February has become an endurance test for gardens and gardeners alike in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales. What's left of lawns is crackling underfoot and the rolling countryside is as brown and crisp as newly baked loaves of bread. The hills around the town are grey-blue with exhausted eucalypts and we all wait for rain, hoping that it won't come in the form of a dry, fire-starting thunderstorm. During the heat of the day the robinia in my back garden folds up its leaves to reduce exposure to the sun while the leaves on other plants hang down for the same reason-either that or lack of water. The weather has been very hot, far hotter than it should be, and the effects of the small amount of rain that has fallen have been negligible. No one has mentioned the 'D' word yet, but it can't be far off.
A friend of mine queried my tagline. “It’s not a harsh climate,” he said. “It isn’t a desert here.” And that’s true. But another friend, who lives on the edge of the town, told me how the local kangaroos are coming down from the hills onto her lawn to eat because there’s no feed left for them in the bush. The kangaroos were drinking from her bird bath she said, and when she put a bigger bowl of water on the ground, kangaroos, birds and lizards arrived to drink from it. So the climate can be pretty harsh, I think, especially during long periods without rain, and also during long cold winters with heavy frost.
Yet despite everything the weather has thrown at us, and with careful watering, some plants continue to survive, and even do well. I wandered around the garden to record some of the better performers:
A few representatives from our National coat of arms out in the paddocks.