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  • Sue

Winners and losers

This evening I am wandering around the garden at what I hope will be the end of the last canicule of 2022, notebook in hand. I want to record who has coped with the heat and drought and who has not. This will shape my planting plans for the future. I won't dwell on the losers, it is too sad to contemplate, but here is a list of the plants which appear to have survived the heatwave:

In my dry bed, which has poor soil and is never watered

My four principal grasses:

Stipa gigantea - looks better than ever

Stipa tenuissima - even very young seedlings have grown (it seeds everywhere)

Miscanthus sinensis Malepartus - which has not grown as tall as in previous years and which has set seed earlier than usual, so we missed out on the best of the plumes of its seedheads, but even small plants which I transplanted in the spring have hung on in there.

Festuca Elija Blue.

Blue festuca next to some very dead looking lawn.

Plants with felty, silver leaves:Lambs lugs (Stachys byzantina) - threatening to take over it is so happy.

Verbascum bombyciferum - this is a biennial (it will flower and set seed next year. This year I have only rosettes of felty silver leaves).

Assorted others:

Gaura lindheimeri

Iris germanica - these have a period of dormancy in July/August and store reserves in their fleshy rhizones

Comfrey (to my surprise)

Verbena bonariensis

Yucca gloriosa - it has been less inclined to flower this year

A bay tree

Eryngium giganteum - never been better

Echinacea pallida - flowered and set seed earlier than usual. I have left the cone shaped seed heads unpruned as they still look attractive.

Rosa rugosa

Echinacea seed heads, the dry flower heads of Stachys and Perovskia, plus some weeds.

In the gravel garden. Plants in pots were watered when possible

An olive tree

Lemon trees (in pots)

Aloe striata

Agave americana (in a pot but remains outside all year)

Kumara plicatilis (a fan aloe)

Opuntia elatior (a prickly pear, which is in a pot, but stays outside all year)



Euphorbias rigida, myrsinites, x martinii and wulfennii

Assorted sedums, echinaceas and sempervivums, all in containers, although some are now suffering very badly.

Wisteria sinensis

Oleander, cystus, lavender and hylotelephium

In a well drained border against south facing walls, not watered:

Roses The Mayflower, Mermaid and Pierre de Ronsard


Daphne odora

Cistus species

Hylotelephium spectabile


Other families of plants which have shrugged off the drought (so far):

Salvias - I am becoming more and more fond of these; easy to propagate, long lasting flowers (usually blue but also reds and pinks) and available in a range of pinks and blues.

Aster x frikartii monch - other asters are also surviving, but this one is a winner.



Phlomis - fruticosa and cashmeriana

Juniper, Cupressus and other "fir trees".


Nepeta (catmint)

Established Fuchsia magellanica

Peonies - tree and herbaceous


In all cases - as always - it is a case of right plant right place, but there are other features common to survivors too - thick, felty leaves such as lambs lugs, phlomis and verbascum; grey or silver plants - lavender, nepeta; plants with tough, leathery leaves which cope with sunlight - yuccas, rosemary, olives, euphorbias, lemons, abelia; woody plants which withstand the drought - lavender, thyme, junipers and other firs; plants with a tap root such as Echinacea pallida.

There will be gaps in the garden this autumn as there are, inevitably, losers as well as winners, which is immensely sad. Our ornamental garden will change personality as a result of this year's drought as the winners begin to take over. Gravel will become a more important mulch - both to conserve water but also as an attractive background to drought tolerant plants. How I space plants will change as I move away from the "English" herbaceous border approach. You never stop learning about your garden and it has to continue to adapt to the changes we are all facing.

Agapanthus - a plant from South Africa, designed to cope with drought.

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