Spring 2009. Good Winter and Spring rains have seen a return to bountiful growth in the garden.
The last week of January and first week of February 2009 saw consecutive days of red hot weather for two weeks straight. Starting off in the 40's and levelling out to high 30's with hot drying breezes. Many plants have keeled over or been hit for six. On the left is what remains of a second flush of Iceberg rose blooms and on the right, the blackened remains of our tree dahlias in front of the now almost leafless Duranta hedge. Below left, even the tough as nails Agapanthus are burned up and the Viburnum hedge is sunburnt and yellowing. Not enough subsoil moisture to help them through.
When we have tallied up how many species of plants we have in our gardens, we have been amazed. When I was planting natives and attending the SGAP plant sales on a regular basis, in our previous house, I counted well over 100 species of natives alone in a garden that was already full of exotics. However gardens are always in a state of flux and not all plants live a long time. We are always clearing away the expired plants and trying something new.
Today the real challenge is to survive the prolonged drought we find ourselves in without pouring copious amounts of precious water on the garden. Our garden is therefore a mixture of native and exotic plants, especially those plants indigenous to a Mediterranean climate that have proven themselves able to thrive in our conditions.
In Adelaide we have a Mediterranean climate which is cold and wet with mild frosts in the Winter and hot and dry in the summer. We can have Autumns with almost no rain, short heat waves in Spring and Summers with prolonged heat waves and almost no rain for 3 or 4 months. The temperature in winter is usually between 10 C and 20 C but does drop down lower to frosty conditions overnight for some days in June, July and August, sometimes even later. Springs are usually glorious with rain and temperatures in the mid twenties but occasionally two or three days of 30 C in succession can burn up the flowers or hail can batter and freeze delicate new growth.
In Autumn 2008 we made the decision to do away with the front lawn and replace it with drought hardy flowering plants and a path. We lost our Silver Birch tree as have most other gardeners in Adelaide due to reduced sub-soil moisture. Established Trees, even heritage trees are dying all over the State even in well tended gardens. It is quite a battle to keep some plants surviving.