Troopers: 1st January, 2019.

The weather has been relentlessly hot. Since Boxing Day, the daily maximum temperature has only once been below 35 degrees (to 34), and several times up to 38 and during all that time, only 4 mm of rain has fallen. Of course, there are places in Australia experiencing far hotter temperatures, but ours have been enough for me, thank you. Despite the not unusual climatic ordeal, my garden, which has been designed to tolerate extremes, has survived reasonably well with some watering. A thunderstorm is forecast this evening and a much more pleasant temperature of 28 degrees tomorrow.

This week I am focussing mainly on the troopers of the garden: those plants that belong in the unsung heroes category, the ones turning their petals to the sun and refusing to give in.

One:  Zinnias. It’s the first time I’ve grown these, and their germination from seed was gratifyingly speedy. They soon burst into a bright fanfare of colours, and I was so pleased with them I have planted more in the vegetable bed, having decided that growing veggies in the summer here is just too much of a challenge.

Two: Portulacas. I usually buy few punnets from the nursery, but these little gems also self seed. Once they are present in the garden, they pop up everywhere and there’s always a steady supply from mid December onwards.

Three: Agastache ‘Sweet Lilli’ and Salvia ‘Amistad’ don’t miss a beat in the hot weather. There’s a particularly prolific day lily across the lawn in the background too.

Four: My Eryngium has been temperamental for two years, and this summer is the first time it has properly flowered. Better still, I’ve noticed some seedlings dotted around so when the weather cools down a bit (a lot) I’ll transplant them. In the meantime, I’m thrilled with this heat loving plant.

Five: I think this is a Caper White butterfly. It’s relishing the nectar from our dwarf Escallonia hedge.

Six: A wheelbarrow load of homemade compost about to be added to the lemon and calomondin trees. It wasn’t a hot compost as described by the Propagator, (though you would think any compost would be hot during summer here), and it actually took quite a long time to break down, but I’m very pleased with it. It’s friable, full of goodness, and I have half a dozen more barrow loads left to disperse around the garden. Both trees (still only small) have many flowers, so I’m hoping for good crops of lemons and calomondins later in the year.

And there you have them: the first Six on Saturday for 2019. As always, do pop over to the Propagator’s blog to see what’s happening in gardening all over the world.

Weather today: Unpleasant. Hot, dry and windy, 20-37 degrees C.

48 Comments Add yours

  1. You could send us a few degrees if it gets too hot

    1. Jane says:

      I will Derrick, if you’ll send some rain.😊

  2. Tracy says:

    I’m with you, Jane. This heat is ghastly. When will it ever end? My husband has been home on holidays and he has been doing the watering; a job that I’m not looking forward to when he returns to work.

    Your garden is looking very cheery. I am especially taken with your zinnias. I don’t envy you the compost shoveling job in this heat.

    1. Jane says:

      We’ve a much cooler day today, Tracy, but the promised storm arrived last night and brought us 2mm🙁 I make sure I do any energetic work very early in the morning. Once the sun gets up, it’s far too hot.

  3. Ciar says:

    Your zinnias are looking wonderful and colourful. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but they were a favourite of Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf – I am going back to volunteer at her garden at Charleston in East Sussex next month and am sure we will be growing plenty of these for our summer.
    Hope you get some rain and cooler temperatures soon!

    1. Jane says:

      I didn’t know that about Zinnias. It would be wonderful to see an en masse planting, which I’m hoping my veggie patch group will approximate. We have a good two months of hot weather ahead of us so it will be a while before it cools down. Thanks for the rain wishes.

  4. Vicki says:

    You have my sympathy as to the heat, Jane.

    It was 43C in my suburb yesterday, but much cooler today with a wee bit of rain. (well, ‘pretend’ rain….a few drops 🙂 )

    Love the colour and shape of the Eryngium. Not sure I’ve seen it before, but I believe it grows down in the Jawbone Conservation Reserve on the coast.

    1. Jane says:

      It must have been shockingly hot that day in Melbourne, Vicki, but I noticed that the next day’s forecast was for 22! We had pretend rain here last night! Yes, I’m pretty pleased with the Eryngium, and looking forward to propagating some more.

