by Nancy Oakes
Water, where for art thou? In the last twelve weeks, my garden has seen just an inch and a half of rain. On the plus side, I can now say which plants in my garden are drought tolerant. A small comfort as I watched so many favorite plants struggle to bloom and then just fade away. The biggest disappointment was the Filipendula `Queen-of-the-Prairie.' It barely made it to 3' tall and I wish I had had the foresight to cut it back and not let it bloom. I will be amazed if it appears next spring. The Columbines came and went very quickly, but so far seem to be dealing well with the heat.
On the other hand, the Verbascums were all gorgeous and just loved the heat and no wet feet. A big surprise was the Hosta `Fried Green Tomatoes.' It's done well for the last two years in full sun, but it's only response to this years conditions was shorter flower scapes. Add to its vigor the scent of its flower and you have a very desirable plant that will grow no matter what. Even the Hollyhocks, which were moved in early June, bloomed beautifully and survived some major munching by an unknown caterpillar which turned out to be the truly lovely American Painted Lady butterfly. They were much appreciated since the Monarchs were not in evidence.
The Russian Sage, which I thought was on its last legs last year with all the wetness, has come back with a bang and is a welcome sight in late September. As well, the Clary Sage which has seeded itself along the edges of beds was a standout with it's oddly coloured pink bracts and blue flowers producing a wonderful hazy mauve. It's oddly attractive aroma only adds to it's garden value. And of course the Daylilies. Billed as drought tolerant, they were certainly put to the test this year and they passed with flying colours. A few responded with smaller flowers than normal, but for the most part, they bloomed their hearts out.
So folks, water well this fall, especially your trees and shrubs. Whether you use a soaker hose or over head, make sure after you're done that the water has soaked down at least eight inches and if the drought continues into the late fall, just keep on watering.