The Slope on Thursday – Blue on blue on blue

The week began with a forecast of rain all week.  I know not to believe it when the same forecast is given for a couple of weeks; what it means is that don’t know when the wind will change direction and the temperatures will change.  Monday was wet all day and Tuesday was grey with a couple of showers but Wednesday and today (Thursday) have been very warm.  Blue skies with just a few very high white fluffy clouds and no wind.  The temperature in the greenhouse is 34°C outside somewhere in the mid-twenties. Continue reading

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The Slope on Thursday 3rd April

It has been sunny and warm and perfect gardening weather since last Thursday but the forecast says it will rain tomorrow and Saturday and the north wind will return so no more lunches outside for a little while.
All of the trees are now showing their new green leaves and the crab apple and quince have flowers!

Continue reading

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!

June GBBD

The hot weather of the last two months has continued but we have had some rain; mostly as showers that occur in the late afternoon.  I have a least been able to turn the irrigation off for several days.  Almost all the images of the flowers blooming today have rain drops on their petals as you’ll see from the slide show.

The garden feels much more like mid or high summer than June.  Lavender is flowering and is overflowing onto the pathways, meaning that when I walk through the garden I brush against it releasing the heady perfume. Many of the roses have finished their first flowering; some are already showing signs of being ready to start again.  R. x odorato ‘Mutabilis’ is flowering again as is R. Stanwell Perpetual, R. Sophie’s Perpetual.  R. Queen of Sweden already had new shoots growing below each previous bloom and even some buds; even before I had dead-headed it.  R. ‘Clair Matin’ on the pillars also has lots of new growth with buds, there have always been some flowers from when it started to flower in early May.  Pierre di Ronsard is situated on a north facing pillar and so this is the first flowers.  William Shakespeare is still being generous with new flowers opening.

R. William Shakespeare

I have been tying in the long waving shoots of the Wisteria which also has lots of secondary flowers. These Lilies are flowering for the third year in these pots, without any extra food or change of soil – that’s great value.  Their growth is stronger too after the first year and don’t now need staking as they did when first planted.

Regal Lillies

Self-sown Verbascum are very impressive; all are taller than when they grow in the fields around the house, this one is about 2.3 m tall!

I planted some ornamental Verbascum as I realised last year when I saw all the wild ones around that they would be happy and perform well.  In spring I sowed a very old packet of V. Phoenician Hybrids, they need potting on so they will be good size plants for planting out in autumn.

Teucrium hyrcanicum is new for me this year and I am enjoying its kitten tail flowers very much.  They contrast well with Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’ and another paler yellow Hemerocallis.  I also like their strong form against the softer form of Nepeta.

I planted a stream of Allium sphaerocephalon through the large island last autumn and they are now opening from green tight heads to deep crimson drum sticks.

There are others in the garden flowering for a second year and also others that have self-seeded.   As you will see from the slide show when you click on the image below there are several starry white flowers, they are: Jasminum officinale, Trachelospermum, and Solanum jasminoides ‘Album’

Upper drive border

Today is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day when gardeners from all over the world post about what is blooming in their gardens; why not visit Carol at May Dreams Garden who hosts this meme.  So whether its early summer or early winter with you have a great GBBD.

&©Copyright 2011 Christina. All rights reserved. Content created by Christina for My Hesperides Garden.