It's a simple concept, really. In these times of drought, which we're experiencing here in northwest Ohio, it's the perfect time to assess just what plants in the garden are a healthy green and seemingly thriving. Those that are, really stand out when others are either dead or look like they're headed in that direction.
We are eight inches below normal levels of rainfall, I'm told. It's nearly the middle of October and though we're experiencing temperatures well above normal for this time of year (we set a new record high yesterday, at 87°), experience has taught us that we could see snow by this time next week. It's not likely, but with cold weather in the offing for the next five months or so, the lack of rain is alarming.
Plants need to go into winter well-hydrated. This helps them survive the drying, harsh winds during the cold months. Evergreens especially are affected by a lack of moisture. We've been trying to keep up with watering, but with so many plantings on this acre of property, what we really need is rain, and a steady dose of it.
While waiting for the drops of gold to fall from heaven, I have taken note of several plants that haven't lost a leaf due to the dry weather:
- Sedum - We have all kinds of these all over the property - ground covers and uprights - and every single one of them looks pretty darn fabulous. 'Nuff said!
- Ajuga - Another groundcover, this borders on invasive, but I appreciate the deep green ruffles that lay at the feet of one of our maple trees in Max's Garden.
- Variegated Liriope- These like moist soil, but thankfully they have done fine in our gardens in dry shade.
- Five-leaved Akebia - This vine is a "wild hair" of a thing on a trellis that it long ago outgrew, yet that's what gives it its rebellious appearance, so I think I'll keep it there.
- Helleborus - Seldom has my mother steered me wrong when she recommended a plant for my garden. This was one of the first that I bought for the shade garden and after six years, there is a nice little colony growing there.
- Lavender - This is no surprise, is it?
- Heuchera - Coral Bells do well in general here, but none better than 'Dolce Blackcurrant.'
- Sweet Autumn Clematis - I'm not sure you can kill this stuff. For us, it's not invasive, but it's a very vigorous grower and isn't bothered by drought.
- Santolina - An aromatic herb, I've got the green version as well as the silver one. Most herbs do like it hot and dry and apparently Santolina is no exception. They've never looked better!
- Chrysanthemums - While mums like to have consistently moist soil in order to bloom best, they obviously do well in times of drought, too, once established.
- Milk Thistle - I saw this at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens last year and loved the pattern on its prickly-edges leaves. I got some seeds and discovered that it's super easy to grow and isn't affected by hot and dry weather in the least. It has pretty purple blooms, too!
We can learn from times of drought. Instead of gardening harder by having to spend so much time keeping plants watered, how about growing more plants that thrive in under such conditions? Which plants in your garden are thumbing their noses at this summer's drought?
(And who knew plants had noses? Or thumbs, for that matter! LOL)