What to Plant for When It’s Dry – Partner Smart

And How to Plant for When It’s Dry – Partner Smart

The weather is not as bad as most places as we have gotten a couple of bad storms that drenched the area. Unfortunately, the ground was rather hard and impenetrable. The clay soil works in a negative fashion this late in the year. In Spring, when the soil is friable, the clay holds moisture nicely. Come mid-Summer, the clay works its way toward the surface and makes conditions not very favorable to the plants when it dries. Mulching is imperative as is water conservation.

I do my best to mulch with my homemade compost. But you will see in a coming post why my compost production plant stopped cold. There is a hint in this post.

There is no magic bullet in plant partnering for conditions, just some common sense.  If one plant mutually benefits another in some way, then neighboring may work. In my garden, I use some plants to shade others as an example.

As in the post, Bees are Buzzing Despite Drought Affecting Half the Country, the beds were watered a few times this past month and I explain why in that post. This dry summer is the first year I made an effort to water at all. The flowers are blooming, but not as well as in previous years. Most of the plants would be much taller, like the Hydrangea and Black Eyed Susan if the conditions were more favorable. Plants react and grow to environmental conditions.

The Crabapple recovered from the aphids featured a few weeks ago, with no intervention by me. Insects to the rescue, again, environmental conditions.

The grass has not been mowed for a month because of dry conditions, and the neighbors are a bit cross-eyed over this. Most of them have been watering and fertilizing all summer, but the slightly longer grass is much healthier. The grass adjusted by just leaving it to its own devices. Grass, by nature goes dormant in most summers. Fertilizing only adds additional stress by forcing on growth.

The grass looks green in the image above because we just had two thunderstorms, but there still is yellowing, especially on the South side of the property. You can see this in a following image.

The boxwood is untrimmed so they would not put on new growth during this heat. I suggest not trimming shrubs in dry hot weather. Cutting back perennials is recommended though. I often will cut them back severely, sacrificing blooming for the sake of the plants. They will bloom later in the year when temperatures are more satisfactory.

The Hydrangea in the main bed is doing fine although small. The boxwood shade the Hydrangea nicely. I purposefully did not show more than a few peeks at this bed because it is coming up in its own post. There is an uninvited pumpkin growing all through it. It will be staying until its identification is confirmed and the fruit consumed.

The Coreopsis and two more boxwood shade the Hydrangea ‘Blue Wave’ above. See the brown sticks? That is last year’s blooming stalks and are left for support. Generally, the plant grows tall and bushy enough to hide them.

Hydrangea ‘Pia’

This Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ is protected by the west-facing fence and the tall Juniper to the left. Hydrangea is not drought or heat tolerant, so making an effort to site them properly is better for the plants. They like dappled shade, but many varieties take sunny conditions. As long as the roots stay moist and cool, the plants do well.

I cut the Monarda back, and you can see the clipped stems and newer growth. The hummingbirds were very happy, evidenced by images from Bees are Buzzing. Monarda varieties include, Monarda didyma, L., ‘Pink Wonder’, Petite Deligfht’, ‘Jacob Kline’.

The phlox is doing well as another plant that is happy with dry conditions. It never gets watered by me. The roots are again, shaded by boxwood. The boxwood also lend physical support.

I was asked how I work with the dry conditions and to explain my watering practices. You can see that I plant many plants that are drought tolerant, but I also make conditions that help shade them too. The beds are densely planted and require less watering. The soil stays wet longer.

One thing to note about boxwood. It has very numerous, fibrous roots that maintain it though dry periods. The new growth will brown, but the plant is really a trooper in these hot and dry conditions. I have a client that would dig them up in the middle of July, let them sit bare rooted for weeks, replant them, and they would live. They looked a bit worn after this treatment, but they went on to flourish.

Phlox ‘David’

Phlox  ‘Flame Bartwelve’

Pink Phlox was new last Fall, and was kept watered this year to establish deep roots. Also Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ is planted.  Plants of different varieties in the garden include asters, Hydrangea, Monarda and Phlox.

The Trumpet Vine is another plant that attracts the Hummingbirds and weathers dry conditions. No one can kill this plant or is that just an urban myth?

The Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’ is a bee magnet. Every size bee visits, from the tiniest to the large Carpenter Bees. There is mini Veronica, Veronica prostrata “Nestor’ just for the little bees. It is only six inches tall. Sunny Border Blue get twenty inches tall, and is great for the bigger pollinators.

Now the side yard is a real pollinator paradise. The Caryopteris ‘First Choice’  and sweet peas are great plants. The front yard has a bit growing and blooming too.

The Pee Gee Hydrangea is just starting to flower. The Hibiscus is going gang busters and the Perovskia and Butterfly Bush ‘Lo and Behold’, are attracting many insects. Also blooming for a second showing is Lavender ‘Munstead’, Scabiosa  ‘Butterfly Blue’, and Snow Hill Meadow Sage. Each were cut back and each prefer moderately dry, well-drained conditions.

