There have been some extremes of weather in many necks of many woods this summer, have there not! Two of the3Growbags have been dealing with weeks of drought and heat.
Caroline has contended with something altogether WETTER in her Highland realm but given the steep topography of her garden we still let her contribute to this post on how plants are faring without water…
I’ve refrained from watering any part of my flower garden this year – if we’re going to get more very dry summers like this in the future, there is little point in giving the strugglers false hope. (I hasten to add that I have also refrained from planting anything new in them. Any new purchases have remained, nurtured, in their pots, until the autumn-planting season.) So it’s plain to see which plants are shrugging off the drought with a carefree waft of flowers, and which are as thirsty and gaunt as desert-travellers.
Hibiscus appears to be content with the situation. While abutilons and callicarpas are puffing and gasping like old ladies on Senior Service ciggies, all the hibiscus bushes are looking fresh, green and full of flower. I have a few in different colours including one glorying in the name of ‘Purple Ruffles Sanchoyo’.
Hyelotelephium is my next choice – even though I still find myself endlessly referring to it as sedum. Their succulent foliage seems to love a good baking, and be as full of flowers and buds as ever. Utterly fabulous for the butterflies and pollinators of course, and I adore the darker-leaved kinds like ‘ Karfunkelstein’ and the rich flower-shades of ‘Red Cauli’.
Agapanthus is my third pick – if EVER there was a plant who always wants the summer to be a scorcher, it is this one. Its pedigree as a heat-loving South African means that it can happily flaunt its lovely starburst flowers in arid sunny conditions (I have found, though, that if you are able to give them some water sometimes, they flower even more eagerly.)
So, there you are, three plants that would be good choices if, as seems frighteningly possible, we are going to get more and more summers like this one. Laura will probably point you in the direction of a few more that bask in the heat, and then we’ll hear from Caroline, who has a very different sort of summer……..
Agreed Elaine, my garden is now the horticultural equivalent of the ‘survivors breakfast’ after a particularly raucous May Ball (or maybe a Lioness celebration bash…) with only the very hard core element still standing.
Herbaceous borders, which seemed so full of promise in the spring, now resemble desolate battlefields of withered rodgersias, phlox and eupatoriums that I am too embarrassed to look at let alone put up a photo of.
Erigeron – But there are a few beacons of light amongst scorched debris, the little Mexican fleabane, Erigeron karvinksianus, is the gardening equivalent of a cockroach and would probably survive a nuclear attack, but I have only just discovered it’s much taller sister Erigeron annuus, an equally doughty self seeder which has looked fresh and gay throughout the heatwave.
Oleander – The award for the pluckiest pot plant goes to the oleander, which has flowered beautifully over a long period in a tiny pot with only the occasional slurp of grey water. I have noticed large oleanders being planted outdoors now in the posher new urban housing developments down here in the south, so more evidence of climate change as a plant we only used to see on Spanish holidays is going mainstream in the overheated UK.
Billardiera longiflora – My third choice is a little left of centre and will no doubt cement my sisters’ opinion that I am not quite normal, but a couple of years ago I planted this obscure climber Billardiera longiflora (a native of Tasmanian rain forests) in a tiny planting pocket at the foot of a creosoted telegraph pole in a hoggin driveway in a rain shadow of the overhanging ledge of our woodshed, and it is absolutely thriving …..
There are other shrubs, bulbs and climbers that have earned their spurs in the heatwave so Elaine and I, in a rare act of sisterly unity, have compiled a list of those that have been tried and tested in our gardens and come out with the Growbags’ drought tolerant kite mark – the link to our Climate Change Rescue Package is at the end of the blog.
Well, well, the horticultural hares have come a cropper while this north-based tortoise has her day in the sun or rather rain. We’ve had a downpour at least every 24 hours since the snow melted. I’ve so enjoyed irritating my sisters with daily videos of my gurgling drainpipes and patio puddles but to be fair my sodden roses and yet-to-flower cosmos are proof that every weather pattern has its challenges.
I do have though some insight into drought-loving plants, because at its summit my vertiginous garden is as dry as the Serengeti Desert despite the rainfall. So here are my recommendations:
Lavender – gifted to me by Laura it’s thriving at the very top of my steps. It has the place to itself because being very poor soil and as dry as a cork, nothing else (not even my endemic ground elder!) is very keen to grow there.
Nepeta – or cat mint to me. I have two and this is by far the best, over-achieving in nothing more than dry powder. It requires so little moisture or care it seems almost epiphytic (are you impressed? Basically it means it can grow on nothing but air). It’s a motivational TED talk in its own right.
Potentilla – slightly dull the rest of the year, this one is currently flowering its socks off for the second month in succession with zero attention. Yes, these little shrubs with their plethora of tiny leaves are perfectly equipped for a dry future (I’m not by the way).
I can’t resist leaving you with a picture of my eupatorium. It’s nearly seven foot tall now – drinking up the rain. I shall have to send a little division to Laura in the spring to replace her shrivelled up Eupatorium corpse. Sad face.
If you would like to see the list we’ve put together of plants we have found to do well in hot, dry conditions, click this link to our Climate Change Rescue Package.
The link to Elaine’s video of a short walk through her garden to see how her plants are faring in the drought is here.
Meanwhile Louise’s collection of clematis have had varying fortunes in the hot, dry summer but she has picked out one of her best performers as her plant of the moment. Click on the box below to find out what it is.
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