Friday, July 23, 2010

Roses And Rain Barrels: Gardening In A Drought And Heatwave

David Austin Rosa, 'Lichfield Angel', after rain
It rained, at last, in these mountains! Hurray! I've lost count of how many weeks it was dry, but my rain barrels were without water for at least three. To add to our woes, the heat has been brutal, with temperatures sizzling up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Centigrade) with high humidity. I know there are bloggers in other parts for whom this is normal, but not so here -- my garden is just not used to it (and neither am I).

Daily watering has been a challenge. I planted a new rose bed this year, and I am glad I installed a soaker hose as none of the new plants, except for lavender, are considered drought tolerant. I planted three shrub roses and two climbers, a clematis, lavender, perennial geranium, and lupines. The border is edged with miniature roses. I showed the climbing rose Iceberg and the Knockouts in a previous post.

A soaker hose under the mulch keeps the new plants hydrated.

'Lichfield Angel' is named for a plaque of an angel in Lichfield Cathedral, England. 
I bought the David Austin mainly for its name. I went to school in Lichfield, and know every corner of the cathedral. The rose seems to like its new home, probably because HH incorporated a generous amount of organic matter in the new garden. I added four inches of mulch. As you know, mulching moderates the soil temperature and holds in water.

I have four rain barrels. My pride-and-joy is the one I won when, back in March,  Jan of Thanks for Today asked bloggers to write about sustainable gardening in honor of Earth Day. Click here to read my entry for the challenge. I am very grateful to Jan, Joe Lamp, and Fiscars for this wonderful prize. I located the barrel in my kitchen garden where it collects water from the tractor shed roof. Thanks again, Jan! Everyone should pop over and take a look at Jan's wonderful July garden!

Fiskars rain barrel with diverter that channels rainwater from the downspout into the rain barrel. Holds 57 gallons.

I also have two half barrels located near the flower gardens, and a full-size barrel that collects water from the barn roof.

Conserving water in rain barrels, mulching, incorporating organic matter into your garden, using soaker hoses, and drip irrigation are all important factors in xeriscaping. As you probably know, xeriscaping can be described as 'water wise' or 'water efficient' landscaping.

Another factor of water efficient landscaping is choosing plants appropriate to their site, so they can be maintained with little supplemental water. I don't have enough drought-tolerant plants in my garden (as exemplified by the new rose bed!) but I do have some:

Butterfly bush Buddleja davidii

Kobold Gayfeather Liatris spicata 'Kobold'

Yarrow Achillea 'Coronation Gold'

Purple coneflower Echinacea Purpurea. HH bought the mirror at a flea market.

Clockwise from bottom: Echinacea (with butterflies), lambs' ears Stachys byzantina, and yarrow Achillea 'The Pearl'

Other drought-tolerant perennials in my garden are black-eyed Susan, coreopsis, catmint, sweet woodruff, hellebore, and blue mist shrub. Marigold and zinnias are drought-tolerant annuals that I grow. For a comprehensive list of drought-tolerant plants click here.

In spite of the heat and lack of rain, I have some beautiful blooms today:

Shasta Daisy Leucanthemum

Spider flower Cleome basslerana, and Daylily Hemerocalis 'Chicago Apache" (far right)
Gooseneck Loosestrife Lysimachia clethroides

The gooseneck loosestrife is loved by the swallowtail butterfly

Turkscap lily Lilium Superbum

And of course sunflowers:

Sunflower Helianthus 'Del Sol'
Finally, here is a sneak peek at something exciting happening in my garden right now:

Yes, we are installing a pond. Of course, you will see the finished product in a future post.

Well, I hope my rain barrels stay full for the rest of the summer! And I hope YOUR gardening conditions are perfect!

Have a great weekend!
Pam x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Pam, Great post. The english roses are beautiful, aren't they? I have been in the market for two rain barrels myself this summer. Have seen the Fiskars model at a local home store. I am glad to know it is working well for you. The temps here are reaching 100 degrees this week. We are sweltering. Alabama is often quite hot in the summer, its seems even more so this year. Can't wait to see photos of the pond! Have a great weekend....

  2. Dear Pam, These unusually high temperatures, which appear to be worldwide, are indeed a challenge to us all and, where gardens are concerned, call for very careful and thoughtful use of that very scarce commodity, water. I am delighted that your newly planted roses are surviving, despite the heat which, as we both know, they do not really care for.

    I have happy memories of visiting Lichfield Cathedral, not least for its quite remarkable, very early, stained glass. The British equivalent of Chartres.

