I must admit the garden this season has been a humbling experience with unseasonal weather that gave me a false sense of what a garden can be; lush and green, an array of prolific blooms and loads of growth. It was stunning, some days, I even thought that the garden looked like a ‘proper garden’ rather than wild and unruly. And now as summer takes hold, my garden like many others at this time of year is in a sad state again. There are an unbelievable number of weeds that are so tall and wild, masses of dry grasses that have blown in from the paddock and thousands of rose blooms waiting to deadhead. At least for a change, the primary issue is ‘growth’ rather than dying or dead plants. The entire garden and farm are bursting with new vegetation after a remarkable season of rain. Unfortunately, nature allows both weeds and roses to flourish after rain.
Right now in the garden, I am paying the price of neglect but despite the 38-40 degree heat I’m attempting to catch up on the thick and rampant weeds. Some roses are not appreciating the humid conditions either and are in need of help, so there is much work to be done.
This prolific, lush and green landscape this year in our region is unseasonal and there are many plants appearing in the garden I never knew were there. It is a welcome change and beautiful to see so much green in the height of summer. Apart from the masses of weeds that are taller than me. My approach is to tackle the garden tasks for small amounts of time each day. At least until the cooler weather starts. But to keep the garden sensational once it is under control again, there are a few essential tasks to do-
Six Summer Garden Tasks
- Water-Watering is the best fertiliser you can give the garden- keep it up all summer, water wisely and never in the middle of the day.
- Deadhead– Roses need the dead flowers taken off to divert the plants energy from developing rose hips into producing more blooms. Once you snip off the faded flowers it will encourage new ones. It is also a good way of tidying up the garden.
- Weed– Weeding after rain is a lot easier and also if you weed for a few minutes every day all year round the weeds will not build up. Prevention is best by mulching, garden edging and plenty of ground covers to help suppress weeds. Once out of control it takes `concerted effort to keep weeds at bay.
- Watch- Inspecting the garden is crucial to check and manage pests and disease, like black spot and spidermites before they get out of control. Be proactive in a preventative management of black spot with eco seaweed, eco rose or other organic pest control.
- Fertilise – In mid-summer keep the nutrients up on the roses, lawns, vegetables and the general garden with foliar spray or seaweed solution, epsom salts and/or a soil conditioner. For roses use a complete fertiliser for roses like Sudden Imapct or Black Marvel.
- Mulch -Make sure the mulch put down in spring is still doing the job of insulating the soil from the heat, blocking out new weeds and conserving moisture. Re apply as needed.
Autumn is looking like it will be a beautiful season. Once the harsh heat of summer goes, the roses love it and will, ( going by past years), continue to bloom right through until late May. The sun’s intensity will lessen and the roses can flower without being burnt and in some cases bleached by the sun.
Gardeners typically are optimistic and are always looking forward to the next season; making plans and new strategies and always believing that next year everything will be better. There is nothing wrong with that; it is a positive way to live and is the essence of gardening. If you don’t look forward, nothing at all will eventuate. I tell myself this anyway in an attempt at motivating me out of the lazy haze of summer.
The Autumn and Winter seasons in Australia are when you can get your grips into the garden and make significant headway. Summer is a more contemplative time meant for friends and family, enjoying chilled wine, fresh produce, outdoor entertainment and swimming. A time to read garden books, that act as a muse inspiring new visions and reverie. Also not forgetting, it’s time to stop and smell the roses and be grateful that many things in the garden are flourishing and that the rose blooms are fragrant and glorious.
Inside in the haven of air conditioning, I’ve pulled out my garden book collection for a revisit. Garden books are a great escape in Summer, especially coffee table books with enticing picturesque gardens, country vistas, and homestead gardens. Marian Somes “Picardy” Paul Bangay’s “Stonefields” and “Country Gardens”, Myles Baldwin “Rural Australian Gardens”, Peter Beales “Visions of Roses” and two new books to read by Mirabel Osler this year “The Eye Of The Garden” and “The Secret Gardens Of France.”
La Nina continues in Australia with the effect of heavy cloud cover, increased rainfall and high humidity. It feels like almost every afternoon there is a chance of a thunderstorm which is far more a summer coastal event than an afternoon in the central west of New South Wales- four hundred kilometres away from the ocean. Usually, at this time of year out here, the humidity is low, the days dry and hot with little summer rainfall and high fire danger. For us, it is a novelty to have a green summer but the plant world can suffer when humidity levels are too high especially if there is a lack of air circulation as is the case in my wild garden. Some plants may rot from wet feet and get mould or fungus infestations in the rose blooms.
Roses appear at times to shut down when it’s hot, I’ve found, so I keep a watch out and only start deep watering when they get a bit droopy. Roses in pots on the other hand that have more air circulation need regular daily watering. There is a fine line between not enough water and too much. I’ve made mistakes before and my plants ended up with spider mites because they got too dry. So the only solution is to keep a keen eye on the roses.
Content Di Baker 2022
Images in my garden Di Baker 2022
Title by Monty Don