Some deciduous trees that would usually be in full leaf by mid-October have only just started to show leaf growth over the past couple of weeks.
Hopefully their longer-than-usual sleep over the winter will give them some extra resilience for the current dry times and the hot weather ahead.
With mild water deficiency, plants are usually slow growing and stunted. Some plant leaves turn from shiny to dull at first signs of stress.
Under longer-term moisture stress, plants might permanently wilt or stop growing; they may have discoloured leaves and flowers and reduced fruits. Water-stressed plants may show the effects of weeds, insect pests, and diseases.
Drought symptoms can sometimes be confusing, and can vary with different types of plants. Woody plants under drought stress can have many symptoms including yellowing, wilting leaves, burning or scorching on the edges of leaves or leaves that start to show autumn colours early. Plants may drop some or all of their leaves and appear dead.
Most established woody plants recover when watered. Plants that appear to be dead, having dropped all or most of their leaves, might recover when watered. Scrape the outer layer of a twig or the bark and if a green layer exists, you can tell it is still alive. If there are still no leaves on an established deciduous tree, don't give up on it just yet.
If it receives a reasonable fall of rain or watering it may well "come back from the dead". Don't remove this plant the first season but wait until next season to see if it recovers. Of course, some plants may eventually die and we are already seeing this happening to some less drought hardy plants.
There's quite a bit of spring colour around despite the drought. Roses, especially, are holding their own and many are flowering as well as in any other year.
Inspect new young rose shoots for aphids and treat them early before numbers build up too much. The simplest way is to knock them into a bucket with some soapy water in it. If you have birds, wasps, lacewings, ladybirds and hoverflies regularly visiting your garden, they may well control the aphids for you.
The next meeting of the Armidale Garden Club is on November 28, at 7.30pm in the Uniting Church Youth Club Hall.
Everyone is welcome.