Assessing summer drought damage

box ball deadCan you see the problem with this picture?  These are the box balls I have planted under the giant wisteria in the east garden.

Peeping out at the back is one very dead looking plant.

And I don’t think any radical pruning and love and affection in the form of a thick mulch is going to bring it back.

That is always the problem with mass planting one particular plant.  If anything fails, it looks more ghastly.  Think of a line of trees up an avenue. If one plant is stunted, sickly or dying, you tend to see it more than the magnificent sweep of plants working hard to create a brilliant effect.

I will cut this one back hard when I’m next amblng past with a pair of secateurs and consider why it died.

In the barn garden I have a mix of plants. Great news after the drought, as some thrived and took your eye away from the parched remnants in between. stachus 1

I lost a lavender stoechas here somewhere, but luckily the nepeta just kept on going. And only when I really cut the nepeta hard next spring will I find where exactly the lavender lies. (Planting plans – one starts out with good intentions, but after a few years you adopt the ‘shove it in anywhere’ approach and never find them if they don’t flower.

I was concerned about the main ground cover plant in this part of the garden. The stachys. It was looking ropey after the three months of parched hot conditions.

stachysBut I needn’t have worried. Two sessions of good rain and the plants have perked right up.

And the santolinas – another stalwart – have mostly survived. There is quite a bit of dead plant material on every mounded dome. But once I make time, I’ll just cut back hard and see the bald patches covered up with new growth next spring.

And praise be, the gorgeous callistemon that Diana gave me two years ago is alive and well and only a bit crisp on the tips.

You can see I cheated with this treasured plant. I plunged it into a pot in the ground and watered it all summer.

callistemondetailsYes, while all around in the hedge was gasping and failing to thrive because I’m mean, a watering can was hauled up the steps and the Australian native glugged and supped.callistemon

I must remember to haul it out of the ground in the hedge and bring it indoors soon.  The temperatures are dropping down to about 9C at night.  I don’t want to risk losing this beauty to frost.

And speaking of beauty. I am biased; but he of the sharp claws is looking mighty fine this autumn.

The scrawny summer look is over and he is taking on a more sleek and, dare I say it, plumper mien.

I am being rewarded with plenty of lap time at the moment.  A thing to be cherished, even if I get lacerated knees.

artur ecstatic knee-ding