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I used to long for the Summer. Long warm days, lingering twilights,time to visit friends and family and hours companionably watering the garden, smelling the tomatoes and anticipating the ripening fruit on the trees. Not to mention driving through the countryside seeing the potatoes paddocks in flower next to onion crops and drying heads of poppies.

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Now it is a different story. Extreme temperatures have changed all that. Now I think of summer with a sense of trepidation as we all brace ourselves for more fires and heat waves and associated trauma in the community.

But the garden remains a sanctuary.

 

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On cold but clear days, it is such a joy to take a cup of tea into the garden to wander, relax and take stock of what needs to be done. There is nothing quite like sitting in the garden under a tree and this weekend has been such an opportunity for me in spite of the pressures of election campaigning.

Sitting in the garden

Sitting in the garden

First the good news. My spinach and silverbeet are thriving and I never cease to be delighted when I pick some and put it straight into a steamer and onto the plate. My mint is sprouting again after I cut it back hard and the pineapple sage is providing a splash of colour.

Greens to eat

Greens to eat

Mint coming back

Mint coming back

Pineapple sage

Pineapple sage

I have put some manure and lucerne in my veggie boxes and left them until the spring. Plus I have manured and plaited the raspberry canes in readiness for lots of fruit next summer. I can’t believe I have managed to get so much done in spite of so little time.

Veggie box

Veggie box

Raspberry canes plaited

Raspberry canes plaited

But there is always more to be done.

My lemons and Tahitian lime need feeding with the yellowing leaves a complete give away. And I can’t believe it, since it is only June, but the nectarine tree looks like it might be in blossom soon which means I need to get cracking to stop curly leaf.

Lemons yellowing - time to feed

Lemons yellowing – time to feed

Tahitian Lime

Tahitian Lime

The seasons are certainly changing with very dry winters, to the point of having to water and fill up my Chascade! Now jonquils are in flower in June. Even the daphne looks like it might flower shortly. I can’t wait for the perfume in the house.

Jonquils in flower

Jonquils in flower

Daphne ready to bloom

Daphne ready to bloom

Even as winter sets in, there is much to be grateful for.

Late afternoon sun

Late afternoon sun

I have had such a battle this year with possums and pademelons in my garden in suburban Sandy Bay.

At one level I am happy that marsupials roam in the city, at another level I am as frustrated as the next vegetable grower that everything I have worked to grow is at the mercy of our furry friends. It has become a battle of the wits.

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Having lost everything from tomatoes, chives, parsley to native violets to animals.

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I have taken serious precautions, now bringing the fire screen into action to stop access.

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As you can see, I am having success with silver beet and spinach now established.

I am now enjoying passionfruit! After all my travails with the browsing  Nellie Kelly, I can report success. Chelates iron and a good talking to is the key. It is clear that passionfruit is hungry and feeding is essential to get a good crop.

autumn passionfruit harvest

But there is nothing more satisfying than spooning out freshly picked passionfruit over vanilla ice-cream to remind you that it is all worthwhile.

Autumn Garden

Suddenly  Autumn happened in Hobart, snow down to the 900 metre mark and that inescapable chill in the air early in the morning and by 4.30 in the afternoon. The end to daylight saving brings it on as does an early Easter and 2013 is no exception.

As I wander around the garden all the signs are there. Close examination promises spring. It is as if Winter is bypassed.  Just as my weeping maple is turning colour, spring bulbs are appearing and roses are holding their own waiting for the hellebores or winter roses to bloom.

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As much as I love our native animals, it is so frustrating to see vegetables denuded after a night’s foraging from possums and wallabies.

I must have a few gourmets amongst them because I have lost basil, parsley, coriander and even chives to go with the tomatoes which are now only stalks with fruit hanging.

It is time for a reality check. If I want vegetables, even in an urban environment, it is time for caging the vegetables in and the animals out. Netting saved the raspberries from blackbirds and I have now put a fire screen around the remaining tomatoes but it is a case of too little too late.

survivors

I do have the Satsuma plums still on the tree, uncovered and they haven’t been touched. I am living dangerously.

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What a summer we have had and the heat keeps on coming. Around the country communities are devastated by bushfires as records are broken. Only last week Sydney and Canberra had record temperatures with Sydney at 45.8 degrees and wildfires burning. In Tasmania we had terrible fires following our hottest day of more than 41 degrees on Jan 4th.

Love and practical support is what we need to send to people who have lost loved ones, homes and stock. I met up with a terrific farmer Gabby Bresnaham who had swung into action at Sorell in Tasmania helping farmers with coordinating fodder drops and fencing supplies to help mend fences destroyed by the fires. What a great community effort!

Gabby Bresnaham

If you would like to help with the rebuilding efforts you can donate to the Red Cross Tasmanian bushfire appeal, and all monies donated go straight to those in need.

For people not in the path of bushfires, just looking after parks and gardens to keep them alive has been a full time job. Knowing how much love goes into gardens everywhere, my heart goes out to people who have seen their gardens shrivel and die in the extreme temperatures. We all need to take advice on planting more heat resistant varieties of plants and how to keep them alive when water is scarce or temperatures rise.

I was away from home during the first week of January when Hobart sweltered and the heat took its toll with my manferns shrivelling and my dogwood and other plants literally scorching.

fried fern

I am now in rescue mode and hopefully with more moderate temperatures and watering, they can be saved.

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