GBFD – Hotter Still!

This is my 200th post, I wish it were a more positive one – but it is giving you a true vision of how the heat is effecting My Hesperides Garden.

A week ago rain was forecast and I was just a little hopeful that the temperatures would begin to fall.  Mid-August is when often the weather breaks; but not this year!  This last week has been hotter than ever with news broadcasts recommending that the elderly stay indoors or visit air-conditioned shopping centres to keep cool!  More elderly people die in Italy during hot summers than in winter.  By eight in the morning it is almost too hot to stay in the garden and in the afternoon it is still really too hot to work even at six pm.  The plus side to this is obviously that we can have dinner outside and watching the sun going down and begin to breathe again.  This is an exceptionally hot year; records are being broken but I sincerely hope that the furnace that is August this year won’t be repeated for some years to come.

In the parts of the garden planted with drought tolerant plants I have been shocked to see plants suffering and possibly dying!  Just how many plants I’ll lose is difficult to tell just yet; maybe I won’t know until next spring the exact number of plants that have succumbed to the record temperatures and the lack of any real precipitation for many months.

I admit to being deceived earlier in the year April and May were not as hot as some other years although there was little rain.  I resolved not to begin irrigating until it was really necessary – MISTAKE!  Early June was also not excessively hot but the 15th June the temperatures suddenly rose and with the heat also came strong desiccating winds – worst scenario for a garden and worse still I was away in Prague that weekend.  When I returned and saw the garden on Tuesday morning I realised that the ground was already dried out and that many plants were struggling, the struggling has continued to now.

What plants have thrived in this heat and parched summer?  Not many have thrived!  Euphorbia myrsinites doesn’t mind how dry or hot it is, and most of my other Euphorbias are doing well too, especially E. rigida.

You can see how shrunken the foliage is on this Phomis fruticosa

I had imagined that all silver leaved plants would at least tolerate the heat but some look pretty sad.  Senecio maritima and S. cineraria aren’t dying but their foliage is curled to protect them even more from the sun’s rays, this is also true of Artemisia varieties.

Curled leaves even on a Senicio.

This usually beautiful spreading thyme seems to be 85% dead

Foliage of Solanum jasminoides also shows how leaves curl to protect itself from too much sun. It isn’t wasting energy by flowering either

Ceanothus repans certainly copes in these conditions and gives a lovely dark green mound at the corner of the drive.

Ceanothus repans looks good

Festuca glauca was another plant that I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about (it is a signature plant in my garden), but the larger plants are looking very untidy and with more dead thatch than I’ve ever seen in previous years.  I am hoping that if I lift and divide them the new plants will establish for next summer, I also have some small plants that were self-seedlings that can be planted as replacements for any that are truly dead.

Surprisingly Lonicera fragrantissima hasn’t lost any of its leaves, I have given it some water during the summer but only when a nearby crab apple is stressed and I water that.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Viburnum tinus is usually considered a tough plant for almost any conditions; it is the wind that has caused most damage to this shrub, the side that receives the afternoon wind from the west is completely scorched, and I doubt that the branches on this side will recover.

Viburnum tinus has been very damaged by the hot wind

Even the lavender hedge around the formal beds has patches that I’m hoping aren’t dead.  It has been pruned so that light and air can reach into the bushes; again this will be a wait and see scenario; it will be a huge problem if some plants have died completely leaving ugly gaps.

To finish a few other images (good and bad) of My Hesperides Garden today.

These box balls are likely to be my more expensive loss!

I love how prostrate rosemary clings to the wall. It thrives in the heat

I don’t think these Hemerocallis are dead but they are really suffering.

The large island is planted with drought tolerant plants but it doesn’t look great at the moment

Wisteria on the pillars is lush and full of flower, but it gets some irrigation as the roses planted close to them receive water, which even reaches the lavender hedge close to the terrace

All the images were taken at around 8.30 in the morning, you can see how strong the glare of the sun is, even at that time.

A Cotinus is happy, the purple leaved versions are less content

View accross the garden from the Large Island

I hope you will want to share some of your foliage on this Garden Bloggers Foliage day, just leave a comment with the link, thank you.  I’m looking forward to some lush foliage from the UK and spring offerings from the southern hemisphere.

41 thoughts on “GBFD – Hotter Still!

  1. Your photos really tell the story of the heat you’ve been experiencing. I’m sure some of the plants will be fine come next spring but I can see why you are worried that many may not. Oh those box balls. I don’t no what to say really other than I feel your pain. It is awful when you’ve nurtured plants for them to succumb to the weather, pests or disease. It seems to be the whole of the Med that is having such conditions. Here in the UK, orchard owners in Herefordshire have been saying that ordinarily you wouldn’t be able to see the trees for apples, at this time of year but this year there are barely any fruit at all and potatoes have rotted in the fields. It looks like too much rain in the UK and drought in Europe will combine for some expensive food prices this autumn and winter. I guess we can only hope this is a blip and won’t be repeated but I fear it is climate change taking effect.

