This year Christmas has been hard with restrictions on family gatherings, the constant sadness of lives lost, and the millions of people suffering from the pandemic. Many people have been forced to live more isolated lives and cannot share the season with friends and family. With so much time spent at home, ‘gardening’ has become a comforting pastime, a solace, and a refuge for many. A garden is a happy place, and that happiness can rub off on you when you spend time in the garden.
According to the ABC Gardening Australia team, interest in gardening has increased hugely during our year of lockdowns and working from home. Perhaps we have all found the secret; a few hours of working with hands in the dirt in the garden can alter one’s mood, making you feel good, less worried and anxious, and more content.
Summer in our rural garden can be harsh at times. In contradiction to my last post in Spring that was so full of promise. We have had several extreme days of unexpected heat that hit the garden hard in late Spring. The heat caused many roses to drop their leaves and go into shock. Unfortunately, it happened the one week when we were away, and the sudden 40 degrees (plus some) days were a disaster for many roses and plants. Burnt foliage is not new to the garden in this hot dry landscape, although I’ve never seen so many plants lose all the foliage at once from shock. The foliage fell off onto the ground leaving bare stalks. Fortunately, the plants were still alive on our return but needed care and attention.
Since the last week of November through to Christmas and now New Year, I’ve been focused on nurturing my roses back to full foliage and new flowering blooms. The one element that has revived them is Water!! Water at present is in abundance. Both showers of rain and stored in tanks or fresh from the bore in the ground.
Deep soaking of the roses regularly and leaving the few leaves remaining on the bushes to protect them from further summer sun has given nearly all plants full recovery. Thankfully the temperature through December has been a balmy 33 – 35 Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit on most days. Perfect for rose growing. So far, fortunately we haven’t had any more extremes in temperature. I seem to spend more time in the garden, willing plants back to life in the last few years than I do any other task.
My other secret weapon is eco seaweed. Dissolved in a bucket of water and watered onto the garden, it is magic for roses. Although not a complete fertiliser, it gives plants a real boost by improving the thickness of the cell walls. This makes the plants more resistant to pests, diseases, heat, and frost. Seaweed has natural hormones, which may also prevent transplant shock, so it’s useful when moving plants around the garden. I find noticeable results in the vigor, colour, and healthy gloss on the foliage after applying either Maxicrop or Eco seaweed regularly.
So, the garden is on the mend now and blooms are returning for another flush as I continue to nurture the roses in our hot dry summer. My choice of a more English style garden is the main culprit making the garden more high maintenance but I don’t apologise for loving English and French roses instead of native plants.
I love the glorious scent, the breathtaking, beautiful blooms and the dense shiny foliage. They are softly romantic, uplifting to the soul and stunning in the array and depth of colour, shape and variety. Our environment in the Australian bush is so harsh at times and although I love our native flora too, a little gentleness in the landscape is a welcome relief. (forgetting the thorns of course)
Despite the drama of bare branches on the roses, the garden is off to a good start for the summer season of 2020. We had a glorious, although short, Spring. It was winter; then it seemed to go straight into hot weather and Summer. The restrictions and reduced opportunity to travel and be out and about certainly means there is much more time for the garden. Now it is a matter of getting out early in the morning to the garden before the flies, bees and the heat of the day make it uncomfortable. As the saying goes, ‘the early bird gets the worm.’ It has been very satisfying to recover the roses, and I’m starting to see more blooms appearing. It was quite a shock a few weeks back now to find so many roses with no leaves and looking so desperate, and I’m heartened to know that all is not lost.
All content by Di Baker
All rights reserved 2020
Images by Di Baker with the exception of the image below by David Klein Unsplash
Title quote by Charles Bowden