Summer in Tokyo this year was just how I like it: boiling hot and dry, probably the driest I have experienced in 35 years of living in the Japanese capital. But while I loved the heat, my garden in Kangaeroo Corner had mixed feelings, especially the lawn that went from vibrant green to burned brown.
Trees thrived! Most delightedly, the jacaranda we had written off as dead in the spring powered back into life and is now one of the tallest growths on the block. The “branch” silver wattle goes from strength to strength and the golden wattle beside it is flourishing. All the grevilleas, bottle brush and myrtles grew in the dry heat like crazy. Even the eucalypt given the imposing task of trying to survive in what I’d termed the Corner of Death has prospered.
Although death proved to be the outcome for the vast quantity of seeds I brought back from Australia this year, the summer was kind to some. The kangaroo paws thrived and I was able to give many out to neighbors. Next spring should give our neighborhood a real Aussie taste. Hardenbergia, often called the Australian native wisteria, also thrived and we have have it climbing up the fence and around a trellis.
Even the dicksonia, planted in direct heat in a boiling summer that should make it struggle, did as expected for a while, but after we placed it under a makeshift shade, the tree fern has plugged away steadily.
Unfortunately, the spectacular summer didn’t leave all feeling well. My cherished lawn virtually died overnight through, I suspect, fertilizer burn. Anticipating the rainy season, I covered the lawn in fertilizer in early June before we were to hit 30-degree temperatures daily and hoping that the rain would work its wonders on the grass.
Armed with a new lawnmower, I then gave the lawn a crew cut. Well, the rains never arrived. The searing heat and over-mowed lawn proved fatal to the grass roots and within days what had been a verdant strip of land had turned into a dustbowl.
I’ve tried everything since to revive the lawn including aeration, raking, re-seeding, over-seeding, using a sprinkler, watering, not watering, shading, exposing, organic fertilizing and more. Nothing worked. Voracious pigeons didn’t help, either. Finally, this week, after almost two months of an ever-growing patch of brown began to sprout the odd shoot here and there. We’re still gonna have 30-degree or more temperatures daily for the next week or so, which is prompting me to hold back on planting new lawn seed. But it does give me a lot of hope.
Gardening is right up there with cycling for me now. I have had my confidence sapped by an inability to step up to the plate with what life has pitched at me over the past few years. The garden gave me back a bit of a boost last year when I saw it do so well. As summer passed and the lawn deteriorated, it has a terrible effect on my state of mind. Too fragile, for sure, but I was already struggling. While the garden on the whole has done spectacularly well considering the difficult conditions, as always my mind is drawn back to the negative and downbeat, which has been the struggling lawn, a metaphor of myself. Mind you, I got to learn a lot about lawns (most of which I have already forgotten) as a result of what went on this summer and hope that I might be able to revive it. Same goes for myself!