Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Temperature Drop Wreaks Havoc across Mixed Garden

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Temperature Drop Wreaks Havoc across Mixed Garden

Article excerpt

THE first big frost of the season struck last Friday.

The temperature got down to minus six at Thistlebrook, which isn't quite as cold as the two black frosts of July 2007, but is still a pretty heavy freeze for this part of the world. This morning I toured the garden to assess the damage and the results aren't pretty.

Nasturtiums, plants I like to use in the veggie patch as a companion, are a complete wipe out and now resemble a slimy ooze with the scent of rotten mustard. But I expected that.

They're tender annuals, and plenty of seed was set for next summer.

The agapanthus always get badly damaged in a decent freeze, but I expected that too.

The same goes for the cannas, which at least have enough dignity to turn the colour of a brown lunch bag, rather than becoming a pile of slime.

They bounce back, and would have been cut down in the next month or two anyway.

A couple of plants confirmed my suspicions. All the citrus - a Valencia orange, an Imperial mandarin and a blood orange - fared poorly, and are now curled and crispy.

The foliage on the Eureka lemon is fine, but the ripening fruit has turned to mush. I took a calculated risk with all of these plants, and considering they were covered on the coldest nights I've decided that most aren't hardy enough to perform well and will most likely be replaced with something deciduous.

A calamondin, planted just a couple of months ago in the veggie garden looks fine, other than a slight darkening of the foliage.

Some of the grevilleas have been disappointing. My 'Robyn Gordon' did fine last year but this winter looks like it's been sandblasted, and a recently planted hedge of Grevillea rhyolitica appears to be totally cactus.

What annoys me is that this species was sold to me by the grower with the assurance that it would handle hard frosts. In my experience, it doesn't.

That's just some of the casualties, but what about the survivors. Most of my perennials and ornamental grasses are made for last week's weather and breezed through unscathed.

Ditto for all but one salvia. A hedge of Photinia 'Camilvy' is unperturbed, as is a Ceanothus 'Blue Pacific' hedge planted in one of the frostiest parts of the garden. …

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