Take a philosophical view of extreme heat and dryness
After two and a half months of negligible rain and high temperatures, it’s inevitable that there would be some damage to the garden.
Where I live (Gateshead, Tyne and Wear), I’m used to it being relatively dry – in the rain shadow of the Pennines and far enough inland not to get many coastal showers or fog.
However, any brief showers have bypassed my garden, bar one drizzly patch last week that barely wet the pavement.
It’s a good time to reread Monty Don’s Buddhist approach to gardening and accept there will be losses and victories in a gardening year.
I only water with a hose when I have to (no hosepipe ban at the time of writing, once a week maximum, only where needed) and part of the garden isn’t touched at all and fends for itself. The focus is on pots and newly planted shrubs, roses and perennials – they will die if you don’t water them.
Not helping the situation was Storm Hector when I was on holiday, which shredded the raspberries and made the soil dry out even more quickly.
Here’s where the damage is worst:
Rheum (ornamental rhubarb), Rodgersia and Ligularia like semi shade, moisture and shelter from winds, so have been particularly unhappy.
Bamboo Fargesia Pingwu growing in a barrel, despite copious watering, still has tell-tale dried-up leaves.
Several Rudbeckia in tall zinc pots weren’t watered when I was away, so looked half dead but has recovered well with careful watering and removing withered stems.
Lysimachia and Campanula carpatica are handy space fillers or ground cover where little else will grow but both are showing severe signs of drought stress.
In the unwatered top of the garden, Oxalis, Saxifrage and Achillea are all suffering.
Perennial sunflowers (Helianthus) droop at the drop of a hat, so they’re looking awful.
The Abyssinian pink banana’s leaves were scorched – I cut off the worst affected and stood it by the open doorway in lower temperatures and some shade. It’s already made up in new leaves what I removed.
The rambling rose and purple Berberis have severe doses of downy mildew, only to be expected in the dryness.
Even the utterly robust Fatsia japonica is shedding leaves like there’s no tomorrow.
Start praying for a steady and prolonged spell of rain, just in time for the school summer holidays!