Gardening in drought-stricken areas
While Sydney may have had plenty of rain recently, it’s still tough going for regional gardeners
The central western town is hosting the Bathurst Spring Spectacular this weekend, opening 10 of the most beautiful private gardens in the region. Peter says gardens range from those on small blocks to acreage. Entry is $20 with money going to local charities, including the Rural Fire Service.
The spring gardens will include everything from irises and azaleas to rhododendrons. Peter says helping gardens to thrive in recent years has been difficult in the conditions.
“Last year we had a dry winter and severe frosts at minus six and minus seven degrees,” he says. “Frost dries the ground out. “We’ve lost a lot of shrubs and trees because of that and this year isn’t much better.”
For those trying to maintain their trees and shrubs in the dry, Peter says drip watering over an extended period is the way to go.
“The only thing to do is to put a hose next to the tree and have it on a fast drip and leave it for six to seven hours,” he says.
“The water goes in way deep rather than hand-watering a couple of times a week.
“It’s much better to give it a very good soak once a week.”
Given the weather conditions don’t look like improving anytime soon, it may be worth installing an irrigation system set on timers to maintain a watering schedule.
While many of us associate country gardens with cottage plants like daisies, foxgloves and roses, Peter says they’re not the best choices when there’s so little rain. “They take a lot of water and they need it every day to keep looking good,” he says. “Instead, go for shrubs and trees with various te textures. If you’re keen to add colou colour, choose flowering varieties suc such as plum and cherry bl blossom trees, or deciduous v varieties where the leaves change colour in autumn. While native species local to the area are a great choice, exotic trees such as conifers often cope well with the dry. And don’t forget perfume in the garden. “Perfumed plants are great because it’s good for the mind,” he says.
They’re also popular with bees, which are looking for reliable food sources right now.
Mulch is a key weapon in Peter’s defence against water loss, although he says you should choose carefully. “I like woodchip,” he says. “You have to be careful with sugar cane mulch because it’s very fine. When you put it down, you have to water the ground first, then put the sugar cane down and water it again because it can blow away easily. Woodchips are coarse and they allow the water to run straight through.”