Towards the end of January we had some rainfall — heavy and tank-filling; as well as just plain misty and annoying. But before that (and since!) it was weeks between drinks. A dry summer where even the weeds curled up and died. Where I contemplated pulling out all my pretty, wilting flowers and replacing them with native shrubs — until my friend F told me even her natives were struggling (then I contemplated ripping everything up and going with fakes).Lion's plants, which bring nectar birds to my garden
Oh, if you were to pull up in my driveway and look at the front garden, (somehow) you’d see lots of colours from the climbing roses, pelargoniums and larkspurs. But get down close and look at the soil, and you’d see a dustbowl. I do not know where the water I pour in goes; I do not know how anything survives.
But I’m also learning from this bad season, for next summer, because (perhaps pessimistically) I can only see that this is how it’s going to be — dry, hot summers. So let’s plan for it, to mitigate the tears and frustrations. Plant more of what survived this time (not flourishing, merely staying alive) to be guaranteed some colour. Penstemons are top of the list; somehow those delicate and divinely purple larkspurs put on a good show, as did a clump of these spiky blue things (which prickles notwithstanding, the bees love):
Many things finished very early this season: lavender was over and out by December, as were some other usually reliable perennials. The only way I managed this pretty display of pink phloxes (yes mum, phloxes) and cosmos was by slavishly watering them, just about every day. That was a lot of work to tie myself to.
In my vegie garden, usually reliable stuff that you can sow and grow with your eyes closed and hands tied behind your back just didn't happen. Peas didn't germinate (and when they did, the sparrows nipped them all off — more on that later). Zucchinis grew only about two inches long and then stopped (and tasted bitter).
Lush zuke plants - but very little fruit
This has been frustrating and heartbreaking, and at times I've been ready to give up. All the time and work and energy you devote to the garden, and for what? All the packets of seeds you buy? Puny nasty zucchini! A measly handful of sugar snap peas! All bush and no beans! Pah, that’s not what I signed up for!
My prettiest patch, with spring onions, marigolds, beetroot, beans and self-sown capsicums jostling for space
So I’m given up. Oh, I’ll keep watering everything in some vain hope I’ll get a decent sized carrot, but I’ve decided against doing further sowings, because the elements are too much to battle. I’m now waiting til it’s cooler before I turn my mind to winter plantings. I want summer 2016 to be over, so I can start anew.
I’m also pestering my dad about hammering in more structures once it cools down: for higher and better netting over my vegie beds, to guard against the birds; and that is easy for me to get in and out of. I know the birds are desperate for food in this dry season — but I’m not growing peas and lettuce for sparrows!
It hasn’t been completely bad in the veg patch (and looking back at these pictures, it's all quite lush). My tomatoes are coming on nicely, just enough to enjoy a few each day and cook a tray or too for the freezer. The lazy housewife beans are giving me a modest handful every couple of days (my supply being generously complimented by mum and dad, who currently have scarlet runners coming out of their ears!). They are finished now, but just after Christmas I pulled a small but delicious quantity of beetroot and round Paris carrots. And my fruit trees (as noted in my previous post) offered up small but rich harvests.
Carrots on dead lawn
The weather around Australia and indeed the world has been crazy this season — so perhaps you too are having a poor time in your garden. If so, I completely empathise — come on over for a cuppa, and we’ll drown our sorrows together.
Orangey 'big beryl' above and classic 'mamma mia' romas (and a couple of black krim) below