if you can't stand the heat ...

Well summer had a bit of a late start but now it’s started with a vengeance. A few days in the high 30s, lots more to come and no rain at all expected. On days like this my plants simply have to cope as well as they can. I retreat inside the house or to an airconditioned cinema complex.

How are they coping so far? They have had to put up with insufficient mulch and no water. What determines their test results seem to be their nature, their position, how established they are, or a combination of all three factors.

Here are some of my heroes who I am very proud of. There are Salvia greggii, Oregano in flower and Nepeta in the background. They are perfectly happy and thriving in spite of or even because of the hot dry conditions.

And here are some who are not going to make it. As the old saying goes: If you can’t stand the heat, get outta Catmint’s garden.

The misery-guts above is actually an Eringium planum, or blue sea holly, but I doubt it will manage to survive long enough to flower. It's advertised as tough, but it doesn't perform for me.

Well honestly - you'd think grasses would be OK. Not this little native Australian which I think is a dwarf Orthrosanthus. There is green among the brown, so it's touch and go, but I wouldn't give it very good odds. Three others of the same lineage have completely died and are currently in the compost heap. It is my fault though - I planted them too late, they didn't have a chance to get properly established before the hot weather.

And here are some who though not thriving are surviving. They survive by pursing their lips and withdrawing tightly into themselves in a sulk. I will keep them knowing that in a few months they will probably become happy and beautiful again. The first is a Plectanthrus which has survived for years in my garden and can be easily propagated from little cuttings. Then there is Mimulus - struggling valiantly with the pain and effort showing.

Luckily, the thrivers outnumber the saddies.


  1. Envy - as it's only a few degrees above freezing here in the UK, though slightly warmer than it was last week. Only the bulbs are showing any signs of life.

  2. Love to hear about your summer weather, Catmint! Even if it is a bit too hot for comfort. I'm trying to get better at figuring out Celsius temperatures - yes, zero is freezing, but what is the perfectly comfortable temperature (in Farenheit it's in the mid-70's). I could try to calculate myself, but have forgotten my formulas from high school math and need to go take care of my 11-month old now anyway.
    Keep cool,

  3. I hope you get a break in the weather and some rain soon before your plants are ruined.

  4. Yes, when the hot days arrive we and the plants struggle. We had very good rains but still a week no rain and it dries out quickly. I have casualties, the more expensive ones or the ones which are closer to my heart I try to save (I am so biased).

  5. Hermes and VW, I also am fascinated to hear about your winter weather. Gardening, as is lifestyle in general, is so determined by the weather. I have been to Siberia and to the Simpson Desert in Central Australia, two climate extremes that I thought strangely had something in common in regard to the challenges for humans and plants and animals there.
    VW, I looked it up - 38 degrees C equals 100 degrees F. If you cared for your 11 month old like I care for my plants you'd be in trouble!

  6. Thanks for your good wishes Lona. We don't expect a break in the weather, so I'm testing the plants to see which can survive.
    Titania, I used to try to save my favourites but found out it was just a waste of water because I was just prolonging their misery and they'd die anyway. Because of this I don't do rare or expensive plants. The survivors don't dry out, they put their roots right down to where there must be some moisture I guess.

  7. OK - 38 C is 100 F - that will help me a lot. Thanks for looking it up. And yes, I do try to give my 11-month old regular water and TLC. She complains louder than your plants when she's thirsty :) When she's well fed, watered and rested - and not teething - she's joy incarnate. Regards, VW

  8. Your heat is quite a contrast to our deep freeze!

  9. I also tend toward survival-of-the-fittest gardening, though if I fall in love with a plant, I make exceptions. At least for awhile (read: until they die). It's fun to experiment and see what survives a really hot summer, and how you can adapt plants a little using mulch and shade and things like those water-absorbing crystals.


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