about this blog



This blog tracks the ongoing changes of my garden, and the wildlife I try to attract to it. It's a nature blog. It contains my thoughts and musings about anything and everything to do with nature - gardening, book reviews, philosophy, travel, science, history, art, design, politics.
Catmint is my signature plant because it has all the qualities I value in a plant: resilience, beauty and the capacity to spread prolifically . Unfortunately it's not indigenous. If I was starting again I'd probably choose an indigenous plant.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

a bit of an end - of - summer audit

The garden basically survived the heat and the drought of this record - breaking summer. As expected, there were a few losses - becoming opportunities to plant truly tough heat loving plants.

Lambs Ears - Stachys lanata -  struggled but survived.



Common Sage did fine in full sun, needing no supplementary watering.



Native grasses like different species of Lomandra and Poa are able survivors for increasing temperatures.



Diggers Speedwell - Veronica perfoliata - did really well left to its own devices.



Plumbago auriculata, used to the burning South African sun, soaks it up in its adopted home. Problem is, it's a bit too vigorous. I've been basically trying to espalier these plants against the fence. Don't try this - it doesn't work! They like to take up room.


Rosemary - providing structure to the garden, the colour green to contrast with blues and greys, and flavour for potatoes, mushrooms and many other foods. This is a perfect plant for hot dry summers.


Different kinds of Euphorbia - this one is E. rigida - grow in the garden. All have proved to be suitable  for a dry garden and high temperatures.


I'm still searching for a structure and plants that work in some parts of the garden, but I'll never tire of the Santolina edging around a circular path. Closeup it looks like coral.


Hellebores. Do a deal with them. Keep them in the shade, and they'll cause no trouble.


I'm continually amazed at the toughness of wallflowers. These are orange. They budded in the heat, and flowered soon afterward.


Remarkable ornamental comfrey need shade. As long as they get shade, they seem to be incredibly resilient. In the heat they shrivel up, but in the evening they recover.


I've planted a few varieties of scented geraniums. This one's lemon. My other favorite is coconut. They're sun and heat loving, and can be used for drinks.


Indigofera Australis. I planted a few in a semi shaded spot and watered them in. They just made themselves at home and grew and grew. They are at home, they're indigenous to Melbourne.


Poor possum possibly died of thirst. Or maybe it was attacked by a cat.


The chirpy, darting little Brown Thornbills have returned. I still haven't managed to photograph them - they're so fast - so this photo is from Wikipedia.



Thornbills mainly feed on insects, so I imagine they'll be pleased I set up this kitsch little house to welcome more insects to the garden..



I don't know if anybody's home in the insect house, but it looks like insects or spiders have moved into what was originally intended as a nesting place for small birds.



This summer damselflies returned to the garden, not seeming to mind the heat. They're generally found near freshwater habitats, but each year I find them in my garden even though I have no pond.



Beth, of Plant Postings blog, reminded me that this post fits into her meme for garden lessons learned at the end of each season. Learning which plants survive is hugely important learning. Check out what other gardeners have learned at Beth's blog.


Potter gets rather tired in the heat. She generally finds a comfortable garden bed for a snooze in the sun.

34 comments:

  1. Thank you, Sue, for giving an account of your hearty survivors! Since the coming summer is going to be vey challenging in our drought stricken state, it's good to know about some the tough heat loving plants. Just yesterday I planted some cuttings of rose scented geraniums, and hopefully they will make it. If the budworms don't take a liking to them! You have lots of attractive plants. Very encouraging!

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    1. Dear Dorothy, We should certainly swap ideas about tough plants. I've just planted 2 new California natives, hoping they'll do well in our conditions too: Romneya coulteri and California Tree Anemone. I'm sure your Rose geranium should do OK, in my experience insects don't like to eat strongly scented leaves.

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  2. Sue, I guess its wise to plant the garden according to the climate, and don't you simply have plenty to fall back on. I like those lemon scented Geraniums, in Aberdeen we have a park with a sensory area for the blind, the scent is overwhelming.

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    1. When we had the open garden weekend, one of the visitors was blind. It was fascinating seeing how she got to know the garden by touch and sound and smell. Before she left, she complimented me and told me she loved it.

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  3. Your garden looks like mine does around the end of summer. It looks very nice plus you have some nice leaf litter helping those plants retain moisture! Poor little possum...:(

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    1. Hi Chris, yes, poor possum, but luckily there are more, because I've seen and heard them since. There is plenty of leaf litter, but by this end of the summer, and since there hasn't been any decent rain for so long, it's very, very dry.

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  4. That insects-for-birds house is really nifty! I might have to borrow that idea. You have some incredible foliage plants and your photos are excellent. Love damselflies--we have lots of them (and dragonflies) here, too. This would be a great post to share for the Lessons Learned meme: http://bit.ly/1mMlPB9.

