The days spent in New Zealand and Tasmania were primarily overcast, but we are now in full swing of late Summer back in the garden, with temperatures reaching 40-41 degrees C and little to no rainfall. The only time to comfortably garden is in the early hours of each day.
Summer gardens in Australia demand certain tasks like regular watering, deadheading, fertilising, weeding, topping up mulch, and spraying with eco products to combat fungal issues; blackspot etc. Often gardeners love the early mornings as it is far more difficult once the sun is fully up to work outside. The wasps I’ve noticed are out in force too once the sun shines fully on the garden. To be honest I’m looking forward to a cloudy rain-soaked day soon let’s hope.
Don’t get me wrong, summer is wonderful, and I love the heat, but not working in the blazing Australian sun past midday. The gear one needs to wear is daunting at times; a hat, gloves, masks for spraying, an apron with pockets to hold secateurs and a knife, boots, a phone for pics, goggles if whipper-snipping, and from mid-summer, a fly net to prevent flies getting in your eyes and up your nose.
What keeps me going through the scorching day is the thought of the Autumn garden. Each morning I promise myself I’ll be outside earlier to achieve more before the temperature soars because there is much to be done if I want an abundance of roses blooms from April through to May. I’ve begun preparing for the late flowering roses, and I’m hoping for a fabulous display because sometimes rose blooms in Autumn are more perfect than any other time of year.
Brass Band Rose
Fire Opal Rose
Inspired by Gertrude Jekyll’s wisdom this week I am planting a new type of rosemary called Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Boule’. This one will grow to 60 cm wide and tall and is described as having a unique growth habit because it forms a dense round mound. It is meant to be hardy with the usual aromatic foliage and is best grown in full sun. It is named after the popular game from the South of France.
In contrast, Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ ornamental sage plants will grow to 60 cm x 80 cm with large intensely silver-grey leaves and are hopefully sun-loving and drought-tolerant. These plants are going into the garden in the drier areas to replace the poor dead lavender that had to be removed after the floods.
Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’ is an exotic evergreen perennial with masses of sky-blue flowers, with a white eye. It is more of a ground cover that flowers from spring, through to summer and into autumn. The foliage is green with hints of burgundy which will become more distinct as the weather cools. These will be grown under the roses and as a filler in the garden.
Another mounding plant I’m also trying is Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’ which only grows 5 cm high but spreads 50 cm like a carpet becoming a vigorous prostrate mat of silver leaves.
Sophie Thomson in the last Gardening Australia magazine article mentions or recommends my next new plant called Cotinus ‘Young Lady’ or Yound Lady’s Smoke Bush. It will grow to 180 x 180 in a sunny position and features frothy, smokey pink flower heads, and has brilliant Autumn colour. Mine will need to be grown in a pot for a while I think until I decide where the best spot to grow this fluffy tall specimen.
And lastly, I’m putting in another ornamental grass called Calamagrostis, acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ – a majestic 1.8-metre tall grass well known for its majestic long-lasting plumes. The foliage is green and forms neat upright clumps that eventually will turn wheat colour but the feathery seed heads that dance in the breeze are sterile so it shouldn’t be invasive. Karl Foerster likes clay soil and full sun so perfect for my region where I will plant several as a backdrop.
The Betty Cuthbert Rose pictured below is from the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden named to honour one of Australia’s Olympic runners, Betty Cuthbert 1938-2017. This rose was discovered by W. Kordes & Sons in Germany, in 2005 and introduced into Australia by Treloar Roses in 2010 as ‘Betty Cuthbert’-KORbrespo. It features large clusters of soft peach blooms almost like camellia flowers and is hardy and disease resistant. Unusually, the foliage and blooms grow from the ground up so it is perfect for a hedge.
Gardening has an intimate relationship with the weather and rural living is all about extremes. This week for example we are expecting 4-5 days of 39-40 C or 100-104 F every day. So, although I’m keen to get planting, it is not the right time to dig the garden. Here are some tips on keeping the garden cool…
TEN TIPS FOR GARDENING IN THE HEAT
Provide good healthy soil in the first instance so the plants and roses have more immunity to extremes of temperature.
Choose drought-tolerant plants and roses that love the heat.
Deep soak plants and roses the day before it gets super hot.
Only water in the early morning or late in the day, to avoid burning any leaves.
Keep plants and roses cool with shade cloth, mulch, umbrellas, sheets, and if in pots under the shade of trees.
Don’t transplant roses or other plants until the temperatures are even.
Don’t dig the garden in extreme heat and avoid planting new seedlings or small plants.
Water with Eco seaweed regularly to build up the cellulose walls in the plants and roses to help protect them from heat.
Water wisely – a deep soak is better than small amounts every day, and avoid letting the water on the leaves when very hot.
Don’t prune or fertilise the garden in extreme heat.
Title quote by Russell Baker
Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ Image from Pinterest
Rosemary Officinalis ‘Boule’ Image from Dawsons Garden World
All other images Di Baker 2023
Header Image Golden Beauty Rose Di Baker