Interesting. We can all acknowledge that it’s been a very dry year in our valley but when you look at the rainfall totals for May, June and July they are actually only slightly below the amounts we normally receive. Timing is everything however. We got 2/3 of May’s total in one day, the Victoria Day weekend Sunday (because it always rains on that weekend). And we received half of July’s total on July 12. If it seems that we haven’t had much rain this summer it’s all in the timing.
I pay close attention to the state of ornamental plants, both in the garden centre and nursery where I work and in my own and everyone else’s garden. There’s no doubt that many plants are having a difficult season. I can think of a host of adjectives that would sum up the condition of areas of my own garden. There’s no sugar coating it, there are some rough sections in my personal neighbourhood. That’s what happens when it’s 30 deg. C and more day after day and your garden is only growing on a few inches of thin topsoil laid on top of rocks, sand and gravel.
And yet there are plants which have shown no ill effects at all. They look as though they’ve been showered on nightly by gentle rains and have bathed in warm sunshine by day. They don’t read the headlines or listen to the news that tells them we’re in a Stage 4 drought. They don’t care about watering restrictions this summer, or any summer. Here then are the five heroes of my 2015 garden.
1. Lavender. Who doesn’t love lavender? The foliage smells heavenly, the blooms are irresistible to bees and it earns a 10 when it comes to heat and drought tolerance. New varieties are being introduced every year with bigger flower spikes and even better foliage. Lavender doesn’t grow well in that many locations in the world; we are very fortunate that we live in one of them.
2. Russian Sage (Perovskia). Lavender-like when it comes to blooms and growing conditions, this woody perennial will grow with no irrigation once it’s established. Sure it can spread itself around a bit (one of these offspring is growing on my hillside in pure gravel) but it’s been blooming for months and has survived beautifully only on what’s fallen from the sky this summer.
3. Centranthus (Red Valerian). Speaking of spreading around, Centranthus is very good at this. But it’s also very good at blooming constantly and absorbing extreme heat with little or no water. A wonderful border filler that attracts butterflies and one of my favourite perennials in any weather Centranthus has proved its worth this summer.
4. Sedums. Their succulent foliage guarantees that they’ll tolerate long stretches without moisture and the huge range of foliage colours and styles means that there is one for any garden situation. ‘Angelina’ is a fabulous groundover, ‘Autumn Joy’ is the gold standard for fall-blooming perennials and ‘Capo Blanco’ is just cool.
5. Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Oat Grass). There are many excellent ornamental grasses out there; most of them will do quite well with minimal moisture and stand up to summer heat. But Blue Oat Grass is a cut above. It’s elegant, colourful and engaging, with the flower stems twitching in the slightest of breezes.

Leave a Reply

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