Our summers are hotter, the periods of drought more frequent and often longer. Watering the plants is essential, a chore that we would like to do without. If the small vegetable garden cannot escape regular bathing without compromising a good harvest, the flower garden is usually less demanding. And it will even quench its thirst if you take the trouble to choose drought-tolerant species. This is also the case for many plants used by municipalities. Brief overview of some plants known for their sobriety.
Many perennials have very modest watering needs. But they still require very well-drained soil. Otherwise, their existence will be short-lived, and they may not even survive the winter. Often used in municipal landscaping, Russian sage (Perovskia) particularly stands out when it comes to temperance. Its delicate foliage is silver, its floral stems with bluish flowers vary in height and can go up to one meter.
Also showing great sobriety are goldenrod, yarrow and its many hybrids with varied colors and fragrant foliage, polychrome euphorbia, in particular the superb “Bonfire” with reddish leaves, daylilies, echinacea, especially the original echinacea purpureaYucca filamentosa and its spectacular flowering, sages, panicaut with blue flowers and the wild and aromatic tansy.
Two other names to remember in particular: Baptisia australis and fraxinelle (Dictamnus albus), both about one meter in height. The first gives a bloom similar to lupins and its hybrid offspring bloom in very varied colors. The original species, with blue flowers, even tolerates having its feet in the water for long periods in the spring. For its part, the fraxinelle has beautiful dark green glossy foliage from which emerge spikes of white or pink flowers with red marbling. It emits a powerful scent that can even ignite for a fraction of a second if exposed to a flame.
Stonecrops, or sedums, are succulents with chubby leaves that store the water they need. Their foliage is decorative as soon as they emerge from the ground in the spring, favoring a happy marriage with the earlier tulips and crocuses. They usually bloom from late July, and the blooms often persist until frost. The best known are the remarkable stonecrops (Spectabile Sedum) about 30 to 45 cm tall, usually with red to pinkish flowers, sometimes white. There is also a host of stonecrops in several shapes and colors, some being real gems like the small Sedum spathulis with tender green foliage, “Chocolate Ball”, more reddish, or even the bluish “Sunset Cloud”. They reach around 20 cm. For an unusual choice: the very rustic cactus Opuntia humifusa. It produces pretty yellow flowers with an orange heart in June. Handle with care, as it is extremely pungent.
Perennials or annuals, some grasses also have great resistance to drought. Very popular, annual pennisetums with red, silvery purple, green or variegated foliage are among them. From July, their small feather duster-like inflorescences vary from white to pale pink. Among perennials, the most used in large urban developments is the “Karl Foerster” calamagrostis. It reaches about a meter in height and turns golden as the summer progresses. More delicate and smaller, the blue fescue (Festuca glauca) and blue oats (Helictrotrichon sempervirens) also remain good choices.
There is always time to plant annuals since there are three good months left to take advantage of their flowering. Lantanas, buddleias (butterfly bushes) and many coneflowers have low water requirements. One of the most famous in this respect, the verbena of Buenos Aires, is often planted in beds by the municipalities. The tall variety reaches around 100cm and produces pretty purplish flowers. You will see it appear again next year, because it reseeds itself easily.