Hot dry summers, eating olives and drinking great reds while looking over your garden? We have a place for you, it’s called Adelaide!
In summer the average maximum temperature is 29 degrees C but you could find yourself sweltering in temperatures of 40 degrees. Then rug up in Winter when the cold winds from Central Australia come sweeping in and cause the thermometer to drop to 7 degrees minimum. OK, it will rise to 15 degrees on average during the day but you get the picture. Frosts are common in the Adelaide hills and coupled with wind chill, the temperature seems cooler than it actually is.
Adelaide is the driest capital city in Australia, rainfall unreliable, light and infrequent through summer. Rainless summer months are not uncommon.
Winter on the other hand has fairly reliable rainfall; June is the wettest month with an average of 80mm. The city has had a decade of below average Spring rainfall. This coupled with the fact that since 2002, Adelaide has had nine of the ten warmest years ever recorded. It’s a fact that SA is Australia’s driest state with one third considered to be ‘of no significant economic use’.
Lets talk soil acidity. pH is the measure of how acid a soil is. Plants generally grow best in soils that are slightly acid (5.5-8 where acid is 0 and alkaline is 14, neutral=7). Acid soils equate to nutrients being unavailable to plants. As the pH drops, the soil becomes more acid, aluminium in soils becomes soluble and this ‘burns’ plant roots. Houston, we have a problem.
This issue is raised here because Adelaide and surrounds have considerable differences in soil pH; Adelaide town and suburbs can be slightly acid whereas surrounds may be quite alkaline (Loxton).
Acid soils can be economically managed by the addition of agricultural lime but alkaline soils need more specialist advice. A great information sheet is found here- http://www.soilquality.org.au/factsheets/soil-ph-south-austral
Which plants are best for Adelaide gardens? Well, you can grow a wide range of native and exotic species but always consider the watering requirements of each and that species ability to tolerate the climate pattern- hot dry summer and cold wet winters; think Mediterranean climates. Gardeners here have some great plant choices including temperate species, dry inland forms and sub tropical species where a warm pocket exists. Introduce some colour through the snazzy compact Bougainvilleas now on the marke.