risk taking in the summer garden
Any gardener with any experience of a hot Melbourne summer will tell you you're stupid if you cut things back hard when temperatures soar. Keep a protective cover over the soil as much as possible, they will say, and don't stress plants already under challenge. Sensible advice ... but the trouble with this advice is -
1. When the spring annuals have disappeared the 'bones' of the garden become prominent, clearly showing me which plants need to be cut back because they don't look good any more, and what gaps need to be filled.
2. It is the summer holidays when I have the most time to garden.
We gardeners are supposed to be patient. If I show a bit of restraint, it's with a big effort. So far this summer I have managed with great difficulty to resist buying new plants or moving old plants.
Pruning, when applied to some shrubs, feels more like sculpting than just chopping back. The Plumbago growing on the front fence is mainly a chopping back job. The five Leptospermum morisonnii 'White Opal', planted around 15 years ago, gradually grew into a green leafy screen that concealed the back part of the garden. But it started looking scrappy, so a few days ago I took a risk and thinned out the branches. It was a double risk:
1. I never really know what I'm doing until it's done, and if I don't like the result I've found you can't put branches back.
2. We've already had one very hot day and we're coming up to more 40+ degree days (Celsius). That's 104+ Fahrenheit!
The thing is, I feel in sync with these plants. They're old friends, well established, and I trust them not to die. Already there are sprouts appearing on the Boobialla. But still it's a risk, with lots of really hot days to come.
You can never be sure what will happen in the future. Change is a risk. But then so is trying to stop change.