Monday, 31 August 2015

Drought survivors

It's been a hot, dry summer. In accordance with our water restrictions, I run around every couple of days hand-watering with a spring-loaded nozzle on the hose. We've also been saving the water that runs while we wait for hot water to kick in, as well as the not-too-dirty grey water, and carrying all of it out to slosh over the more needy plants. In spite of these efforts, quite a few plants are showing signs of stress. Some have flowered fast and gone early to seed; hydrangeas keep wilting, and other shrubs are showing singed brown edges on the leaves, like Rosa 'Ghislaine de FĂ©ligonde', which is in a particularly dry and sunny spot.


In spite of being in full shade, Rhododendron schlippenbachii is looking much the same.


However, most other roses are coping surprisingly well. 'Rosa Mundi's coarse leaves show little damage,


... and 'Lykkefund', which is on the west fence and sheltered from the worst of the afternoon sun, looks as fresh as always.


Of course, these three have already turned to producing hips whereas 'Ghislaine' is drawing on its resources for another bout of bloom. It will be interesting to see whether that happens.

Hydrangea sargentiana has some singed leaves too, although the flowers don't seem to be affected.


 It's a good time to take note of plants that seem to be not only surviving but thriving. Echinacea 'Green Jewel'  in a hot, dry bed continues to look fresh and cool. So many Echinacea turn out to be annuals here that I'm sceptical of its staying power over the coming winter but for now, it's doing just fine. The little red flecks on its petals are falling from the flowers of Persicaria 'Firedance' behind it.


Sanguisorba tenuifolia 'Finale' is another stalwart. It may be that having its roots in shade is helping it do so well.


The dark red thimbles atop this tall wispy perennial are attracting swarms of bees.


 Scutellaria incana is just finishing its bloom, but has held up well. This Missouri wildflower's native habitat is on dry, sandy soils.


In the photo above you can just see the first of its equally attractive seedheads forming. Here's a closer view of them. I think they are going to be a worthwhile addition to my fall garden.


Anemone 'White Swan' is proving its worth in partial shade, endlessly producing crisp white flowers


...with their lovely lilac-flushed reverses.


Most of the plants in dappled shade are surviving well.

Front to back: Hydrangea nigra, Hosta 'Krossa Regal, Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty', Hydrangea 'Kiyosumi', Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' 

A few Astrantia, like 'Ruby Wedding' are reblooming. Behind it, Hosta 'American Halo' is also unaffected by the drought.


Tricyrtis (toad lily) is proving to be another reliable perennial. My specimen is a tall but sturdy cultivar called 'Blue Wonder'.


The flowers are quite small but intriguing when seen close up.


Plants in more exposed beds are having a harder time, but not Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, which seems imprevious to hot sun and dry soil. In fact, it's expanding rather too vigorously and will need some control by next summer, I suspect.


Those intense blue flowers will look even better when cooler weather paints the foliage with burgundy highlights.

Another sun-lover, Angelica 'Vicar's Mead' is attracting lots of bees,


... although some of its normally dark foliage is getting bleached to rose-pink, pale green and mustard yellow. The combination is actually quite pretty.


Meanwhile, my favourite parsley, a curly variety called 'Darki', has continued to line a path near the kitchen door with fresh green foliage, only just now beginning to flop a little from its usual upright stance. I've mentioned before how free it is from the rust that seems to plague the flat-leaf types of parsley. The latter may be the choice of chefs, but it doesn't have nearly the same ornamental value as 'Darki'