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Archive for the ‘Drought Tolerance’ Category

I took a walk around the gardens today.  IMG_6752It was HOT out there!  The plants are feeling the heat as well.  Fortunately, most of the gardens are being watered by drip and spray, set up by our wonderful landscaper.  However, it is SO dry and hot, that the plants will enjoy any extra beverage we can supply.  (Just like us!)


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There are a few things I noticed that would probably help our gardens survive and look better.

  • Quite a few gardeners are forgetting to “dead-head” their flowers.  It is important to do that.  A plant is always trying to generate more of itself.  If it’s neglected, it thinks it’s out in the wild somewhere, and will try to generate seeds so when the plant dies, it will be propagated.  The flower is where the seeds are formed.  So, get rid of dead flowers.  Not only do they look unsightly, they will ultimately weaken the plant.  (Having said that, if you really want to get seeds leave them alone.  But, it won’t be pretty!)
  • I noticed in a number of beds, tall plants are planted in the front, hiding the little guys.  If you want to see those little flowers, put the tall plants in the back of the bed, or if you have  center, free-standing bed, put the tall ones in the center.  Smaller plants should always be planted in the front.
  • Many of the tall plants are not staked.  As they grow taller, they become vulnerable to tipping.  All they need is a stiff breeze, and “bang” those tall stems bend, leaving the plant looking pretty sad, and the garden unkempt.
  • If you do water, remember to water DEEPLY.  The roots should be heading downward, where it’s cool, rather than up, toward the hot, dry surface.IMG_6755
  • There are many lily’s that are either still gorgeous, or some having gone by.  In all cases, should you pick them, be VERY careful of those rust colored stamens.  If they brush against your clothing…you’ll be very unhappy because they stain, and you’ll never get that stain out!  It will not hurt their looks at all if you carefully just snip those rust colored stamens off.
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I did it!  I jumped for a “garden” here at Horizon House! Actually, it’s a plot that cannot be gardened in the usual sense.  It has roots from a Japanese Maple that we like a lot.  We don’t want to cut out the roots, as we’d lose the tree!  Drucilla, who had that plot, was moved to a place where she could actually dig.  Now, what to do with that useless plot???

Just cover it with mulch?  Why not place some pots there?

We had just cleaned up the three (3) decks so they could be resurfaced, which meant that all the pots sitting on those decks had to be removed.  There was ample time for folks to claim their pots.  I didn’t really want to buy new pots, when all those unclaimed pots were just sitting in the storage room.  So I picked out a few, and pressed them into service!img_5586

Betty had a pot that she was not going to be able to use.  It had some geraniums in it.  I asked if I could use it in my “new garden”.  She consented.  At first I was going to remove the geraniums, but then decided to keep them.  I would lay that container on it’s side, and put the two other pots around it.

Charlie and August helped me bimg_5590y moving heavy pots, and filling them with wonderful new soil.  I trimmed back the geraniums and am hoping they will reach for the sun and begin to grow in that direction.  They will hopefully provide some color.  I planted drought resistant plants (mostly succulents) in all three pots.  I’m hoping they will require very little care, and after they settle in, should look pretty nice!img_5593

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What requirements does a plant have to have in order to be considered “drought tolerant”?

It’s interesting because sometimes you can tell a drought tolerant plant by just looking at it.  Maybe the leaves are almost nonexistent, as in an evergreen with it’s oh, so narrow leaves (needles).  Some evergreens also have a pine-359845__180waxy substance that helps keep the moisture from being lost.

You’ll notice that there are plants, like silver sage, whose leaves are covered with tiny little hairs.  Those hairs grasp moisture and hold onto it.  sageOr how about plants with very deep root systems?  They dig deep to  find moisture well below the surface of the soil.  Or on the opposite side of the spectrum, those plants with roots very close to the surface to grab all the barest of rain drops.

Generally, plants that are native to dryer climates like the Mediterranean, the American West, central Asia, and southern Africa will do quite well.  A number of our herbs, used in Italian cooking are from that area and hence do well in drought condition gardens.  Think about Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Sage.

But, there are other things to remember about drought tolerance. 37350208-old-garden-scoop-on-root-and-soil-of-flowers-top-view Even a drought tolerant plant needs to have plenty of water as it is planted and trying to establish itself.  Do not ignore any newly placed plant.  Those little rootlets will dry out very quickly, and stunt, or kill your plant.  Keep any new plant well hydrated until it’s well established.  Also, we have to remember that although the plants are drought TOLERANT, that doesn’t say they are able to live through extended periods of severe drought.  If that happens, even the most drought tolerant of plants will need a little drink.  Here is a site that will help you deal with an extended period of drought.

These plants should have well drained, and organic rich soil.  img_5553This is a wonderful advantage we have here at Horizon House.  We have raised beds, with wonderful, rich soil and good drainage (especially after our new drainage systems have been installed).

One of the most important things you can do to support your plants is to provide as much mulch as possible.  It will keep the ground cool and hold that moisture in.  It will also reduce the number of weeds that will compete for water.  In our garden beds, weeds are not a huge problem, but it is worth thinking about.

Our drip irrigation system is wonderful.  It provides water to the roots, rather than to the air where it dries out too quickly.  It also is activated in the early morning, which is the very best time, as the heat of the day(which might dry it out) has not been reached as yet.

Here’s a connection to my old blog (North Country Maturing Gardener) from New Hampshire that talks about Xeriscaping or the use of drought tolerant landscaping.  It talks about many of the ideas we are dealing with here today.

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