Sunday, 12 March 2017
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!
Thank you so much to readers who kindly completed the survey being carried out by talented garden designer Janna Schreier, who is currently a candidate for the RHS Master of Horticulture and is writing a thesis addressing the question of 'What defines the ultimate garden visitor experience?' If you would like to participate and haven't yet done so, it is not too late, as the survey is open until 22 March 2017. Access the survey here at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/G596H59.
- By Janna - UK Monday, 13 March 2017
It is so true that no amount of watering compares to a good soaking of rain! Hard to believe the dramatic difference...probably another part of science we are yet to fully understand, but so glad it did stop for you this weekend. I"ve now had 490 responses to my survey, so I"m absolutely thrilled. Thank you so much to you, Deirdre, and to your many readers who have helped me enormously. I"m so excited to have all these viewpoints to analyse on something I"m so passionate about. Thank you all! Glad to hear all is going well with the survey, Janna! Good luck with it all. Deirdre
- By Ken - 2203 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 13 March 2017
What you say about the green after the recent weather is absolutely true. As to the comparison of hosing and rainfall, I worked out that one mm of rain is equal to one litre of water over each square metre. Ten mm = ten litres over ever sq. m. I certainly don"t put that much water on the garden with the hose. Thank you for that calculation, Ken; it certainly helps me understand why rain is so beneficial. Deirdre
- By Anne - 4280 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 13 March 2017
I can only read all the comments here about rain revival and dream. Up here in SEQ we are in drought mode. In February our rainfall is an average of 138mm and we got 5mm. Yes, that"s right!!! 5mm!! Our rainfall this WET season has been abysmal, to say the least, and as we are on tank water I have to be very careful of when and what I keep alive. Some surprises but overall a good drenching would be wonderful. How awful, Anne, I know how you must feel as we had not had any summer rain till about two weeks ago and I had almost given up hope. I do hope you get a good downpour soon in your area. Deirdre
- By Anne - 2518 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 13 March 2017
your garden sounds lovely. Just back from two weeks in India with Libby Cameron and Linnie Ross to find my grass had grown more in that time than it has grown all year. everything certainly looks so much happier. It had been so dry I had been quite worried particularly about my potted plants. Hope the trip went well, Anne! It was a good time to be away. Deirdre
- By Robyn - 2778 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Tuesday, 14 March 2017
I agree about the flower garden coming on all of a sudden. I had only just been saying the same about our garden here in the Blue Mts when I opened your blog to see the same thought expressed. The only area that could not revive was the vege patch. Definitely a year to forget for an abundance of home crops. Thanks, Robyn. We have had another deluge today! Deirdre
- By Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 14 March 2017
The recent rain has certainly perked up the garden, which is now alive, vibrant and resembling a jungle! No amount of watering compares with the benefits to the garden, from the rain. Certainly enthusiasm and motivation has returned with the cooler weather and I am looking forward to a great autumn. Yes it is certainly a jungle out there! And with more heavy rain today and forecast for the rest of the week, it is going to get more jungle-like! Deirdre
- By Kerrie - 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Yes I"ve been having a lovely time here in Sydney gardening these past couple of weeks! I"ve even been out gardening in the rain as it hasn"t been cold or too hot. Hoping Queensland gets some soon! Thanks, Kerrie! Yes, I have been out gardening in the rain sometimes too! Do hope Queenslanders will get some of this current rain. Deirdre
- By Ruth - 4034 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Sunday, 19 March 2017
By Ruth - 4034 At last! It"s raining in Brisbane. All I want to do is go and stand in the rain. Mornings cooling off now so a good time to do some gardening. I, like you Deirdre, have been itching to plant new plants. Garden, here I come. Always appreciate your Blog with your generous information