Heat, drought, dust, fire and wind.

I haven’t posted a Six on Saturday for nearly two months. There hasn’t been a great deal to celebrate recently, as drought, heat, wind and water restrictions take their toll on the garden. Just now we are allowed to water on a day that corresponds with our street number (evens for us) from 6 am to 9 am and 6 pm to 9 pm which is a bit too generous in my opinion, considering the conditions and the visibly emptying lake about 30 km from us which supplies the town with its water. With that in mind, we’re taking our shower and washing up water out to the garden and we have stopped watering the lawn which is now very bare in patches, just slightly green where it manages to snag a little water from the garden plots.

Not all is doom and gloom. Despite the adverse conditions there are some plants in my garden that are defying the odds – after all many of them have been chosen to withstand heat and drought.

Number one, above, is Romneya coulteri or Californian tree poppy. I was warned that it would spread rather vigorously and that has certainly been the case, but who could complain looking at the gold-centred crinkly-petalled flowers (just like your breakfast egg) that attract bees which seem to love rummaging around in the stamens. Just look at those saddle bags full of pollen!

Two: This is a self-seeded Hollyhock from one that I planted two years ago. It should be tall and graceful but instead has grown into a quite deformed cabbage-like head. It’s a pretty colour and I’m surprised it has managed to flower at all although it receives reasonable water from the irrigation system, so perhaps that’s enough.

Three: The Drumstick Allium, Allium sphaerocephalon, also attracting bees, is another plant that seems to be quite comfortable with whatever the elements throw at it.

Four: Eryngium planum. I’ve waited a long time for this to flower successfully. Worth the wait, don’t you think?

Lilium ‘Black Charm’.
Lilium ‘Eyeliner’

Five: More surprises. These Liliums haven’t missed a beat which is astonishing given their delicate petals. A current of steel runs up their stalks, I think.

Six: One hundred km to the south east of us a bushfire has been raging for several weeks and has burnt nearly 200 000 hectares of bush. When the wind blows the smoke towards us, this is what happens. This photo was taken at 6 am, and the smoke remained for the whole day. In fact we experienced about five days when we didn’t see the sun properly at all. When the wind blows from the opposite direction, we have dust – Australia’s topsoil, off to the east. All our outside surfaces are covered with a layer of red dust and we can’t use water to clean it off. It would turn to mud anyway. If this sounds like a lament, it’s meant to be. Not for the dust around the house, but for this poor country which is suffering from a hundred years of land clearing and mismanagement of water resources, to name just two problems.

Six on Saturday is a meme hosted by Jon the Propagator. To join in or to simply enjoy what other gardeners are up to, follow this link.

Weather today: 17-32 degrees C. Sunny with a light breeze.

49 Comments Add yours

  1. Everything’s in a sad state, isn’t it. It’s been the same here, with a huge fire raging for more than a week only 30 km away. My roses are in survival mode and the grass is completely dead. The only plants getting watered are Mr ET’s tomatoes. Let’s hope rain comes soon. The flowers you do have are beautiful.

    1. Jane says:

      Oh dear, your situation sounds as bad as ours, ET. You must be getting some smoky effects as well with a fire so close to you. As I write, (I’m in Sydney just now) the wind is blowing and the sun is a tangerine ball in the sky. I too hope for rain, but there doesn’t seem to be much around in the near future. I hope you garden survives!

  2. Barbara says:

    Over the ditch we have been watching the fires and wishing all the best for you all. It is just so sad that there is no longer any natural habitat for koalas.

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, Barbara, the koalas are having a rough time with a lot of them severely injured. On the positive side though, a Go Fund Me campaign has raised nearly $2 million for the koala hospital at Port Macquarie.

  3. The situation around Mudgee sounds dreadful Jane.. Those smoke filled days are very depressing. Paul & I think most places in Australia should be on permanent restrictions theses days… people almost need educating on how to preserve water. Nice to see the plants that are surviving in your garden despite the weather conditions. Take care & let’s hope we get a bit more rain in the new year.

    1. Jane says:

      Let’s hope so Gerrie. You must be noticing the effects of the fires down your way too. We have been lucky here to have had only a few small fires locally which have been controlled by the wonderful firefighters, but really, only a deluge will put the big fires out.

  4. Judith James says:

    I so agree… so many culprits, so little understanding. It will end, but for how long. Nothing seems certain anymore. I could only do two or three today, not six x

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you for your comment, Judith. Yes, so little understanding. And denial.

