Scorched earth…

Poilanthes 1 818
Poilanthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’, Tostat, August 2018

This is proving to be a very hard summer.  We are now in the 7th week or so of temperatures 90% of the time in the C30s, and with maybe 20mm of rain in that time.  It is a terrible test for my ‘no watering’ policy- in which I have endeavoured to find and grow plants that will survive by themselves with what nature provides.  It is now far too late for any panicky watering, which I have considered, as the ground is so hard and dry that genuine and very long-lasting gentle rain will be the only way to recover the situation.  I have made one or two exceptions for plants that were newly planted in the cold June we had, but otherwise, I am waiting to see what will happen.  Can I be accused of being reckless?  Maybe…

The plants in the pots are being watered- which takes about an hour and a half everyday.  Thank goodness for the expanding hose!  Not to mention the agricultural canal and the underground water sources that we can pump water out of…

But the potted plants are also feeling the strain of the heat.  Poilanthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’ which has a simply gorgeous perfume, like warm baked custard with a hint of the exotic, has produced only one flowerspike from 3 pots.  It is the most beautiful thing too, but simply not in the mood for flowering at all.

Poilanthes 3 818
Poilanthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’, all out, Tostat, August 2018

The potted Salvias are also on the fed-up side.  Even with watering.  I have just moved into survival mode, keeping them alive till we at last cool down.  I have taken 2 newish roses out and re-potted them, which has revived them somewhat- and my new Aspidistra plants are in deep shade in the cool, in pots.

Clematis Helios 818
The very first flower on home-grown Clematis tangutica ‘Helios’, with the new camera, Tostat, August 2018

With watering three times a day from the squeezy bottle, or, when bigger, the small watering can, seed production has not, amazingly, been too bad.  I keep them in the open barn, so they get 3-4 hours of angled sunlight, and then shade- and I have really had to be on it to keep them all going.  But successes (for the moment) include Alogyne hakeifolia, a lovely Hibiscus relative which I fell in love with in Spain, Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’ has romped away from seed to small plant in 4 weeks, Heuchera cylindrica ‘Greenfinch’ and x brizoides ‘Firefly’ have done the same though they are tiny plants in comparison, Clematis tangutica ‘Helios’ and a lovely load of hollyhock seed from my friends in Winchcombe, are coming up beautifully.  Other plants I shan’t name, for fear of incurring the hubris curse.

From this, you can see that I am looking all the time at toughness in plants, mostly to do with drought resilience- but I own that this period is straining my willingness to live happily with brown.

Changing tack, the stunning Hibiscus palustris is very happy, right by the canal with roots certainly reaching the water.  The huge, chiffon paper flowers look fabulous with some backlighting, and although it can be invasive, it is not looking that way so far here.  Perhaps it knows not to wander far from the water.

Hibiscus 3 818
Hibiscus palustris, Tostat, August 2018
Hibiscus des marais 2 818
Precision engineering, Hibiscus palustris in bud, Tostat, August 2018

So, looking ahead, we have maybe 5 mm rain offered to us this week, but nothing more.  I know that plants will come back from this, but I am feeling as if my policy has hit a murderous phase.

 

Stormy weather…

Back door view 718
Back door view, Tostat, July 2018

Last night was the third night of big storms- a huge electrical show in the sky, and Tostat lit up like Las Vegas.  This morning, a dark and sombre tone to the light, and continuing rumblings.  So much so that Molly the dog literally turned tail and ran back into the garden first thing.  The rain is very welcome, but like the whole weather scene this year, too much, too big, and utterly unpredictable.

In the last post, I was raving about Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’, and here in the foreground pot, you can see ‘Eucomis autumnalis’, which is the baby cousin and my first shot at Eucomis. I think that I need to repot all those bulbs for next year, as whilst the decorative drooping is pretty, it really means it’s a bit crowded in there.  Such a good plant- self-seeds and produces babies, and you can also grow the seed on- though it takes a few years to make a flowering plant.  I keep both Eucomis in pots, they like winter dry and some shelter, and then they handle sun and pot-soaking every 2 days- unless we are in a heatwave when it would be daily.

Kalimeris incisa Madiva 718
Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, Tostat, July 2018

Just coming out now, and continuing for 2-3 months, is Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’, a plant that is only in its second full year, but is proving to be a real trooper.  Just 1m high, it is really tough and shrugs off wind and rain, as well as hot sun.  It spreads steadily but not greedily, and is a delicate pale mauve colour- it looks fantastic next to the Monarda fistulosa, which has gone nuts this year with the rain and is taller than me.  This plant keeps going right till the late autumn- flowering when rain allows, and remaining upright and impressive.  From seed it is really easy, and these clumps are now 3 years old, so I will be dividing them later on.

Monarda fistulosa 718
Monarda fistulosa, Tostat, July 2018

When the early or late light hits the Monarda, there is almost an electric quality to the mauve flowerheads.

July view 2 718
Monarda fistulosa shimmering, Tostat, July 2018
Rosa Crepuscule 718
Rosa ‘Crepuscule’, Tostat, July 2018

At least, I think that this is ‘Crepuscule’.  Apricot to start with, golden cream and yellow later, and a deep, drinkable scent- I love it.  Not mine, in the sense that I inherited it, and it is a gawky thing, but with all the rain, it is trying for a second show.

In this strange weather, I am taken with seed production.  Clearing out my seed collection, and seeing if there is any life left, but also growing some new plants that I want to try.  I adored this plant last summer in Herefordshire, and bumped into it again in Gloucestershire at Berrys Farm Garden, open for the NGS.  ‘Trifolium ochroleucron’ is stunning.  A big shapely clump of 1m or so, with these super-charged giant cream clover heads.  The good news is that all the seed has germinated in less than 5 days.  Now, I just have to not kill them over the winter.

Berry Trifolium 618
Trifolium ochroleucron, Berrys Place Farm Gloucestershire, June 2018

More riskily, I am trying this- Alogyne hakeifolia.  Tiny pic, thank you Australianseed.com, and also ‘Gardening with Angus’ for more information.  I saw this in Spain, and fell badly.  So, why not?  All gardening is about love and passion really.  I am in a mauve phase.

download (1)
Alogyne hakeifolia Photo credit: http://www.australianseed.com