Friday, 7 March 2014

Pottering around my (not so) marvellous Melbourne Summer Garden

Autumn?! You'd have thought that came weeks ago in Melbourne

That’s it, all over! The fifteenth hottest Australian summer on record in the past 100 years is behind us. The garden has struggled, leaves are frazzled and burnt. There is hardly a flower in sight and we are hoping for rain.

The world’s weather is topsy turvy. Whilst the East coast of America is well over their endless icy winter, and the British are wading through muddy flooded waters, NSW and Queensland are enduring a terrible drought.

This year our sun was so strong and the heat intense, we had six week of a summer garden and straight into an early autumn! If you watched the Australian Open tennis you will  remember tennis players suffering from heat exhaustion? That was when our garden suffered the most, but we can’t complain. Around Victoria bush fires raged, houses, crops and animals were lost. 

We went from a gorgeous garden to autumn orange cinders within two days of extreme heat. The searing temperatures continued (off and on, this is Melbourne after all!) through out January and February.

Our streets in January, plants wilted and scorched, leaves like autumn
Our house was bought in the height of the recent Victorian water shortages six years ago. We loved the pretty cottage garden reminiscent of our British homeland. One attraction was the garden already had a sprinkler watering system in place, a criss cross of pipes to ensure the garden remained lush and green. Within weeks of buying the State Government introduced strict rules on usage.  Only on even days of the week, and only at certain times of the day, early in the morning.

Responsible gardeners took action. Whilst the face of neighbourhood around us was changing, from pretty cottage gardens, to drought tolerant native gardens, and synthetics lawns became trendy, we held our resolve. 

Instead of ripping out plants and replacing, we added water saving features to help preserve the garden. 

We installed a water tank  to harvest rainwater for distribution across the garden. This tank is linked to our master bathroom, we can and would use rainwater to flush the toilets,  if we ever got into the next phase of water shortage. 

We purchased a grey water system and we recycle all the shower water straight out on the garden. We collect the water from three bathrooms, and pump it up to the top of the garden, where a gravity flow redirects it to which ever part of the garden, we determine is in most need. We have that many pipes in the garden! The brown pipes are the mains watering sprinkler system, the black pipes are from the grey water dripper system. 

Autumn leaves cover the ground in summer
We can also recycle the washing machine water if times get really tough! We are not currently doing this. Our water restrictions were lifted a few years ago and my current choice of "let's get the soccer kit white" washing powder, would not be too good for the plants.  

This summer for the first time in years, we used both the grey water and the mains watering system. We usually have around seven people at the house, so that is a lot of shower water - luckily we have also installed a solar hot water system, so we never run out of hot water in summer!!

Only the odd brave flower was flowering this summer
Whilst it is hard to find masses of pretty flowers… I did have a beautiful water lily come out in the pond, I took a picture of it although no-one would be believe it is all mine, and not the one from the Google screen saver!

My water lily, in our pond!
Our front garden we originally redesigned into a woodland garden, mostly as it was hard to grow much under the silver birch trees. We added a path and some wooden fence posts from Indonesia. We wanted to have an Asian flair to reflect our arrival into Australia from Hong Kong and China.

Front garden after a hard summer
When we renovated we added a pond in our back garden which I love. The sound of running water is very relaxing in a garden - well it would be, if we ever had the time to sit and do nothing! Our Chinese terracotta warrior stands on guard, for the times when the crazy poodle is taking a drink break!

I hope you have enjoyed a little potter around the garden. If you would like to see more of the garden at other times of the year, here are the links:

Melbourne Spring Garden
Our Australian Winter Garden

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Linking with the following
Thanks to  Jenny Matlocks Alphabe Thursday
P is for pottering in the garden!

Orange you Glad it's Friday - Thanks to Maria

Orange You Glad It's Friday

Mary at Little Red House Mosiac Monday
 and Todays Flowers
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