cooler but more searing heat is predicted.

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  4. I've tried Geranium incanum, but I think it needs kinder cooler weather. Haven't tried it in the False Bay garden - it might, be happy here.

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    1. PS garlic chive flowers to garnish our dinner. Delicious, green seeds and all!

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    2. Dear Diana, you've taught me something I didn't know - I've never thought eat the seeds.

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  5. I admire you for gardening without adding extra water. Far too many people here water their lawns just to keep them green, what a waste! I believe in happy plants that like where we put them and only water them in their first year, after that they are on their own!

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    1. that's amazing, your garden is so lush, Pauline. But I guess in the end it's always about putting the plant in the right place for it.

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  6. Sue, it seems so strange that here in the northeast part of the US, we are just coming into Spring (with even some snow in the forecast for the beginning of next week) and your gardens are moving into Fall. A very HOT beginning of Fall. The weather has been strange I think all over the world. I am not a whole-hearted climate change believer. To a small degree ...yes. But I believe the cycles we are going through have existed for centuries. And our Earth is just going through its normal cycles.

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    1. Thanks for your stimulating comment, Jane. I thought about how to put my attitude to climate change. For me climate change isn't about belief, like believing in God. Because it's a scientific question, it's about weighing up the evidence and coming to a conclusion. But because it's so complicated I accept the current scientific consensus, which is that the climate has been hugely influenced by human activities such as burning up the earth's stores of carbon.

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  7. "I like the fact it looks like it belongs in a hot Australian summer"... yes! I love that too. As much as I dislike summer, there's nothing quite like those hot, dry days where the scent from eucalyptus leaves (dried out dead ones underfoot especially) wafts about and the cicadas are chirping. After I got past the disappointment of all of my losses this summer, I toughened up a bit and just thought 'well, you obviously just don't have what it takes'. Maybe not for the tubestock I lost, but for the others, so long.

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    1. That's why I never buy advanced expensive plants. The way you describe an Australian summer, Amy, is very evocative and very different from an English summer. And I wonder even unconsciously whether we measure our gardens against the standard of a green English cottage garden?

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  8. It is scary that there is such heat in your part of the world and such extremes here too.....

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