    • I think a lot of people misunderstand climate change and believe that things will just get warmer (in a quite pleasant way), whereas I’m sure it is a matter of extremes of weather; England’s wet summer, our hot dry one, hurricanes in the US, heavy snow where it hasn’t snowed for years – all this and more is what we can expect. Gardening will certainly become more difficult. If we have colder winters (as last winter) and hotter, drier summers the number of plants we can grow successfully will become more limited. Christina

  2. Christina, what is the weater doing with us and plants? We here actually had not summer, only one week was hot (+24-28C) and you and your garden suffer so much!

  3. Christina your pictures say it all. You and your garden have suffered more than any I have seen. I agree people do misunderstand climate change. The extremes that are happening in places where they don’t usually and that are magnified to such a high degree where they might occasionally. I can only imagine what the next seasons will hold for all of us. This change has been coming with violent storms in the US for a few years now and large scale droughts that are affecting farmers more than anyone in so many places.

  4. Christina, you are very brave showing the devastation in your garden – mine is pretty much the same and I dare not photogragh it … perhaps I should for reference later in the year when (if?) we finally get some rain. I think the lack of rain during spring has indeed had a lot to do with the way plants have been struggling since early in the summer, as well as the horrible winds. Here I have some areas of ground that are pure clay and when this dries out and cracks open up the roots of plants get suddenly exposed and they die almost immediately. I am making lists of plants to order from Filippi et al but hardly know where to start.
    In bocca al lupo,

  5. oh Christina I feel for you, it reminds me of those 2 summers in the 70s when so much dried up in the south east UK, I agree with your reply to WW too many people think GW will mean nice warm weather, not so! I heard a programme a year or so ago where they explained how some parts of the world would get much wetter and others drier and then this year when the professor explained how the melting of the northern ice cap was causing all the strong cold north winds we experienced up here,
    I hope you mean it when you say you want to see lush foliage from the UK as I saved my last Beth Chatto post on foliage for your meme, I’ll post it now and come back with the link, Frances

  6. Congratulations on your 200th blog entry! You have certainly had fiercely difficult conditions for gardening this year. While drought has been the norm in my area for the last few summers, rains returned here at the end of this summer and greened up the garden. It is something I cannot count on next year though.

    Here is a link to my GBFD post:
    Thanks for hosting GBFD.

  7. how sad your garden looks… it has been hard on the humans and animals too. Those hot afternoon winds make it impossible to go out and the terrace is scorching till after sundown.

  8. It is sad to see one of my favorite gardens in the world suffering so! I hope the terrible heat will soon break for you. August here has been unusually wet and cooler than usual; I am so grateful, for every year I dread August. It is often our hottest and driest month, when the heat persists even through the night.

    P.S. Congratulations on 200 posts!

  9. What can I say Christina, such devastation after all your hard work. Hopefully a good cut back and rain in September might save most of your plants.But your box balls…..I know how long they take to grow to a decent size, they would be so expensive to replace like for like. Goodness knows what is happening with our weather, everyone seems to be having extremes of something this year,

    The link to my post is

    • Thanks for joining in again this month Pauline. I know that you are right, many plants will recover as soon as the autumn rains arrive. I also know that I could have saved some plants by irrigating more but it is my decision how much water I use or fell it is correct to use. Chrisitna

  10. Goodness Christina, your poor garden is really suffering. It must be hard to remain philosophical in the face of so much damage. Those poor box balls! I can only hope that you are pleasantly surprised when you see how much has, in fact, survived.

    • A lot will recover, I know but having come through a very cold 2 weeks in February (minus 8* – 10° C) without any losses, it is hard to see things suffering now. Christina

    • Hi Janet, thank you so much for joining in this month, I’m about to pop over to your site to read your post. It should be the 22nd so you’re not late! Christina

  11. Hi Christina, Congratulations on your 200th post. Our summer has been hot and dry as well. I have lost several shrubs and have been keeping the perennials going with water from the hose. Finally, it has started to get cooler here and we have had some days of rain. I hope that you get a break soon too.

  12. Christina, I am often known to complain of our cool Summers, it does have an advantage though,plants more often than not remain healthy and never burn out. It is strange so many people from around the world say how very hot the Summer has been, yet in Scotland’s east coast we have had the coldest and wettest Summer in decades. I hope most of your plants do survive.

    • Climate change is about extremes, it is a mistake to think that it is about nice warm weather everywhere. Coldest, hottest, windiest, the most snow, hurricanes etc. etc. We have only just begun to see the effects. Christina

        • Poor you! That’s dreadful; we had a family of badgers who were using the garden as a run last year, but they didn’t dig anything up! There are a lot of Istriche (porcupines) this year, they haven’t come into the garden so far, but I know they do huge amounts of damage. Christina

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