cottage gardening in extreme heat and drought

sweetannie4u(midOK_z6b/7a)July 6, 2011

We have been in a drought since last June, even though we have had some rain off and on and some snow last winter. And the weather this year is EXTREME. It was too warm in early spring and then turned cold and wet. Then a Heat Dome settled over Oklahoma and Texas and no rain or not much. Grassfires everywhere and everything suffering in the high temps. Record breaking high temps even. I am working myself half to death, almost round the clock watering and trying to keep it alive and green. I'm worn out!

Facebook is keeping me busy too. I post there because my family is there, not because I don't care about the Cottage Forum. It's just that, I only have so many hours in the day. My house is a wreck, not dirty, just not tidy - stuff piled up and waiting to be sorted and put somewhere (and God only knows where), but it'll still be here when the growing season is over, or everything dies, whichever comes first.

My hair has gotten very blonde and I am very brown from working out in the triple digit temps and searing air. I've lost 58 lbs (but that is another tale to tell)

Love you all and glad someone missed me. Thank you girls.

I've really missed coming on here and reading and seeing all your gardens and lovelies. And of course, someone always posts some new flower or plant to tempt me.

There's no more room for a single plant in my gardens, so don't do it!!!

~ Annie

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Hi Annie,
Glad to see you back and that you are well.I know what you mean about the heat,even here in S.Ca it's hot and humid for us,and i'm along the coast.I could take the heat,but that humidity just drains me.

Good for you on the weight loss,how'd you do it??Also glad to see you're still working in your gardens.Do you have any new plants??

Take care and drop in from time to time and give us a shout out.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 7:11PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Hi Annie, yup, you've been missed, we've been having the opposite kind of weather here. No spring to speak of just an extension of winter. Spring finally arrive when summer was supposed to start and the last couple of days well, summer finally decided to show herself but for how long, who knows. We've just had the coldest, wettest spring in recorded history here. You take care of yourself, don't overdo and do pop in once in awhile, let us know what you've been up to.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 7:23PM
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Hi there. Annie,you've always worked your butt off in that garden - lots of beautiful and interesting flowers and plants to take care of. Sorry to hear about the drought, but I've been following the news and every time I hear "Oklahoma" I perk up to see what's going on there weather-wise.

Sounds like life is busy for you, but that seems to be the norm. Take care.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:32PM
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I did get quite a number of new plants this year.

*Daylily,Hemerocallis, 'Gentle Shepherd'(a lamb's wool white)
*Daylily, Hemerocallis, 'Kokomo Sunset'
*Cl. Rose, from Mother-unknown(single, red w/yellow centers)
*Mandevilla vine - canary yellow
*Joseph's Coat - various shades of pink, cream & green
*Moonbeam Coreopsis
*Flashlight - a yellows-to-white grass-like plant; blooms in spring/fall (test plant)
*Tyler Juniper - lovely tree
*Japanese Red-leafed Maple (forgot the name)
*Inkberry bush - Native SC (from my daughter's property)
*4 Salt grass plants (think it is called)- grows on dry sandy hills beneath Longleaf Pines (ditto from my daughter)
*Coral pink Azalea - new variety blooms spring/summer/fall.
*Okra -new variety to try. Short, stout plants. Great pods!
*Tomato - unknown. Saved seeds from ones I bought at the store. 3-inch tomatoes in clusters like grapes. Delicious!
*Leyland Cypress-still in the pot (not sure where I want it)
*Hosta (have to look at the tag for the name) Dazzling white with deep forest green stripes
*Black decorative pepper plant
*2 Black Petunias - (awesome)
*an assortment of Coleus in ruby colors with different patterns
*Alternathera - Ruby (?) (dwarf) Lovely leaves.
*Pineapple Sage
*Tricolor Sage
*French Taragon
*Munstead Lavender
That's enough to show I'm a Cottage Gardening addict...

And...Annette, you just can't know how much I have missed you my dear friend!
Isn't the weather around the world whacky and out of sinc now?? Frightening, isn't it? You get what you pay for, and boy howdy is mankind paying for this! :(


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:29PM
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Hey schoolhouse!
Glad to "hear" from you right back!
The evergreen trees I bought this year and last are from the inspiration your gardens gave me to redesign my North Garden. I now have three evergreen columnar-type trees, two pines, three Juniper shrubs, and two clumps of ornamental grasses. Oh, and a red Crepe Myrtle. The old-fashioned daylilies can stay. They're tough enough and I love the golden yellow blooms and their arching green sword-like leaves. It's starting to take the form I wanted. I added a few rocks this morning. (puff, puff) I want to clean out everything else that needs more time than I have to care for it and keep it watered. The Junipers and etc, can take the drought and heat much better than the irses and perennials, providing I add plenty of wood chips mulch, of course. I get that free from the power company, so easy-peasy there. There will be a few big rocksto get from somewhere along the dirt roads, and with the wide swaths of lawn (Bermuda can take any kind of conditions), much easier to mow and keep tidy. And that's that. I gotta cut myself some slack, but I want that area to be elegant. Elegantly simple. Yeah. I will be happy if it is just a teeny, tiny bit like your fabulous gardens, schoolhouse. Hope I live long enough to see it finished! (hehehe).

