Scorched earth…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hibiscus palustris, Tostat, August 2018
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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.