Changing Tides – June 2015

The blog has been quiet of late which reflects that I’ve also been taking things at a slower pace. Dad’s recent passing has been sad for the family and he has left a big hole. I wish he had been able to spend more time at the Convent and enjoy the garden.

When I returned home, there were some fairly drastic changes to the garden. Before leaving, the plants were slowing down but everything was still lush and the roses still (just) flowering. Upon coming home, the cruel Winter frosts had hit and the garden had turned to yellow and brown. My natural instincts are to prune and tidy, but the dead growth actually protects other plants and I don’t want to encourage new growth yet when we still have much of Winter to come. So for now I’ll just focus on building up garden beds and compost and leave the plants alone.

The passionfruit has looked better.
The passionfruit has looked better.
The Dahlias definitely don't appreciate frost.
The Dahlias definitely don’t appreciate frost.

One of the brighter moments was my first egg. The girls have done me proud and now most days I seem to find an egg or two – quite unexpected given I was told they were young and not to anticipate eggs in Winter.

For now, pace has slowed down a bit with long cold days, which suits me at present.

My girls - four rose comb bantams - in their chook tractor.
My girls – four rose comb bantams – in their chook tractor.
Two perfect little bantam eggs.
Two perfect little bantam eggs.

Bloody Frost

What once was magnificent white Mexican Sage
What once was magnificent white Mexican Sage

I was warned. I’m not denying this. I just didn’t appreciate what it really meant. Now I can see it. Bugger, bugger, bugger! It kills things. It kills things I like. I’m waiting to see what it actually kills and what it causes grevious bodily harm to which can still recover.

Perennial Basil doesn't stay perennial with Kandos frosts
Perennial Basil doesn’t stay perennial with Kandos frosts

Anyway, here is some of the damage to date. I know some are just dead now. Others I’m not sure about. At least I will have a better idea next year and will also have some areas that are more established and perhaps more resilient to the frost. I know I won’t prune until Spring has commenced to allow as much protection as possible. I will also plant more bulbs – at least they like the frost!

A Heliotrope that will not see Spring
A Heliotrope that will not see Spring
Please, not the Fuchsias!
Please, not the Fuchsias!

There’s Nothing Friendly About Jack Frost

Much more savage than a dew. A footprint makes little impact
Much more savage than a dew. A footprint makes little impact

Earlier I posted about the neighbours’ threats of frosts. They weren’t joking. Last weekend was cold and heavy frosts kicked in. At 9 am the yard was still frozen over with thin ice coating everything. It is amazing to see plants and grass that look as though they have been snap frozen. It’s not snow or dew – it’s just frozen.

Fortunately these guys seem to love the frost.
Fortunately these guys seem to love the frost.

On the one hand it looks quite magical. For plants that don’t like frosts, it’s deadly. Think of veg that have accidentally frozen from a too-cold fridge. Once they defrost, they can go limp – and not recover. When they dry out, they just look burnt. Some plants are semi-dormant and will be fine. Plants, like the bulbs, just love the cold. Others just hate it and die. My different varieties of beans that looked so healthy have just all burnt off – even those that seemed to be happily climbing with the peas. Peas are all fine – beans have just totally gone brown and limp – both the high and low growing ones.

This isn't dew - the leaf is frozen.
This isn’t dew – the leaf is frozen.
The Basil just hated the frost. I doubt it will survive. It was fine a few days ago.
The Basil just hated the frost. I doubt it will survive. It was fine a few days ago.

It’s hard to see a healthy plant one day, see it wilting the next and a few days later, just looking burnt and dead. It happens so quickly. I’m learning fast and will be better prepared next year. One big learning is not to prune until much later. Not so much for the pruned plant, but those around. The more growth through frosts, the more protection for all the ¬†surrounding plants.

The front yard frost was quite structural. When the sun came out, the areas in the shadows cast by the fence and pillars were still totally frozen and frosted, yet everything in sun was melted. I’m shuddering at what the new Salvias in the front bed (who were quite frozen) were making of their new home. Particularly the ones that I was warned were “frost sensitive”. Uh oh!

The frost followed the shadow outline.
The frost followed the shadow outline.

Jack Frost has arrived

Crunchy underfoot
Crunchy underfoot

I’ve been wondering about why the locals keep warning me about the frost until this morning. I was thinking it was just dew – you know, in the morning when everything is covered with a frosty, white-looking dew. Wrong! Frost here is “ice”.

Icy Kale just starting to defrost
Icy Kale just starting to defrost

I went out this morning when the sun was already well and truly out to find frost across many parts of the garden. It’s not just icy, it’s actually frozen. The white tipped grass crunched under my feet and the leaves had actually frozen. My veggie beds were a great example where all the individual leaves actually looked and touched as if they were flash frozen. No wonder so many of the smaller more tender plants don’t survive. The photos don’t do the frost justice as it was already starting to melt when I went out. I’ll have to get up earlier next time.

That said, it also had a magical feel to it like a Winter Wonderland without snow. What a contrast to the harsh dry relenting sun over summer. I’m loving seeing the seasons change here. At present Autumn is best heralded by the two beautiful Maples out near the back verandah which make the terracotta coloured roof tiles look dull by comparison and set themselves off beautifully against the ochre building. The Maples are just starting to drop their leaves, but most other trees in Kandos are now bare, including the Poplars lining the avenue into the town.

I’m enjoying seeing such obvious seasons pass out here and the changes to the landscape and my garden. Hopefully I will feel the same about Winter.

One of the twin Maples at its best
One of the twin Maples at its best