I've always remembered the words of a gentlemanly old friend of my parents, Max, the local car mechanic and a keen gardener, who used to say that no matter how much you watered your garden with a hose, it couldn't compare to a decent fall of rain. So true! It is hard to believe it's only four short weeks since I was grizzling about the awful heat we had experienced here in Sydney all summer. Since then, we have had more than 160 mm of rain in my area. In fact, we've had so much rain that, for many, many reasons, I was truly grateful for the stunning return to sunny weather this weekend. But the effect of the rain on our gardens has been simply transformational.
It was as if the summer garden was on hold during those terrible heatwaves. Given cooler temperatures and the magical qualities of rainwater, plants have burgeoned. Flowering specimens that had seemed to have gone into shock in January and February are covered with buds and flowers - such as the Dahlia and many Salvia plants, which are just laden with bloom right now, as if desperately making up for lost time.
Early autumnal flowers which appear in March, such as the fluffy clouds of Plectranthus have joined the fray (I had feared their buds would have been too damaged by the heatwaves), and the buds of the Japanese windflowers, which had been drooping and sad until the rain came, are standing tall and proud, and my very first bud has opened. Even plants I thought were goners have revived, such as my Fuchsia magellanica, which looked so tragic in my blog of four weeks ago. It is covered in new leaves and even some flowers (shown at the start of the blog).
Apart from the wonderful flush of flowers, the sheer growth of plants has been phenomenal. The whole effect is rather like a jungle, and I don't think I am alone in rather enjoying this look in our gardens! Plants have filled out and merged into one another in a glorious melange of leaf and bloom. I've particularly noticed how my semitropical foliage plants are just glowing with rude health at the moment. They are just lapping up the moisture and humidity: for example, coleus, the various forms of Iresine, Alternanthera and Pilea.
Lest I seem to be painting too rosier a picture, it must be admitted that weeds have grown at the same rate (or even faster) as the plants and are waving about triumphantly in every corner of the garden. Fungal diseases have proliferated in some areas of my garden and I have lost some Clivia that simply rotted off. However, overall the losses are few and the gains are manifold.
It's not just my garden that has been revived by rain. My gardening enthusiasm has returned! I spent a pleasant afternoon this week trimming back the rampant growth on some of these. And what a joy it is to be gardening again after so long being cooped up inside due to the heat (then the rain!). I feel motivated finally to plant out some of the specimens accumulating in my pot area. The ground is so incredibly moist, and I think this autumn in Sydney is going to be a fabulous one. We can have such a feast of flowers and foliage at this time of year, if warm-climate plants are used. To me, autumn is the very best time of year to be alive and in the garden!
18 Oct 20
Although my garden is semi-tropical in nature now, I still have some vestiges from my cottage garden days!
11 Oct 20
Consider training a shrub into a small tree.
04 Oct 20
October is iris time in Sydney gardens: the best are the tall bearded irises and Louisiana irises.
One crowded hour
27 Sep 20
Much can be achieved in regular short stints in the garden.
20 Sep 20
We may not be able to grow massed displays of tulips in our climate, but try some of these South African corms instead.