Coreopsis,Veronica, and Echinacea.
We are experiencing a major heat wave. This morning I heard that there is a heat advisory for 29 states in the North east and south of the country, with temperatures in the 90 to the 100 degree mark! This is not necessarily bad for your garden, as long as it gets at least one inch of rain or watering per week. A simple rain gage or even wide glass jars or can in between your beds will give you a close idea of how much rain or water your plants are receiving. When you do water, water deeply and directly to the roots, avoid giving flash showers and wetting the entire plant. Watering early in the day is also recommended to give the plant the moisture it needs to make it thru the heat of the day. More tips on watering here. Most important in extreme heat, for the sake of water conservation is to water your trees and shrubs first. Next, your perennial borders and last, your grass. Grass has the amazing quality of going dormant when water is scarce, it does not die, just turns brown and rests, as soon as it starts raining again it will come back. If you are one of those people who is not overly concerned of a little brown on the grass, let it go. More water on lawns actually promotes shallow roots which weaken the grass and makes it more likely to die in extreme conditions.
Dianthus also thrives in dry heat.
Work must go on in the garden. Perhaps our chores are a bit lessened in the heat of the summer. I have narrowed my chores to some light weeding, watering and deadheading. I try to go out early in the day or in the evening after the sun is low in the horizon. Both times are my favorite in the garden: Birds and other wildlife are very active and the morning chorus and going ons are in full swing. Weeding is important because this opportunistic plants rob your perennials of needed nutrients and water. Deadheading keeps the plants producing blooms and contributes to the overall beauty and health of the plant.
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water”.
LORAN EISELY, The Immense Journey, 1957
It has been very dry in the last couple of months and therefore the challenge is to keep our plants alive. The little rain we did have was not enough to really penetrate the soil before most of it evaporated. Many clients and friends have called asking how to handle the watering. My recommendations always are:
Water your most valuable plants first, newly planted trees and shrubs need a weekly watering of at least 1 gallon per square foot of root zone per week. Perennials that are yet to be established are next in importance and last in the list of priority are annuals and grass. Grass tends to go dormant during hot dry spells, it looks yellow and brittle but rarely dies outright. It is up to you if you want to sacrifice larger beds of annuals, in lieu of random pots by your door and back patio.
Water each plant with a hose without a sprayer directly at the root of the plant, a slow drip works best, or lay soaker hoses around your border. Investing in soaker hoses in spring, then laying the mulch directly over the hose saves on time and water as you can deliver water were needed and the mulch prevents moisture from evaporating and helps keep the soil moist longer.
Water in the morning or evening The benefit of watering before it gets too warm is that the plant has the chance to hydrate before the sun is too hot and therefore more able to withstand hot sun. When watering in the evening I try to avoid getting the foliage wet to avoid decease.
It is certainly a challenge to survive this weather without loosing some of our valuable plants, if I do not get to the garden for anything else, watering is probably the most important chore to keep up. Good luck!
“Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi quotes (Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1893–1986)
Rudbeckia hirta. 'Black-eyed Susan'
After a month’s vacation, I came back to find that my garden help did not show up to water and weed as I had expected. The harsh reality of a very hot August with little rain sunk in, as I took in the sight of a lot of very dry garden beds and flower pots and lots and lots of weeds. Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work, The great need for water became my first task:
Water and then water some more. Every hose had been doing double duty this week. The perennial beds have soaker hoses from end to end. I placed my soaker hoses in the ground before the mulch went in, this cuts down on water evaporation and deliver a steady but slow dose where needed. All recently planted trees or shrubs get a dripping hose at least once a week for a good long soak. Pay special attention to established trees as well. They could benefit from a good long drink. The only thing not worth watering is the lawn. Grass goes dormant in very hot weather, it may look burnt and yellowed but as soon as it gets some rain it springs back and will continue growing.
Pull those weeds before they set seed! I usually make a pass thru all my beds at least once a week, but a month is a stretch. I have pulled thousands of weeds this week. It appears that if there was a bit of open soil anywhere, it was quickly populated by the healthiest looking crabgrass, dandelion and such, happily growing and seeding themselves with admirable tenacity, oh, if only my perennials grew with such vigor!
Deadheading is a very rewarding and necessary chore, it encourages perennial and annual plants alike to keep producing blooms a little longer. There are many reasons why deadheading is important. First of all, the welfare of the plant. By removing spent blooms, the plant transfers its energy to keep producing more flowers -or a stronger plant- and not in forming seeds. In some cases this will allow the plant to bloom a lot longer. Second, for aesthetic reasons, the overall appearance of the plant is improved making it look neat and compact. Finally, by deadheading you can keep some perennials that are notorious for reseeding from spreading.
So, the work goes on, I am happy to be back and in my garden where I feel totally in my element…
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed
and not a valuable plant, is to pull on it.
If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
saying by Author Unknown