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Plants for the dry rock garden

Plants for the dry rock garden

It's been a tough summer, hot for the East Coast, but it's the lack of rain that really strains the garden. We'd finally get a rain after many weeks of drought, and then it would start all over again. Had the spring been wet it I don't think we'd be so exhausted from it, but no, it was dry too, and the fall so far doesn't look much more hopeful in terms of a penetrating rain.

Greenhouse plants push through fine, they're under shade cloth and get the regular waterings. But most of our gardens are in full sun - as in every single hour that sun is up - it hits the gardens. We thought if we moved to the east coast, meters from the Atlantic Ocean, that the 'wet' would be a constant fight for us. The gardens were all made of of sharp draining sand, and true, this is best for the wet months and winter. But during a summer like this you really couldn't use a word like 'lush' for the garden. And I suppose that is what nature looks like during a drought, but we weren't trying to completely recreate that part!

It's early September now, with it's cool nights and foggy mornings. The gardens, even without rain, come slowly back to life, a second spring. I do a lot of planting at this time of year here because snow doesn't usually come to stay until December and the temperatures are ideal for growth. I can even see it in the moss in the bush where we collect the spaghnum for packing around the crowns of pots for shipping. The moss was so dry and weightless this summer but already it's plumping up and shooting some length again. 

Early September I took a walk through the garden to see if anything was perking up. Surprisingly there were many plants that looked like they were even enjoying these rainless months. Those finicky, soft, silver, fuzzy plants that are  difficult to keep in containers through the summer - they were doing fantastic in the dry, wind swept garden. I water these gardens maybe once or twice a week during the heat of summer. I'm not all that scientific or religious in my watering, I generally just dig my hand down a couple inches into the sand and if it's still wet, I'll hold off for another day or two. 

These pictures were all taken on September 11th, and although the plants aren't as gorgeous as when in bloom, they still hold their leaves, haven't browned, and provide good texture to the garden.

Convolvulus suendermanii

Potentilla nitida 


Eriogonum ovalifolium v. depressum

Teucrium sp. Teruel


Vitaliana primuliflora ssp. cinerea

Edraianthus pumilio


Edrainathus pilosulus

Daphne x hendersonii Lupp


Linum capitatum


Dryas octopetala 'Tundra Pygmy'


Dianthus x 'White Fringe'



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