I haven’t posted in a while; I started the following post for GBFD 22nd July but didn’t manage to finish it. What has been wrong? The HEAT, I can’t think, the garden is no pleasure when walking around only reveals another plant that looks dead. Some will recover, I’m sure but others….? Maybe some new planting opportunities? But what will I plant? This year is officially now as hot as 2003 (that was the year that in England temperatures reached 40° Celsius for the first time). Here in Italy June was the 3rd hottest and 4th driest for 200 years – no wonder my plants and I are suffering. I don’t want to irrigate more for environmental reasons and because I don’t know how much water it is possible for the well to sustain if I remove so much each night. It is our only source of water. It is precious. It is expensive – the well is 100m deep and the pump to lift from such a depth is large and expensive to run.
I will post about the harvest in a day or two but until then I leave you with what I began to write last month.
Until I came to live in Italy I had no idea that plants could be dormant in the hottest months of summer in much the same way that they are in winter. Many plants that would flower all summer in more temperate climates take a rest for a couple of months and then begin to flower again in September; sometimes it is like a second spring when the first rains of autumn arrive.
But it isn’t only the flowers than take a rest; foliage too takes measures to conserve water in various ways.
Many leaves just look plain shrivelled and these are certainly the plants that with more water available would be happier healthier plants. But even the plants that are adapted for drought conditions often don’t look as beautiful as in the slightly cooler months. Cistus is one of these; a native Mediterranean plant that prefers free draining soil and grows wild along the coastal regions of Sardinia coping with strong winds and salt spray. This year the Cistus in the garden flowered for a much longer period than usual, possibly due to the extra mild weather we had in March; now the leaves seem to have curled inwards on themselves to stop moisture loss, giving the plants the air of having dropped half their leaves.
Silver leaved plants shimmer, reflecting the hard rays of the sun away from themselves and dazzle the eye. But this year even some of my silver leaved plants are suffering from the extreme heat.