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Get Set for Summer. 10 Drought Tolerant Plants that Love to SizzleIt's the Summer Solstice this Sunday, 21 June! It also happens to be Fathers Day For garden-lovers the summer solstice means you get to spend the longest day in your favourite place. It's the day when the sun rises early and goes to bed late. It's also a great excuse for a party; a celebration; a lie-in; a day-off; a trip to the beach; a day on the garden lounger anything that makes you feel happy.
Want to leave the garden? Try some Summer Solstice gatherings:
- Stonehenge (of course!) Watch the dawn arrive at the English Heritage-managed event. The car park is open from 8pm on the evening of 20 June and it's a 1km grass walk to the ancient Stonehenge monument which is open to an estimated 35,000 people. Sunrise will happen around 5am!
- London To Brighton Cycle Ride This is a major fundraising event for the British Heart Foundation and around 27,000 cyclists take part. The route covers 54 miles from Clapham Common in London down to Madeira Drive in Brighton. There are pedestrians lining many parts of the route - fun for free on summer solstice day!
- World Paper Aeroplane Championships. But of course you knew that already. It takes place in the High Street at Burnham on Sea, Somerset. Get your summer folding technique into gear now!
- West End Live at Trafalgar Square, London This is a free event in Trafalgar Square which has cameo performances - mainly extracts from West End musicals. Performances on both afternoons of the weekend from mid-day to 6pm.
- World Naked Bike Ride takes place in York on Sunday 21 June from 3pm onwards. It needs no explanation except to say that it's to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists on the road. They will definitely be noticed on this particular day.
If you are an optimist you will prefer the view that 'mid-summer's day' is actually the START of summer in astronomical terms. We do actually have summer stretching out before us.
So let us plant drought-tolerant plants. There are plenty of summer sizzlers that love nothing better than hot, dry summers with plenty of sunshine. Here's 10 of the best (in our opinion):
Lavender: What's not to love about Lavender? Beautiful scent of foliage and flowers, amazing colour; attractive to butterflies and bees. Great form; lots of different varieties and variations of colour, also different flowering times ... do we need to continue?
Delosperma: Wheels of Wonder. They really are wondrous. It's a succulent that will reward its grower with wheels of colour all summer long. Luscious!
Osteospermum are drought-tolerant charmers with their daisy-like flowers and sun-loving habits. They are so easy to grow and gradually spread to form a beautiful cheery clump.
Gazania. These look great in pots and at the front of the border. The flowers open wide in the sunshine and the vibrant colours are a beauty to behold.
Lantana are great in baskets and containers and love dry, sunny and free-draining conditions. They have aromatic flower clusters in a mixture of red, orange, yellow, blue and white colours - which typically change hue as they mature.
Sedum are loved by butterflies and bees and they bring a great structural element to gardens with their fleshy leaves; mounded forms and robust pink and red flowers in late summer. We love them - there are variegated and green types.
Thyme is such a wonderful low-groundcover that is aromatic and can even be trodden to release its aroma. Of course it is great in the kitchen too - no garden should be without this sun-loving, drought-tolerant herb. Looks wonderful spilling over walls and creeping from cracks in paving.
Agapanthas are African Lilies that are real stars of the border in July and August when they send up their tall stems with trumpet-shaped flowers atop. A great statement of form and colour.
Kniphofia, or Red Hot Pokers - what drama! Their vertical spires inject amazing energy into a border. They come in all sorts of colours including Lemon Popsicle (looks good enough to lick); Strawberries and Cream; Orange Vanilla (shown in photo); Limelight; Papaya... do we need to continue?
Cactus. The king of the desert! Did you know there are over 2000 different types of cacti? some are tall, green and prickly, others are rounded like this enormous Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusoni), some are tiny and slender. Some, like our cheeky Mexicans, have been dressed up! Cacti can spend the summer outdoors but they don't like much rain so consider putting them under a little shelter or canopy.
Enjoy everything the summer brings - and most of all, enjoy your garden.