Oh, and BTW Everyone: I still have the same email/\...and it still works, too. (Uh hmmmm!)


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:59PM
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Hello Annie! Missing you and your photos. We have also been in drought and searing heat, but caught a break and got a little rain. I have watered and watered, but nothing does what a rain does. I love Joseph's Coat! It is a beautiful rose.

The burn pile gets bigger and bigger since we are under a no burn order. Ah well. Come winter, we will wish for this awful heat....and I will be retired!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:25PM
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Hi Annie! It is unbearable here in southern CA. I've had dermititis from my weed-eating gardening efforts and it gets worse if I go out in this weather. So, just to let you know, be thankful you can water....I don't know how much I am going to lose since I planted a few natives in early spring that have just about had it!

Please post some photos - I need a garden to admire...sob


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 2:08PM
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My mistake:
The new Joseph's Coat I bought is an Alternanthera, 'Joseph's Coat'. I'll have to take him in in the fall because they freeze to death here in winter.
The other Alternanthera is 'Little Ruby'. Tiny but pretty.
I also got a new Heuchera (Coral Bells). It is called, 'Cassandra'. Various hues of tawny Autumn golds - very pretty. So I now have three.

We have a dense overcast sky today, so the temps are w-a-y down - only 97 degrees F. :) (heat index is 99F). But it feels like 80 after having triple digit temps. :) There is a slight chance for some rain. But at least I don't have to water everything today. Just some of the more dry areas. Yeah! Thank you God! What a blessing.

So, I used that time to give the dogs a much needed bath. They smell so nice and are shiny clean. Bonnie Bell loved it, but the Boys did NOT! Sheppie allowed it, hugging up close to me for protection from that scary water hose, but Angus fought it and kept trying to get away. He looked at me like I about to butcher him for supper. Good grief! Little boys always hate bath time for some reason, don't they? I'm worn slap out!

Bonnie dried out fast and got a good brushing, which she also loved, but the Boys are still too wet, especially Angus. Sheppie looks like a fuzzy Black bear. How cute! As soon as they are completely dry, they will get their brushing, and tomorrow a little clipping and snipping.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 2:25PM
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freezengirl(3aMN and 5AK)

Oh Annie I am so glad you posted here again! I cannot hear the weather reports about your state without sending up a prayer that you are safe and well. I think it is a credit to you and your contributions to this forum that you represent OK to many of us.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 2:41PM
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Hi Annie, it's burning up here in the Dallas area too, I dread getting my water bill this month, just to keep it alive. My new big flowerbed is just sitting there waiting for Fall, wouldn't even consider planting anything this time of year. The only thing growing well is the crabgrass that needs to be weeded out of the flowerbeds! I have GOT to get out there and work on it, just need to get up earlier and be out there before 7 to get it done, ugh!

I've really gotten interested in native grasses, I guess that's not really "cottage gardening", but need to go with what will thrive without too much watering. Never was interested in this before, but with the water situation will go with what looks good through this. We've got fire warnings, as I'm sure you do too.

Take care, please stay in touch, I always love reading your posts!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 3:04PM
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Well, old garden rose old chap,
I have seen grasses in cottage garden portraits of old times and just because you can dig it up where you live, doesn't make it less valuable as a garden specimen. Pshaw!

I am adding more grasses every year. I think they are beautiful and add beauty and elegance to a garden!
Up on my hill there are at least 7 species of Native Prairie grasses and I have seen many of them sold as "ornamental grass" at garden centers and nurseries alike.
I was just noticing this morning that all the wild flowers and weeds are shriveled up and brown, but the Prairie grass is still green. That's because their roots can go 30 or more feet down into the ground. They're tough!

My Irish cousin in Dublin tells me that because of the global weather changes, new ways of gardening and new varieties of plants are being introduced there and in England. She tells me they are being encouraged to start growing plants that can take colder winters and hotter, drier summers instead of the traditional garden plants they've enjoyed for ages.