  5. Tracy says:

    It is good to see that there are a few diehards and try-hards in your garden, Jane. I’m livid about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We are struggling here too. My big eucalypt is in real trouble, and I am conscious that every bucket of water that I save for it, does not go down the drain to flow back into the river system for other drought affected communities downstream. It is a conundrum.

    1. Jane says:

      I think our trees are so important Tracey, because they help combat climate change and they certainly keep the temps down in our suburbs, so I believe we should be watering them. I’ve even been taking a bucket over the street to water a neglected new tree in someone else’s front yard. I just can’t bear to see tree die. I know I’m only just keeping it alive until the next rain, but needs must when the devil drives.

  6. Hope you don’t suffer too much with drought. Not a major issue for me in the North East of the UK but I’m still considering another waterbutt for next year. Got one big 300 litre and a small one for the front garden, but still one more drain pipe I can take advantage of. Changing climate is still a future concern.

    The black charm lily is a stunner. Alliums looking good too. I’m going bigger scale this year with about 100 of various types to plant picked up at bargain prices.

    1. Jane says:

      I know you’ve been having a lot of rain in the UK, Joshua, and others places in Europe and Asia have had far more than they need as well.
      It’s fun to be choosing new bulbs. They seem like good value to me, and perhaps because they establish themselves well below the surface they have more chance of surviving drought than annuals, which in my case are really struggling just now.

  7. I’m sorry about your weather, but a good set nevertheless. I think posting 6 on Saturdays displaying the effects of the weather would be equally good.

    1. Jane says:

      Good idea, Derrick. I might not be able to help myself getting very political though, if I posted about the weather just now.😆

  8. Fred says:

    What a pleasure to see photos of summer flowers and to read you again.
    Can you water once a month, with your street number ??
    Take care and I hope the fires will stop.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Fred. We are allowed to water every second day, which I think is too lenient, and I don’t do that. I leave the watering as long as I can before watering again, and because of the type of plants I have I’m able to do that. But it has been very hot, and it isn’t really summer yet, so tough times are ahead of us unless we receive really good rain.

  9. Oh Jane! What a heartfelt post! We live in such fragile times and Australia is one of the most fragile places on earth. We cannot continue to live the way we do. Your flowers are beautiful signs of resilience.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Cathy. Yes we do live in fragile times; that’s a perfect way to describe it.

  10. Vicki says:

    I loved seeing that Eryngium planum. I’ve seen it on a notice/tourist board down at the nearby nature reserve and marine sanctuary on the coast, but never seen it in real life. What a treasure.

    I can well imagine how your skies must have been looking as I had them myself about 10 days ago.

    As Cathy said, we live in such fragile times.

    Is it too late to re-forest and lower the salt table back to normal? I can’t help but wonder.

    1. Jane says:

      I was so pleased to see the Eryngium flower properly for the first time, Vicki.
      Planting millions more trees is I believe, one way of trying to combat climate change, but unfortunately land is still being cleared at a massive rate in Australia.

  11. Lis says:

    My goodness, Jane, I feel so saddened reading your post. What have we done to our precious planet? It’s incredible how nature does its very best to cope despite everything, your flowers are very beautiful and the sight of those honeybees going about their business is uplifting. The forest fire season is thankfully over here but November has brought terrible storms that have literally shredded the garden. Strange and terrible climate issues exist everywhere, it seems.

    1. Jane says:

      I think you are right Lis, about climate issues everywhere. I read your post about the terrific storm you had. What a shame about the shredding of your garden, but you were upbeat about it, seeing the positives and still finding, amazingly, delicious veg to eat.

  12. Gill Heavens says:

    The world is in a sorry state, so sad. Your lilies are defiant, I like that. We should be too. We must do whatever we can do to stop the slide. I hope it isn’t too late.

    1. Jane says:

      Indeed, Gill. Sometimes I feel powerless in the face of such adversity, and unfortunately here, in Australia, there are a lot of people who think these weather and climate events are normal patterns for this country.

  13. Makes me very sad to hear of your drought. As a gardener, I know the anguish of waiting for rain or promised rain that does not materialize. Prayers are with you and all your country.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Cindy.

  14. Kris P says:

    Oh Jane, I can sympathize. Our own drought restrictions were very much the same (even to the even and odd watering days). They were lifted much too soon, after the first really good rainy season we had. Even so I’ve became conscious of every drop of water we use, although I can’t say the same for some of my neighbors, who allow their irrigation systems to run even when it’s raining. I hope your fires abate soon as the smoke does your lungs no good, not to speak of the local ecology. Hurrah for your blooms, pretty even when distorted by current conditions! I have trouble getting lilies to bloom under any conditions.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kris. I see plenty of gardens around town where watering is being done in the middle of the day, or on the wrong day, or water is running off across the drive or on the road. And there are also gardens where no watering is being done at all, and large trees are dying. It’s heartbreaking to see.

