Letter from Australia

Well, what a year this has been. 2020 will certainly go down as a year to forget. We are currently in stage 4 lockdown, with only food shops and pharmacies open, and a 9pm to 5am curfew. We are also only allowed to travel up to 5km from our home. It has been hard but Covid cases are down from nearly 800 to 11 a day, and we are all breathing a sigh of relief.

It is now spring and the weather is certainly warming up. Predictably the temperatures have been bouncing around. 25 last Sunday and a prediction od 12 this coming Sunday. For 3 days now we have been able to leave the heating off, and although frosts are rare, we even managed a few minutes of snow in August. The excitement was brief however! So, how is the garden going? Today as I look out (it is raining) I can see the little apricot in full flower, clivia blooming along the fence and our first ever Bird of Paradise flower is finally out. It has had a flower on it for about 5 weeks, but it probably grows better in full sun and somehow we have planted it in the only patch of shade in the garden. We did have a bit of a hiccup this autumn with our fruit harvest. I had been keeping an eye on the lemons, apricots and passion fruit waiting for the ideal picking time Big mistake! One morning I went out to pick one lemon and to my horror found almost every one had been stripped of the rind. The passion fruit had also disappeared and there were only 5 apricots left. Obviously something else had also been watching for the same signs. Friends tell me it is probably rats or a possum. So, I have just ordered some fruit bags in the hope that this year it will be Bakers winner winner. It does make us wonder if we should stick to olives and rhubarb, both of which are thriving. Because we seem to have 2 springs and it doesn’t really get that cold our rhubarb has continued to be picked right through the winter. An Italian friend has been curing the olives each year, and this time we are going to have a go at green ones. I guess the rat/possum population aren’t keen on them as they have survived unscathed. Oh dear I do hope it is possums……

I’m not sure how much gardening will be done this year. We can’t go shopping as they are all shut, so no wandering round the garden centre for inspiration, and “click and collect” is outside of our 5km zone. Bunnings sold out of vegetable plants within a week, so everyone must be growing their own. I get mine delivered from the market and very good they are. We live in the market garden area of Victoria and locally they grow 80% of the cauliflowers for the State. Once again, outside our 5km zone, so we are not sure what else is growing there this year, but probably artichokes, broccoli and carrots. I seem to remember that was there last time we were able to visit Wyndham Harbour. Roll on stages 3 and 2. Stay safe everyone.


Linda Baker