Saturday, February 19, 2011

Plugging the gaps

Well, hello everyone. I've been away from blogging about gardens for a month and a day, although I don't think anyone actually noticed. The odd thing about being absent from my blog for this short period is that during that time, the number of hits on my blog slowly but steadily increased. If I stay away forever I might eventually have a hit on my hands...

I don't think so, and so let's get down to the business of today's topic: plugging the gaps. In this case, it's a fairly big gap. Let me explain.

Now, this is not a recent photo of my front garden. It was taken back in April 2009, when everything was going well with these outrageously healthy and vigorous natives. The blue-grey thing spilling over the front fence is an alleged 'groundcover' version of the Cootamundra wattle, according to the plant label. It's a monster, but it is a beautiful monster. But see the big grey plant behind it, in the centre of the photo? That's now the gap in question. It has carked it. Died. It is an ex Correa alba. It started to get the wobbles this time last year, and for a while I thought it had survived, courtesy of my nursing talents. But this summer I lost my grey native patient and it just faded and faded, and so this morning I pulled it out.

Now I have a very large gap to fill. That's a big gap, isn't it! I could do nothing and just let the monster wattle fill the whole area, and that's not a bad plan at all. We might do that. But Pam and I just can't help discussing alternatives. We could plant a dwarf gum tree there, the one with the lurid vermilion flowers, for example. Not sure what we'll do, but there's no rush. February is a stinker of a time to plant anything in Sydney. I regard February as the one true "killer" month we have here in Sydney each year. Hot and humid, it gets at plants' roots, gives them diseases, and pests are everywhere. I've attended more plant funerals in February than at any other time of year. So I'll wait till it cools down, late March or April, before I plug the 'gap' with something else.

Right now, I've also been filling a few other gaps in the backyard in a very stop-gap way. To other Sydney gardeners, all you have to say is "that hot Saturday" and they all know what I mean. On that unbelievably hot day in early February, the temperature went past 40°C everywhere, and my little digital thermometer in the shade peaked at 41.5C (which is 106.7°F). And it wasn't dry heat either, it was humid heat, awful debilitating heat.

Fortunately, all the major plants here survived, the goldfish in the water garden even made it through (thanks to some timely shadecloth cover), but all the annual flowers which were past the half-way point of their short seasonal lives suddenly heard the referee blow "full time, game over" and down they slumped, deep-fried by sunshine.

So this is the scene this morning in the backyard. Mulcherama. Everything was pulled out, the soil has been dug, composted, limed, watered and mulched. And I'm not planting nuthin until March. I don't trust this weather. It's deadly. What little gardening I'm doing is happening before 9am, or after 6pm. When March comes I'll be planting vegies and flowers again, as I always like to, but until then I'm cruising, watching mulch break down.

So there's not really all that much to blog about here at Amateur Land at the moment. When the weather cools down next month there'll be all sorts of things to post about, so I might just wander off for another month and a day, and watch my web stats keep on mysteriously rising.