As I've mentioned (ad nauseum), we're in the middle of yet another spring heatwave. The heat reached a ridiculous level for awhile yesterday - not that any temperature above 80F (27C) in May isn't ridiculous.
|Nearly 105F (40.5C) outside at 2pm|
The effects on the flowering plants have been obvious but the weather has impacted my foliage plants as well. There are clear winners, plants that continue to thrive under heat and drought conditions, and losers, plants that are struggling, so I thought I'd use this month's Foliage Follow-up, the meme sponsored by Pam at Digging
, to highlight some of each.
In the popular plants category, Yucca 'Bright Star'
is doing so well that I kept myself awake recently wondering where I could put more. My 3, planted in January in the backyard border, are still small but they get prettier with each passing month.
In contrast, Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt,'
another popular newcomer reputed to be drought tolerant, has had more difficulty adapting to the abrupt increases in temperature. Prior to the first heatwave, I'd have said the Acacia
in the large pot near to the house was the best-looking of its brethren; however, despite receiving only morning sun and regular watering, it lost a lot of its leaves and now has a visibly thinner appearance. To be fair, the 4 plants in the ground experienced less leaf loss than the one in the pot even though they get more sun and less attention.
|Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' has receding foliage|
|Leaf debris dropped by 'Cousin Itt'|
In the Japanese maple category, 'Sango Kaku,' growing in a partial shade location next to the garage, and 'Mikawa Yatsubusa,' which gets mid-afternoon shade in the backyard, are both looking good despite exposure to heat and wind.
|Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' hasn't shown any ill effects to the heat thus far|
|Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa' has only the slightest leaf tip burn|
This is not the case with Acer palmatum 'Purple Ghost'
despite extra water the other 2 didn't receive. 'Purple Ghost'
stands on the southeast side of the house and, although it gets some shade from nearby trees, it probably gets more sun overall that the other 2. The wind that whips through that area as it moves around the house may be an even more significant issue. And, of course, the visits by raccoons and a gopher can't help things. I'm afraid that 'Purple Ghost'
may have to be moved in the fall (if it lives that long).
|My sad 'Purple Ghost'|
All my Phormium
are doing well. They don't appear to notice the heat at all.
|Phormium 'Amazing Red'|
That's not true of Cordyline 'Renegade,'
despite similarities in appearance and place of origin. Perhaps, as in the case of the Acacia cognata
described above, part of the problem is that my Cordyline are in pots.
|'Renegade's' growth is stunted and the foliage has lost some of its intense color while the Pelargonium planted with it enjoys its sunny setting|
In the decorative shrub category, Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'
is performing very well in full sun conditions in the windy southeast side yard.
on the other hand, doesn't seem happy. Although it seemed fine before the temperatures soared this week, it clearly needs more shade under current conditions. I'll have to find another spot for it.
|This Justicia brandegeeana is frying - the other one, in partial afternoon shade, is faring better|
Some groundcovers are doing better than others as well. The St. Johnswort is slow growing but seemingly impervious to heat. The red hook sedge gets a touch of shade during the first half of the day but takes the sun's full blast from mid-day with no ill effects thus far. But my experiment in stretching my zone to include Nepeta 'Pink Cat'
|Hypericum x moserianum 'Tricolor'|
|Uncinia uncinata 'Rubra' in the midst of our 2nd heatwave|
|Nepeta 'Pink Cat' was dead after the 1st heatwave|
The ugliest parts of my garden right now are the remaining areas of lawn, most of which are quickly turning straw yellow even though I've delivered far more water during the current heatwave than I did during the first one. I've been reading about drought tolerant grasses, grass substitutes, and even fake grass. Although we've eliminated various sections of grass since we moved in 3 years ago and I'd already slated other sections to go, I hadn't originally planned to take it all out but it may come to that. Looking at this, in mid-May, is depressing:
|This patch of lawn in the backyard was mostly green just a week ago|
This, in contrast, is not depressing.
If current conditions represent the "new normal," then I need plants that are better at adapting to sudden temperature fluctuations, more intense heat, and less water. At present, my plants aren't the only ones having trouble adapting. Heat and low humidity (plus dying plants) has made me cranky. In contrast, at least one of my household companions takes the heat in stride.
|Pipig has no problem with the heat despite being covered by fur|
Please visit Pam at Digging
to read her Foliage Follow-up post and to find links to other gardeners' flaunting their foliage.