Despite the heat, despite the lack of rain, despite the bugs and the rabbits and the chipmunks, the garden is looking pretty great right about now. A lot of the drought tolerant perennials I planted a few years ago have sunk roots deep enough to not only manage but send out some glorious flower displays, and, with the help of the giant water butt we installed in the spring, even our veggies are looking great. It’s time for Six on Saturday, a garden blog meme that The Propagator started a few years ago.
The first drought tolerant perennial that has no issues with our weather is this Agastache ‘Licorice Blue.’ While not spreading outwards with runners, the clumps are larger, it self seeded a bit and it’s about twice as tall as it was last year. No wonder a common name for it is Giant Hyssop! On my Spring 2021 Gardening Tasks list there’s already a line about transplanting a lot of these to other areas in the garden. Bees love the flowers though, and they’re really long lasting.
My next drought tolerant plant this week is actually a shrub. Annabelle Hydrangea, to be exact. I bought three tiny ones in October, 2018, for a dollar each. Two promptly succumbed to insects or disease or a combination, but the third one, much to my delight, emerged this spring and has triumphantly produced a flower! I had always thought Hydrangeas likes a lot of water so hadn’t bothered planting any, but a buck is only a buck. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the big blue and pink H. macrophylla varieties, although I do like, a lot, Oakleaf Hydrangeas. Anyway, I read an article earlier this year that said paniculata Hydrangeas are actually a lot more drought tolerant than one would think. This little guy also seems to be managing quite well.
Next, the veggies! I started from seed two tomato varieties this year – San Marzano for canning and Costoluto Genovese, an heirloom beefsteak size, for sandwiches and salads. (An unknown seed was mixed in with these so really, I guess I started three varieties…) One of the reasons I ordered the C.V. was its description – which stated it had ‘pleated shoulders.’ Here are those lovely, most definitely pleated, shoulders:
I’ve never grown peppers, of any kind, before. In February a friend who lives in an apartment gave me a couple packs of Shishito peppers and asked me to grow some for her. So. Easy. They germinated within a week and transplanted well – we’ve been eating them for a few weeks now, using the simplest recipe: wash whole (to remove bird poo, I supposed). Saute in olive oil for about 10 minutes – until the peppers are blistered but not charred. Toss in some sea salt then remove. For me, they puff up a bit – it’s like eating a savoury cotton candy. AND – only one in a dozen of these little beauties, I’m told, is hot and spicy – the rest are peppery, like a sweet bell pepper, sort of…
Another new to-me-veggie – or is it a fruit? – is watermelon. I’ve never wanted to commit the space to the vines, and was apprehensive about their water requirements. But when I saw this variety – Mini Love from Renee’s Garden Seeds – I thought I’d give them a try. Mini watermelons – each one like an individual serving, on small (they promised!) vines. The seeds germinated quickly and the vines are several metres long now (!), growing over and amongst various things, but I’m happy to report I have baby watermelons! Now we get to see if bugs or birds or rabbits or chipmunks get to them before I do…
Finally – an annual. I have this smallish urn by the driveway, and every summer I plant something in it that usually does not last until August…lobelia, petunias, that sort of thing. This year I had a brainwave – it’s mostly shady there, let’s try for bright foliage instead of flowers. So here is the urn with some Coleus. I’ve been watering regularly but it has done really well in the heat, growing from a few inches tall to this. It’s a nice thing to see driving up to the house.