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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My poor drought ridden garden, warts and all

These are the only photos I took last week during my after chemo week. I wasn't very inspired to take photos really and only took these for my records, never meaning to post them - if I had I'd have used my dslr for better photos, but you get the picture. 

It's been a dryish spring and dry summer looking back, it's just that you don't really notice how little rainfall is falling say during April and May, unless it's actually hot and the soil starts to really dry out. It wasn't hot back then so I didn't notice, but I do keep a record of every mm of rain that falls in my garden and whilst we had a very good amount of rain mid June, it was the only rain in June. But when I dug up spuds two weeks later they were completely dried out! I've had the worst case of scab with the later varieties of spuds that I've ever seen, but they have not been watered at all for obvious reasons. Normally I set up a seep hose along the top of the ridges after having earthed them up twice, but this year that was impossible. Never mind, after peeling the spuds will be fine.

So here are a few photos after my garden gave up the ghost during the hot days earlier last week - I got to the point I didn't want to go outside any more as it was too depressing for me to see my precious plants drooping or turning black or crispy. :-(

But happy news, we had 17mm rain over two days; that's but a drop in the ocean compared to what we really need to benefit trees and deeper rooted plants, but for now the garden looks a lot happier, and I have 7,000 litres of stored water so I will start hosepiping again today to try to keep them from drooping and scorching again, as the weather is due to be in the high 20s and low 30s again later this week.

The grass is always worst out in the open here, in the distance by
the chicken sheds it stays green much longer which I can only assume
is more depth of soil at the top of the slope. Shade helps too.

My pathetic Buddleia - it is always sad and droopy during summer
and only flowers for about a week and never has butterflies on it.
This year it is the worst I've ever seen it.

Even most of the weeds have died off here
(although they are only in hibernation and will be back in the spring).

However Wild Carrot aka Queen Anne's Lace loves this time as it
must have a deep tap root and this is its hour of glory,
likewise the low growing Knapweed in the lawn. Did you know you can
mow Knapweed and it will happily bloom low down in the lawn?

About a seven year old Forsythia which droops all summer long too.

The driest I've ever seen the field at the bottom of my garden - the cows are
moved around over several fields so never stay in one field for more than about a week.

Silver Birch have shallow roots so always turn orange and drop their leaves
during any dry spell. The Poplars round here are all turning yellow too.

Now a few warts and all pics of my veg patch - even though the last post contained photos of flowers only, a few people mentioned how beautiful my garden was. No! It was only the flowers, the veg patch is a complete mess now and so is some of the garden which needs a lot of pruning and hacking back and general tidying. But the flowers have perked up after the rain (this was before). And the flowering plants here have been watered about once a week, otherwise they would be dead; as it is, many annuals are very stunted.

Spuds in the foreground but taken over by self seeding flowers
and one of my 'wildflower' strips by the fence
with more flower beds in the garden beyond.

The Pollinator Meadow became way too overgrown and I couldn't cope
with it any more but there are a few areas with flowers still and
the Mirabilis (bottom right) has started blooming. Might attract some
night feeding moths as the flowers are heavily scented and open at night.

Mess yes! Foreground are strawbs that need taking out but are
swamped with bindweed, the middle patch is where we took out the
spring brassicas but what was left were self seeded Heartsease Violas,
now going over, and to the right are the Sunflowers in the next photo.
Some veggies in the furthest plot.

I've never had such drooping Sunflowers before, and it's surprising because these
are self seeded which usually makes them tougher. But maybe the problem is that
there are too many of them in a smallish space.

No problems with the courgettes, apart from a few lower leaves with
mildew, but that's normal. They are veg so they get watered regularly.

Round the garage side of the house where the aspragus grows.
There's a bit of grass still growing but the wildflowers are
happy - Hawkbit (yellow flower/fluffy seedheads)
which the insects love, and wild poppies.

My poor Forest Pansy has turned all autumnal. We have watered
but really can't do more than a watering can or equivalent per week.

Wildflower lawn - a few days after the rain and this area is greener
because it's down the bottom of the slope and to the left is
the new sand filter bed area which we have had to water, and around
the dahlias it's quite shaded and always stays green!

Finally apropos of absolutely nothing, here's an interesting wasp
which is the only insect photo I took during this time!

I got out of the house for the first time in 10 days yesterday (for a hospital appt unfortunately, nothing interesting!) and was struck by how autumnal the trees look during our journey. This is the effects of dryness - it's about six weeks too early for autumn colours to start! 

