Reduce your risk of bushfire in the garden – Part 1

At this time of the year I often wonder what I’ve done in choosing a place with such difficult growing conditions. Then there’ll be a big fire or flood somewhere and I’ll remember the benefits.

As I write the biggest bushfire in the Adelaide Hills since Ash Wednesday 1983 is raging, only 5 km from my mother’s home in the northeast suburbs of Adelaide and even closer to our dear friends the Toholkes near Birdwood. A day these people have dreaded has arrived and I pray they are safe, and their wonderful house and garden full of order too.

Toholke garden

Toholke garden

I had been living here at this house for five months when Black Saturday happened (7th Feb 2009 in Victoria), and that tragedy has shaped the garden more than I probably realize. Soon afterwards I researched what plants burn and what plants have fire resistant leaves and gardened accordingly.

The Wall

The Wall

This little wall makes me feel safe, as it is on the north side of the house, where the hottest scariest winds come from, as they did yesterday – it was apocalyptically hot.

The yellow garden

The yellow garden

The rather large shrubs in the yellow garden are Myoporum montanum, a nice fire retardant plant, as is Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummalaria), the grey leafed shrub to the left of it. This bed is to the West of the house, from where all our dry storms come around November.

South of the house.

South of the house.

The rather large expanse of shale spread around the south and southwest of the house is there for a reason – when the wind swings around after a nasty north wind, it comes violently from the southwest. The southwesterly also comes up each afternoon during summer except in a heatwave, and firefighters around here have had to deal with these winds many times as fires head towards towns and houses in the Flinders ranges after starting in the hills.

This deciduous tree and pigface may not even catch fire let alone burn.

 

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