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Climate change was bad enough, but now the world has to cope with a pandemic as well.
Life has changed for all of us, and if you think things will ever settle down and go back to the “normal” which we all were so used to a few years back, - well you are just kidding yourself.
I live in Australia, - in Queensland -the sunny state -on the east coast, just south of Brisbane, on 2 acres.
I used to live in Melbourne, 2000 km further south – that’s Victoria, long known as the Garden State.
Over recent years, both have gone from being the drought state, to the flood state, then the bushfire state to the lockdown state. Nothing seems stable or predictable in recent years.
Despite all this, Australians across the board count themselves very fortunate.
We have had less than 1,000 deaths from Covid aver 12 months, faring so much better than most countries. This has been achieved only by the strictest lockdowns though. Even one or two cases occurring has caused state borders to close. Overseas travel has largely stopped, and at times interstate travel has slowed to a snails pace. Garden shows and garden visits have stopped everywhere across Australia since March 2020, and even garden club meetings, seminars and conferences have become a distant memory.
Gardening has however been recognised increasingly for the psychological benefits it brings. More people are gardening than ever and the garden industry is selling more plants and garden products than ever before.
We all know how much weather affects gardening though. There is little doubting climate change among most people in Australia. The frequency of droughts, floods and bushfires is unquestionable on the increase across Australia; and that is making life including farming and gardening, more unpredictable.
There are always solutions to problems though. The issue with climate change is not so much finding solutions though, as it is implementing them. Consider: we know climate change is potentially raising average temperatures by up to 3 degrees Celsius; but we also know greening a city can lower high temperatures by up to 3 degrees Celsius. Think about it.
My own garden is doing well, but I’ve had to adapt. Three years ago we covered a large area of garden with a completely enclosed shade structure. This has given us an area where we can grow edibles and other plants with greater control over extreme temperatures. In our sub tropical location, the 30% drop in light intensity has turned out to simply not matter at all.
We have built raised tree top walks (5 metres high) behind the house in a rainforest. The cooling updraft of air keeps the temperature in our raised gazebo at 3 or 4 degrees Celsius lower than other parts of the property on a hot day.
I’ve discovered that exaggerated fluctuating conditions from dry to wet, has led to build up of some pests, notably termites at times – and that in turn has resulted in a changing ecosystem in part of our property. What was a dry sclerophyll forest dominated by casuarinas 20 years ago, is seeing old, once well established casuarinas disappear and being replaced by eucalypts, melaleucas, lophostemons and callistemons – interesting all from the myrtaceae family.
The gardening industry was vibrant pre covid, and even more so since. Garden shops have experienced empty shelves as they struggle to restock. The demand for competent gardeners has increased a lot. There are more jobs than ever in the gardening industry and not enough knowledgeable people to fill them.
It is hard to predict what the world might look like post covid; but we do know that experiences today shape what comes tomorrow. That would suggest the new normal in gardening and every other aspect of our lives will not be anything like the old normal.