How did your garden look this summer?

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Are you displeased and disappointed?

Well, let's not underestimate the degree of difficulty compared with that of our colonial ancestors. The English summers are really like an Australian spring so it is rare for a spring day to be over 30°C and most of us can create a garden that looks pleasing up to a 30°C temperature in spring.

Now, as a sports mad nation, summer is the season where we excel internationally, being amongst the world's best in the major summer sports of cricket and surfing. So as spectators we look forward to summer in a sporting sense but give up on garden visits when it comes to summer activities.

Summer borders at Cloudehill in Olinda

The Open Gardens Scheme is mostly closed yet again for summer

Our amateur gardeners who created the Victorian Open Garden Scheme did not have a garden open last summer and that is a trend that led to the collapse of the national scheme.

Does this mean that there aren't any gardens worth visiting in summer?

The answer to that is a resounding “no” because our botanic gardens, particularly Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, have beautiful gardens with majestic shade trees that are generally 5-10°C cooler than our city CBDs on the sweltering sunny days.

You see all of these gardens have 150 year old mature trees you won't find in the most popular and famous English gardens.

These trees provide their own air conditioning system of transpiring leaves to cool the gardens naturally.

But it's not just for old trees that you visit our Australian botanic gardens because their flower plantings look nothing like the spring (rather than summer) plants promoted at our box warehouses. All of these gardens have sourced shrubs and perennials from around the world that thrive through summer so you can enjoy the best summer gardens from anywhere in the world just by staying at home and yet thousands of gardeners still persist in going overseas for inspiration.

Apart from our extremely undervalued world-class botanic gardens we do have some outstanding, publicly-open gardens such as Cloudehill in the Dandenongs.

Just 22 years old it was created on a site that has lots of 80 year old trees and shrubs, some of which are precious specimens that are as valuable as any plants in our botanic gardens, and should be protected just as we protect our built environment.

Jeremy Francis, the creator, has put together perhaps the finest summer flower borders in Australia, the equal of any Sissinghurst or Hidcote borders that have the benefit of UK’s benign summer.

Dear Diggers: Please let us know if you have been disappointed by a lack of summer gardens to visit and if you know of any that you think our members should visit.

Clive Blazey (3 March 2017)

The coolest place in Adelaide is the botanic gardens
150 year old shade at Melbourne's botanic gardens

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