The upshot of all this is that I've lost some plants. I attribute most of these losses to the combination of our last heatwave and my miserly water usage. One of my saddest losses was Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink.'
|Loropetalum chinese 'Sizzling Pink' in early June
As this is the second Loropetalum I've lost in the backyard border, I'm guessing that something about this location is inhospitable. Maybe the loss is attributable to a sprinkler coverage problem or something is funky with the soil in this area but I'm going to replace the Loropetalum with a different plant this time.
A vigorous Cuphea aff. Aequipetala died quite suddenly and unexpectedly after nearly 2 years in the garden. This plant had been a rampant spreader and I'd considered removing it but, without an immediate replacement, I'd let it be, cutting it back when its size got out of bounds. Perhaps the last haircut was ill-timed or a touch too severe?
|Cuphea aff. Aequipetala in January
|Dead Cuphea this week
A small seedling is visible at the lower left side of the plant in the above picture. I may allow it to stay - or I may relocate it to an area where its mature size won't present an issue.
In addition to some annuals that expired quickly as the heat turned up, my other losses in the back border were smaller-sized perennials such as the 2 shown below.
|Mostly dead Fuchsia thymifolia, foolishly planted in a spot that got too much sun
|Osteospermum 'Zion Copper Amethyst,' dead even though 4 others in the same area survived
Some plants are hanging on for dear life. The question I ask every time I see one of them is: should I put it out of it's misery? The most disappointing of these is Phormium cookianum 'Cream Delight.'
|Transfer to rehab clinic pending
The plant's condition is disappointing because it's pretty clearly my fault. I moved it from one spot to another in my dry garden earlier this year. It didn't get the water or attention it needed after transplantation and it hasn't recovered since I put it on life support a month ago. I think I'm going to move this one to a pot and make one more try to revive it.
When the 60 foot Eucalyptus tree was removed from our side year in February, the surrounding area was transformed from a mostly shady bed to a full sun area. Among other plants, I had 3 Acanthus mollis in that area, which I was concerned would fry when summer hit. Amazingly, one of these thrived, blooming continuously. I suspect this variety is Acanthus mollis 'Summer Beauty,' which is said to be more sun tolerant.
However, a second, purchased at the same time and possessing the same leaf shape, has fared less well. I'm nonetheless keeping it in the same area for now. The third, shown below, has had a harder time. This past weekend, I moved it to a shadier area, where I hope it'll be happier.
|Acanthus mollis with sunburn
|The same Acanthus mollis, looking happier already
Plant losses always hurt but, looking on the brighter side, they can provide insights into cultural needs for future reference, as well as opportunities to try out different plants. It's too bad, though, that the heat and drought doesn't take out more weeds...
|Weed, thriving in the hot sun with no water