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    1. thanks for reminding me, beth, I'll add it.

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  5. Oh you scared me with that photo of Potter after seeing the possum. Glad Potter was resting. You had a rough summer with the weather. I am wondering what summer will bring here? I am sure birds and bugs will have another tough season ahead because plants are likely not doing well. I just saw a healthy looking spruce that fell due to drought conditions of summer, having few roots. More of that likely to come.

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    1. Oh Donna, sorry to scare you , thank goodness Potter was only resting! I guess what happened to that spruce is a reminder that what you can see is not the most important part of the plant.

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  6. I love your santolina! it looks like it enjoyed your summer! Our summers can be rough, too. We always hope there won't be a drought to accompany the usual high temperatures. Last summer was mild, comparatively, with nice amounts of rain.Can I hope for two years in a row?

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  7. You certainly have some super plants that can survive a lot of heat, the same as I have plants that can cope with all the rain! When we have extremes of weather we have to go with the flow and plant things that like the conditions, it's the only way to make a garden that is happy in its surroundings. How wonderful that the hellebore is happy with you in the shade and your santolina looks far happier than mine!

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    1. Hmmm, interesting ... you would think we would hardly have any plants in common in our gardens if you need plants that like to have wet feet and I need the opposite.

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  8. Hi Sue! I see that Deb (above comment) also loves your Santolina. A beautiful, delicate survivor.
    One of my favourite things for endurance is Melaleuca diosmifolia - I have four - a lovely, refreshing green, not spindly or haggard, small stature, lime flowers, a bit prehistoric-looking.
    Fond regards.

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    1. Hi dear friend Faaisal, I looked it up, looks and sounds great. Unfortunately comes from WA. I'm trying to get more plants native to this area to attract more wildlife.

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  9. I was looking through your informative list of drought resistant plants when I was taken back by the word hellebore until I realized it must be Helleborus argutifolius syn. H.corsicus the Corsican Hellebore. Although it comes from a rather mountainous Mediterranean island which has high summer temperatures it has been flowering here in the UK all through the winter. You could say it is as tough as old boots but its spiny foliage and lime green flowers are very welcome.

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    1. you're right, Rick, I can be very lazy and imprecise. I find that H. argutifolius and H. foetidus are better than the more commonly used Hellebore (although I have those too) because they give good year round structure to the garden.

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  10. That Santolina is admirable! Love the colour and how they tolerate well with the dry weather :-) Btw fyi we need a good downpour here as well!

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    1. I hope you get it soon Steph ...

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  11. Beautiful foliage photography, Sue.

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    1. thanks, Denise. Very few flowers in the summer.

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  12. hoping our autumn rain is getting closer. The plumbago is hugely vigorous. I was slightly appalled to see it growing wild in the Eastern Cape soaring up 2 or 3 storeys high thru any available trees. Mine I keep trimmed gently so the paths remain open, and we get the flowers.

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    1. I must say I find it find it hard to be gentle with it, although when it's in flower it looks all sweetly innocent. I think if I left it it would be 3 storeys high too. I hope you get your autumn rains soon. We're having a continuation of summer temps and still no rain.

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  13. Sue your summer was productive and weathered your hot summer, but I am sure you will be happy to get to cooler temps with fall...

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    1. thanks Donna, although already in April we've experienced the hottest day since records began!

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  14. A few of the plants you featured died in our extra cold winter. Hellebores are the toughest dry shade plants I know for my climate. But it's always rewarding to find plants that seem to laugh at whatever nature throws their way. I hope it rains soon for you.

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    1. thanks Tammy, it was supposed to rain today, but it was more like a few gentle droplets that wouldn't have had the power to penetrate the soil. But my plants are laughing anyway.

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  15. Great photos sue. I just planted a small santolina in my garden last weekend. Plumbago has pretty blue flowers but it does spread about 2 metres by 2. Potter is looking adorable in your garden. Rosemary grows well here and is as tough as old boots. I hope you are enjoying the Autumn weather over there.

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    1. thanks Karen, specially the rain, is so-o-o welcome and a relief. Hope you're enjoying autumn too... sorry I haven't visited your blog for a while, but I'm so pleased we're managing to keep in touch.

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  16. Lots of strong survivors! Here we're rejoicing in the plants that survived a couple of cold snaps this winter and the wettest March on record. I'm glad that you're finally getting some rain. Happy autumn!

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    1. thanks og, and happy spring to you.

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  17. Visiting your blog is a joy! Thanks for sharing!
    Art

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    1. thank you so much, and I look forward to sharing your gorgeous weeds on your gorgeous blog.

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I love to get feedback and comments, and getting to know other bloggers. I also appreciate corrections if you detect an error, because I'm not an expert, but a self taught enthusiastic amateur on a steep learning curve.

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