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.

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Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – June – Blast Furnace Days

I was away from the garden for a long weekend in Prague, visiting friends who were teaching there for a month; a great city for a break with masses to see especially if you like Art Nuevo and music – ah the music!

But I digress.  Before I went away we had more than a week of strong winds with temperatures about average or a little below the norm for this time of year.  On the day we left the direction of the wind must have changed bringing scorching temperatures of up 38 or 39° C, with wind as well on the first day.  So in four days the garden looks totally different.  Actually it looks as if someone went crazy it with a blow torch!

I hadn’t begun the automatic irrigation because every morning there had been evidence of quite heavy dew, so I felt the plants should cope.  I should have realised that the wind was already drying them out and that they needed a little help.  The automatic irrigation is now on; I’ll post about the different types of irrigation tubes I use and what I think are the pros and cons of each kind soon.

We are now entering the period when there are less blooms, only the toughest of plants flower when its this hot.  So I am now relying on foliage and form to give life to the garden.  Shiny, glinting silvers sparkle in the shimmering heat.  Even very tough, drought tolerant plants like Cistus don’t look their best; their leaves shrivel a little to help prevent water loss.  The garden has lost that feeling of lush plenty and is looking parched and lean.  Not my favourite time.

View of the Large Island with mounds of various silver-leaved plants

You can see in the above that my Cordyline is not happy, it really doesn’t like the heat; its days are numbered.

I showed this plant in spring, when it was wet so you could see how felt-like hairs on the leaf surface protect it from the strong rays of the sun.

Artimesia ponticum

Without these silver-leaved plants the garden would be very sad in summer.

Looking almost blue in the shade earlier this morning

Even the plant’s flower stems and flowers are covered in in tiny hairs for protection

Festuca glauca sparkles in the heat

These leaves look like machine embroidery lace

Euphorbia rigida

Euphorbia rigida’s new foliage is lifting itself clear of its spent flowering stems.  The seed pods were popping for weeks, I expect to find many new seedlings in autumn, time now to clear away the debris.

Euphorbia myrsinites is doing the same, its seedlings are already emerging in the gravel paths

More work to be done, did I really say in an earlier post that there wasn’t much to do in June and July in the garden?

Metallic leaves of Convolvulus cneorum have tough leaves for their protection

The loveliest thing happening in the garden is all the bees and butterflies that fill the space with fluttering wings and various levels or buzzing.  But even here there are things to shock.  Looking at the lavender hedge of the formal beds and taking as many photos as I could I saw this, at first I could quite believe what I was seeing.

Was the bee really being attacked?

I really think it has trapped the bee and is eating it! What could it be?

I checked in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ book and found that it is an Assassin Bug, Rhinocoris iracundus.

I hope you will join in GBFD and tell us what foliage is looking great in your garden at the moment.  To link in just leave a comment with a link to your post; I look forward to reading them.  I’ll read and comment on all GBFD posts, thank you for joining in.