Drought resistant plants
By Sarah Wilson
My last newsletter was written after weeks of rain, following a very cold winter, both of which had left us with much to do to get the garden “summer ready”.
Now we have had weeks of really hot weather and not a drop of rain so our gardens are looking very parched and many plants are really suffering.
In this hot weather there is a group of plants, which do need watering – these are any trees or shrubs, which have been planted in your garden for less than two years. They will not have a good root system and need your help to get hold of the water they need to live. For a smallish tree you should provide a bucketful or watering can full of water at least twice a week.
It is a good time to consider putting more drought tolerant plants into your garden. There are many suitable plants, most of them originating in the Mediterranean or North America. Drought resistant plants have certain characteristics:
- The leaves may be silver coloured and have a furry surface. Examples of this are Stachys byzantina and Perovskia. If you don’t want tall spires on your Stachys you can use a new low growing variety called “Silver carpet” which doesn’t have any flowers.
- The leaves may be fleshy such as Sedum spectabile, Sempervivum or Aloe
- The stems may have viscous sap or aromatic and volatile oils to help the plant maintain its turgidity. Examples of these are Lavender, Rosemary and Euphorbia.
- Shrubs and trees with small green, shiny leaves such as box, yew, Pittosporum and myrtle.
Other useful plants are the daisies – from the tiny Erigeron karvinskianus to the very tall Echinacea and of course the old favourites Helenium, Rudbeckia and Michaelmas daisies – now called the unpronounceable Symphyotrichum.
Finally there are lots of lovely grasses, which love the heat and drought and can really enhance a late summer garden. The ones, which do best in my garden, are Stipa gigantea and Miscanthus.
For a really stunning display why not try a combination of Cortaderia selloana (Pampas grass) and late summer Lilies (Lilium henryi). This is a border at Great Comp gardens in Kent. Well worth a visit in August or September.
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme.
To contact Sarah please click here