March in the garden
Well autumn has officially arrived, but we are still getting summery days, but cooler nights. I have just been to Nelson where the drought is the worse it has been since records began. Fortunately we all got some soaking rain recently which helped to reduce the water stress on plants. In Nelson, many trees have died and others that are looking stressed could easily die in due course due to the prolonged drought. Conifers eg pine trees, can look like they are ok during a prolonged drought, but once they brown off that is the end of them.
One benefit of the cooler evenings is that you get dew falling on the plants, which helps. With the changes in climate happening around the world we need to be prepared for more weather extremes.
It is interesting to see which plants are surviving the drought well. Included below are drought resistant plants – known as xerophytes, mostly from New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean:
Top drought plants:
Succulents eg Echeveria spp.- all succulents due well in the drought
Arthropodium cirrhatum, renga lily
Coprosma kirkii or Hawera
Grevillea spp. An Australian native
Lavendula dentata, French lavender–colourful perennial
Leucadendron spp. South African shrubs
Myoporum laetum, ngaio – NZ native tree
Phormium cookianum, P. tenax, NZ flaxes
Pseudopanax crassifolium, lancewood – NZ small tree
Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary from the Mediterranean
If you have followed my previous advice about not mowing your lawn and leaving it longer it should still have some green. When it starts growing again you can cut it back lightly. Ideally you should take off no more than 1/3 of the growth. Similarly, trees and shrubs should have no more than 25% of their growth taken off at one time. It still amazes me how people think that lawn is not a plant. If you scalped your shrubs to within a few cm of their roots every week or two they wouldn’t last long, but that is what often happens with lawns. Old habits die hard!
Gardening is always a challenge, but fun as well.