Another month has passed and it’s time again to join Helen the Patient Gardener for the end of month view; thanks for hosting again Helen
On Sunday last we had a little rain, enough to wet the ground. Night-time temperatures have dropped a little; being able to sleep at night has made me feel a little better.
If the cooler nights continue, but already last night was warmer than Sunday night, the plants will benefit from some dew. Lower temperatures are also promised for next week (I have everything crossed!).
The August issue of my Italian gardening magazine communicates that there hasn’t been a June and July together this hot and this dry since records began (and now there is a scorching August to add into the statistics); local friends, who are assiduous at keeping records of max. and min. temperatures and measuring rainfall, tell me that there has been no measurable rain since May 28th! Again this morning we had a 15 minute shower – not enough to do much good but, for me psychologically good as it brings a promise that we will get some proper rain soon.
The extreme conditions are making me reassess my thoughts on what drought really is. I’m sure this sounds silly – a drought is a drought is a drought. But actually it isn’t just about there being no rain; we rarely get any rain here from July through to the end of August. What has made the difference this year is the higher temperatures, just a few degrees higher every day and less obviously higher night time temperatures, giving plants less time to recover. Then there have been even more strong winds this year; this morning’s shower wet the ground but then the wind grew stronger and everything was dry again within half an hour (at the most). As I write the wind is blowing continuously, I can hear it in the chimney; I’m listening to the leaves of the wisteria rustling. This desiccation by the wind is not to be underestimated.
I’m looking with reawakened interest at the plants that are really thriving, not just surviving; I will use more of them as structural plants so that when this hot summer is repeated in the future there will be more plants that I don’t have to worry about. I mentioned some in my post about foliage; the good ones are rosemary, Ceanothus, Teucrium, Myrtle and Euphorbia, although a couple of plants have died but they were probably a bit old.
Cistus and Pholmis sufruticosa are alive but their foliage has curled to protect itself so that don’t look wonderful.
Then there were the surprises – plants I would have bet good money that they would be OK; Festuca glauca is a plant I’ve always considered very, drought tolerant but several have died and there is such a build-up of dead thatch on others that they either need replacing or digging up and dividing, discarding the dead stems and hoping that they will reform into their usual round shape.
There is a very obvious truth behind all the above. If I want a garden full of flowers in July and August all I have to do is use masses of water! I don’t want, or indeed feel it is right, to irrigate the whole garden so I must rethink some areas so that I am not forced to go around with a hose early morning or late at night trying to keep plants alive. Where the irrigation is, the plants survive on the amount I give them, they won’t flower in a very hot year like this one has proved to be but they will persist to flower another year and I think I have to be content with that.
Sorry some of the images are a little fuzzy; the wind was blowing!