August water bill

20 percent less water usage this past August compared to August 2011. That wasn’t too terribly painful. The back garden is fairly torn up right now, but that’s all me, Edwina Shovelhands, not a result of any water rationing. The Lobelia tupa did perish under the August sun, just crisped away, but not for lack of moisture. A couple of the Canary Island foxglove relatives, isoplexis, are hanging on. I caught one in a severe state of wilt yesterday morning and rushed a hose to its base. By afternoon sun, it was fine. It’d be lovely to see it bloom next summer. Did you know Thompson & Morgan have crossed isoxplexis with Digitalis purpurea? T&M have named their creation Foxglove ‘Illumination Pink.’


We haven’t cooled off yet and the forecast is for more of the same for the next couple weeks at least. The hot, rainless months of August and September are always the winter of my discontent. I’m already planning for next year, and as usual I aim for the garden with the most cake but easy on the resources. Might as well aim big. Depending on how much of the *smoke tree is cut back, the sun/shade equation will change. For sun, there’s some nice honey-colored yarrows like ‘Marmalade’ and ‘Inca Gold’ I’d like to try for next summer. Thinking along these lines had me wondering if Piet Oudolf has done any mediterranean planting. Still on the reading bench for occasional inspiration is his book ‘Landscapes in Landscapes,’ and a quick check confirms, yes, he has done one such garden, in Barcelona.
Photo from the book, taken from the Oudolf website:


Lots of calamint and grasses. I haven’t grown Calamintha nepeta in a very long while, and it’s a good plant here, if a little overenthusiastic as a reseeder. Calamint and yarrow? A definite maybe.

If Orlaya grandiflora seedlings turn up again in spring, it might look something like this Hampton Court garden show exhbit. But no foxtail lilies/eremus in zone 10 of course. A write-up on the blog Flowerona has more photos and identifies some of the plants used.
(RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012, Catherine MacDonald, awarded Best Summer Garden.)


*So many projects squeezed out blogging time and left posts like this half-finished. Cotinus coggygria x obovatus ‘Grace’ has been removed. Her hybrid vigor translated into a lethal combination of gigantic cutback shrub/tree in my garden (and the neighbors too). 25-feet tall, 40-feet wide, brought down by chainsaw, ropes, and loppers. All fingers and toes accounted for. As Marty summed it up, “We tried to be patient with her, but she just didn’t know when to quit.” Now there is the shock of the new, a garden without ‘Grace,’ the sun/shade areas completely upended. Big sky country here again. It’s been…emotional. My little Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ is topping the list of trees to follow ‘Grace.’

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10 Responses to August water bill

  1. Sue says:

    I’m mourning the loss of your Lobelia tupa which I assume was one of your IU9 souvenirs. Not much time for blogging here lately either it seems. Oh well.

  2. Jason says:

    I like the sound of the yarrows. Have you thought of nepeta along with the calamint?

  3. Deanne says:

    Wow, big changes there. Removing a tree makes profound differences in the look and feel of things. So sad about that Lobelia tupa…

  4. Hoov says:

    Have not missed my six Cercis one bit. ‘Grace’-less, you may find yourself deliriously happy.

    My own water use has dropped 55% since 2005, but the dollar amount of the bill has doubled. 🙁

    And does Piet expect people to clean up after their dogs? How would you find anything in there, except with bare feet?

  5. ks says:

    Oh man, big frowny face on L. tupa’s demise, especially after seeing that big ole’ stand in Linda C.’s garden. Just goes to show Socal is not the PNW. I coppice my Cotinus with interesting results, and hope that she never gets out of bounds. But I have found tree removal to be liberating. My Birch is on the hit list for this winter.

  6. Here in the PNW I can attest to a slightly crispy Lobelia tupa as well, no rain here since you ladies visited…

    Just today I was pointing out my Cotinus ‘Grace’…in the ground for three summmers now and she’s just barely larger than the day she went in…WTF?

  7. Scott says:

    You can hardly go wrong looking to Oudolf for inspiration. Funny…I have that book too, but don’t remember that garden…I’ll have to flip through it again 🙂

  8. Denise says:

    Sue, that L. tupa must have been 2 yrs old, so it wasn’t from IU9. So much has been crisping out lately and more high temps today.
    Jason, I do like nepeta, almost as much as my 3 cats do 😉
    Deanne, it makes a huge difference on cooling the house too, but there was no way I could keep up with the work that tree required. Our little fringe tree on the east side is a model of good tree behavior!
    Hoov, if this heat ever goes away!
    Kathy, I think Linda’s stand was the biggest. I don’t mind losing mind after seeing it grown so well. Good luck with the birch!
    Loree, the European smoke tree, C. coggyria, grew like that here, a very slow, weak grower, which is why I jumped at the chance to grow Grace, knowing nothing about her other than she was crossed with more robust C. obovata. All I can say now is, I’ll never grow another big cutback shrub again — way too much work.
    Scott, I never noticed the Barcelona garden in the book until the question formed of what would Oudolf do in the meditteranean. Wish there were more examples!

  9. My two Cotinus are barely a little over waist-high and I’m only 5 feet tall. One of them is ‘Grace’ and she’s definitely the prettier one if I do say so myself.

    I hope you enjoy your “new” garden in the big sky country. It’s always fun to grow new plants.

  10. David says:

    Edwina Shovelhands…you must be one of the most creative souls on our planet. So very clever. Hope you
    A. get cooler weather
    B. get some shade (maybe one of those cool triangular sail thing a ma bobs)
    C. you get to finish your projects and rest

    I love the idea of landscapes in landscapes. Wish I could just live in a house on a native prairie sometimes and let Mother Nature take the baton for a round.

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