Who would have thought that after the spring drought we would have had one of the wettest July’s in history? I truly believe in the old wives’ tale, that if it rains on the first day of the month – there will be 15 days of rain that month. It rained on the first of July and we only lack two or three days to have our 15 days.
The wet July has certainly turned things around. The crops are looking good, grass is growing, and the gardens and ornamentals have improved. However, lawn mowing has certainly increased.
The rains have definitely helped the truck-patch farmers, as the new Water Valley Farmer’s Market proved this. I was afraid there would not be enough fresh vegetables for the market to take off, but boy was I wrong, as the first week was a great success. Justin McGuirk reports that a few more vendors will be on hand this weekend. I encourage you to take advantage of the new farmer’s market and to get there early.
There are only two more Tri-Lakes Western Horse Shows left. This Saturday, July 28, there will be a judged horse show starting at 2 p.m., and the next full show will be Saturday, August 11 at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building. Please make plans to attend one of these last shows, and as usual, they are free and open to the public.
Life is easier in any garden if you work with plants that grow happily in your area without extra effort. In times of severe drought like we are experiencing now, utilizing plants that are native or well suited to our climate, yards and gardens becomes even more important. After talking with many homeowners around the state, it is a race to see if enough supplemental water can be applied to keep plants alive. In many cases, gardeners have given up the race and it is a “survival of the fittest.”
Usually the first to go are the newly planted trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that were put in the ground this winter or early spring and have not yet developed the deep root system to withstand the stress of drought.
Next to go are the shallowly-rooted plants such as bedding plants, azaleas and others. What are left are the garden stalwarts.
In my garden in north Mississippi that includes the Rudbeckia, ornamental grasses, daylilies, sunflowers, crinum lilies, Datura, hellebores, catmints, artemisias, 4 o’clocks, flowering tobacco, yarrow, viburnums, glossy privets, and juniper—just to name a few.
When these plants are well established they can be very tolerant of drought situations, especially if mulched well. They might not all look lovely, but they will survive.
Your list of “survivor plants” will be different depending on your location and garden situation.
If you don’t like to use pesticides or “coddle” plants, stick with shrubs and perennials that flourish with little care. Noticing the “survivor plants” around the neighborhood, especially in the yards of those laid-back gardeners who are not “worrywarts” about their plants, is a great way to determine what plants are good choices for the low-maintenance garden in your area. Letting shrubs and trees grow in their natural form, with little pruning, decreases work and plays up the natural beauty of the plant.
Combining plants in big island beds and natural settings that are easily maintained and edged makes maintenance easier. Island beds with gentle, curving lines look great in any setting. Make them big enough to include some garden furniture, and you’ll have a wonderful place to sit back and admire your garden. And you’ll have more time to relax if you choose easy-care plants that don’t need lots of extra watering and spraying to look their best. Sure beats pulling that garden hose all over creation!