  15. @cavershamjj says:

    I shall think of you when I feel like moaning about our weather next summer!

    1. Jane says:

      Ha! Yes. Oh to be in a country where the water actually comes out of the sky! We’ve almost forgotten what that’s like.

  16. rusty duck says:

    I’ve been watching the news with an increasingly heavy heart. So very sad to see what is happening in Australia. I can only hope that now, finally, those with the ability to influence the way we live our lives in the future will listen to the rest of us and take it to heart. But I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Jane says:

      It would have to be a long breath indeed, to sustain you in this situation, RD.

  17. Dorris says:

    Hi. What conditions you have to deal with. It is frankly amazing that anything can grow is such dry parched ground

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Dorris. I am still allowed to water – for now, so that is what is keeping the garden going. That and trying to choose drought tolerant plants.

  18. Jim Stephens says:

    I declined to rack up the air miles involved in flying to Australia to see our granddaughter this year because it’s her future at stake, she’s four. Sue is going on her own. I won’t fly again. Somehow it’s me who’s been made to feel guilty though. We are heavily invested in our own destruction.

    1. Lis says:

      I feel your pain. We are planning to move back to the UK next year, as we just can’t justify having to travel to spend time with our family. It’s tough but if we’re truly committed to our grandchildren’s future then we have to put our money where our mouth is. On the bright side, it will mean a whole new garden adventure, though . . .

    2. Jane says:

      That’s a really tough decision, Jim, and I admire your resolve. I do think a trip to Australia once in a while isn’t going to change the situation. We slightly know people who make four trips (obviously they’re rather well off) overseas every year. Now that, surely, must be making a personal contribution to global warming.
      We are gong to NZ in a couple of days, but it’s the first plane flight we’ve made in two years, so I don’t feel too bad.
      @Lis- I’m sorry to read of your decision which must have been a heartbreaking one to make. I’ll miss the posts about your life in Spain.

  19. Barbara says:

    The fires are just awful. I read that there is now no functional natural spaces for koalas. It is absolutely tragic. I do hope you and yours are fine and well and safe.

    1. Jane says:

      We are lucky to be affected only by smoke where we are Barbara, thank you. Only a few spot fires caused by lightning, which were quickly doused by our wonderful firefighters.

  20. Pauline says:

    Congratulations Your garden is certainly showing how your planning and choice of plants is helping keep it blooming Jane.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Pauline. I hope all is well up your way.

  21. I hope things improve over there soon. The dust filled sky looks very eerie. The flowers look lovely though. I particularly like the drumsticks.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, I’m also very fond of the drumsticks which a spreading themselves around nicely.

  22. Jude says:

    Australia certainly does look to be a country that is burning up, each year it seems to get hotter and of course those eucalyptus don’t help with the fire situation. I recall living in a drought in Jo’berg many years ago with the same water restrictions applied – only we had 2 hours every other day. I didn’t grow flowers then. Meanwhile we (UK) are having too much rain! In another few years it could all be very different, no-one really seems to know what’s going on or have the guts to make some radical changes. Keep safe.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks for your comments Jude. Yes, those eucalypts do burn ferociously and it’s frightening to see the way they flare up. I’m sure our water restrictions will bite more as we go to level three which I feel will have to happen soon.
      I’ve been reading UK blogs about too much rain and I’m sure that’s an effect of climate change as well.

  23. Anna K says:

    Droughts are so disheartening… I feel for you, but at least you had the wherewithhall to choose plants that can adapt to harsh conditions. I have lusted after one of those Romneyas for years, but don’t have either room or enough sun for its liking.
    Sorry to hear about the nearby bush fire and the smoke. We were in that situation about 3 years ago, and it was awful. Hang in there.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks Anna for your heartening words.
      The Romneya has been a source of delight when other plants are having a bit of a struggle, and it’s fun to watch the bees enjoying it too!

  24. Chloris says:

    Your drought , fires and duststorms sound terrifying. Our poor planet. We have had the wettest autumn I can remember here. I love your lilies. Romneya is so pretty but I had to dig mine up is was too near the house and kept making its way into the library.

    1. Jane says:

      It was you, Chloris, who warned me about the Romneya, and I can now see exactly what you mean. It’s even insinuated itself into pot plants. I shall have to steel myself up to do some digging up!

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