It has been chilly since May.
The lowest temperature I have recorded so far is -9°C/15°F on a couple of occasions and it has been interesting to see which parts of the garden are in protected micro-climates and which parts are exposed to frost.
But, in what should normally be the coldest time of year, we are currently enjoying a respite: the fortnightly forecast is for exceptionally warm weather of about 10-12°C / 50-54°F and no nights much below freezing: despite the last 6 weeks feeling cold, we are actually still running about 1°C above the long-term average….the winters over the last few years have been so mild.
So, with the prospect of a couple of weeks of spring-like temperatures, it’s a good time to see what plants have been killed, which plants will need to be moved and which plants are actually thriving.
First up….some of the more dramatic casualties (click to enlarge):
Some of the plants in here are actually somewhat surprising:
Ajuga is supposed to be cold tolerant to -40°C / -40°F: compare this to a few days ago (taken just after the last hard frost and it didn’t look damaged at all)…..I know it will bounce back, but -9°C is a walk in the park compared to -40°C…the Verbena is supposed to be hardy to -20°C / -10°F, not brown mush.
However, it too, should bounce back; many of the plants have already started putting on new growth, like the Japanese windflower which up until a couple of weeks ago had started to fill out as a lovely dense groundcover.
The salvia on the other hand is representative of many of the salvia plants in the garden…blackened, dead sticks or mush; I am not pinning my hopes on more than 50% surviving, but you never know!
Next up….the ‘walking wounded’ casualties (click to enlarge):
The Salvias that have survived have gone a deep purple colour, but they are showing regrowth. The Rhododendron has also turned an odd black colour.
My scented Pelargonium has had its middle turned to mush; the Echeveria (despite being under the cover of a plastic clear roof) are all pockmarked in the pattern of the frost and the Buxus is a terrible shade of rust.
The Pieris has swapped healthy green for a sickly yellow tone and many of the Leyland Cypress for the new hedge have turned an unfetching brown shade – compare that to the more attractive green of its neighbour which is in a more sheltered spot along the hedgerow.
But as always, nature continues to surprise: here are the plants not just surviving, but positively THRIVING – and many are considered tender:
But the stars of the Australian Winter Garden are the Wattles.
These two are in the ‘bush’ area of the garden – a very steep part of the yard in between the private access road and the public road.
In the first photo, you can see the frost damage done to grasses and ferns, but the wattle is completely unscathed. Flowering in the depths of winter, this hardy plant is Acacia terminalis. It has delicate ferny foliage, an open form (although pruning from an early age will encourage density) and beautiful pompoms of yellow sunshine:
Note the agapanthus everywhere – also completely unscathed!
And then of course, there are the ‘How is that Possible?’ plants in the garden. Those plants in sheltered spots are acting as though winter hasn’t even occurred:
And, then there is this scene in one of the very sheltered areas of the garden: surely this isn’t a ‘winter’ that has just delivered over 30 nights and 4 full days of sub-zero temperatures:
Aren’t micro-climates just great? 🙂
And, to finish off, some of the native grasses and coreopsis weeds from the kerbside ‘bush’ area look suitably lovely in their winter coat, rustling in the breeze:
Happy Gardening 🙂