I have not read anyone's blogs for more than a week due to chemo side effects which I am only just crawling out of - I'll try to catch up but excuse me if I don't comment on all your posts! I do look at blog posts via my Feedly feed, even if I only have time/energy to look at the photos. :-)

I'll be doing a health update soon which I'll keep separate as I've a lot to talk about as it's near the six months since surgery mark now! Hard to believe. 


  1. So sad to see this but I understand it because Southern California is in a extremely severe drought and I let my garden go do to the major water restrictions that has been placed on us. That is the reason I have not been shooting my flowers as I have done in the past

    1. Thanks Virgil, I won't repeat my reply I left for you on facebook! :-)

  2. Looking dry Mandy, but hopefully the recent rain things will pick up. I failed on growing sweetcorn in two places: too hot and dry in Brittany when they were planted and too cold and wet in Yorkshire. I see your courgettes are growing in the drought..... can anything kill them? :-D I am going to grow those climbing courgettes again as they produce long thin courgettes which don't appear to get bigger unlike the normal ones that turn to marrow in the blink of an eye.

    1. Thanks Ian - I did a bit of watering last night before everything starts drooping again! If I can keep a bit of moisture in the soil then all the better - although it's not due to be 'too' sunny according to the forecast (although it changes all the time!).

      My OH is watering the courgettes and our few veggies so all is well there. Those climbing courgettes sound brilliant if you are not able to be there to harvest them practically every day. I gave up on sweetcorn because they got too many diseases, including smut, and then birds got them too, and sometimes even though planted in a block they just didn't get wind pollinated properly. I think they are one of the hardest veggies to grow!

  3. I really sympathise with your drought problems, we are the same...but our courgettes don't look nearly as good as your's. We had a smattering of rain yeaterday but not enough to make puddles. I have not watered every day, we have the well but i feel I shouldn't when I have processed enough veg and what is in the garden is excess and variety so doesn't warrant lots of precious water. My potatoes have all had to be lifted due to mole crickets but are going off faster than I can peel and process the usable ones.

    Next year.....

    Hope you feel better soon.

    1. I know your problems, Debrazzawoman! Just glad we don't have your temps here. :-) At least you got a great harvest earlier on and growing veg when the temps are really high isn't easy at all. Shame about your spuds. We get bites taken out of ours but I don't know who does that - never seen a mole cricket! Thanks.

  4. Being used to rain, I see that it must be disheartening! Hope you get some normal rains soon.

    I had never heard your common name "Forest Pansy" so I had to look it up. Turns out I do know it but as Red Bud. I hope to get to enjoy the color for a little bit anyway! A couple of years ago, there was very little fall color in my favorite northern places because of drought. Thankfully, it doesn't happen often.

    Hope your last treatments don't take too much out of you! Take care. I think of you often.

    1. Thanks Marianne. Bad me, I usually put the Latin name of the plants but forgot this time. Yes it's the Eastern Red Bud or Cercis canadensis. Someone, I guess in the UK, gave it the name Forest Pansy. If we get enough rain then we will have some lovely autumn colour later in the year, like last year which was probably the best I've ever seen.

      I'm used to feeling like carp after my treatments and only having a few good days out of every fortnight, but it won't be long now so I can cope with it mentally and physically! :-)

  5. That should read "I hope YOU get to enjoy the color"....

  6. I suppose what it does highlight is how much time and energy it takes to keep your garden in pristine condition. During the past year you and K have had other things to cope and deal with and we are full of admiration with the way you have both dealt with the trials and tribulations (that's putting it mildly) of your illness and subsequent treatment.

    Love Philippa and Alan. xx

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Philippa! I have to try to get a balance between the gardening that I enjoy and the too much like hard work making it feel a real chore. Not easy when we chose to have such a large garden and I kept on planting more and more plants! Next year we want to get out more often for walks etc so will see how it goes with the garden, but we won't grow many veggies as the floral side alone has enough to keep me busy!! Thanks so much. xx

  7. Your poor garden does look very parched and thirsty - am relieved to hear the flowers look better after some rain. Countryside round here especially the grass looks parched and yellow in many places although temperatures here are nowhere near as hot as you are getting.

    Your wildflower lawn looks very pretty and that's very interesting about Knapweed - I didn't know that.

    Do hope you feel a little better now and are getting over the chemo. Sending positive thoughts your way.

