Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Spring in Adelaide - The Last Hurrah

Well... it's been a miserable few weeks in Adelaide... and today's been a nice change (for the moment at least). Over the last few years we've been suffering a drought in Australia (brought on by the El Niño weather pattern that affects the Pacific ocean currents and hence rainfall).  The El Niño weather pattern seems to have departed for the moment, and we've now got exactly the opposite problem. Too much water... so it's been a pretty grim (and wintery) December so far. And that's why I thought I'd upload a few photos of Spring in our garden. It might also be a nice reminder for everyone in the Northern Hemisphere who are facing the start of a long, cold winter this year to be reminded that no matter how cold things get, it's warm somewhere.

We started putting our garden together with a bit of a plan in mind... I had grand visions of establishing a Japanese-style garden. Alas, the weather changed over the last few years, and we started going on to heavy water restrictions in Adelaide. Lack of water and 40+ degree C summers forced us to revise our plan pretty quickly. Japanese-garden plants are not particularly well known for their drought tolerance. 

Over the last few years, we've therefore been progressively adding more and more native plants to our yard... that are much more drought resistant. Australian native plants are fairly hardy (having to survive long periods of hot dry weather). The great thing about them is that they are also by and large low-maintenance. One of the great Australian native plants is the Grevillea, which comes in many different forms...
And did anyone mention Diosma? I'm not sure if it means anything where you may be reading this, but they are very common here in Australia. Once again, they're actually native to South Africa... (which has been one of the surprises as I've gotten more into researching garden plants, of just how much of our common plants have sprung from the likes of South Africa, rather than the good old mother country, England - let alone Australia itself).
Pink diosma.

Most people think of Hibiscus as a tropical plant... being a national symbol in South Korea and Malaysia - not to mention the state flower of Hawaii. Well, Australia has it's own native hibiscus'... and here's one we managed to grow from a cutting from my parents.
Native hibiscus
By tthe way - a word of warning, if you're ever in the position of putting in an Australian Native Hibiscus, they grow like the clappers and need a good pruning CONSTANTLY. We're now having to take drastic action to bring ours back under control.

But the garden still has a wide range of different styles of plants... including the good old traditonal Lavender... Hokkaido, Japan, is quite famous for it's own Lavender farms... 
Traditional Lavender

And since we're on the whole typical garden plant topic... you can't go by the Daisy.... they're brilliant and hardy. Not only that they provide a much needed form and colour in any garden.

And you couldn't get much more traditionalist than the reliable "geraniums"...or pelargoniums... a standard (and sometimes old-fashioned) garden plant, though there are a number of very nice varieties available these days. Once again, these are commonly found in the African continent. I guess, it may not be hard to see that pink plays a big part in our garden plan, being T-chan's favourite colour.
Good old pelargonium
And a slightly different tone comes from the Evening Primrose family, otherwise known as Oenothera (the variety we grow is known as 'Twilight'). These have been a great discovery in our garden, as they seem to really lap up the sun in summer, and produce some really nice blooms well past Spring. One of the things I should mention... Adelaide is  built largely on what is known as Bay of Biscay soil.. which is a highly reactive soil that expands and contracts hugely with water content. It's pretty typical to have to do a lot of work to condition soil in Adelaide (with composts, mulches, gypsum etc)... so I always get excited when I come across a plant that appears to be completely ambivalent to our soil condition... and especially one that seems to self-seed (i.e. spread). Hope I'm not going to regret this in 1-2 years when I'm pulling them out by the fistful.
A great open groundcover - Oenethera Twilight

Lantana is another species introduced into Australia - and we definitely have a love-hate relationship with this plant that has some beautfiul flowers, whilst at the same time being quite invasive (and is often referred to as a weed). In our climate however, they make for quite useful ground covers.
A pink lantana

And then - there's our roses. When we bought our house (nearly 3 years ago), the one thing that we hadn't really considered was the large number of roses that were there. About 65 rose bushes in total. That's a lot of dead-heading... for those that aren't gardeners, dead-heading is the term used for removing the old flower heads to promote new flower growth (by preventing the rose hip from growing in roses). I have to admit that I do like roses in Spring (and they flower nearly all year around these days), and whilst they are as tough as old boots... they can still be a lot of work.

The following is just a very small sample of the roses we have in our yard alone. Don't ask me which varieties, as we didn't plant any of the roses.

The problem with the sort of rain that we've been having here now is that our roses are developing all sorts of problems due to the moisture - and we can't readily spray them as you need a good dry spell for that. Ah well... summer has to make an appearance again soon.

Hope you enjoyed the reminder of Spring - where ever you are.

Actually, as I look back on this post I can't help but feel that I'm mis-representing myself... you may have the impression that I'm a gardening nut that can think of nothing better to spend his weekends out in the garden. There could be nothing further from the truth. The reality is that T-chan and I moved from a small rented homette where our entire garden was managed by our landlord to our own house where we have to look after a 770 m2 block with almost zero experience with gardens and gardening (which is actually quite large by modern Adelaide block standards... unfortunately so). It's been a slow and sometimes painful learning experience... and the reality is that whilst I enjoy a nice garden, it's always something that ends up at the bottom of the priority list. Still, I think our experience is testament to both the fun (and exercise) you can get from gardening, and the overall sense of achievement that can be obtained. At least sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. Your garden is lovely. And daisies are my very favorite flower!!