Too Hot to Garden?

How can summer in New Zealand possibly be too hot for gardening? The climate is temperate - some gardeners are obviously never satisfied.

Balmy Summer Gardening Days

I really look forward to summer. I think of balmy days with warm mornings, and light, and twilights which are long and gentle. The mid-day sun can always be avoided, and the irrigation can run twice a week if needed. Summer nights can often be spent happily listening to the rhythmic swooshing of the water jets as they spin in slow circles.

In Canterbury the summer winds can be annoying, particularly when the weather gets stuck in a recurring pattern of norwesters. These winds are dry and the garden turns into a hot maelstrom of noisy swaying tree branches. Perfectly safe, but not good for keeping stress levels down.

 Far too hot for this beautiful foliage plant.
Burnt Gunnera Leaves

I get used to a certain range of temperatures, in fact I garden accordingly. But in January 2004 things became a little too hot to handle. And things stayed hot - far too hot for me. Apparently the weather was blowing in from Queensland, Australia. We didn't get their extremes, but day after day our temperatures were in the low thirties, strangely with not too much wind.

Even with irrigation the garden started to suffer. Unlikely plants were affected - the edges of some of the Gunnera leaves got badly burnt, and several patches of Heuchera turned an odd golden brown. And these plants were in the shade!

Lawn Crisis!

The house lawns, which usually look green and pleasant after irrigation, just seemed to give up. Large patches died off, and no amount of water seemed to have any effect. I took several days off from the garden in protest, then considered gardening under lights. The Moosey garden ambience relies heavily on freshly mown swathes of green grass.

 The dry grass of the Frisbee Lawn is in the background.
Too Hot for the Roses

In order to confuse the weather I decided to be a total rebel, and spent a sweaty morning defiantly shifting some rhododendrons and a pair of sad roses. I shifted fermenting mulch and horse-poos around in my trusty wheelbarrow, pretending not to notice the smell. I tipped bucket after bucket of water on the suffering garden.

Crackling Brown Grass

I became even more determined that the Frisbee Lawn, dry and brown, would have to go. Eloquent pleas to attach this area to the irrigation system have gone unheard for many summers. But this particular summer it was dreadful - the grass crackled as I walked on it. I currently have plans for a rather large pond - from one extreme to another I guess.

Taj-dog spent much of his time standing in the water race, pointing up-stream. What a sensible way to cool off! Dogs don't need to change out of wet clothes, either - they can just shake it off.

 An extremely hot dog.
Too Hot for Dogs

I spent a few exhilarating seconds sitting in the water - my goodness it was cold! From one extreme to another... and a completely new set of gardening clothes...

Global warming? I'm not sure. But Mooseys certainly can't take this continual heat. Queensland can keep its weather!


All's well that ends well. The roses (Abraham Darby) lived! The rhododendrons are all sprouting new leaves! And the Frisbee Lawn is green and pleasant again.