November 21, 2018

Garden diaries

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 7 February 2017: Summer in the city

It’s disorienting, literally, to go from one season to another in just a day (a very long day spent sitting in a large metal box in the sky). This time, I’ve gone from frosty winter in Sand Hutton, with snowdrops just getting going and one crocus in bud, to boiling hot summer in Sydney with deafening sound of cicadas but pretty frangipani in flower on every street corner.

When we started these regular visits to Australia in 2006, I was quite homesick; we’d left the English countryside in full summer when swallows were cruising the fields of waving barley, to swap it for winter, with dark evenings, and hideous bird squawks (couldn’t call it song). Thinking about the experience some ten years on, I realize that for me, familiarity with native flora is an important part of feeling at home. The very first time I was here, in 1991, driving away from the airport, I did not recognize a single flower, apart from ones we grow in England as tender house-plants but here in Oz grow as trees.

One plant I’ve got to know and love is Lagerstroemia indica, and it’s the seasonal change that led me to it. We were here last July, winter in the city, when during my daily walk up to the shops, I began to notice how beautiful were the bare trunks of a small tree growing as a street tree. I’d also noticed that there was a keen gardener living next to it, so I asked him its name. Nice man, who said in Aussie accent that it was “crap myrtle”; I found it on Google as “crepe myrtle”, said to be very popular for marvellous summer-flowering. Now here in February, I can see why.


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