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More Plants for Drought

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 13 September 2002

It's raining! A soaking rain, the second in a week, after the driest summer in my memory. Plants all over my yard are badly damaged: What a hard way to learn how to convert my garden to low maintenance.

Still some plants have done well -- many with minimal watering or none at all. Ones I've described before: artemisia, balloon flower, beardtoungue (Penstemon), bloody cranesbill, costmary, stonecrops (Sedum), tansy, penstemons, several kinds of thyme, labrador violet, yarrows; also three which are blooming now: scabiosa, calamintha, and catmint (Nepeta).

In addition, these sun-lovers look healthy: creeping phlox, pinks (Dianthus), perennial candytuft, flax, hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum) iris, fuzzy lamb's ear, lavender cotton (Santolina), peonies, periwinkle, both of the two completely different plants called rock cress (Arabis and Aubrieta), the silvery first-year rosettes of rose campion, cooking sage, sea thrift (Armeria), two speedwells: the thyme-leaf variety and 'Waterperry', tall verbena (V. Bonariensis), perennial toadflax, ruellia, and wintercreeper. Also two plants blooming right now: curly chives and Silene schafta, a low-growing catchfly with bright green leaves and magenta-pink flowers.

Of the hostas I have which are supposed to like some sun, many have suffered this year. Two look good: 'Guacamole' (leaves with bright green centers and darker margins), and shiny-leaved Hosta plantaginea, which even started blooming in the worst of last month's dry heat: white flowers that smell heavenly, like lilies. Chartreuse-leaved 'August Moon' also looks pretty good.

In mixed sun and shade, these did well: bearberry, bracken fern, broadleaf creeping phlox, various campanulas and cranesbills (Geranium species), epimedium, Japanese spurge (Pachysandra), knautia, lady's mantle, and three-toothed cinquefoil.

Most of the hostas growing in full shade are fine, also the groundcovers Canada mayflower, partridge berry, sweet woodruff, and silver-splashed false lamium -- although the last one puzzles me, because I have seen it droop in other years. The place where it has wilted, I've watered. The place where it hasn't, never. Has it put down deeper roots in the dryer spot?

Herb Robert (a cranesbill which normally does well in dry soil) wilted some this year, even in full shade, due I am sure to how shallow its roots are. But it has recovered well, and is still decorating the woods with its tiny pink flowers.

I'll have more to say about the top performers. And I'd like more of them, too... to start, more alliums (onion family) -- especially ones that bloom in August and September, like garlic chives.

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© Copyright 2002 Catherine Holmes Clark