There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head but none of them seem to pay adequate tribute to what has been lost through drought and fire this season; to the people who have lost their loved ones or their homes and gardens, the animals which have died or been displaced by fire, the forests we have lost, the devastation to our farmers. And yet here we are in a new year. I want to say happy new year but for many of you finding the happy will be tough going.
For many, this year, the focus will be on replacing houses and gardens which have been destroyed completely, many of which have been decades in the making. For others of us the grief has been on a much smaller scale as we have watched plants in our gardens die from lack of water and/or extreme heat rather than fire. We have witnessed Kangaroos standing on the edge of empty dams contemplating where they may go next to seek out water, and seen our turtles leave home, and we have seen whole landscapes around us turning brown. Daily we see convoys of trucks bringing feed in for livestock and convoys of trucks taking water to empty tanks.
I have vacillated between feeling like lying down and giving up and fighting hard to keep my garden alive. Some days one wins out and some days the other. And I haven't even lost my whole garden to fire. How are you doing? A feeling of being under siege and a sense of despair is a very real thing in such conditions.
The thought of starting anew can be frightening and wearying too; will this just happen again next summer, can I manage the shear effort of doing all that work again. But this week I started to pull out dead plants and today I have been at my compost pile digging out last years beautiful rich compost to replenish the soil so I can be ready to plant again when the rains come. Because I am going to start again. Most of my dead stuff has been foolish stuff also. My Hebes have fried………they are New Zealand plants used to much more water and cooler climes. My flax (also a kiwi) has suffered and some has died, as has a New Zealand Leptospermum.
Other things which have suffered are plants which I knew were more suited to coastal Australia, for example Banksia which are not suited to our dry, but planted them anyway. In places where I planted without preparing the soil first, because I was in a hurry when I first came to live here, these plants have suffered also.
So as I start again I have decided to choose hardier plants rather than trying to prove a point with more marginal ones. Once the rains come lets not just forget the lessons learned this summer, we should all have a new sense of what will work should the dry happen again and perhaps what we really should put away as all too hard.