Usually I have to do some watering each August, which tends to be dry month, but this summer I have had to water for most of the late spring and summer.
The front garden minus the picket fence which is still patiently waiting to be painted. To tell the truth, the garden looks a bit messy without the fence to provide a backdrop.
Standing tall, with pale pink flowers and a red eye, is a Rose of Sharon. The warm blue spires are an Agastache 'Blue Fortune'. Below it, with tiny blue flowers, is a Calamintha.
Rose of Sharon with Calamintha below it.
In the middle distance is a white Potentilla (read more about this shrub here). In the far distance is Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'.
The window box just inside the back gate needs watering daily.
A hazy view of the back garden.
One of my favourite containers and a snail I got at the Dollar Store.
Another hazy view of my four raised beds (hidden under foliage) and two of the dogs.
Scrap with Piper in behind.
This watering can which I planted up in this post has held up fairly well.
The circular garden at the back of the yard.
Sedum lining the walkway into the centre of the circle garden.
Sedum Matrona and Rudbeckia
I try to water deeply rather than frequently. I reason that nature doesn't provide rainwater everyday, so why should I?
But despite my efforts to keep the garden green, there has been losses. Just look at my poor Ostrich Ferns! Generally speaking, ferns throughout the garden have suffered.
But despite appearances, there is still some hope for effected plants...
Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender'
The hose doesn't easily reach this particular Phlox. This is how it looked in better days and here is what it looked like at the beginning of August:
Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender'
I was worried I had lost it. Amazingly enough, the roots held on to wait until we had a little rain mid-August.
Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender' on the left and Phlox paniculata 'David'
And now there is fresh growth (see picture on the left). It seems the growth above ground was sacrificed to keep the roots below ground alive.
One odd thing: the white phlox that you see pictured on the right is adjacent to the one that nearly died. The white phlox is doing well and is even blooming. Adding to the mystery is the fact that the two phlox are cousins: Phlox 'David's Lavender' and Phlox 'David'.
Another surprise is that some varieties of a plant have faired far better than others. All Astilbe like soil conditions to be on the most side, but some cultivars appear to fair better in a drought than others.
Usually I struggle to get any of my Astilbes through the driest part of a summer. I was thinking of giving up on Astilbe altogether, but recently I added several cultivars with larger, lighter green leaves and they are surprisingly okay.
A more healthy Ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford' (on the middle-right)
in Chen's garden in Milton, Ontario
This discrepancy is also true of my two Ligularia. Again, all Ligularia like moist soil, but one variety is doing okay while the other has all but disappeared. The darker Ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford' is still rather sad, but it has faired much better.
The lesson I take away is that not all cultivars are created equal when it comes to drought. Don't write-off growing a certain type of plant until you have tried a few different varieties.
Here is a list of perennials that have really suffered:
• Astilbe (all the darker-leafed varieties have all but disappeared)
• Betony (has looked woeful unless watered regularly)
• Japanese Ferns (have all died back, but are recovering)
• Ostrich Ferns
• Peonies (often look wilted)
• Daylily ( are more sparse than usual)
• Primrose (looked sad most of the summer)
• Phlox (wilted or dead looking unless watered)
• Joe Pye Weed (half its normal height)
• Parsley (very poor harvest)
• Japanese Forest Grass (sad)
• Sweet Cicely
• Hostas in too much sun
Here is a list of plants that have done fine:
• Gas Plant
• Blue Star
• Ornamental grasses
• Turtle Head
• Goat's Beard
• Meadow Rue
• Iron weed
You may remember how I planted up this strawberry hanging basket. Despite regular waterings it couldn't take the dry weather. So moved it to a new spot were it gets morning sun and light afternoon shade. It's recovered beautifully.
The lesson I take away here is to move (if possible) a plant struggling in drought to a spot that offers some relief from the sun's hottest and most drying rays.
Freshly watered birdbath planter (how to here).
This breaks my heart a little bit because, I have always loved interesting and unusual plants. If I plant likes more moisture than my small part of Southern Ontario affords, I have always been willing to do a little coddling just for pleasure of having a few special things in my garden. With the garden as a whole now requiring regular watering, I am questioning how practical it is to continue to have plants that don't fit with the new reality.
Who wants to be faced with an unhappy looking plant? Surely it is better to work with the existing environmental conditions than to fight them.
I just hope we all get smarter, so global warming doesn't get any worse!
More Information and Links:
A Few Water Wise Tips:
• Water in the early morning when temperatures are cooler and the sun is lower in the sky for less water evaporation.
• If you improve your soil with compost, the organic matter will slow down the movement of rainwater through the soil allowing plants to get what they need.
• Mulch also helps to slow moisture loss from the surface of the soil.
• Keep weeds at bay. You don't want your garden plants competing with weeds for moisture!
• If you can afford it, a drip irrigation systems will deliver water right to the soil. Much of the water from a traditional sprinkler system evaporates into the air.
• Think about collecting rainwater in a water barrel.
• Group plants that like moist conditions together to make watering faster and easier.
• Healthy plants require less waster! Feed the soil with compost, well-rotted manure or leaf mould for happier, healthier plants.
• It is making more and more sense to choose drought tolerant perennials and shrubs. Plants that are native to your area are also a good option as they are adapted to your region's climate conditions and soil.