bog garden alterations

Maidenhair fern after rain

Perth’s winter rains started in earnest this month and so far in May we’ve had 143.6mm, significantly more than the May average of 87.6mm. This is a good change after an extremely dry summer.
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a bog garden beside the pond

Spreading Sword Sedge

Last week the autumn rains started in earnest and Perth had the wettest May day in 9 years. This was just in time to soak the bog garden I planted two weeks ago.

flower of Agrostocrinum scabrum

“A bog garden is essentially a pond that has been filled almost entirely with soil or other material, and which retains moisture through all or most of the year.” – Building Frog Friendly Gardens [1]

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the watermelon patch

watermelon plant taking overI planted Moon and Stars watermelon seeds from The Diggers Club last year, at the start of summer. I planted them among sunflowers in the empty block behind my house. It’s sand but I spread some compost before planting the seeds. While the sunflowers were growing I hand watered and the sunflowers grew well, but only one watermelon plant came up (from 2 or 3 seeds). It was very small for quite some time, but while I wasn’t looking it grew enormously.
ripening watermelon growing in sandNow the plant is about 3m x 3m, showing no signs of slowing, and has three fruit developing. I haven’t watered out there all year. There’s been more rain than usual this autumn, but not much fell in April and there was pretty much no rain in January and February. The summer was one of the hottest on record for Perth, and the heat continued into autumn, with 30°C+ days in April. I wonder how the plant survived, let alone thrived.
Cider the pup investigating the watermelonI haven’t tasted the fruit, so I don’t know if the harsh growing conditions will affect the taste, and I’m looking forward to my watermelons ripening. But I don’t know how to tell when the fruit is ripe, can anyone help me?
today's storm rolling in when I was at the beach yesterday=^.^=

CPRS: Carbon Politics Renders Squat

The whole point of introducing an emissions trading scheme is to make sure that polluting industries phase out and are replaced with cleaner alternatives, renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes. [1]

While the Australian Federal opposition dithers on passing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation which would enable carbon trading, Australia’s weather gets hotter and hotter.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Annual Australian Climate Statement for 2009 noted last year was Australia’s second warmest year since high-quality records began in 1910 and the past decade was the warmest on record.

Mean Temperature Deciles 2009
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Are we getting rain this winter?

My title came from a search someone did and ended up at my blog. I’m not sure where “we” lives, but if they live in Perth, on 29 July when they did the search I thought Perth’s rain was over for the winter. I was wrong, but we did have 11 days of no rain from 26 July to 5 August. Temperatures hovered around 20°C and it felt like summer had arrived.

In July rain fell on only 16 days, half a month of no rain when July is Perth’s wettest month. I can’t believe I had to water some of my garden!? It was from the rainwater tank so it’s been replaced since then, but one morning I spent too long watering, missed my bus and had to wait half an hour for the next one. Despite so many fine days we still received 149.6mm of rain, only slightly below July’s average rainfall of 152.9mm. In June we received 20mm above the average, so for the two months rainfall was higher than average.

satellite image of cloud cover 15/08/09 09:30 The past week the rain fell in earnest, with high winds to make for real winter weather. At 9:30 yesterday morning there was quite a bit of cloud cover over Perth, the southwest and the wheatbelt, which has been dumping the downpours on us. Today there were lots of sun showers and fine periods. When I was a kid my family called a sun shower a Monkey’s Picnic. I thought this was what everyone called them. It was only a few years ago that I discovered my family are the only people in the universe who call them that, but I still say Monkey’s Picnic whenever it rains when the sun’s shining.

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A Shady Hedge

Update: please see this comprehensive post about growing Albany Woolly Bush.

My house wasn’t sustainably designed. It faces east west, which you want to avoid when designing with passive solar principles in mind. The back of my house was once a verandah, but whoever enclosed it didn’t bring their brain to work that day. Glass walls facing west aren’t a good idea. Every summer afternoon my back room bakes, lightly toasting the rest of the house. It’s a nice place to pass the time on a sunny winter afternoon, but during summer the blinds are permanently closed and still my house cooks.

newly planted row of woolly bushes

The solution was a hedge of woolly bushes, not against the windows, but against the back fence a couple of metres from the house. Although I should have done this five years ago, a hedge is now growing to shade my wall of windows. It’s not quite hedge-like at the moment, more a row of foot high plants, but in a few years it’ll be up to 4m high and in need of regular pruning into the hedgely shape I desire.

