JuneOntario's blog: STRESS TEST

Posted on Aug 7, 2016 1:29 PM

This summer is the hottest and driest I can remember. Other parts of the Province have been lucky with showers and thunderstorms, but here hardly any rain has fallen for months. The lawn is a parched brown expanse dotted with plantains, thistles, and a yellow-flowered leguminous weed that seems to be indestructible. The flowerbeds are filled with distinctly unhappy, stunted, and wilting perennials. Shrubs and trees are dotted with dead leaves. It’s a real stress test for the garden.

I’m glad that when I planted the flowerbeds I included a number of marginally-hardy items that are adapted to long, hot, dry summers. Saint Bernard’s Lily (Anthericum lilago) is one. It has grassy foliage, produces clouds of tiny white flowers, and self-seeds mildly.

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Rock Roses are handling the drought well. In my gravel-mulched alpine bed I planted in full sun a slew of named Helianthemum nummularium cultivars with white, pink, orange, red, and yellow flowers. Winters and deer took their toll of the original plants, and I now have just white, red, and a self-seeded coppery-pink.

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Glaucium flavum, a biennial or sometimes perennial poppy, survives next to a south-facing house wall where it receives little water, and there are always seedlings to replace plants that die after flowering.

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I realized that Hollyhocks were drought-tolerant when I saw them growing in arid conditions in central Turkey. Hollyhocks were already in my present garden when I arrived, but over the years they have changed from tall, bright pink specimens growing in deep soil into short plants flowering in shades of pale pink seeded into the gravel driveway. As they are half normal height, I call them Hobbit-hocks.

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Many people would not think of foxgloves as being resistant to drought, and indeed the large-leaved biennials are not. Fortunately there are a bunch of perennial Mediterranean and alpine species that can handle full sun and dry conditions. Pink-flowered Digitalis thapsi is alas not hardy for me, and Digitalis lanata, the woolly foxglove, only lasted a few years in Zone 4, but a mixed bunch of yellows and tans have not only proved themselves hardy, they lap up full sun and seem impervious to drought. I planted Digitalis ambigua, D. dubia, D. ferruginia, D. grandiflora, D. ‘John Innes’, and D. parviflora. They have crossed themselves so many times I have no clue what they are any more, but every year there are more of them.

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So, even though the hot, dry weather is relentless and many plants are dying, my garden is sure to have some survivors.

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Horribly hot and dry here too! by threegardeners Aug 16, 2016 7:43 AM 3
Very informative; thanks for sharing by LysmachiaMoon Aug 14, 2016 7:27 AM 10

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