As the seasons turn, I think of those things worth remarking in our gardens during the summer of ’20, that coped well with the drought and oppressive heat.
Because of the heat, many of my plants simply stopped blooming. But thanks to mulch and shade, most didn’t die or even look dried-out. Now that cooler weather has arrived, my plants have resumed blooming. Asters, gaura, mint, and heuchera were just waiting it out, and now they’re back, a little late to the party.
There may be long-term effects of drought stress on the roots of perennials, that we may not see until next season. Not so with annuals; they are worry-free when it comes to long-term anything, making my gomphrena, eggplant, dahlias, lantana, and zinnias that much more likeable this season.
I found Ping Pong Gomphrena to be the most consistently blooming, low-maintenance, brightly colored annual I have ever grown. I barely ever watered it. It is in a container, three small plants together. It has never paused from blooming. The plants have received between four and six hours of sun per day this season, and no fertilizer.
I’ve never grown an eggplant before, but I was lured by their jewel-like color to try one in a pot. It doesn’t matter how it tastes. Just look at this glossy dark purple on a three-dimensional, shining orb.
Don’t forget the bug life: In the brief moments in the morning, before work, as I walk down my front path, I observe that there has been much life, even during the oppressive heat this summer. A horde of blue dragonflies take off as I invade their space, and they coast, sail, and then land again. Every time I move, the horde startles and moves too. A green cricket rests on my “Green Jewel” Echinacea; he has not camouflaged himself quite enough to hide from me.
I happened to find a Dahlia mix that contained the most artistic and beautiful plants I’ve ever seen. That was worth all the early potting inside, dragging pots, watering, and fertilizing I’ve done for them this past spring and summer, and the future work I will do digging the tubers and preparing them to store inside my house for the winter.
All in all, not a bad season. We can’t, of course, control the weather, but we can prepare for it: All my early amending of soil and mulching helped my plants survive the drought quite well this season. I also learned something interesting: I can focus more on annuals as a lower-worry option during a drought.