Climate change

Temp in Chittering
This photo was taken yesterday afternoon. The middle number on the gauge is the temperature outside, the top one is inside. (For those who need a translation 48.3°C is 119°F.) The outside sensor is in the shade, nice and high, to avoid reflected heat from the ground. The inside one says the airconditioner isn’t coping. Neither is the garden or the gardener. I dragged out an old electric fan and spent the next few hours jostling with the dog and a couple of cats for the best spot. And there will be more days like this before the summer is over.

Many of my new spring plantings didn’t survive – including eight pittosporum ‘Miss Muffets’ and a hedge-worth of Acmena smithii ‘Cherry Surprise’. So disappointed. Those should have been good tough choices. I am less surprised at the loss of many of the perennials in my fledgling Riot. What was I thinking?

Another casualty was the lawns. I gave them a little extra water in the early hours of the morning to try to help. It wasn’t a lot because the garden tank only holds 10,000 litres and takes 12 hours to refill. When it’s gone there’s no more. A couple of big sprinklers will use that in an hour. This is a big garden… and the vegetable patch comes first.

I was worried about holding on to enough water in case of fire. We are surrounded by crunchy-dry paddocks. The lightning from a summer storm makes me nervous.

Ironically, I was reading the book I asked Santa to deliver – about a beautiful Tasmanian garden called Wychwood. The paragraph in which the author, Karen Hall, describes the benefit of sweeping areas of grass and how crucial it is to strike the “balance between lawn and garden beds”  almost made me cry.

Our grass had only just turned green after the browning of the winter and spring frosts. I love the green. It’s brown again now. I stood by the window and watched it go and realised that two months of green in exchange for the water it needed just wasn’t worth it. Add in the mowing, edging and fertiliser and I suddenly faced the reality that I was breaking one of Karen’s golden rules “Choose plants that suit your climate: There’s no point struggling against nature trying to grow a plant that would much rather be elsewhere.”

I knew that, I garden like that, I make a little go a long way. Most of my plant choices are sensible – I would have no garden at all if not. The harsh reality is that lawn, even tough buffalo lawn, would rather be elsewhere. It will have to go. It’s a good thing that gardeners are, by nature, optimists: I have a plan.

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