The Carpet Rose is doing well, it is another plant that never gets additional water. It depends on Mother Nature. The Iceberg Roses did get watered this year. What may occur next year is that the Lilac trees will not flower. They are very susceptible to environmental stress for blooming. The Cotoneaster carpets the ground and shades the bed. Smart Partnering, and surly helping out both the trees and the red rose.

Hibiscus ‘Luna Blush’ and  Perovskia ‘Little Spire’

Now for The Gripe…

And the side yard below is bright and cheery, but not a happy place by far. You can see the Rose of Sharon in my neighbor’s yard, but it is planted up against the fence, which is over my property by 4 inches, so technically it must be mine. Same with a good portion of the driveway by a couple of feet. See how it bows in past my fence. My fence is one foot in on my property too.

This side never gets watered or mulched, and gets late afternoon sun. Each year it performs well with Yarrow, coneflower, grasses and Rudbeckia. Notice the shortened Rudbeckia, but it did not affect bloom.

This year came to a head when I went over to nicely ask the guy sealing the driveway not to put sealer on my portion of her driveway. He told me he does what the owner tells him to do. I snapped back that I am the owner of this property and do not want hot sealer mopped onto my plants, which happens every year the driveway gets a little wider. They always dump the cleaning water on my plants too. Well, this started a real problem when he went in to tell her. I could hear the swear words flying which was obviously the intent for how loud it was. When he came out, I told him he would have more than me to contend with if he chose to mop sealer on my property. I only asked him to stay 8 inches away from the plants, even though my property is covered by substantially more asphalt.

I also approached the contractor when the awning went up because I did not want water runoff flooding at the fence. I had to replace only this portion of my fence last year because snow is piled up five feet high on the fence most winters. It rotted and pushed the fence over and cost me over $500 to replace. Why they need to pile snow there is beyond me. I mentioned many times what this would do to the fence.

The awning would probably have been over the fence if that contractor was not willing to honor property lines.

Any guess why the fence went up?  I am tempted to run it down the whole lot line. Other neighbors have done just that when having similar problems with neighbors that are not considerate and violate property lines. One, actually caused a parking hardship for the other.

Before the fence, I had thorny plants in the side yard to maintain some sense of ownership, but the former husband killed them off. So the fence went in. Notice the driveway. It has been growing.

See the patch job to the left? It is actually from each time the driveway was enlarged. How many of you would put up with losing your property, inches at a time?

When I sell, I plan to inform the new owners so they can reclaim all that is theirs. Plus I will tell the neighbor behind. The rear fence is really far onto their property. If both neighbors would take action it would be most deserving. I have a survey so I know who owns what! So why can neighbors not be considerate? They seem to take what they can get and ignore being told otherwise.

If you enjoyed the post yesterday on seeing insects really close up, see Green Apples for more. The post is entitled, Macro World – Look Into My Eyes. I often don’t do closeup work this detailed, but you might enjoy a look a little closer. I am shifting my better photography to Green Apples.

On a Better Note…

Next, another fantastic, large garden from the Buffalo area. This one was also an Open Garden and is a Shade Lover’s Dream Garden. I only wish my images could have shown it like I saw it. Then another garden bright and sunny, with paths winding and making the garden feel much larger than it is in actuality, in fact there is more than one like this.  Then we go off to the garden of a Daylily hybridizer. This farm was so beautiful, brimming with beds full of a variety of plants. And squeezed into the mix, the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. It will be a series like Chanticleer. Gardens, gardens, gardens…. when will they end?

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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16 Responses to What to Plant for When It’s Dry – Partner Smart

  1. Oh my, I would be absolutely furious with the neighbours and would reclaim my land. Its one thing ‘encroaching’ on your space but quite another to damage what is yours. unacceptable. On a happier note, your garden is looking beautiful!! The view of the Perovskia ‘Little Spire’ and Rose of S., is absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing your lovely garden with us!

  2. gauchoman2002 says:

    Your garden is still quite lovely especially considering the dry conditions this summer. I also try to layer plants to act as a “living mulch” to help shade the roots and keep the soil moist, between the living mulch and actual mulch you can reduce watering to almost nil.

    Sorry to hear of your neighbor troubles. The neighbor doesn’t sound like the type of person that can be reasoned with or even engaged with in a civil conversation. It’s just a shame that you have to use so much time, energy, and constant vigilance to make sure that they aren’t encroaching on your property.

  3. Amazing Donna how green your garden is. We still are not getting water but many natives are doing OK. Others are not without water and I will be cutting more back as I think the later garden is going to be a bust. I only water new plantings and even these are too stressed and may not make it.

    You actually have been too kind to your neighbor…I would take back the driveway and property lines…hey you can’t be considerate then you lose your privileges. Like misbehaving children…geesh. Sorry to hear you have such nasty people treating you this way.

  4. Your garden is lush and green with the limited watering it receives. I am still nursing my newly planted woody shrubs….that and battling the dry shade competition with the oaks and hickories. I bought Veronica Sunny Blue Border last year and of the three, one is still alive..barely. It is almost overnight decline…the whole plant goes brown and crunchy. Not sure the reason, but will keep exploring possibilities.
    As for your neighbor issue, wow. I might be tempted to dig up the asphalt on my property and not apologize. You all are really close quarters to the neighbors. We were close with neighbors in TX and jointly put a fence up. There was something about having the fence on the property line….if it isn’t — then years later the foot or inches or whatever are considered to be the other’s property. Not sure. I would see about the asphalt getting removed from your property. What a hassle.

  5. I wouldn’t put up with it. A simple call to codes would probably fix the situation. If not then the next best alternative is to go to court. I have a friend who has this exact same issue. His neighbor concreted her driveway and three feet of the concrete is on his property. She swore that it was not. So he had a survey done and guess what? He was right but it was too late as the concrete driveway already went on his property. He is far nicer than me in allowing her to leave it there. I would not. After so many years of using that property it will become theirs. That is a problem. I say go ahead and run the fence all the way to the road and when you do make sure to get a jcakhammer to remove that asphalt. But be sure you are in the right and let her know ahead of time, maybe with police standing by. A fence is a perfect thing and I’ve done that here and it has helped with neighbor problems tremendously.

  6. Sorry about the neighbor troubles! Your Hydrangea is so healthy. Mine is doing OK, too, but I had to water it just about every day from mid-June through most of July when we had next to no rain. But I had to pamper it because I love it. 🙂

  7. Oh, thank God for my neighbours up here in the summer house! They are lovely and considerate, and we always call each other before making any plans about our common hedge planting. (Our hedges towards both neighbours are several meters wide, though, so the actual plot lines are a bit blurry…)

    The rest of the garden looks lovely, though, and even though I will never have drought problems it was an interesting lesson in how to plant for your conditions.

  8. Your garden really looks good despite the lack of rain! Good gardening practices really help in these conditions! Inconsiderate neighbors are the worst! I agree with the comments above…time to take action and reclaim your property before its too late! Good luck Donna!

  9. Thank you everyone for your advice and thoughts. I never wanted to remove the entire area that infringes on my property because that is where she parks her car, but what has frosted me is that it keeps getting larger. One year I cut it back by eight inches after it kept growing and what happens? The next time the driveway was patched, more than eight inches was put back in. Give an inch and they take a mile. That is exactly the problem. The driveway does not ever get ‘grandfathered in’ because at some point it must be replaced, especially with asphalt.

  10. Laurrie says:

    I could feel my blood pressure rising as I read about your encroaching neighbor, so I had to go back and look at the gorgeous pictures in this post of your dry-loving garden to calm down. I am also finding that my garden is easier to maintain in the hot dry season as plants fill in and shade each other’s roots.

  11. A very informative and enjoyable post. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge with us. I learn something new every time I read your blog.

  12. HolleyGarden says:

    I would take back what was legally mine. And put a low fence, bricks, or something that showed the correct property line. So, if she wants to repave the drive, the contractor will clearly see where the line is, and that you have a legitimate complaint. Your garden is beautiful – front and back.

  13. debsgarden says:

    Your garden looks wonderful, and I appreciate the tour! As for the neighbor, I would be tempted to extend the fence also, but then how would you manage your side yard? Neighbors can be so frustrating when they are inconsiderate. I still resent the gigantic (three story!) workshop my neighbor built less than ten feet from our property line, sited so that the unattractive mass of the side of the building became the view from our front windows, rather than sweeping views of rolling pastures which we had before. He neglected to tell us he was going to build this structure, until the day I came home to find bulldozers parked on my front lawn! He has over four acres, and this is where he chose to build. I spent a fortune planting trees to screen his workshop.

  14. lula says:

    I am glad that after many weeks I am coming back to your blog reading this post, for I can “visit” see your garden. Here we also suffer from a very dry summer, early sumer this year. I am coping with what I inherited in the garden and try to plan for September with hardy plants in mind, I will try some of the ones you mention here. Yes, bignonias are almost indestructible!! I am using one to cover a wall, another to give shade to the pond and another I gave up and decided to “accept where it was and tried to use it for greening one side of the entrance. I am sorry to know that your neighbor is so insensitive, I also have had some very bad experiences and is not what one likes to have. I hope that the person somehow receives what deserves and it gets better for you! Looking forward to your posts about the botanical garden, I also have a couple to report from previous months and also some interesting projects.

  15. Indie says:

    How sad about your unreasonable neighbor! Maybe you should plant something a little more fitting right next to that asphalt, such as poison ivy? 😉
    You have some beautiful blooms despite the drought. I’ve found that the bloom times of a lot of my plants have been shortened as well (the 105 degree heat might have had something to do with it.) I was sad at how short my ‘Luna’ hibiscus blooms lasted. Thanks for the info about cutting perennials back – I’m never sure when to cut what.

  16. stone says:

    Nice pictures, hard to believe there’s a drought.

    Incredible story about the neighbor. Some bad neighbors call the police on us, but stealing the property inches at a time with the driveway is interesting.

    I’ve turned the soil next to those asphalt driveways, the asphalt doesn’t like having the soil worked… Was me… I’d turn that soil and turn that soil… And that drive-way would crumble… Or… just call the police. Get it on the record that there’s a problem.
    Letting ourselves be treated like doormats, and trying to avoid conflict only encourages these people.

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