October 13, 2013

Drought Dependent

We had a wet, cooler summer this year and almost everything in my garden loved it. It all looks wonderful, healthy, and beautiful. Plants that were nice enough in prior years have just bloomed and bloomed all season long this year, and filled in where they had not before.

I've already told you that my strawberries and blueberries were abundant. They loved the early spring rains.

I did not know how good it could all look, with just a few extra inches of rain early in the season.

But not all plants loved the wet, cool weather.

I noticed this summer that the wild Queen Anne's Lace was largely missing. In other summers the lacy white wildflowers were everywhere, all along the roadsides and running riot in the meadow behind my yard. This year there were only a dainty few. They must need drier, hot conditions to be at their best.

And this year bush clover Lespedeza thunbergii 'Ido Shibori' was a medium sized green shrub with arching branches that are open and airy. In this photo, in late September, the tiny white flowers are gone by.

What a contrast with last September when this shrub was a giant haystack, covered in a profusion of little blooms.

Yes, this is the same plant. The over-bright lighting in the photo above was terrible when I took it last year, but you can see what a monster it was. Species bush clover can be a huge mess of a plant, but this cultivar, 'Ido Shibori' is a much smaller variety. Even so, it was a big sprawly arching fountain.

The pea-like blooms don't read well from a distance, you need to see them quite close up.


Not only was the entire plant about 2/3 the size it was last year, but the flowers were brief and sparse. The overall shape was actually nicer this year than that big haystack was, and the plant is healthy and fine looking, but I missed the little flowers.

MoBot says lespedeza is drought tolerant, but this experience makes me think it is actually drought dependent for best growth and flowering. It certainly did not respond this year as it has in the previous two hot, dry summers.

What a difference a few extra inches of rain and a July below 100 degrees makes.

20 comments:

  1. I must say that the extra rain and cooler temps helped out my garden tremendously! The trees and shrubs I planted for privacy made some big jumps! Though you may have had a couple of plants that received too much water, the rest of your garden is as I said before breath taking!!!!

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    1. Nicole, thanks. I'm glad to hear you had some big leaps and bounds with all the rain. Not everything here loved it, but most absolutely did.

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  2. Your bush clover is amazing when it is covered in blooms. It is sad you didn't get the display you have had in the past, but I would take the extra rain, any year. It is also interesting about the Queen Anne's Lace. I would have thought it would have loved the weather you had this summer.

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    1. Deb, I agree, I will take all the extra rain any season, and the bush clover actually looked neater and tidier with its smaller shape. It did bloom, just not as much this year.

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  3. I lost some plants from all the rain, too. Try growing the annual ammi to replace the Queen Anne's Lace. It's easy to grow, supports wildlife, and has white umbell flowers like the QA Lace but it's not invasive. We had 2 wet months followed by 2 dry months so my garden grew full and lush and then I went broke trying to keep it all watered. Ah, such is life!

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    1. Tammy, I've been thinking about ammi magus -- I've seen it and it is lovely, just as Queen Anne's Lace is. I wonder if I could just strew it around the meadow. I do love the wild and careless look of the white umbels out there in summer.

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  4. It is interesting what plants need. I am always worried about my husband over-watering my plants, and he is always worried about me not watering them enough! I've found that it really is a fine line between too much and too little sometimes. But all this makes gardening much more interesting. And Mother Nature keeps throwing us curve balls!

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    1. Holley, and mother nature seems to be doing the same -- over-watering in spring, under-watering in summer and confusing the poor plants!

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  5. My lavender was a bit iffy due to all the rain this year...no Queen Anne's lace here either.

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    1. Donna, I would expect lavender to be picky about too much rain. I never did get lavender to do well here. Interesting that you had so little Queen Anne's Lace this year too.

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  6. Rain. Drought. Hot. Cold. The extremes keep us on our toes, but wouldn't it be interesting to have perfect growing conditions. Wherever that might be. Nah, we love the challenge.

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    1. Lee, I was surprised at how the bush clover responded to the conditions this year. Most plants grew better this year than before, and the bush clover looked really good -- just not as big or flowery.

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  7. I agree with Lee May, we have not perfect growing conditions! I had hail this summer, some plants died and some survived. It's nature. Your bush clover will be ok, it's in bloom!

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    1. Nadezda, that is one thing I didn't have to deal with -- hail. That must have been terrible!

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  8. This never knowing what might happen in the garden is one of the reasons we all love gardening. It is the mystery that keeps it fresh in our minds.

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    1. LIsa, it really was intriguing this year to see what did well and what did not in different conditions. Always a surprise!

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  9. If only we could see into the future to know what kind of weather we were going to have, we'd all have the perfect plant choices! Most of my garden flourished, too, with the cooler weather and early spring/summer rains, but I lost some plants early in the season to the monsoons we had in April.

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    1. Rose, it's always a surprise. I keep thinking putting plants in is like arranging furniture and they will stay the way I designed forever. But not so! There is constant change and alteration every season.

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  10. And after all that early rain, it pretty much stopped and even after the inch or so we got the first weekend in October, my garden is still quite dry. The Tiger Eye Sumac I planted in the spring appears to have succumbed to my lack of watering in August. Fortunately my monster Lespedeza seemed to have fared quite well. Every year is so different, isn't it?

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    1. Sue, I remembered that you had a giant lespedeza and wondered if it was as altered as mine this year. We do need some more rain now in this dry autumn so far!

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