Garden Therapy.

It is a well known, pretty much scientific, fact, that getting your hands dirty is good for the soul. In all this global pandemonium about washing your hands, no mention is made of the benefits of dirtying them.

Not in any way down sizing the magnitude of the covid disaster, but if you can’t do all those other things that are banned, I’d recommend you replace them with gardening. Ok, it’s a shame the covid disaster is coinciding with our own local drought disaster, but both will pass eventually and with winter approaching and with a hose on hand gardening is now a possibility again!

Amendment is the order of the day! Rip out all the dead things, chop back the spent flowers on those that “weathered the storm” (possibly not the best analogy…) and trim all the dead bits off the roses. Watering things after amendment is a necessary ritual, most especially if there’s a chance they’ll flower again. Then survey the scene…at our place this means surveying a lot of empty space. Next up, fill your garden trolley or wheelbarrow with potted plants that have been waiting for their moment to be planted. This part of the plan may involve shopping if you don’t have a fully stocked nursery to choose from.

My first recommendation would be to pencil in March 29th and come for a drive to our place. It’s a very safe outing, all outside and no crowds usually!

If this isn’t on the cards, there are many bargains to be had at garden centres at this time of year. With the faint hearted gardeners out of the picture for the drought scenario, there tends to be a lot of unsold plants they want to move on. They might look tatty, but get them in the ground and water well and they should perk up quickly while its still warm. Beware any plants that have low water needs and look sad, as these have probably been over watered, and won’t necessarily bounce back. Even professionals can make mistakes in this vein…when I was looking at 12 weeks non weight bearing ahead of me in December, we put all the perennials and roses together in big blocks to make watering from a seated position a possibility. Someone forgot about the water needs of Bearded Irises (I’ve got my hand up) and half of them rotted away while the parent plants happily baked in the drought ridden garden.

So that’s your activities sorted then for the next few weeks ! Gardening, garden shopping then more gardening. At the end of each day you will feel sooo much better if you need to scrub your fingernails to remove dirt you can actually see! You may feel in need of some analgesics or anti inflammatories of course…

To wrap things up for this supplementary blog, I bring to you some of the plants which have earned bonus points this terrible summer for drought hardiness.

  1. Lady of Shallott shrugs off the drought and death surrounding her…

    of course is ROSES. All the roses in the garden have survived,many are putting on a charming autumn show with little or no help from the hose. There were a few very sad ones too close to trees which Mary Ellen and I dug up a few weeks ago to save. All have bounced back but one whose only surviving arm died. But wait!! a few days ago a healthy good sized basal shoot emerged from the wreckage! Roses are the best!!!

  2. Mirabilis or “4 o clocks” amaze me, as they didn’t even emerge till the drought was in full swing. They are bigger than ever this season and covered in their bright scented flowers. Not for everyone as their colour range could be described as disturbing, but if you want a bright  space filler for the summer months, these are hard to beat.
  3. Penstemons have carried on flowering without water throughout the garden.
  4. Admittedly this photo of Alice’s Salvias is not really recent, but most of them are still flowering on, be it a little more straggly!

    Salvias have been a mixed bag but by and large have really been a massive colour boost. They are such a diverse range of plants from all corners of the globe, so obviously they can’t all be happy in high temperatures with no water…A few have become sad, but most have thrived and made the bees very happy.

  5. Antirrhinums must get a mention. Considered by most an annual, they are all pretty much short lived perennials. I have all sorts and colours dotted about, many self seeded, many onto their third season. I poked some mini seedlings in the hot garden in november, this being one of the gardens which seems to have suffered the most this summer. With only the very odd splash of water they all grew and have flowered prodigiously all summer/autumn. One of my favourite “annuals”
  6. Pelargoniums. Another big family. Their close relatives the Cranesbill geraniums dislike the hot and dry and have mostly hunkered down (will be sure to sprout again next spring, or indeed before winter if we get some rain) Pelargoniums however thrive in the hot and dry mostly and continue to grace the garden with their colourful flowers and in some cases,  leaves as well.
  7. Hemerocallis or Day Lilies and Cannas are certainly drought champs. Most of mine are in very tough places but have continued to flower on through it all.
  8. Asters cop some bad press on water requirements, but I have many varied in different gardens and all have delighted this summer/autumn. Admittedly they can get some dead leaves at the base, but hey, who looks at the base when the top is putting on a lovely show                                  Of course there are many more I’ve forgotten and I haven’t even started on the supposed hardy perennials that disappoint time and again, but this blog has been going on too long and it needs to get published!!!
  9. Just remember the golden rules…stay in the garden, not the town and wash your hands thoroughly to get the lovely healthy dirt off afterwards. Hope to see some of you at the open day next week – all outside and  you can pay on your phone by internet banking…