An Endurance Test


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:

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is coming into flower.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is coming into flower.
Rose 'Calypso'
Rose 'Calypso'
Salvia Microphylla
Humble little portulaca and alyssum keep looking colourful.
Grevillea 'Soopa Doopa'
Society Garlic

A few representatives from our National coat of arms out in the paddocks.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Vicki says:

    Gosh, Jane, it sure does look dry. Let’s hope you get some rain soon. Trouble is that a small amount of rain can green up and increase the undergrowth to the point where the fire potential is even worse.

    You garden is looking very good and I’m surprised how high the Sedum has grown. I’ve only seen it knee high in the Botanic Gardens perennial border walk. That variety of Grevillea is really pretty too.

    The second photo of the kangaroos, especially the shade area, looks like there’s almost only bare soil left. No grass worth eating.

    1. Jane says:

      Yes the sedum is a trooper. I think I have to plant more of the grevillea too: it’s a perfect size for my garden and doesn’t miss a beat.

  2. I think we have been getting all your rain here in France since the beginning of December. It’s been unusually wet here this winter, after a very dry year in 2017. Now it’s cold and snowy and there is not much vegetation in the fields, so first thing in the morning I have deer coming into the garden whereas you have kangaroos! Lovely photographs.

    1. Jane says:

      Those kangaroos are right on the edge of town and I took the photo in a spot where there were houses directly behind me. I’m a bit closer in the town, so I don’t get kangaroos in my garden. I hope you have warmer weather soon. Spring is on the way!

  3. says:

    Yes, all the dams are drying up. Not much water for stock or wildlife. Our free-range egg farmer at Yass, said there wasn’t a blade of grass on his property. We are keeping the water up to the veg, but most else has to survive as best it can.

    Your flowers look wonderful by the way.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Tracy for the flower compliment. I would have had more, but I cut quite a few perennials down in January as I usually do, and because of the adverse conditions, they haven’t grown back as quickly.

  4. Jane Munro says:

    Hi Jane, that Sedum is amazing! You’re doing pretty well with your plant selection. Salvias are my salvation…

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, mine too, Jane.

  5. Christina says:

    Anywhere that has hot summers with little rain and cold winters is ‘harsh’ in my book! Here in central Italy we go from high 30’s°C (even into the 40’s in a very hot year down to anywhere from 0 to minus 11°C (predicted for Wednesday. Two winters ago the temperature didn’t drop below 0°C all winter this year it’s very different with nights under zero for weeks at a time.

    1. Jane says:

      So our climate is very similar to yours, except we’re perhaps not quite as cold in the winter. We don’t get any snow although it used to fall occasionally in this area many years ago.

  6. Lynn says:

    I’m sorry you’re in such a dry spell, although your flowers still look wonderful. And I would never get used to the sight of kangaroos in my backyard! How marvelous. May you all get some much needed rain soon.

    1. Jane says:

      Oh, I didn’t mean to make it sound as though I had kangaroos right in my garden! Those photos were taken right on the edge of town(with houses behind me), and I am a little closer in. Plenty of people would have kangaroos in their garden around here though.

  7. Makiko says:

    Loads of spectacular photographs! I like those of that caught roos!

  8. Liz H says:

    It’s tough getting through dry times, and with climate change it’s a worry that less rainfall will become the norm. The stress on the wildlife in these times too. We have similarities in plant families – that Gondwana split 🙂

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, lack of rain is now an ongoing problem and our wildlife is stressed too. Thanks for the follow Liz.

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