Saturday, February 7, 2009

Heat and the garden

Can't believe how hot it has been. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is saying it. I took the car out to go to the supermarket at 12:30 today and when I started it up in the carport, the temperature on the digital dash was reading 48 deg. C. I drove to the supermarket and it was reading 49 deg. C. Later standing at my kitchen window, watching the wind tearing across my yard, I was distressed to see my plants all withering before my eyes. Even the sage bush looked as if it would dessicate under the howling northerly. I've got a large veranda along the back of the house, which faces North West, getting the full belt of the summer sun, here in the southern hemisphere. The house is low slung, almost american `ranch style', 3 bedroom brick veneer, built in the 1980's. Thankfully, the bedrooms are on the southern end, so that as soon as we get a southerly wind change, I can open up the windows and vent the hot air from the house. They get a bit cold in winter, though. I'm in the south western suburbs and the area is renowned for its harsh micro-climate. Wind is constant and the natural landscape is rivermouth, salt marshes and wetlands - low, flat, brooding under a grey sky, harsh under the summer sun. I moved here in April last year and one of the things that pleased me, was that the garden was non-existant. The rear of the property and the kitchen window, faces an open reserve which lies along a creek. It has a bike path which runs down to the rivermouth then all along the coast trail for over 2o klms into the heart of the city. I intend to convert the barren yard into native vegetation, ultimately blending with the vegetation along the creek, which is grassland, scrappy gums and

river reeds. These photos show it on a cool winter morning, and then in flood two months ago. Of course I have also established a vegetable garden, and the veranda has a collection of plants in pots, and it was the vegetables and the plants in pots that I watched in despair as the 90kp/hr northerly winds scorched everything today. I've never seen the growing tips of tomato plants burn off, before but I did today. The tuberous begonias on the veranda, in the shade, lost all their leaves. The stems simply collapsed in the middle, under the extreme conditions. Even some of the indigenous plants in the front garden have simply burnt off. The wonderful stem of new flowers on my Blandifordia (Christmas Bells) has burnt, all its buds are dessicated. Here is a photo of how it looked last year.

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