So, you just go for it! Although I can't resist buying new plants, I am adding more and more native plants and those that can adapt to this climate and don't need so much fussing with. Of course, if the water all runs dry or gets polluted where it is unusable, there won't be any of us gardening, I would think. So, let's enjoy it while we can, but adapt to the changing climate as much as we can.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 6:57PM
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Annie, so good to hear from you. Glad that you are doing well and surviving the heat! Please don't overdo it! I don't post as often as I used to, but I do stop in and read almost every day. Take care!

We are having exceptional heat too. Not as bad as yours, but 99 degrees with heat index of 105 is more than enough for me! We are getting very dry as well. Our soil is limestone/sand based, so the water moves through the soil very quickly. I went strawberry picking tonight and after returning, I went out and handwatered the most needy plants. One of my peonies, planted about 5 years ago, wilted today. So it got a very good drink tonight. That tells me I need to do more hand watering! But oh so time consuming.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:16PM
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Same here, Mary Lu.
Yesterday I started hand-watering too so it would go deeper. Today I dug up two roses to move them to a new location, and their roots at the bottom were absolutely bone dry. So, no more running the sprinkler - I'll be hand watering and letting the water hose run on the ground so it will soak in deeper.The weatherman said the other night that testing showed that moisture containment is only 2 inches deep here in Oklahoma right now. That is pitiful! I think in my gardens it is 4-6 inches deep, but that is not good enough. The deeper rooted plants can't get nutrients or cooling water. So, I have got to let the water run on the ground so it will soak way down. I will be hand watering the more shallow-rooted plants. I noticed a big difference today since I started hand watering.
I ran the soaker hose run for four hours in the vegetable garden on the 4th, and by the next evening, the corn was beginning to wilt on the tips of the leaves. That is pathetic! Gads.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:46PM
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I was just thinking about our weather here in Okie. We haven't had normal weather since before 1990!
They used to call this "Green Country". It rained regularly. We had ample snows in winter. The rivers ran bank to bank and the creeks flowed, even the little ones. All the ponds and lakes stayed full. My dad and grandpa seldom had to water their vegetable garden - maybe a little drink from time to time. The bugs didn't eat up your flowers and crops like they do now. Farmers had bumper crops or wheat, corn, Sorghum, peanuts and alfalfa. You used to see whole fields of just watermelons or pumpkins. Their cattle were fat and sassy. We thought a hot summer day was when it got way up into the 80s!
Seriously, it is so whacky and unpredictable that the only thing you know for certain is that the weather is going to be abnormal and unpredictable.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 2:07AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Annie, where have you been keeping yourself? I have missed your postings and wonderful pictures of your cottage gardens. It is so good to see your posting this morning. Congrats on your great weight loss. Envious that it was not me to lose that much.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:45AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

It's hard to find drought tolerant and deer resistant plants and low maintenance too! I have to consider all three types.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:55AM
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Hi pippi!

I've missed all of you guys too. Thank you (and everyone) for all the kind words. Made tears well up in my eyes - seriously.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:34AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Annie, Over the years of posting on this website and DG, seeing the same usernames, exchanging emails, d-mails or what have you, we gardeners develop friendships from afar and if we are lucky to have an opportunity to meet in person, it's even better. I have learned so much in the past 2 1/2 yrs. from others on the gardening websites that I cherish. I was so used to going to a garden center/nursery buying the starter plants, coming home and planting them and letting them go through their life cycle but most of mine that I had spent hundreds of dollars each year on were annuals, that didn't return. After doing Wintersowing the past two years, I've gained a new interest in the plant's performance, increased my plant stock and have very few annuals. I didn't even buy any petunias this year, only 20 geraniums and I should have bought at least 35 geraniums to fill the front flowerbeds. I find that I just want the growing season to last although it is a lot of work but I find it so satisfying and good therapy to grow my own flowers from seed. I hope others feel the same way about me.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:58AM
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You are a dear.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 3:45PM
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Annie, it's so nice to see you, again! I've missed your posts and I'm glad you're back :)

We've had similar weather to Annette (although we're on the other side of the state). It's been cool, wet and my roses are just now starting to bloom. Everything has been three to four weeks late this spring/summer. However, with all the trouble so many have had with drought, our lack of tomatoes and other sunny crops, seems like little to lose...compared to whole gardens. I hope you all get some rain, soon!

Annie- Please stay around this summer...I miss your posts and always enjoy your stories about the chickens, dogs, gardens, etc. Your posts bring a lot of humor and insight, to the forum!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 4:30PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Dear, dear Annie! So pleased to see your post. I was thinking of you just the other day as I was watering a pretty little phlox some Sweet Person sent me ;-)

Such a cool (even cold at times!) and wet spring this year. Great for the flowers, not so much for the veggies. Naturally this year was the one I decided to try doing a new veg garden in the front, LOL. Probably going to scrap it and put in some tough perennials that don't need a lot of care. I am sick of the drama queen plants! The space will only be filled with the tried and true.
Please don't disappear again for so long!! I surely do miss you and your wonderful posts around here...

-LL, good to see you again too. I had wondered where you were. Hope Mandy and the boys are doing well ;-)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:32PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Annie, I surely haven't needed deer resistant plants, but I feel you on the drought resistance. We had several years of severe drought here and I lost so much. I concentrated on saving the shrubs, the rest was replaceable by friends, or I just called it the end of the experiment....
Sorry you are struggling in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:38PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Welcome back Annie! Exceptional drought here too. All I do is move the sprinkler from one spot to another. It's times like this I'm grateful for a small city lot.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:01PM
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oklahomarose(USDA 6b)

Hi, Annie!

I cannot tell you how badly I have needed a fellow Okie's commiseration on the weather this summer. This is my twelfth summer in the state, and I have never seen it this bad. 100 degrees before Mem Day and never looked back!

This is probably the summer that'll break the camel's back for me........I'm seriously thinking about returning to Puget Sound (born and raised) or central New York (went to grad school there and loved the rolling countryside).

I just don't know how much more of this extreme weather I can take, and it sure makes it tough for the gardeners among us. I am the only one on my block standing out in the front yard each morning with the hose. People think I'm a little weird. Every summer it's the same: tryin' to keep my delicate, shade lovin' fescue alive under my massive oak tree that shades the entire front lawn. My relatives back home in cool, moist Washington just roll their eyes and sorta tune me out, but if I miss watering for ONE DAY, I'll have dead patches.

I would love to hear from anyone else who is cajoling fescue along in extreme shade conditions in terrible heat.

I do have a sunny backyard, but the less I say about my poor dear flowers back there the better!

Heat sufferers, unite!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 4:04PM
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Oklahomarose- Washington has been very wet and cold this fact, here in eastern Washington, it got down to 31 degrees last night. July used to be the only month I did NOT have to worry about frost, but I guess those days are over. Of course, it's colder out here on the farm, but not usually this cold!

CMK- Mandy and the boys are fine...I've just been busy in the garden. The weeds have been growing like crazy and this year, I'm trying to keep them a little more under control :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 4:34PM
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I tried Fescue ...once.

I'm originally from Southern California, and although summers there are hot & dry, it didn't (used to be anyway) this hot! They have been in a terrible drought too. But, we would wear a long-sleeved shirt or light jacket in the mornings until ten and then don summer clothes until around 5 and then long pants and a long-sleeved shirt or light jacket again in the evening. Some nights, we even built a fire in the fireplace. My father grew Fescue out there. Too much work for me to get it going and not as tough as I need.

I'm the freak around here. The feed store guy in town told me they didn't appreciate me moving here with my "Funny California ways of doing things." Oh well.

I am growing St. Augustine grass on the South side of the house in part-shade with my Brown Turkey Fig. Both came from Louisiana where I lived for ten years before moving up here. I was told they would freeze here, but they are doing fine on the South side. I have to water them every day, but it is such a lovely lawn and I so enjoy those sweet figs in late summer. I love that area now. Cool and green.

This past Fall, went drove to South Carolina to see the new grand baby. I cleaned out my daughter's flower beds for her and brought home all the Centipede Grass to try here. I planted it under the Weeping Willow on the North side and five clumps or seven survived the winter. I think that was pretty good since it wasn't even established yet before the cold hit. Those clumps are doing fine. Bermuda won't grow well if at all under trees, but the St. Augustine and Centipede do.
I have cousins who live in Washington state, and they are ALWAYS trying to get us to move up there. They are gardeners too.
I FEEL your pain and anxiety.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:30PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Welcome back Annie! I was/am more of a lurker (except for the trivia on the conversations side), but I always enjoyed your posts and have thoroughly enjoyed this thread. Everyone here is always so delightful, rather like the gardens I think!

As for our weather here in the DC area, definitely not enough rain. We have had a couple of thunderstorms rumble through in the last week or so, but not enough. Usually, I end up having to water through August and September. This year, I had to start in June! I am dreading the next water bill which has been more than double the usual bill for the last six months without the added water for the garden. Ouch. I am not even watering the back yard-all weeds and dirt thanks to the galloping gardeners who dig up everything EXCEPT the weeds! On the plus side, we haven't seemed to have quite as many hot, humid days as usual, so we are luckier than you in OK as far as that goes. Hope the violent weather stays gone and we all get a little of whatever it is our garens need, be in rain, sunshine, or energy for the gardeners! Gee, maybe if I got out there to weed, I would lose a little weight over my summer break-how nice would that be?!

And yes, my weeds are growing beautifully also. ;(

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:46PM
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