  3. I tried coneflowers this year, because I heard they were drought tolerant. And they aren't doing too well lol. This has been the hottest summer since I've been here. Today, with humidity, it's supposed to feel like 115F O_O

  4. Your Turkscap lily is gorgeous and I just love the 'polka dots' on its petals.

  5. Believe it or not, I absolutely 'wilt' in humid weather. I think that is why I live in the desert :-) I do love your tips on water-wise gardening, which does not only apply to deserts. Your flowers are just lovely, and I do have a soft spot for David Austin roses. I can't wait to see your finished pond!

  6. In spite of your lack of rain, your garden looks beautiful. I love that David Austin. Yummy. Sunflowers, daisies, all my favorite plants are growing in your space. Thanks for the views.~~Dee

  7. Pam your photos and your garden are very pretty.. I plan to have more drought tolerant plants in my future gardens so that I can enjoy and relax in the garden a little more.

    The weather here in Michigan has Not been the norm either, it has been super Hot! "Not the usual for this state..

    You're getting a pond! I know that's going to be Fun! I can't wait to come back here to see how you put it together..It must be very excited!

  8. We keep talking about rain barrels, but we haven't done a thing about it yet. We have had such nice heavy rains this summer too.

  9. "Something exciting" is a bit of an understatement! I think heavy machinery falls under the "something major and possibly drastic" category.

    I envy you the coneflowers. Mine sulk and often don't make it through the wet springs here.

    Christine in Alaska

  10. Hi, Pam, You have such a beautiful, well-maintained garden!!! And I am sure your pond will be just gorgeous! It has been hot and dry here, too.

    About my chickens -- I absolutely love them! I did not know how much I would enjoy them! They really aren't that much work each day. And they "talk" to me and are happy to see me and they give me eggs. I read that these Barred Rocks will each give 300 eggs a year! Plus there is the manure for the garden. Maybe your husband can view them as an investment! :)

    Thanks again for your post. I am starting to think about what needs improving in my garden for next year, so I'll be back to read this post again and look at your pictures! :)

  11. Pam, your flowers are just beautiful! As you said 'in spite of the heat' they are looking great. Love your new rose garden and glad the new plants are doing ok. I know it's so hard with new plants trying to get established and then a heat wave comes along. Looks like you're doing all of the right things.
    In answer to your question about if I bought any flowers at the Daylily farm - I didn't. Normally at her yearly open house she will dig up plants but because of a back injury she wasn't doing it this year but is taking orders. I bought 23 Daylilies last year, some duplicates to sell and some keepers for myself so I'm doing ok in that dept. for the moment. I got a super buy on them was why I thought I'd sell some. I had one guy buy a bunch of them so they're all paid for and I made a little. ;-)

  12. Breathtaking! Your garden is my idea of heaven.

  13. Your flowers are looking great despite the heat! We are having an opposite summer in the pacific northwest. Lucky you having a backho to do your digging for you!

  14. That Lichfield Angel rose is absolutely beautiful! I feel your pain about the heat and humidity. Although it's normal for us down here in Texas, being from England myself, I'm still not really used to it after more than 25 years here! We installed a rain barrel this spring and love it. Now I want to install another one closer to the front of the house that I can use to water the front flowerbeds.

  15. Hi Pam, I've been offline for a while, but now that I'm back your garden blog is just as lovely as ever. What a fun idea to have a mirror to reflect your flowers, and I'm excited for you - getting a pond. I learned a new word in this post - xeriscaping. And a late congratulations for winning the Earth Day competition. Barbara

  16. What an wonderful blog you have, and an incredible garden! You truly inspire me, as I have just started a brand new blog. I have always been a fan of the David Austin rose myself. As my mother has them in her garden as well : )


  17. The heat doesn't appear to have had an adverse effect on your garden at all, everything is looking wonderful. I love the use of the mirror, it's amazing what can be picked up at flea markets. How exciting to be installing a pond. We put a very small pond in to our border last year and it's amazing how it attracts wildlife in to the garden, we now have a resident frog too. I look forward to seeing your pond when it's finished.

  18. Oh Pam, your garden is beautiful...and I'm so glad you are using your rain barrels! The one from Fiskars is pretty nice looking! I would like to have one like that at some point;-) Wow, how nice to have a pond looks like it is going to be a good-sized one, too! Hope you are surviving the summer heat and perhaps getting a little relief at this point? Be well!

  19. I've enjoyed my visit to your garden, Pam. Love the idea of a mirror in the garden. Does it need much cleaning?! It reminded me of the glass ball in the Mole's house in The Wind in the Willows - something about having a most pleasing effect.
    Impressed by your show of plants in spite of your record temperatures.