For all the storms and tempests we have had this summer with its extremes of temperature, lightning starting bushfires all over the State and a cyclone to keep us on our toes, we have had some much-needed rain and, of course, the ripening of the summer fruits.
Nectarines and peaches have been the stars with plums as a very acceptable back up fruit. I say back up because the plum is particularly good when cooked in pies and in jams. It is often mixed with fruits such as mulberries, which are low in pectin, to make well-set jams. Speaking of mulberries, they were fruiting for nearly all of January. They are best eaten straight from the tree in the orchard. The young rooster and hens, which are let out into the orchard each morning, learnt very quickly about the delights of mulberries but left some for us.
The typical summer flowers of agapanthus and hydrangeas provide a cooling effect and when kept reasonably moist can form a valuable role as fire retardant plants in a firewise garden.
A very large Chinese Elm has grown even more over summer and is now scraping the roof. Not only is it not very good for the roof structure, it is too easy for it to be dropping leaves and small twigs into the gutters creating a fire hazard. Not good for summer!
Just last week we have had the Chinese Elm trimmed up and have removed overhanging branches as much as possible whilst still maintaining shade onto the house from the hot afternoon sun.
The photo, right, shows that the elm has been trimmed from the roof and reveals that the gutters do need cleaning to reduce the fire hazard. Photo taken in the middle of the day showing that we still have dappled shade, but there is better fire protection.
The elm, too, is a valuable component of a firewise garden in that it will provide a shield from radiant heat and a filter for embers should there be a bushfire in the vicinity.
In this part of the country a bushfire is quite likely over summer.