fully grown woolly bush hedge in my neighbourhood

There is a problem with woolly bushes – their shallow root systems. My friends at Nuts about Natives have a planting of Albany woolly bushes which are all about 4m high and last winter one was uprooted in a high wind. It didn’t cause any damage because it landed among its neighbours. In the last weekend of June this winter the very high winds caused a lot of damage in Perth. The gusts of up to 72km/h uprooted two of a neighbour’s pencil pines which knocked down part of his fence. I hope this doesn’t happen with any of the woolly bushes as my new hedge grows. During the winds of that weekend my tuart was severely buffeted but the flexibility of its young trunk meant it survived without damage. As it grows taller it’s more likely to lose branches and cause damage, but I hope this won’t happen. The tuarts and other gum trees (particularly illyarrie) in the park where I walk Sheeba the dog lost a few branches that weekend.

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More on rain (not more rain)

satellite image of cloud cover 11/06/09 09:30 Since May’s rain there’s been lots more sunny days, until this week. The satellite image of the cloud cover on Thursday morning showed a large portion of WA covered in thick cloud. This produced a nice downpour of 22.2mm for Perth, with June’s rainfall so far now 43.6mm. As a result we’re no longer having the driest January to June on record [1], but the rain didn’t last. It’s been fine since then and the forecast is for more un-June sunny weather until Thursday, even if the temperature has dropped.

Last winter I blogged about Perth’s water restrictions:

Only in October 2007 were restrictions placed on summer bore use, for irrigating residential gardens, parks, sporting fields and golf courses. Theoretically restrictions shouldn’t be needed in winter months because you’d think people would realise that irrigation isn’t necessary when it’s raining. Sadly, I’ve seen sprinklers in use at Curtin University and gardens near my house, when it was raining.

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Winter weather

the pond in summer

I’ve been hibernating from blogging while writing my thesis, but I had to blog about winter’s late arrival. There was a dismal amount of rain in May, 46mm on only 4 days with almost half falling on one day. This is way below the monthly average of 87mm and means in the last five months Perth has had a severe rainfall deficiency (in the lowest 5% of historical totals). To complement this, Monday was the hottest June day on record: 26°C. The cold weather has supposedly arrived now with 6°C last night (even though sunny days are forecast until Wednesday).

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A wet November

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the unusual rainfall this spring.

The start of November had 29.4mm over four days, already above the monthly average of 19.7mm. So far the less than average rainfall in September has not been cancelled out by November’s deluge. The average from 1 September to 30 November is 152mm and we’ve had 143.6mm. If the forecast rain falls we’ll be going even more above November’s average, but may only meet the three month average. Seeing as predicting the weather isn’t my forte, I’ll get back to reporting on what’s been and gone.

The forecast rain fell and November’s rainfall was 57.8mm, the most November rain since 1984, when 73mm fell [1]. On 23 November there was 17.4mm – almost November’s average in one day. All this rain increased November’s long term average to 22.1mm. A wet November was the case across Australia.

Above to very much above average November 2008 rainfall over much of Australia largely cleared short-term rainfall deficiencies, especially over the NT, SA and WA.

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All that rain

Well into spring rain is still falling in Perth. I was so sure this year’s rain had ended, but there’s more forecast for the end of the week. There was 38.4mm in October, slightly below the average of 43.1mm. But the start of November had 29.4mm over four days, already above the monthly average of 19.7mm. So far the less than average rainfall in September has not been cancelled out by November’s deluge. The average from 1 September to 30 November is 152mm and we’ve had 143.6mm. If the forecast rain falls we’ll be going even more above November’s average, but may only meet the three month average. Seeing as predicting the weather isn’t my forte, I’ll get back to reporting on what’s been and gone.

glass of water by Bergius on Flickr There were some pretty hot 30°C days in October, but at the start of November the nights got chilly again. One night it was 6.5°C! After packing away my doona, I had to get it out for a week or so. Now the summery temperatures are back. Although it hasn’t yet reached 30°C I can feel stinking hot days and sultry nights on the way.

November’s rain means my new rainwater tank is half full! 1300ish litres of water. I thought it wouldn’t collect any rain until next winter. I was so excited I drank a glass of water directly from the tank. I hadn’t yet got a ceramic and charcoal filter, but I looked at the glass and it looked nice and clear. I started drinking and half way through had another look at it. That’s when I decided there were some “bits” in it and maybe I would water a plant with the rest.

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