Is it fun in the hot sun?
Is the hot summer all but a dream or will there be more good weather to come? Who knows, in this green and pleasant land, if and when sunshine and warmth will be with us.
For most of us, a hot spell is a blessing. But if you were on the continent earlier in the month you would have experienced heatwave Lucifer.
It has seen temperatures soar to over 40 degrees C. and caused havoc, including wild fires, drought and even death. The affected countries included Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Croatia, which were all issued with the highest grade red warning from European weather hub Meteoalarm.
Is hot weather a good thing for plants and for people?
All this might sound like an ideal holiday setting, but even tourists had trouble coping with the severe heat. Seeking out the shade or staying indoors within air-conditioned rooms doesnt lend itself to rewarding sightseeing and even a dip in an over-crowded pool loses its charm when theres little shade for respite.
Cooling off in a swimming pool becomes essential when temperatures soar.
Early morning and late afternoon are the only times when tourists want to be out in the heat.
What can you grow in the heat?
If you are a grower of any kind, extreme weather conditions can pose a massive problem. Italian wine growers are harvesting their grapes
earlier than ever before, but wine production is expected to be lower than last year. Weather needs to be closely monitored and this year has been more problematic than most, including an early blossom; late frosts; hailstorms and then higher than average heat.
The grape harvest is weather-dependent and growers have to keep their wits about them at all times!
Here in the south east of England, most will feel that summer has been pretty good, and theres still plenty of scope for more warmth and joy to come.
The sunny early summer brought forth some lovely blooms, but many plants then began to need water.
Thinking outside of the box
The changeable weather, which many believe can be attributed to climate change,
has begun to guide people along the path of adopting a slightly different approach. During dry and drought conditions , most plants need some sort of supplementary watering and this can become a real maintenance issue. Particularly if theres a hosepipe ban. So, how do you cope with dry weather?
Watering the garden can become a big issue when times are very dry.
Drought-resistant planting seems the right way to go if you hope for a less labour-intensive garden. Digging sand, gravel or substrate into a heavy soil will help to break up the clods and allow free-draining conditions which will enable planting of a wide and wonderful range of plants.
10 plants that can cope with drought and dry conditions
Many perennials with silvery foliage or leaves that are covered in tiny hairs are pretty drought tolerant. For a Mediterranean approach, try the following:
Lavender self seeds when conditions are right.
Rosemary is available in prostrate or creeping forms and upright versions. It's a really good drought-tolerant plant.
Lavender - it thrives in poor soil and hates its feet to be planted in a bog.
If you have somewhere suitable for drought-tolerant planting, you'll have a lot of time for Thyme!
Rosemary - a delightful herb that looks great, is loved by bees and can be used in the kitchen too.
Marjoram, also known as oregano, is great for a dry place in the garden. Sage, also shown, is another plant that can withstand drought conditions.
Thyme gives you a wonderful carpet with tiny aromatic leaves and its happy in a drought.
chamomile is another herb that can be considered to be drought-tolerant, although it does like a little shade as well as sun.
Stachys byzantina has tactile, furry foliage which just asks to be stroked. This helps cut down evaporation and tells you that it is drought tolerant.
Marjoram, also known as oregano. There are dozens of varieties of Origanum, including some lime green and yellow foliage plants, all with pink or whitish flowers which are loved by beneficial insects.
Achillea 'Terracotta' is a great drought-tolerant plant with umbel-shaped flowers in summer.
Stachys byzantina, known as lambs ears. These are tactile because the foliage feels furry - and the plant just loves dry conditions.
Perovskia 'Blue Spire' or 'Little Spire' looks a little like lavender, but taller. It's a lovely, drought-tolerant perennial for a dry and sunny spot. Also known as Russian sage.
Achillea, otherwise known as yarrow, is a great group of perennials with attractive umbel flowers which come in a delightful range of colours from warm terracotta through to white.
Kniphofia are perennials that send up red hot pokers with gorgeous flowers on top! They are happy in a dry spot in sunshine.
Russian sage, Perovskia Blue Spire is a great plant for dry spaces, giving a lavender-like sea of blue flowers at waist-height.
Phlomis have a really good vertical structure and they can be left standing all year for winter form. They are happy in a dry spot in the garden.
Kniphofia, otherwise known as red hot pokers. They even look like fiery torches and thrive in dry, free-draining, sunny sites.
Phlomis, or Jerusalem sage, has soft, hairy leaves and whorls of flowers which can give structural form all through the winter too.