When the temperature hits the mid to high 40c it very rarely lasts for more than two days – three tops. But even those two days are enough to do a lot of damage. The north of the State,
the Flinders Ranges and beyond change from arid lands into desert landscape. In the spring these areas are alive with grasses and wildflowers – the area becomes a sea of colour – wonderful to behold. People come from all over Australia and beyond to photograph the Flinders wildflowers. Yet, within a short space of time, spring changes into summer, the sun starts to bight and burns up the grasses and the wildflowers and the dry, brown desert land returns. We are, the driest area in the driest state of the driest continent. We have one river, to the west of the state, the Murray and that’s being done to death slowly. All the lakes you see to the north and west of the state are all dry salt lakes – so big they even have world landspeed races and records on them. Water is pumped from the Murry some 300 miles away and without that much of South Australia would simply cease to exist. The Murry Pipeline is the umbilical cord of the north on which much of the settlement of the state beyond Port Wakefield relies. If we have a really warm and prolonged summer we start to eat into the water reserves and we have to ration water. No watering of gardens is allowed except under certain conditions. However since we have a spendthrift government, we built a water desalination plant – a couple of $billion, but who’s counting – which was put
into mothballs because in the time it took to build – delays, cost blow-outs, over-runs, usual SA Govt. project- we had several wetter than usual winters and the catchment
areas were all at capacity so water was no longer an issue. But despite all the precautions and the special Mandevilla Fertilizer, a day and a half of 46/47c heat is enough to undo all the careful tendering that you may have done over the late winter and spring to little more than dead brown leaves. Both the Frangipani didn’t fare all that much better. Two days undid all the work and expense of months. I came home at midnight from Adelaide, played with Benji, had a chat with Annabell then close to 1am went out and watered all the plants before going to bed, but by then the damage was probably already done and the Friday was even hotter. I had great hope for the Mandevilla but I think they have gone too far to be saved now. – Update – I have been told by the garden people not to dig up or pull out what appears to be dead plants. I should keep on tending to them because it is very likely that the extreme heat has killed and burned the surface shoots and leaves, but it is more than possible that the plant itself is still alive and will respond to care, attention and watering. Ok I can do that and we’ll see what happens.
At the moment it’s too hot to go wandering so although I have been thinking about the Arid Lands Botanic Garden (ALBG)and getting native plants that probably would survive the heat in this area, I’ll leave the 150 klm drive off for the moment. I think I have said before that dogs are banned at the ALBG – which is understandable given the nature of the gardens and the native small reptiles ( mainly harmless lizards) that roam freely around the place.
Not sure if I mentioned this before but my son had to have a meeting with the Environment /Wildlife Officer of the Mine. A few days before, he was called out for a problem at one of the areas and was on his way to the mine. An Eagle, chasing prey, mistimed and miscalculated its attack and flew into the side mirror of Andrew’s Vehicle, killing the bird and smashing the side mirror. The report was sent by the company to the Environment Officer and although no blame was attached to Andrew it was considered unfortunate in that the Environment and Wildlife people had been running a program to re-introduce the Wedge-Tails (Eagles) back into the area. The damage to the vehicle and the replacement of the side mirror cost over $700. Sad but at the same time fortunate for Andrew that it was not a fully grown adult – these birds are BIG with a wingspan of up to 9 feet.