Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


A return to green. And my first annual plant awards.

Suddenly, green. St Patrick's Day was just a coincidence.

Yesterday, I noticed green everywhere. Patches of it spreading across lawns, parks, nature strips. Perhaps the yellowing foliage is assisting the illusion. But a week or two of reasonably consistent rain is the real reason.

Plants are resilient, some more than others. And so, following a summer vicious beyond belief, below are the top five garden plants for surviving in the heat, as judged by an expert panel of one.

In 5th place: the pumpkin vine. Long vines grew out of small sections of garden, snaked up supports and across lawn and their broad foliage was like layers of parasols for the caravan of fruit that sprouted below. Ingenious and fascinating. Harvesting continues. We're up to a dozen.

In 4th place: viburnum. Heatwave? What heatwave? They do get some shelter in the afternoon and so lose points for that unfair advantage.

In 3rd place: weigela. One of the legion shrubs that are sadly ignored these days in favour of supposedly drought-proof plants that failed the test this summer, such as cordyline and other flaxes or grasses. Four weigelas faced the sun up to twelve hours a day and soldiered on like the old faithfuls that they are. Over strappy gardens with too many rocks and no lushness? Plant weigela!

In 2nd place: roses. While everything else wilts, roses smile at the scorching sun and defy it to burn them. Queen Elizabeth (deep pink) and Climbing Gold Bunny take out even honours.

And the winner is: pelargoniums. The gardens of this house had nothing but pelargonium borders when we came here four years ago (except for a sadly neglected but now resplendent grapefruit tree). We replaced some of the pelargoniums, sometimes known as geraniums, and sometimes I wish we hadn't. You simply cannot kill a perlargonium. They are not as beautiful as some plants, tending to legginess, but as a flowering border they are magnificent. It has to be noted that while I sometimes water just about everything else in the garden, the pelargoniums never receive a drop apart from what comes out of the sky.


neil said...

To that list I'd like to add aspidistra, even George Orwell knew how hard it is to kill one. But the absolute champion unkillable plant would have to be our very own gum trees. They can be burned alive and still come back.

Diane said...

I've killed geraniums, but then, they were on a partially covered porch and I'm notorious for not watering. Ever.

My thumb is thoroughly black.

Anonymous said...

Neil, I have an ancient potted aspidistra that has travelled with us through our past four addresses. It might have belonged to George Orwell. It currently resides in the shade of a stand of lilly-pillies (which were scorched in the heat). I remember the gumtrees becoming furry and regrowing at Mt Macedon and at the back of Lorne after '83 fires.

Diane, I'm still surprised they died.