Christmas is the day that holds all time together.

All we need in Australia this year for Christmas is RAIN. Apart from wishing for rain my hope is that everyone enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and that the New Year brings fulfillment in all areas of life.

Australia is in a dreadful situation with severe bushfires across the country, due to our prolonged drought and dry spell. Many hundreds of people have not had Christmas at all this year and have lost homes, businesses and in some cases their livelihood. Our volunteer firefighters are still out preparing for the heatwave that is due this weekend. It has been a tragic summer for many and my heart aches for the losses that people have had to endure this year.

Christmas has now come and gone and the New Year is almost here. On reflection, despite the heat I think it is the best time of year. Especially for us in the Southern Hemisphere because we are lucky to have Christmas in our summer. Think chilled champagne, fresh seafood, cold beers and an abundance of crisp, fresh salad and local produce. The majority of our population are on holiday and there are plenty of hours to chill out, relax and enjoy family and friends, the summer sun on our beaches, harbour and waterways. We camp, fish, barbeque and spend a huge amount of time al fresco either dining in the back garden or deck or enjoying the plethora of cafes, restaurants around the country.

Christmas is a time of giving, of sharing and being together to create a memorable day. Our family, as many do at Christmas, love to cook together. Each one of us making their favourite salads or dishes and we enjoy a truly wonderful day of celebration, love and gratitude for what we all have. Children, teenagers, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and overseas guests. Plus all those people we know and care about that are close to our hearts and feel like family who join us every year as one. It is a magic time of year filled with joy, laughter, fun and surprises.

Many gardens this year are thick with smoke from fires in South Australia and New South Wales making it difficult to be outside for long. People living in country towns are on severe water restrictions and it is timely to be conservative on our water use and to maximise watering of the garden. So what can we do to make sure our gardens survive the drought and these dry conditions?

Due to little or no rainfall the deeper areas of the soil in the garden have become very dry and the topsoil is quite hydrophobic making watering extremely difficult. Hydrophobic soil causes water to pool on the surface and it doesn’t go down into the ground.

The expert rose breeders recommend to water your garden less often but more thoroughly. Make sure that each watering is at least 20 litres per rose plant right at the soil or ground level not across the whole garden. The more thorough the watering, the more you will maintain storage of water deep into the soil that can be utilised when it’s needed in hot, dry. conditions. Also

  • Water roses in the morning to avoid humidity that creates fungus and disease.
  • Water the lawn in the afternoon after 6pm to eliminate evaporation.
  • Water pot plants of all sizes daily or more often than the garden.
  • Mulch the garden with 2-3 inches of organic compost, straw, wood chips or other substance to protect the plants and soil from the sun and keep the moisture in the garden or pot.
  • Keep the garden beds full to protect the soil from the sun. Use groundcovers like Thymus, Nepeta or other carpet like groundcovers.

“The most important thing you need to do is grow the organic content, because that’s the sponge under the ground that’s away from the evaporation and it gives the water the chance to stay there and keep a nice temperature.”

Costa Georgiadis ABC Gardening Australia

Although my garden is full of roses I must admit I also like to grow other drought tolerant plants too. Plants like

  • Lavenders, Rosemary, Thymes, Oregano and other hardy herbs and perennials.
  • Succulents, Mother in Laws Tongue, Agaves, Sedums and Yuccas
  • Grey foliage plants such as Lamb’s ears, Santolina, Curry plant, Senico and Erysimum
  • Australian natives like Banksia, Tea Tree, Bottlebrush and Westringia
  • Salvias are a great source of drought tolerant plants with a vast array of colours and styles to choose from.
  • Agastaches, Saltbushes, Rock Roses, Achilleas and Echinaceas

There are several good plant nurseries that specialise in dry garden plantings such as Lambley Nursery in Ascot Victoria and Perennial Plants in Canowindra New South Wales. Both worth a visit online or in person for plants, advice and inspiration.

The unmulched garden looks to me like some naked thing which for one reason or another would be better off with a few clothes on.­­

Ruth Stout

I wish everyone a Happy New Year as 2020 approaches next week. I hope your garden survives the dry and the New Year brings a fresh chance of abundance, love and peace in your life.

Title quote by Alexander Smith

Images 1-10

  • La Jago and Lady of Shalott
  • Contrast of garden inside and outside the fence
  • Burnt leaves from Summer heat
  • Outside the garden the land is dry and the air smokey
  • Just Joey Rose Bloom
  • Garden Images
  • The garden and the air are smokey
  • Thyme Carpet & Lamb’s Ears
  • Dichondra Silver Falls with trailing Pincushion roses

All Content and images Di Baker

All Rights Reserved 2019

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