Plants for Dry Conditions

In the good old days it was generally accepted that the seasons were reliably seasonal. Winter was biting cold with deep drifts of snow, spring was sprinkled with April showers, summer was hot and lasted for ever and autumn was misty, mellow and fruitful. Although clearly nostalgic there is an element of truth in the belief that our seasons aren’t as distinctive or as predictable as they once were. Winter can now be almost devoid of deep, penetrating freezes and there is more chance of snow at Easter than at Christmas.  Summer can be characterised by energy draining humidity accompanied by biblical downpours of rain. It seems that our climate is now more about battering us with extremes interspersed with weather events that apparently don’t know when they’re really supposed to be turning up. This all makes the routine of a gardener’s life less predictable than it used to be and it keeps us on our toes when it comes to looking after the soil and the plants that we put into it.

Long periods of dry conditions will inevitably have many of us spending time irrigating the lawn, containers, beds, borders, shrubs and recently planted trees, (I reckon it takes 3-4 years before you can leave a new tree to its own devices). Although keeping plants alive is always time well spent I think watering is one of the most irritating of all gardening jobs. It is incredibly time consuming which frustrates because there’s always a 101 other more productive jobs to be getting on with; even on-hands-and-knees weeding has the by product of keeping you in contact with the health and development of the plants, insects, pests and diseases. I see weeding as an opportunity to take a snap shot of the health and wellbeing of the garden and also to make a note of any plants that could do with moving a bit to the left, right, backwards or forwards when they become dormant later in the year. But I find the monotony of watering is only topped by the irritating annoyance of a kinked, blocked, hose that will take every opportunity to tie itself around your ankles before breaking one of its connections and leaving you looking down an empty hose while you’re wondering if there’s a better way of doing things.

One possible answer is to grow plants that don’t mind enduring long periods of dry conditions. Below are listed some of those plants that can be called drought tolerant.

  • Cistus x argenteus ‘Peggy Sammons’.
  • Erinacea anthyllis.
  • Ruta Graveolens ‘Jackman’s Blue’.
  • Senecio vivavira.
  • Amsonia orientalis.
  • Anthemis tinctoria ‘E. C. Buxton’.
  • Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’.
  • Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’.
  • Festuca glauca ‘Blaufuchs’.
  • Geranium cinereum ‘Ballerina’.
  • Linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’.
  • Papaver orientale ‘Allegro’.
  • Phormium cookianum ‘Tricolor’.