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.
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 ‘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.
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?