Gardening and water saving tips

Gardening in a drought

Its official - South Australia has had the longest hot spell (over 35C) on record. This is the kind of weather that makes you just want to sit inside in front of the airconditioner all day and pretend your garden doesn't exist.

Surprisingly, in a couple of weeks of no water and almost four months of no rain - with two heatwaves in this period - I do actually have some plants still alive in the backyard. My lomandra longifolia in particular just continues to grow even though I'm not doing a thing to it.

Some other plants that appear to be unruffled by this heat are the herbs: rosemary and thyme. The chives are still alive but there are more dead leaves on them now than live ones, and my apple tree is starting to look a bit sad. The stone fruit trees seem fine for now. My roses look sad also, but they will come good with some savage pruning before the next rain. They are still suffering from the lack of rain last year. The variegated vinca, bear's britches, gazanias and spider plants are all mostly fine, but don't look as good as they could.

I have a few natives that self-planted in the front yard that also don't seem to be bothered by the heat. They are all some form of acacia, one is now about waist high so I guess I'll find out what it is when it flowers in spring. I'm assuming its the standard fluffy-flowered wattle, but either way once they flower they'll be much easier to identify.

Things that have very much suffered include the strawberries, some of which look 99% dead. My geraniums still have some green but don't look good at all, and most of my succulents have shrivelled up into wrinkly little shadows of their former selves. I lost a gum tree out the back, and I'm not game to go see if I've lost any others since I last looked.

If anyone reads this and can help with scientific names for the common named plants I've listed here, please leave comments. I'd like to collect a small database of extreme frost-and-drought tolerant plants on this site at some point, once I find out which new plants I've put in this summer make it through the winter. The temperature range here is approximately -10C to 40C, although it does get much hotter in the sun. And by 'drought', I mean a rainfall of sub 350mm a year with extremely minimal additional watering.