Saturday, 18 January 2014

Heat wave - Part 2

I am not letting the heat wave defeat me!

It's been a hard slog keeping my garden alive.  Some plants are taking quite a battering.

The maximum temperatures have been as follows:

11 January 2014:  31.1 C
12 January 2014:  35.5 C
13 January 2014:  32.1 C
14 January 2014:  35.2 C
15 January 2014:  38.1 C
16 January 2014:  38.7 C
17 January 2014:  36.9 C
18 January 2014:  37.3 C

The forecast maximum for today, 19 January 2014, is 33 C.

(Source of data: Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology  Canberra daily observations)

My beloved camellias are scorched quite badly from the incredibly dry heat, despite being watered daily and sprayed with water every now and then (to cool them down and counteract the evaporation).  

Despite the scorching they are getting during this heat wave, I expect my camellias will survive so long as I keep the water up to them.

Camellias (a sasanqua variety) are surprisingly tough.  In 2003 when bushfires burned down
500 houses in Canberra, residents returning to their ravaged houses and gardens commented that many camellias 'came back' after the fire.   Hopefully mine will be just as resilient.

With an eye to keeping the house cooler during heat waves such as the one we are experiencing, a few years ago I planted a row of pistacia chinensis trees along the northerly side of the courtyard (where the camellias are).  While these trees are growing well, they are only a few years old and are still too small to offer any shade this year.

As you can see, the underplanting is still quite bare.  For some reason this part of the garden is very, very dry and I have struggled to find ground covers that actually survive our summer.  Part of the problem is the avenue of greedy ash trees planted along the street on this side of the house (several metres below the pistacias).  Vinca (periwinkle), hellebore and liriope are the only ground cover plants that have not died so far in this location.

Of those, only the liriope is still looking OK at the moment.  

Even tough old periwinkle is looking sadly wilted from the heat and lack of rain.

Other plants are finding the heat wave hard too.

These tough pittosporums are also scorched from the intense heat.

And the silver birches in particular have needed extra watering.   The dry north westerly winds are particularly tough on them.  This one above is the worst affected.  I hope it survives.

However some of my nandinas are still looking good (I wish I could say the same for this eponymous blogger - I'm exhausted through a lack of decent sleep, and it is showing)!

This is a Nandina 'Gulf Stream'.  It is doing well in this spot because it gets overflow watering from the camellias.

Thankfully we got a brief respite in the form of a shower yesterday afternoon, which cooled things down a bit.

From tomorrow it is forecast to be mostly slightly cooler for a few days, with 'possible showers'.  However I have learned over the last few years not to rely on the 'possible showers' actually arriving, and to water my garden anyway.

I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep when it's a bit cooler!


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