Summer’s end in Canberra

Canberra’s summer has been hot and dry, and as a consolation, the sunsets have been stunning..

Hot Lips Salvias and Persian Ironwood Tree near the birdbath

A recent survey of birds in suburbia recorded that nearly 50% of households in the Canberra region provide water for birds in summer..

Birds in our garden have a choice of bird baths, and a sprinkler system occasionally which they can fly in and out of…(a five star bird friendly garden)

…..this provides us with daily amusement and joy.

Hot Lips Salvias (left) and Lavandula pedunculata hybrid (right)

Last week this tiny kookaburra appeared on the back wires…(a good place to check out the water situation in safety) I have never seen one so young in our area…..his Mum was not far behind..

Juvenile Kookaburra

All babies are beguiling, but this little kookaburra is at the top of my list for cuties…he hasn’t even got the Kookaburra crew cut hairdo yet!

Juvenile Kookaburra

In the nearby Eucalyptus tree is a juvenile Cockatoo….just waking up….look out…

When we came to Canberra, the house we bought  faced due west, which meant we got the punishing summer sun on all the living room windows. It was like living in an oven!

At that time we had a one year old daughter and another baby on the way! Fortunately we were young and just pleased to have our own home!

In those days no thought was given by planners or developers to siting houses to take account of the climate.

Over time we extended the house, and put insulation in the roof, and the walls. Eventually, we bought solar panels for the roof, and best of all, double glazing for all the windows.

What a difference all of that made!

In the meanwhile we built up shrubs and trees, especially in the front garden to give us shade and protection. We bought two water tanks for the garden, which helps, but is not enough during dry months.

We planted agapanthus because they are tough and drought resistant. I was once told they are the ”bully boys” of the garden, and when you look at their roots, this is certainly true. But they earned their stripes by surviving a drought and a nearby fire some years ago.

In the past couple of years we have had good spring rain, and this has set them up to flower very well this summer.

The garden is now shady and green, and the house is cool and quiet.

Having a simple, well functioning home give me a sense of wellbeing…it is a port in a storm.

I have mentioned the Chinese Tallow tree in previous posts, and this is our Chinese Tallow tree during summer, full of tassel like flowers which attract bees and butterflies by the millions (it seems)

I have read, in New South Wales, these trees are considered weeds because they sprout and grow prolifically. However, the up side is the bees are prolific here in summer. (we will get rid of new young trees appearing …one is plenty)


IN February we had about three days of extreme heat (41 degrees). At times like this the birds stay hidden in our thick bushes and trees, and come down to the bird baths in the late afternoon.

Now that we get more bees and insects in the garden, I noticed many of them coming for water too. In fact, after rescuing a bee swimming desperately in this small blue bird bath, I have put some small stones in the bird bath and reduced the level of water to give them solid places to land on when they need a drink.

The rest of the garden is now quite well established, and has held up well in the days of extreme heat.

Under the Chinese Tallow tree, daisies, a Grevillia ”Bonnie Prince Charlie” a blue Salvia (taking over the garden) and hidden behind the daisy is a Correa Bauerlenii

One advantage of heat is, the fruit is nice and soft to eat…

On Valentine’s day I heard these two galahs chatting away in the Eucalyptus tree. They are very sociable birds, and it looks like love is in the air on this summer’s evening…

I have so many photos of our lovely sunsets, so here is one more…..

May you enjoy your change of season, as we will be soon…autumn is my favourite season in Canberra and I look forward to hearing what yours is…


Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.




20 Replies to “Summer’s end in Canberra”

  1. Your house and garden seem well fortified against the extreme heat you have endured this summer, loved all the pictures of the birds and plants. That final sunset is almost too good to be true.

  2. Gorgeous photos, and you know you always have my attention when you include your beautiful feathered friends. 🙂 Fall is not my favorite season because of the mounds and mounds of leaves we have to move repeatedly. I love spring and summer when I can be outside and pick my own work schedule. 🙂 Wishing you a beautiful fall season to enjoy.

  3. Great to see more shots of your garden, it looks lovely. Salvias taking over the garden.. in my dreams! And the galahs! I saw them in South Australia, gosh they make a racket!

  4. What beautiful birds you get there. I love the name ‘kookaburra’. It really sounds so Australian. Your sunset image is breathtaking. It rivals even our Florida ones. 🙂

    1. So true about the name kookaburra … Very Aussie sounding. I guess our summers are similar to a Florida summer…we are lucky!

  5. Your Agapanthus are just beautiful, and so are the gallah birds. And are your sunsets always so dramatic, or is it something that happens more often in late summer? Here we are waiting for spring to get going.

  6. What a wonderful post. Your gardens are just lovely and those birds … So much color! Good idea to put the rocks in the water for the bees. They need water to drink but drown easily. Many years ago when we lived in Florida we planted a Chinese Tallow in our front yard. Afterwards we discovered that they were considered pests. But we loved it. I hope that the people who bought our house didn’t curse us years later.

    1. Thanks Brenda, we are going to trim our Chinese Tallow to make sure it doesn’t get any bigger, it is a joy to look at, especially in the autumn.

    1. Actually, it has been very dry during January and February, we will have a big water bill, but the garden is really our port in a storm, so we keep up the water to everything. Cross fingers a lovely warm spring is coming your way!

  7. That junior kookaburra looks so cute! We have heard that temperatures have been so high in Australia this month. It must have been so hot that you didn’t have much energy to do anything. Do you have air conditioning too? Your garden looks wonderful! Sarah x

    1. Thanks Sarah, we do have air-conditioning, but with our double glazing etc we don’t need to use it much. (Looking forward to Broadchurch..!)

  8. Your garden is lovely, how inventive you are in terms of ensuring shade. I cannot imagine coping in 41 degrees, I’m amazed how your garden survives,
    I just love your birds, they are stunning and obviously have huge personalities. That little kookaburra is fantastic, lucky you seeing it. A lovely post, I did enjoy

    1. Yes, 41 degrees was too much, fortunately it didn’t last long. Glad you liked the little kookaburra, he melted my heart! Welcome home after all your travels!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.