Today is a scary day, a distressing day, I wonder if we will survive this summer type of day, and I am saying mayday! mayday!, we need help! I wonder if you are feeling that too or if you are a whole lot more positive that we will get rain soon. For rain is what we need now, a week of it at the very least.
My plants are dry stressed and on top of that the rabbits and cockatoos are honing in for any little bit of green they can find. On Tuesday I picked up 5 very full barrow loads of eucalypt branches that the cockatoos had stripped from my client’s tree. My Acacia has had a similar stripping by cockatoos. Other smaller plants seem to be hit by rabbits looking for something to eat.
And so whilst I shout help I’m also going to double down to protect my plants and help them, in any way I can, to survive. Three years of plant growth simply must not go to waste so out have come my plant protection aids again (see blog on 27/1/2019) My plants do not need to be chewed no matter how hungry the rabbits are and some of them are going to need extra shade for a while. My irrigation supplies box has also been well utilised in the last couple of weeks as I have increased the area covered by a simple above ground irrigation system which the hose plugs onto and away we go. What I am noticing now is that the ground is so very dry that any water I put in is hardly lasting the week but at least I can water everything at once and not have to bucket to each plant.
If you, like me, are determined to rescue your plants from certain demise in this extraordinary weather and need some tips on how to do so with simple irrigation and rabbit protection then pop down to Murrumbateman markets tomorrow or the markets at Cool Country Natives in Pialligo in two weeks time and talk to me.
Although I’m finding it difficult to stay positive today, stay positive I must and protect my plants I will. The alternative is too horrid to contemplate.
Flowering now in my garden: From top left going clockwise are Callistemon subulatus, Patersonia occidentalis, Chrysocephalum apiculatum silver leaf form, Melaleuca thymifolia white and Xerochrysum viscosum.
What I love about going for walks or hikes in nature parks or even along the roadside with the dogs is not only the fresh air and lovely scenery but when I catch a glimpse of colour and find a flower treasure amongst the grass or scrub. I always have my camera handy. On longer hikes I find that I also always get left behind and have to run to catch up with my walking companions, one of whom in particular is not an avid plants person!
One of the things which IDP Nursery has quite a few of is ‘local plants’. It is not just that these plants have been grown locally but that their origins are local. These local plants are grown from seed or taken from cuttings from a wild plant on a local property. As such they have tough genes, they have evolved and adapted to the local climate.
Having said that the term ‘local’ as we use it is denoted as an area approximately within 50km of the ACT. This of course then includes alpine areas, wetlands, dry and moist sclerophyll forest and grasslands and so it is wise when buying a local plant, just as it is wise when buying any plant, to investigate what conditions it has come from and therefore prefers.
For example plants, such as Craspedia aurantia, which originate from alpine areas within the local region may find the heat in our gardens hard to handle and may need either a little more shade or more water for survival. Likewise plants such as Carex fasciularis which originate from the edge of fresh water rivers or lakes are likely to prefer loamy soils and more moisture than they may naturally get in your or my garden.
In the case of some plants such as Themeda triandra (Kangaroo grass) which is native to much of Australia, seed which has been imported from say Queensland will have a different genetic makeup to seed which originates locally. Therefore the resulting plant may not be as frost hardy as a plant which has been grown from locally sourced seed. We see this also with Indigofera australis which is also native to coastal areas. If your garden centre sources their stock of Indigofera from a coastal genetic stock you will find that they will not last through winter here.
As gardeners we often choose to plant a plant which originates form a different climatic area and/or an area which has markedly different soil knowing that we are treading n dangerous ground. When we do this it is important to try to recreate the conditions to which it might best be suited. For example western Australia has sandy loam or deep sand or gravelly soils. Plants which originate here such as Anigozanthos species (Kangaroo paws) are often best grown in pots or at the very least have sand added to our clay soils. South Australia has pockets of alkaline soils so plants which originate from these regions are likely to need a little soil remediation in the pH department and plants which originate from the coast or Sydney will not be used to severe frost and will likely require particular attention to micro-climate within the garden.
You will find that a good plant nursery will be happy to tell you where their plants have been sourced from to aid you in making helpful decisions about placement in your garden.
As I have said, all our plants which are ‘local plants’ are marked as such on our website but just to give you a few examples here are the plants which we sell which have originated from my own paddocks…………..
Themeda triandra, Dianella longifolia, Dianella revoluta, Cheiranthera linearis, Dilwynia sericea
Hardenbergia violacea, Lomandra filiformis, Indigofera Australia, Clematis microphylla, Pultenaea subspicata, Einadia nutans and Hovea linearis.
Will we persevere with our gardens as the drought intensifies? For those of us for whom green things are a passion this seems like a no brainer but I did have to sit back and really consider that question as we progress through spring. Already the weather is very warm and the soil is drier than dry for so many of us. Some of my plants are already showing signs of dry stress. Even though these plants are as hardy as all get up they are not actually desert plants and desert conditions are what we seem to be facing right now. So I had to think, will I actually spend the time and possibly money to keep these plants alive until the rains come? Will I buy in water if I have to? The answer had to be yes. I either keep the garden alive until it is mature enough to do it itself or I have no garden. So last weekend I watered for the first time since last summer. The ground was bone dry.
So what makes us persevere as gardeners in such harsh conditions? For me I think it is about the delight of seeing nature triumph. With the growing plants come a growing number of birds in my garden. Did I make a difference? Sure I did. And I’m hoping to make a difference for a good many years yet. There seems to be a growing tide of people concerned for our environment and I want to be in good company with those people, caring for this precious world we are blessed to reside on for a while. The intricacies of the plant, bird, and animal life excite me. I recently watched a documentary about Leila Jeffreys. She takes the most gorgeous photographs of birds. https://www.leilajeffreys.com/
I’m also excited to see a number of councils around Australia are encouraging people to plant native plants in their gardens to create backyard habitat. As we play our little part in such schemes we start to create corridors or links between one natural bushland area and another which in turn helps to maintain ecological connectivity. See http://www.lanecove.nsw.gov.au/Environment/NaturalEnvironment/Pages/BackyardHabitatProgram.aspx and https://www.lakemac.com.au/page.aspx?&pid=1778&vid=28
In Canberra, as I have previously mentioned, the Weedswap program has been running for a number of years. IDP Nursery will be sending several hundred plants to this program on the 2nd and 3rd November to be swapped for weed species. https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/plants-and-animals/Biosecurity/invasive-plants
Don’t forget also the ANPS plant sale on at the National Botanic Gardens this Saturday and check our website because I have added a few new plants.
Lets continue then to plant native plants to leave a lasting legacy of lovely gardens full of birds, bees and lizards. I am encouraged that there are so many of you out there who care about our local fauna and flora so lets stick together and encourage each other while the going is tough.
What a wonder spring is. Everything fresh and new; fresh green leaves, bright flowers by the bucket load; birds and bees excited over the flowers, all enough to put a spring in my step and a new vigour into my garden plans.
However over the weekend I had plans to do some spring cleaning in the house, fold washing, write a blog, and prepare a room for visitors. On Saturday I arose at 6 and was out in the garden by 6.30 before the forecast rain set in and I had to go inside. Well past lunch time and no rain…. I was tired and thought I had better eat. I ate and returned to the garden before the rain set in. At 4.30pm I was so exhausted from getting those jobs done I came in and collapsed on the sofa and then had an early night. The rain never came and the inside jobs didn’t get done. I am doing them today.
But while I was outside in the garden the wonders of spring were an inspiration and delight. Here is what delighted me in my garden. I hope you had plenty in yours to delight you too.
Bright yellow Acacia flowers against a black black sky (that rain that never came)