The slope on Thursday A different perspective

It is a while since I’ve posted about the slope.  I did take some photographs last week but then my laptop decided that it needed a rest and wouldn’t work; I am backing up almost every time I use it as I am sure it is going to break down very soon – I’m nursing it along as I really don’t want to buy a new one at this moment (apart from not knowing whether to change to Apple or continue with Microsoft – any thoughts on this would be gratefully accepted!)

Did I mention how hot it has been since we returned from the US?  The slope is perfect for showing you what high temperatures, free draining soil and no rain since the beginning of June can do.

While it is this hot I get up at 5.30 am so that I have a few hours to work outside in the garden and a little inside too, before it is too hot to do anything except read or sleep, actually it’s too hot to sleep!

Just to provide a contrast here’s the slope at the end of May; full of colour with Californian poppies.

More and more poppies

This was the slope at the end of May

Doesn’t it look lovely?

These photographs were taken at about 6.30am this morning, the camera actually thought it was too dark and wanted the flash for many of the images.

The usual view, the main colour on the slope now is from the blue Perovskia

The usual view, the main colour on the slope now is from the blue Perovskia

The same view with flash

The same view with flash

Even the fennel has only a few flowers and looks ready to die back.



This image shows just how washed out the garden as a whole looks with colour only from Mirabilis jalapa

This image shows just how washed out the garden as a whole looks with colour only from Mirabilis jalapa

Even sun lovers are looking rather sad and washed out, I’m struggling to be positive but have promised to try to be more like the gardeners who have to endure long winters with their gardens covered with snow, but like them all I want to do is hibernate indoors where it is cooler.

Mirabilis jalapa

Mirabilis jalapa

Even the prostrate rosemary looks as if the heat is too much for it.

Even the prostrate rosemary looks as if the heat is too much for it.

I like the strong form of the sphere of Teucrium

I like the strong form of the sphere of Teucrium to the left of the Perovskia

There are a lot fewer Verbascum this year but I’m sure more will reappear next year.

Looking up the slope, lots of the brown patches are the dead Eschscholzia

Looking up the slope, lots of the brown patches are the dead Eschscholzia

Verbascum picked up in the flash with the background just looking brown

Verbascum picked up in the flash with the background just looking brown

The colours may be missing in the above but looking closely I can enjoy the form of the different plants, it is harder to appreciate this when I’m actually out there under the beating sun.

What do you do when it is too hot to be outside?  Does your garden look lack-lustre in July?  What do you do to cheer yourself up?


54 thoughts on “The slope on Thursday A different perspective

  1. Inspiring. I like the idea that you have one dramatic slope in May and then a different drama in the same area in July. It’s more likely to be rain stops play here in the UK so I catch up with reading. Currently it’s book 2 of the Neapolitan novels Elena Ferrante’s The Story of a New Name. It’s set in Naples and is compellingly wonderful.

    • I have to admit that “inspiring” isn’t the way I’d describe my garden at present but perhaps I am looking at it as someone to actually doesn’t like the heat very much. Thanks for the recommendation for the book; I’m always looking for new authors to try, I’m just off to Amazon to check if it available for my kindle.

  2. Oh dear, your garden does look dry. The Perovskia is amazing, though, as always, but what a shame you have to get up so early to appreciate it. Is the heat worse this year? Do you have air conditioning inside? I am pretty hopeless when I get too hot and I’m afraid my garden would be sadly neglected. Many of your plants are good at coping with the heat though, so do you expect them to all bounce back when they get some rain again?

    • I’m not good with heat either Annette! Most of the silver foliaged plants will recover but it means nothing actually grows in summer, just in spring and autumn. This year is hotter than usual and last year there was an unusual amount of rain which was lovely (not as much as in the UK but a lot for here).

      • I remember you had more rain that usual at one point, but I couldn’t remember when it was. I hope you have some more soon. I would love to send you some of ours. We have just put the heating on again today. It is unbelievable!

  3. The Gulf Coast is really hot in the summer with temperatures hitting 96F and the humidity in the high 80’s. Many of the flowers here take a rest for the hot days of summer and return in the Fall. We are able to grow some tropicals that enjoy blooming in the heat. On hot days I stay inside and working on quilting.

    • But at least the humidity helps the plants a little, giving that tropical effect; the air is quite dry here too so there really is no water available to the plants. But I cope better with the lower humidity; high humidity just saps me!

  4. Some years, our hot-dry starts in May, this year it was June and not too bad. Seems to be over now, w/ the monsoon season cooling it down. No matter, I don’t do much after 8 am and before sundown until fall. (esp. w/ only a few containers:-)

  5. Getting up early to beat the heat worked well for me living in South East Asia and, in the summer, I tend to do the same in the UK – I think it’s the best time of day, quiet & I have it all to myself with a pot of tea and a potter around the garden. Bliss! The perovskia and grasses look stunning given your parched conditions ….

  6. While your May slope full of color has receded into more muted tones, the slope still has so much character since you’ve emphasized texture and form so strongly. I’ve not done much gardening in the past several weeks. It’s too hot but also I don’t have that urge to touch the soil the way I do in early spring.

  7. OK … so not as much colour, but the textures and forms are really interesting. Does it smell at all? I imagine hot, herby air. (I don’t do so well in heat either, 25 deg C is top of my OK bracket. Dry heat is better for me, even if it isn’t for the plants.)

  8. There is still a lot of interest in spite of how dry everything looks. I love the billowy grasses and grey-leaved plants in the foreground and how it is set off against the hedges at the top of the slope. When everything else is in full swing, you don’t really notice those (photinia?) hedges, but now they are really hiving a strong presence. I don’t cope with heat either: I start to get distressed at about 29C!

  9. It’s a good time to see the structure of your garden shine, Christina, now that there are fewer flowers to distract the eye. I like the muted color provided by the Perovskia and the tawny grasses. However, I do appreciate that let-down that accompanies the hottest weather, when plants hunker down and flowers hide until conditions become more hospitable. Right now, I’m focusing my time in the garden (mainly mornings and late afternoons) on clean-up and laying down more mulch. When I really get fed up by the garden’s downturn, I plant up one or more large containers, filling them with plants I wouldn’t risk putting in the ground this time of year. The pots also come in handy to fill in the holes in the garden left by recently deceased plants…

    • This year, the cuttings bed is giving me a lot of pleasure; as it has irrigation because it is part of the vegetable beds I don’t mind using water for them, but for the rest of the garden I really want to make it so that no irrigation is required.

  10. I think your slope is magnificent at all times, but then I’m a big fan of those Calvin Kline colors: greige & taupe & ecru. etc. My greatest pick-me-up is visiting open gardens, meeting up with garden buds and commiserating about the weather. The heat fills me with ennui, but there is almost always a shady corner somewhere. Oh, and we bought a mister!

  11. My garden looks fairly drab at the moment also, but I’m looking at snow on Mount Wellington and its the middle of winter. Plenty of tall dead perennials are waiting for the chop but hopefully feeding some birds in the mean time. The miscanthus wands still look beautiful, the prunus is just showing deep mahogany buds, the galanthus and hellebores are beginning to flower. However the plants that really gives me joy at this time of the year is the wonderful coral bark maple glowing through the sun showers. Your slope looks wonderful, all muted patterns and colours, and I imagine it smells of those intoxicating Mediterranean herbs

    • Hi Susan, thank you for your description of your garden in winter, it’s nice for me to think about it being winter somewhere in the world. Yes the slope smells of Cistus and and Rosemary.

    • During the day the foliage looks like it is dying but at night it seems to perk up, it is a bit of a thug but I am learning to appreciate it as it is very colourful when nothing else is.

  12. Considering the heat, the slope looks remarkably good and seasonal. The Petrovskia is doing well and will be providing succour for the pollinators. I would not change to a Mac. If you have been using Microsoft you may also meet with incompatibility issues with older files you might want to call up from time to time if you keep records on your computer. Amelia

  13. Like you, Christina, I get up early when it’s hot and try and get some things done before it becomes sweltering. (And I also like your Mirabilis!)

  14. Ciao Christina, è da un po’ che non commento il tuo blog. In realtà in questo periodo mi sto dedicando ad una nuova attività che richiede tempo e pazienza e che ha sempre a che vedere con il giardino. Anzi con l’arredo del giardino! realizzo mosaici in pietra naturale; sì proprio con quelle pietre che ho in giardino. Mi hanno chiamata per delle mostre e sono piaciuti moltissimo. Anche in questi giorni con il caldo che c’è fuori mi dedico a questo. Dall’altro lato però sono preoccupatissima per le piante che stanno soffrendo da morire. Speriamo che resistano.

  15. I love that first picture with the California poppies, looks like a perfect summer vignette. I grew California poppies for the first time this year and their performance was only mediocre. I guess they feel your garden is a lot more like California than mine.

  16. Christina I would not consider moving to the Mediterranean as I do not like hot, but I would like a bit of warm, I think you are lucky to have so many months in the year when you do have lots of blooms and can do some gardening, you are way ahead of most of the gardeners on the blogs I read, you sound very distatified with your garden and I can’t understand why, I would love a garden half as good as yours, mine is mostly brown heather, the rest is over grown, over lush, green floppy and fallen plants, my blooming photo are craftly, crafted! I have started to realise the camera can be careful used and those magnifcient photos in books and mags are avoiding the rough stuff! Go visit an airconditioned art gallery, restaurant, etc to get out of the heat, it won’t be long until winter is back, welcome back to blog world, Frances

    • You are quite right Frances that I wouldn’t want to live somewhere that was winter for more than 6 months of the year; I enjoy the usually early springs and the quality of the light here, even in the depths of winter, but seeing all the plants suffering so much is depressing given that I advocate not using irrigation in most of the garden. I should post some ‘honest’ images of the worst parts of the garden so that everyone can understand what 2 or 3 months of no rain and temperatures in the mid to high thirties actually means to a garden. There aren’t many art galleries where I live it isn’t a very large town and anyway most aren’t air-conditioned. We often go to the beach at the weekend where there is usually a slight cool breeze and the water is wonderful to cool off in. My car is air conditioned and so I could drive around for a while but that wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly, would it.

