Wednesday, January 5, 2011

gardening woes

Thanks to all who have expressed concern re the dreadful flooding in QLD, but we are around 1,000 km south of the devastation and the weather here has not changed from annoyingly damp with mild flooding. Obviously when the first settlers arrived here it was during a similar weather cycle and the state was called New South Wales because the climate was identical to a grey and wet spring day in Cardiff.

The business will need a new name soon though- after 18 months of treating our poor sick Proteas for phytophthora ( an insidious root fungus ) and getting stunning rejuvenation, they have started to curl up their toes as they cannot tolerate standing in water. One has been felled, many more to follow.' Farm Sans Protea'

When I discussed our gardening dilemmas in the past I thought we had managed to find the ideal plants- those which are tolerant of prolonged drought and temps of over 40 degrees, and also frosts as low as - 8 degrees. I can now report that these amazing plants cannot cope with being under water.Other casualties include established olive trees, rosemary, lavender, and even 2 large gum trees have given up the ghost ( not including those submerged in Lake Protea ). this going to be the norm for the next decade and do we replant accordingly, or will next year be as dry as the desert?

Meanwhile despite warnings about the perils of open compost bins, Ness dug over the bin before Xmas and unearthed a king brown snake nest and had to deal with 6 of the damned things. The soil was fantastic, but the composter has now been dismantled and replaced with a puny plastic one with a snake-proof lid!

We did have one interesting flood last week....our solar hot water panels and 300 L water tank are situated on the roof. There is a cut off valve which stops the water temperature exceeding 70 degrees, and it is pretty dramatic when said valve malfunctions, with a waterfall of near boiling water pouring down the roof. The hapless pot plant which was sitting on the verandah suffered third degree burns, as did the lawn. Cordylines may be heat tolerant, but cannot be boiled. This being New Year's Day in rural Australia the emergency plumber was at the cinema in Sydney, so it took 3 days to get the leak repaired and hot water restored. At least it did not come in through the ceiling, or scald an unfortunate guest.

This video link is worth a look - good old BBC. Look out for the pugnacious brown snakes going for a swim, the typical Aussie bloke abandoning his flooded house carrying his crate of 4X Gold and a bag of ice while his wife carries her shoes and the less important stuff, and the voice-over of a chap with  an outstandingly unAustralian Mancunian accent!  With a Kylie backing track of course.

BBC floods QLD