  5. Fred says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing my agastaches in bloom. Now, in my fridge to give them a cold transition, I’ll sow them in a month.
    Good luck with the high temperatures. French TV said you had up to 48°C in some parts of Australia ( south center) ?!! Must be unbreathable

    1. Jane says:

      Hi Fred, yes temps were much higher further west than us. We got off lightly! We’ve had 43 here a few times, but luckily for us we have excellent air conditioning. No gardening in those temps. I’ll look forward to seeing your agastataches in bloom…there are so many pretty ones.

  6. Jude says:

    You can chuck a bit of that heat in my direction Jane!
    Zinnias are lovely cheerful plants and seem to be popular over here too. I might try a few this year, if the S&S don’t get to them first! Happy new gardening year!!

    1. Jane says:

      I’ll send some heat if you’ll send some rain, Jude. Fair exchange? S&S haven’t been a problem for me with the zinnias, but some kind of caterpillar has made a nuisance of itself amongst the leaves. Happy New Year to you too.

  7. Love seeing your zinnias Jane. They are worth more to me than vegetables any day. Of course you cannot eat them, but the joy they bring on a daily basis far exceeds any meal. I planted them last summer instead of veggies and once they started blooming, they didn’t stop until the frost killed them. They gave me endless bouquets, smiles, and butterflies. You will enjoy them immensely! Happy New Year!

    1. Jane says:

      Happy New Year to you too, Cindy. I’m pleased to hear that zinnias are such good doers. Perhaps I’ll have enough to cut for vases too.

  8. Jim says:

    What a star plant Salvia ‘Amistad’ is. Top performer for you and over here too. Your temps and ours are pretty similar, yours in Celsius, ours in Fahrenheit. Not much good to be said about either.

    1. Jane says:

      I agree with both sentiments,Jim. I’m about to cut my Amistad back as it’s getting very large, but it will soon be flowering again, just as strongly as before.

  9. Your zinnias look great. They do germinate very quickly and ours thrived during last year’s hot summer.

    1. Jane says:

      That’s good to hear. I can look forward to lots of flowers.

  10. I’m just enjoying your heat reading your blog! I have been looking over compost bins. I have never composted before! This might be the year!

    1. Jane says:

      Composting is very easy, Cady, if like me you just do the cold compost, and the benefits to the garden are great.

  11. Sophie says:

    Your Zinnias look so cheery but I can feel the heat through your page! Meanwhile we have frost and minus 4 last night. I think anything over 40 is unbearable;especially with any humidity. It’s lovely to see colour though as we have very little. Happy new year!

    1. Jane says:

      Happy New Year to you too, Sophie. Luckily we have a dry heat here as we are away from the coast and in the Tablelands, otherwise we’d find our temps difficult. It does cool down at night which is a blessing.

  12. Rowena says:

    Portulaca! My Poppy planted these and some knobbly cucumbers in the garden he made for me when I was 5. They were so cheerful and a lovely gift to remember him when he returned to Sydney. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. Jane says:

      My pleasure, Rowena. The portulacas had more flowers on them a few days ago (isn’t it always the way when you want something to look its best for the photo?) but they’re jolly nevertheless. They’re one of my favourites in the garden.

  13. Gill Heavens says:

    Wow that is hot (for us anyway). Your garden is looking lovely, so colourful and welcoming. Just what we need in the UK at the moment!

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks Gill. We have a good two months of hot dry weather ahead of us unless some ex tropical cyclone makes its way in our direction. Pretty slim chance really. Not long and you’ll be posting colourful things too…it’s already beginning to happen!

  14. I had an Eryngium and it grew really well to start off with but then just died on me! I thought it was the hot summer we had but obviously not when yours is doing so well in your summer! Feel free to send some heat in the UK’s direction – it’s a bit chilly here at the moment 😁.

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, Green Girl, I think an eryngium should do well in the heat. I don’t think they like damp soil, so maybe that was the problem.

      1. Oh no! Maybe I overwatered it when it was so hot this summer! So much trial and error in this gardening lark! 😁

  15. Kris P says:

    I’m sorry you’re suffering from the heat. This past summer, our heat peaked (at 110F/43C) early in the season (July 6th), then slowly tumbled to more tolerable levels. I hope your summer season follows suit.

