Old Garden Stalwarts Unfazed By Heat, Provide Colourful Summer Displays

The clear blue sky contrasts with the red blooms of the summer display in the Vaucluse House Fountain Garden

The summer display in the Vaucluse House Fountain Garden, containing cannas, lavender, salvia, cordylines, wormwood and roses Photo Steven Halliday © Sydney Living Museums

When the temperature soars and Sydney sizzles, your hydrangeas might flop, but many favourite old garden plants soldier on without a hint of stress, providing dazzling colour and perfume.

Mostly fallen from fashion, these old garden varieties were the mainstay of many early Australian gardens, often brought from other parts of the world with similarly warm and humid climates. Hot weather seems to bring out their best qualities as they provide a succession of flowers and ornamental foliage withstanding the hottest driest days.

On New Year’s Day, I took a stroll around the garden at Vaucluse House to capture a few of these old stalwarts in full flower. Here are some of my highlights.

Cultural note:

At this time of year attention to mulching and careful watering will ensure your favourite plants survive the hottest days. An organic mulch covering the soil surface will reduce evaporation ensuring plant roots are kept cooler and able to find soil moisture. It is important not to over-water as this makes plants weaker and more dependent on frequent watering. You can easily condition your plants to survive harsher weather by watering deeply but less often. Most of the plants in this article will happily get by with little or no supplementary watering at all which makes them all the more desirable!

About the author

Ian Innes

Director Heritage & Collections

Having worked on the conservation and sustainable management of historic gardens and parks in the UK, Europe and Australia – including long stints at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands – Ian has now taken on the challenge of helping chart the future direction of Sydney Living Museums at a pivotal moment in its history.