Samuel Johnson really must have had gardeners in mind when he spoke of his fellow countrymen: “It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm.”
We speak of little else these days but the hot weather. In our defence it is uncommonly hot with temperatures hitting record highs in many parts of the country. It is a difficult time for gardens and gardeners and most certainly for the plants in our gardens and some have been scorched and dried and unlikely to revive this year and one can only hope they may return next year.
Those plants which are natural wet/damp ground growers are, obviously, going to suffer in present-day conditions – primulas, astilbes and the likes – but the effect is, perhaps, most dramatic seen on large-foliage plants – rodgersias, podophyllums, veratrums etc. Shrubs and trees suffered also with the foliage of many wilting on the branch while others have dropped the leaves entirely. Join me on my walk of woe:
Veratrums grow in moist, even wet, locations and this weather doesn’t suit them at all – nor the pheasant, I believe, who trotted along when she saw me and then called in her lanky, teenage chicks to enjoy the snack provided.
And, more signs of plants under stress around the garden:
‘Tis an ill wind, as the saying goes, and an ill heatwave which doesn’t have good for somebody. The barley in the fields around us ripened well in this weather and the harvesters, a procession of huge machinery, arrived this morning and made quick work of it.
It is not all disaster and some parts of the garden are looking well and some plants continue to put on a good display:
I have noticed over the last few years that the mophead hydrangeas, Hydrangea macrophylla, are less able for the high temperatures than cultivars of Hydrangea paniculata and I expect we will remove some of the older mophead plants from the garden here and plant more of the paniculata varieties:
Noel Coward wrote of the mad dogs and Englishmen and might well have included gardeners for we started on a job and refused to allow the weather to stop us. A tall Thuja ‘Smaragd’, planted about thirty years ago, was crowding in on top of the arbour above and the Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ on the left as well as the Amelanchier lamarckii and the Parrotia persica to the right had all spread out their branches and had shaded this area far too much and also kept the area very dry as it kept the rain off the ground beneath. Hopefully, it will give the plants beneath a better chance in future years.
Oh, I nearly forgot the lettuce: