Basic Plants For Hot and Dry Sites
Garden tip from Plants for Places, publisher Jonathan Metcalf, DK, dk.com, $14.95
Sun or shade? Sandy soil or heavy clay? Whatever your growing conditions, this handy guide will help you choose the best plants for every part of your garden.
You may find that there are several sites in your garden where conditions get very hot and dry during summer. For example, steeply sloping, sunny banks where drainage is rapid, the base of sunny walls that are in a rain shadow, and virtually any sunny site, protected from the worst effects of wind and rain by surrounding walls and fences, where the soil is very sandy, stony or shallow and alkaline. All of these can prove difficult for any plant that is not adapted to cope.
Many of the plants that will thrive in these conditions have characteristic features, which are as beautiful as they are practical:
- Gray- or silver-leaved plants like Senecio viravira and blue-leaved ones like Leymus arenarius, are clothed in fine hair or have a waxy surface bloom to deflect the burning rays of the sun.
- Plants with fragrant foliage, such as lavender, rosemary, hyssop and Phlomis purpurea excude volatile oils that form a haze around the plant and act as an aromatic sun-block.
- Succulent species of low, neat habit, like sempervivums and sedums, whose thick, fleshy leaves store water to prevent dehydration.
- Many bulbs, such as Amaryllis belladonna, demand a summer baking to enable their bulbs to mature so they can flower freely.