      • Too be honest Christina I did wonder if there was any air conditioning, nice you can get to the beach, I think quite a lot of us garden in places where the weather/climate takes it’s toll on our plants, for you it is dry heat, for others cold and wet, for me here it is the salt wind storms, I guess there is no ideal place to garden, I have always said one reason why I prefer cold to hot is because it is easier to wrap up and get warm than get cool, for me it is the rain, ever constant rain, the north of Scotland is getting upwards of 4 times more rain than the rest of the UK with the exception of west Scotland, you’ve been here before and come through, it will soon be autumn, Frances

        • I agree about being able to keep warm more easily than keeping cool. We didn’t move to Italy for the weather, even if many people think that was the reason. All gardeners have to contend with some problem or other, don’t they? Weather, slugs and snails, other pests, and we all think our own problem is the worst there is but we carry on anyway!

  17. oh Christina, if only we had the heat that you do! (or even a tiny bit of it!) Your garden slope is still so lovely, even in the depths of a hot summer. My favourite plant here is the Mirabilis jalapa which I’m not familiar with. As for computers, I switched to Apple this past year. It took a bit to get used to the changes, but at this stage I absolutely love it and wouldn’t go back! Good luck 🙂

    • I would very gladly send you some of our heat but I don’t think you would really enjoy it if you experienced it. Thanks for the recommendation about the Mac, hearing what others have experienced is really helpful.

  18. July and August are always the hardest months in my garden. Flowers are few. At least this year we have had plenty of rain, so everything is green. There have been years when I struggled to keep things alive.

    I know how terrifying the thought of a computer collapse is. I have always used Apple, and I can vouch for its user-friendliness. It is easy to be creative on an Apple.

    • This is one of those years when I fear some plants will die, some will become smaller as the plant itself tries to save itself and some will just look terrible and we have some rain. Apple is much more popular in the States than in Europe, this is going to be a hard decision because my husband uses a pc and is my go-to person when I have any problems but it doesn’t want to have to learn about another system.

  19. I would enjoy the muted tones and beautiful textures and graceful forms and go to the beach with book (I’ve recently discovered Jonathan Franzen), iplayer and picnic. I guess the downside is you will lose some plants as many of us did in the run of severe winters we had in the UK south east a few years ago but the upside is the opportunity for new planting. I don’t use mains/tap water on my (clay sub-soil) garden so it is very dry with a yellowing lawn which I haven’t cut for a month. I know it will bounce back as soon as the rain arrives. When I was planting my purple sprouting broocoli at the allotment last week I found that a spit down the soil was lovely. The trick is to get the plants to find that moisture as quickly as possible which I do by soaking the planting holes before and after planting, mulching well and then letting them get on with it. I use Microsoft for work and apple for play and I like the distinction between them even if it does mean blogging on the iPad. Apple is so intuitive that I’m sure if you switched you would adapt very quickly.

    • As much as a clay soil is difficult, it does retain water; mine is very free draining and although I have added lots of organic material, it needs a great deal more to be able to hold onto more water. I plant in the way you describe except that all vegetables and flowering in the cuttings beds have to be irrigated. I have already removed some roses because they really didn’t do well apart from one early spring flowering and am searching for more plants that will survive our hot dry summers and our possibly cold temperatures in winter. There is a much smaller choice of plants than will adapt to the English climate. But summer will pass and usually the autumn is long and very pleasant.

  20. Well I think it looks great, stipa tenuissima offering movement in the slightest breath of wind, the perovskia must be offering up its sage like scent and the californian poppies are busy making and setting seed for next May. Yep it all looks good to me. Seek out the shade and let it all happen it will be back in bloom soon.

  21. I love the grasses, brown though they may be! And I do wish my little Mirabilis jalapa looked as good as yours; mine is struggling along, blooming anyway, but I suspect I may have to start all over with it again – once I get some more shade into the garden! I am fortunate in being comfortable with a fair amount of heat, but I admit I’m waiting eagerly for September and putting off some gardening jobs… Your perovskia is a lovely cool hue for the hot months 🙂 Hope you get a break in the weather soon!
    I will add that my sister detests her wonderful new Windows 8… I’m needing a replacement myself and not sure what to do as I’ve watched her struggle with the new OS. Still scouting the options!

    • During the day the Mirabilis jalapa wilts completely because it is just too hot and dry for it, but its thick roots hold enough water to keep it alive until the slightly fresher evening air. The flowers don’t persist long into the day it is a plant to place near where you sit in the evening when its flowers are freshly opened.

      • Do you mind if I ask, are those first-year Mirabilis? I remember the one I grew in the Midwest as a good-sized, robust plant, but it lasted for years, and I know I’m remembering it at its biggest! The one I have now is just a single stick with some bleached leaves and a small tuft of flowers on top. I finally mulched it with sawdust, which seems to have helped, though I’ll have to make sure it gets enough nitrogen…

        • No, the Mirabilis were actually here when we bought the property so they are at least 9 years old. They need more water than they get so don’t grow, but they seed around and sometimes the seeds germinate and grow. I don’t do anything to them, in fact I was pulling them out but they continue to grow.

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