EOMV – Scorching August

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.

Teucrium, thrives in the heat, you can prune it – maybe I will replace the dead box with this, not as long lasting but tough!

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.

these three Festuca glauca look dead to me

the alive one at the back is just on the edge of where the irrigation drip hose reaches

Nepeta is tough, just a couple of soakings with the hose and it is regrowing! I intend taking cutting and using more of this around the garden, I love its colour.

Most of the Sedums are growing well, although some are smaller this year.

I will use sedums as fillers around other plants, they needn’t be near irrigation drip hoses, I already took a lot of cutting earlier in the year, I’ll take even more next year

With irrigation (3 hours per week) the grasses look great

These grasses, Miscanthus and Pennisetum are on the edge of the circular rose bed, they are just receiving water through the soil, there is no direct irrigation to them but the roses receive 1 hour per night 3 times per week.

Once the trumpet vine is established it shouldn’t need any irrigation

In my free-draining soil Gaura needs just a little water, the amount in the soil near the irrigated roses is enough, to flower for months. In some soils they need no water at all.

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.

This abutilon was more damaged by the cold winter than the heat of summer but it does receive some irrigation

The Echinacea I grew from seed seems happy with just a little water

This double Hibiscus is still quite small, it was a cutting taken by a friend. Once established it is very tough and will survive with very little water

Asters need more water. I need to concentrate them in one or two areas where I’m prepapred to irrigate 3 times a week.

Sorry some of the images are a little fuzzy; the wind was blowing!

25 thoughts on “EOMV – Scorching August

  1. France has had a lot of rain this summer but our area has missed it. We are not suffering as much as you are, but it is very dry, It is very good to take stock of the plants that you have actually seen to be drought tolerant. I have taken note of the plants you are using as I only want to plant drought tolerant plants. Amelia

  2. Of course you know that if you focus on really drought tolerant plants you will have masses of rain next year!!! I did a double take when I saw the photos of the Festuca – I thought I wonder what that plant is, it looks like some form of strange sea anemone, festuca was not something I would have guessed.

    We have had the wettest summer in 100 years but I doubt next year will be the same and I think that is why I find gardening so very interesting.

    Thanks for joining in again this month

    • Even if we have rain it will probably not rain in July and August, it rarely does. Hopefully the temperatures won’t be so high. But I do intend only planting what I know to be drought tolerant, even if in my free-draining soil they might need a little help. Christina

  3. I hope the shower you had was a prelude of more to come! I am not familiar with teucrium, but I love its color! I also think the hibiscus is really pretty. Hibiscus is a plant that grows easily in my climate. I saw some at a nursery recently and was wondering why I haven’t added any to my garden. It is on my list of plants for next year.

  4. Christina I think so many of us are looking at our gardens with new eyes because of the crazy weather. We still have heat and the plants have faded further and few are blooming with less than an inch of rain in a month where we usually get several inches. I wonder what the fall will bring us and next year. The little bits of water we got did sustain the plants which amazes me.

  5. So glad you have had some rain at last, really hope it will get cooler for you soon. We too usually have a garden that doesn’t flower in August because I refuse to water it to keep the flowers going, not this year though, we’ve never had so many flowers before, thanks to all the rain. I think we all have to rethink what we have planted after the weather this year and how the plants have coped, could be changes ahead. Really hope you have some proper rain soon.

  6. Your Festuca look like long haired guinea pigs! Interesting that a small increase in temperature can have such an effect. I had not really thought about drought tolerant plants having differing limits for survival. Not a problem we have to considerover here where global warming is not giving us the settled mediterranean summers we hoped for 🙂

    • I don’t think global warming is the correct term at all. Climate change even is not exactly right either. Dramatic extremes is what is happening, many Americans are calling it global weirdness. We had the coldest winter temperatures for a many years and this summer has been the hottest and driest for many, many years. Drought tolerance is a quantifiable figure, relating to how long without water and what the relative temperatures are. A plant that is drought tolerant in the UK where temperatures rarely reach the low 30°s C is not necessary drought tolerant here in Italy where day time temperatures are in the high 30°s and night time temperatures are in the high 20°s for 2 or 3 months in summer. Christina

  7. hello Christina, it is amazing what just a little irrigation can do, I’m glad you have had some rain but sorry it’s not enough, I know you haven’t this year but do you normally get short thunder storms in the late afternoon from mid August? I ask as the summer I was in Nice south France that is what happens or did 20 years ago, wind can be a killer, it drys the soil even in my moderate tempertures so hot wind must be far worse I can only imagine,
    every time I read comments from uk bloggers say there is no shortage of rain here is makes me wonder if I am still in the uk, our dry spell has been lifted this week I really hope and pray yours will be soon, Frances

    • In other years we’ve had thunder storms, as you describe but usually at the end of August or September. Last year there weren’t so many, a couple of real downpours and that was it. This drought has been long term. The weather has been cooler in the last couple of days which helps. Christina

  8. I think Sedums are incredible plants. They have thrived in my garden despite the incessant rain and lack of sunshine but they too have coped with your opposite extreme of no water. Amazing plants. Hopefully as the temperature cools a little and you get some rain some of the plants you thought were dead may well spring to life. Fingers crossed. WW

  9. You’re right, not all droughts are the same. I think it is temperature and above all wind, that make the difference. You’ve had a particularly bad summer, hopefully you’re due for a milder one next year, but if not, you’re making some sensible choices that should see your garden look as good as possible in the tough times. I’m looking forward to seeing how you use the teucrium, one of my favourite plants.

    • I have Teucrium already. Some I let grow unchecked, I love their airiness when grown like this, but I also like them clipped, I have a couple at the top of the steps that lead to the veg garden which replace Choisya that failed. I’ve also seen them grown as a serpentine hedge which looked spectacular. Christina

  10. I’m certainly with you on global weirdness – definitely a good description. For me it’s been the wet (sorry about that), the comparatively low light levels and wind. Terrible, random wind. I just wonder what next year will throw at me, and if any adaptations will be relevant. Other than tying everything down with at least five stakes per plant…

    (Some of your survivors are gorgeous – that’s a plus side. They look good, and they’ll cope.)

    • I think it is harder for UK gardeners to plant for all the different kinds of weather that is thrown at you. But the temperatures are not so high there, or certainly not for prolonged periods so it is best to plants that tolerate a wide range of conditions. Christina

  11. Hi Christina, such challenging conditions to garden in, it must be tempting to use more water, but if you can find more plants that thrive despite the heat and lack of rain I imagine summers will be less stressful. Replacing at least some of the box with the Teucrium sounds like a good experiment. Mostly I hope you don’t have summers this extreme again, though with the spectre of climate change, who knows what we will be dealing with in years to come.

    • Hi Janet, yes it is challenging; we rarely have any rain from mid-June until the end of August but this year the extra high temperatures and hot winds have made matters worse. Added to this my soil is very free draining; people with clay soils have had less problems. Christina

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