    Zinnias are wonderful, aren’t they?! I just ordered seeds to plant in late spring here. I wish Agastache and Eryngium performed as well in my summer garden as it does in yours.

    1. Jane says:

      I remember your terrible heat wave, Kris. In other parts of Australia it has been much hotter so we got off lightly really. There is plenty more scope for hot weather ahead of us. I’m surprised Agastache and Eryngium don’t do so well for you..I would have thought your climate would be ideal. I’ve decided I much prefer zinnias to petunias for summer colour.

  16. @cavershamjj says:

    Jane, loving your compost work, looks great! I grew zinnia for the first time last year, definitely growing again, great flower power.

    1. Jane says:

      That’s a compliment coming from you, Mr P! The zinnias have been much admired, and rightly so.

  17. bonnie groves poppe says:

    I never think of planting annuals, but your zinnias inspire me. Here in Provence we get very hot summers, not as bad as yours but bad enough. Salvias all seem to tolerate the heat and keep blooming, mine are all perennial. I’d like to find zinnias sorted by color …..
    bonnie in the vaucluse of France

  18. Tim says:

    I hope you get some heat relief soon, but you certainly know how to prepare your garden for it. I had some of your local product on Christmas Day ( a Chardonnay Finnistere by Robert someone or other!) and thought of you.

    1. Jane says:

      That’s a nice connection, Tim. I hope you enjoyed the wine! We had a cool change on Saturday night so have had a couple of pleasant days but no rain and now the temps are creeping again. Sigh….

  19. Alys Milner says:

    Your Zinnia’s are gorgeous. I love the way you describe them, too.

    I’m sorry to read about your dreadful heat. Our summers are getting hotter and hotter it seems, and we deal with smog, too. I no longer look forward to them as I once did. Spring and Autumn are what it’s all about now.

    Lovely garden pics!

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Alys, I’m really enjoying those zinnias, and more are appearing. We’ve had a respite from the heat for a few days, but now the temps are climbing and we have a few days of 39 degrees forecast. You’re right about Spring and Autumn, although they can both be hot here too!

  20. I loved having a look at your garden, with the cheery flowers happening, even with the horrible hot weather we’re facing at the moment. More to come in South Australia apparently, and I’m glad my husband was out watering ealier today … A good bit of rain would be lovely, but I suspect it’s going to be mostly a hot and dry summer for the southeastern parts of Australia … I hope I’m wrong though!

    1. Jane says:

      We’ve had a storm today, Carolyn, and I’m sure I don’t have to explain the feelings I had looking out at the rain falling. It wasn’t enough to fill dams or make creeks run, but nevertheless it was most welcome. We have a very hot week ahead of us…must be coming over from SA!

  21. Makiko (macquie) says:

    Glad your beautiful garden was survived in the heated days past week. I see them really blessed, and I felt vigor out of them from the photos as if they are talking chatting and giggling. 🙂

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you for your comment, Makiko, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. The garden is a constant source of pleasure to me and I love to share it with others.

  22. Robyn Haynes says:

    It’s you who is the trooper Jane under such difficult gardening conditions.

    1. Jane says:

      I don’t deny it’s been difficult Robyn, and even more so since I published that post. We’ve had temps of 40, but in fact it hasn’t been as bad here as many other places.🥵

  23. A. JoAnn says:

    Thank you for the trooper recommendations, I’m going to try some of these this year. The agastache is one I’ve been wanting to try.

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, do try Agastache, it’s a completely trouble free plant. Definitely worth having in the garden.

  24. Nat says:

    So pleased to finally read your post and to see your garden looking gorgeous even in this heat!

    I think I will have to get some Zinnias for our block next year. Yours are stunning!

    Did you have any success putting cardboard under your mulch?

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks, Nat. I haven’t done the cardboard as I haven’t been in the garden for weeks. It’s been far too hot. As my garden is quite crowded, putting cardboard down is probably something I have to do in the winter, when everything has been substantially cut back. When the weather cools down (ha!) I’ll try some in a few spots. Also, getting mulch is a problem as it’s very expensive during the drought and I dislike the sugar cane mulch.
      Zinnias are great and they last in a vase for ages. I’m so pleased with them I threw some more seeds around randomly.

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