    1. It's happier now Ragged Robin and I hosepiped some of my beds last night to try to keep a bit of moisture in the soil rather than wait until it's all parched again. Knapweed grows all through my lawn and butterflies love it so I'm often disturbing the brown ones as I walk around on the lawn!

      Yesterday I had a brilliant day as it was the first where I didn't feel tired or need to have a rest so did lots of things. Got the moth trap out last night and have some very interesting pretty moths this morning - at least I now recognise the ones I don't know, haha! That'll keep me busy today..... :-) I do have a moth post 80% prepped from the last 3 times I put it out, so the post will be coming soon......

    2. So pleased to hear you are feeling better - look forward to the moth post - hope you have some pretty geometrids as my trap is mainly full of drab, brown noctuids!!

    3. Yeah but, I'm back on the chemo again today and tomorrow, I only get about three days out of every fortnight when I feel OK all day, so have to try to cram loads in! I don't know what 'kind' of moths most are, I suspect noctuids, but I do seem to have more with apparent markings this time. Going to try to put the last lot of photos on my Kindle, so I can do some IDing whilst wallowing in bed, otherwise the photos being on main computer are not helping! :-) The moth post nearly ready doesn't include this latest lot! Better late than never eh? :-)

  8. It is looking a little dry, but take note of what does well and there are still flowers there to see, it has rained most of the day here but I have still had to water the tubs, the summer bedding plants are on their last legs and really could do with throwing, cherry tree is dropping enough leaves to have to sweep them up most days, so even with the rain we have had, things are the same here.
    Hope you got chance to put the moth trap out, me and RR are finding our catches a little disappointing, if you are up to it , it would be nice to see what you get.
    Take care..
    Amanda xx

    1. Thanks Amanda. If I have the energy in October I'm going to dig up some of the self seeded sedums and other plants which I know are bomb proof and replant and replace some of the ones which droop too quickly, but of course that's a major job! Interesting to hear that about your cherry tree, as I see lots of cherries round here looking a bit orange/yellow looking this time of year, maybe they just do that anyway.

      I did get the trap out and have some new and interesting moths to sort through today! Have another post nearly ready to publish with some of the moths from trapping 2, 3 and 4. Last night's lot will have to wait for another time though..... Had a lovely walk yesterday and saw a goodie of a butterfly and something else I can't wait to share..... just need to find the time to sort through all these photos and post! :-) xx

  9. I'm a bit stunned to see your Buddleja sulking, Mine still needs liontaming treatment! And it gets no watering at all. But I feel for you, we had that endless round with the four legged grey water system trying to keep the 'wrong' plants on life support when we lived in Porterville. This False Bay climate with sea breezes making us noticeably cooler than in the city - is so much easier for our plants!

    May your garden, and your life, move into a kinder chapter now.

    1. It is odd, because they are often planted as mixed tree/shrub plantings beside new roads here (in the countryside), where they have to do their own thing, and they always grow big and bushy.... but I made the mistake of planting it by the pond, thinking it would get its roots down, not realising at the time that my stream dries up every summer and the pond level drops about 1.5+ metres, so everything on the bank suffers!

      Our soil is sandy and often is very shallow over porous granite bedrock. You live and learn don't you! And when you finally 'know' your garden inside out, it's sometimes easier to do what you did and move and start afresh, rather than completely revamp your garden to what suits it best! I will be replacing some of the more fussy plants with ones that I know are bombproof during summer drought, but it takes time. Luckily a lot of these plants like sedums and euphorbias self seed or can easily be divided, so I have plenty of spares I can dig up and move, and lavender is easy enough to propagate. :-)

      Thanks Diana.

  10. wozers I didn't think you'd be this dry - we're the complete opposite further north as the Jet stream is sitting on top of us and all it every seems to do is rain every day. Summer has been a wash out here and the quality of daylight has been quite poor. The forest pansy looks superb but I hope it can keep hold of it's leaves for the cooler weather. Can't believe how much the Buddleja has wilted considering it's so close to the water ... just shows how sandy your soil really is.

    1. Lots of lush weeds then, Rosie! Although weeds still seem to grow here as I notice different ones growing at different times of the year, and some are remarkable how they can germinate in what seems like bone dry soil! I'm sorry your summer is so lousy, and lots of rain is very miserable. The buddleia is planted in the worst part of the garden, on top of a granite outcrop with shallow soil.... only I didn't realise that at the time. We can see the rock when the pond level drops in summer! I'll try again with another buddleia whenever we eventually downsize. :-)