Gardens and gardeners struggle in this disappointing spring

2010-09-25 00:00

WE’RE nearing the end of what is considered the spring month of the year and to date “disappointing” is the only way to describe September 2010.

We’ve had similar springs in recent years, but his one has been a baffle. Big heat, big cold, big wind and teeny mizzle have come our way in any four days. Temperatures have dropped and risen by huge differences, a day of maximum 43°C degrees followed by a day of maximum 13°C, weird happenings, difficult for us and so challenging for the garden. This is reflected in the difficulty this spring has been to be a gift and a delight. All flowering blossom trees and shrubs have attempted to give a splendid show, but buds, blossoms and blooms have burst forth to be tortured and burnt with sun and wind and baking hot, dry earth.

Show and Open Gardens exhibitors have had a very hard time, but they will still produce beautiful exhibits; they always do. The show is on now at the Royal Showgrounds. Brochures should be available for the programme of Open Gardens in the city and suburbs soon.

The week of September 20 to 27 is the time to expect to hear the call of the Piet-my-vrou cuckoo. A Bisley man heard it on August 10; this is very early and unusual, but in a strange season, strange things happen. A few lovely butterflies have been about and seem to have gone again, bees are scarce, rat moles about and a couple of snakes, and always birds because of bird baths; the sprinkler gently brings a mixed, happy crowd. For the most pleasure, a bird bath in the garden is a must, even perhaps half-a-dozen — little treasures love to drink and bath often each day.

Talking of creatures in the garden, how about some more news on the supposed coati reported in The Witness in late August? My study of the two photographs finds them to be unalike. The one appears more rounded in face, with different ears, set of eyes and nose than the other (crossing the water furrow), which seems to be longer in form, with thinner tail, sharper, longer nose, different ears and set of eyes. The fur colour of the two looks dissimilar too. Any further comments or knowledge about where it may be now?

With so many aliens (in the plant world) under threat, the coati may also incur displeasure: wiser to stay hidden. With the uncomfortable and damaging weather one feels discouraged to talk about plants and gardens and particularly with the figures on our recent water accounts. Some explanation from the municipality would not go amiss.

The nurseryman who recently commented that today gardening is a luxury and not a favourite hobby anymore, was on the mark. We all know that gardens everywhere right now need a deep and thorough soaking, but for the majority, economics do not allow this. In 1983 the El Nino factor brought similar damaging conditions to the province and many gardens and plant growth were destroyed. In such severe conditions indigenous plants suffer with exotics and some exotics surprise with their strength and stoic behaviour.

My count makes the hot winds from the north six at this time; old PMB lore was five, and then good rains would fall, so that’s fallen through the cracks in this season. From all one hears and reads about nature in these times, it seems it is not behaving as we know and expect it to. Indeed, all around the globe the unexpected and huge disasters are occurring. Does nature have a message or a warning for us?

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