With the hot dry weather becoming more prevalent, you can make gardening easier by ensuring you choose drought resistant plants. Avoid plants with large, soft leaves as they burn easily, and search out silver, hairy, small or succulent leaved plants in the garden centre. Many herbs such as lavender, thyme and rosemary cope well in hot dry conditions. They also smell lovely in the heat as the oils evaporate from the leaves. Alternatively, choose plants from Mediterranean regions where they are adapted to the hot dry climate.
Cistus, also known as Rock Roses, are extremely drought resistant shrubs and form the basis of many Mediterranean and gravel gardens. They are also very robust and do well in coastal gardens. Each bloom only lasts a day but they’re produced in great abundance.
Euphorbia characias wulfenii makes an imposing statement in the dry garden, with amazing long lasting zingy acid yellow flowers in spring and exotic foliage. This perennial grows to 1.2m and is ideal for the courtyard or Mediterranean garden.
Phlomis fruticosa is an evergreen shrub with attractive foliage and strange whorls of yellow flowers in early summer. Phlomis russeliana is a spreading perennial that forms great ground cover. Both have a long flowering season and are extremely drought tolerant.
Agapanthus are South African perennial plants adapted for hot summers and are ideal for both sunny borders and container gardening. They have large , blue or white drumstick-headed flowers in summer. Most agapanthus are hardy and their leaves die down in winter. Evergreen forms are more tender and are better grown in pots so they can be moved to a sheltered spot in winter.
Lavender has richly fragrant flowers and aromatic foliage, thriving in any well drained soil or container. The rich colours of purple, blue, pink or white flowers are unsurpassed in the summer heat. French lavender is less hardy but grows well in containers which can be moved to a sheltered position in winter.
Caryopteris are very useful shrubs for the small garden or large container as they are tolerant of most garden soils as long as they are grown in a well-drained, sunny spot. Their greyish foliage is attractive throughout the year and the electric blue flowers form in late summer into autumn.
Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’
‘Blue Spire’ is a must for late summer colour with small violet-blue flowers in large plumy panicles in late summer and autumn. The aromatic greyish foliage brings a bit of the Mediterranean into your garden. It grows up to 1.2metres and is ideal for a gravel or courtyard garden.
Salvias are the stalwart of the courtyard garden come in a variety of colours and forms with nectar-rich flowers loved by bees and butterflies. They need good drainage and full sun. They also do well in containers, where they can be moved to a protected spot in winter.
Pittosporum is an evergreen shrub which provides both structure and winter interest in the border. They come in a wide range of sizes so there is a variety suitable for any size garden. The foliage is often colourful or variegated with small scented flowers. You can grow the smaller varieties in containers or clipped into simple shapes.
Colourful and exotic-looking, red-hot pokers flower over many months and make spectacular garden plants. They are easy to grow and do well in coastal gardens. The smaller varieties such as Bees Sunset and the Popsicle Series do exceptionally well in pots. They are generally pest free but be vigilant for slugs at the beginning of the season.