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Home Beat the Summer Heat
Beat the Summer Heat PDF Print E-mail

I was out watering my containers one morning in the 100-degree heat, sweat pouring off my brow when I decided to pay more attention to the lessons I once learned from London’s Chelsea Garden Show: pack a lot of hardscape into your gardens, and use drought-tolerant, heat-loving plantings. The garden exhibits at the show featured a lot of permeable paving, stone and sculpture, with planting usually used for texture.

Here are some more tips for making your garden more resilient to heat and to water restrictions:

  • Appreciate the beautiful textures that drought and heat-tolerant plants can add to a garden. Once established, many ornamental grasses do quite well when watered deeply once a week. Cormous perennials like alliums, kniphofias, and bearded iris go well with ornamental grasses, and they don’t mind heat. They also don’t use copious amounts of water. Rosemary, lavender and lantana work well in baking sun. Drought-tolerant herbs and plants from a Mediterranean palette are great for containers or garden beds.
  • Think outside the box when it comes to hardscape. If you’re installing or enlarging a patio, check out all your options at a local quarry or landscape materials store. A designer or landscape architect can help you add clever built-in seating or permanent planters to soften the look of the hard materials.
  • Face your fears! Push your growing zone up a notch with plants you thought were too sensitive. You may be surprised at what will thrive in your area now.
  • Use cool colors for plants, like blues and purples. They’ll help lower the heat in your garden. And remember that color can come from foliage too. Plants with soothing colors like rose campion (Lychnis coronaria), Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) and lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) will add texture as well as relief from the heat on those hot summer days.
  • Cool colors can be used on nonplant materials as well. Recover those hot-colored (red, orange, or yellow) seating cushions and pillows with weather-resistant fabrics in cool colors. A fence can be painted in a watery blue. Paint your arbor and trellises in a soothing shade of purple.

I’m keeping track of the weather and how my garden fares, in my garden journal. Who knows, I might be able to tell the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) a thing or two about the effects of global warming. At least my garden will be prepared. Tropical gardens are lovely, but I hope we’re all not gardening in them in a few years.

Warm Regards,

Gaye and Peter