Saturday, January 19, 2013


Like Icarus of legend, Sydney flew too close to the Sun yesterday, then crashed and burned. 45.8°C, our hottest day ever, and this morning I went out, camera in hand, to inspect the damage. There was more than I thought last night, although any inspection done while the temperature is still around 37°C is bound to be a quick one.

As this fascinating burn wasn't on the frangipani
foliage yesterday morning, it must be due to the
heat. And that's what I noticed this morning: some
of the heat damage is a great photography subject!

Look at this burnt Thai lime foliage – it's black.
Actually burnt black. Must have been baby foliage
innocently popping out on the worst day of the year.

Even in a normal summer these helleborus
leaves will end up looking like this. Yesterday
morning they didn't look like this, so they
experienced 'fast forward' yesterday, a
whole summer of damage in eight hours.

Eggplants are meant to like the heat, but I
guess that's probably just up to a point.
Curled and crinkled, shaped like a serving dish.

Cardamom leaves not only burn, they split
when exposed to too much heat and sun.
Shade-lovers, they hate summer sunshine.

Most of the strawberry patch survived well, but this plant
next to the heat of the paving cooked to a crisp.

The main victim in the garden was the
cherry tomato patch, which basically carked it.

My first thought was "oh you poor things, you
must have suffered", and then I felt a real touch
of guilt that I could have protected them better.
All I could do was harvest a final, bumper crop
colander-full of delicious red pretties and then
I pulled out all the plants. Couldn't bear to
look at the damage any more. Rats, sniff.

Life goes on of course, I'll plant something where the tomatoes grew, later on today. Showers are forecast, just 24°C the max, a lovely day most likely. Usually it turns out much more sunny than showery with such forecasts. 

I suspect that many other Sydney gardeners are thinking the same things as me right now, with climate change predictions at the back of their minds. Are events like yesterday's scorchers likely to become more common from now on? You read about predictions of 'more extreme weather events more often'. The climate science says so, and I'm much more persuaded by science than any other argument. Alas, all I can conclude that yesterday was a taste of more of the same for many summers to come.


Ngeun said...

It sure was hot on that frightful day; felt like being in a hot oven. I lost two Lithops on the day. Fortunately, they're in pots & mobile, although I wasn't vigilant enough but will be more careful in the future.

L from 500m2 in Sydney said...

Poor tomatoes :( My citrus foliage is similar, but my avocado came off worst of all. Not sure it will completely recover actually.

dirtgirl said...

Yes Jamie, it's all very sad looking at the damage caused on Friday, I had a couple of plants scorched previously this summer, but after Fridays' heat it really does look as if someone set to with a blowtorch on so many of my plants. Luckily we had placed shadeclothe over the Olive tree, just starting to resprout after succumbing to transplant shock back in Spring when temps unexpectedly hit 38C here. Also hubby had built a shadehouse of sorts (cave according to 4 yr old grandson) and basil, zucchini and peppers survived. However even a shade erected over tomatoes taking up a whole patch didn't help any.
Whilst it is sad to see such destruction, I guess it gives us more empathy towards farmers who lose whole fields of crops during inclement weather conditions.
Finally Jamie, I agree regarding the climate change, it really does look as if this is a taste of things to come.
Thanks for sharing your 'burnt' offerings, at least many of us can share your pain. Let's hope for a real good rainfall to help repair some of the damage.

hearts_in_asia said...

Looks a bit like my garden. Some things I knew would suffer badly - eg my raspberries - but I am KICKING myself for not putting more of my pots in more sheltered sites. I've lots my Amish Paste tomatoes but the current tomatoes didn't seem to suffer at all even though they are side by side! My eggplants fared quite well, as did the capsicums. Perhaps here in Adelaide they've had more time to acclimatise because we get more extreme heat days?

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

My tomatoes didn't do so well either, Jamie. They have survived but not looking great. Same with zucchini.