Gardening: Mock orange is a true starBy Linda Fort
July 02, 2010
Waking this week at around 5am to the sound of pouring rain made me want to go out and dance in it.
Resisting the temptation for fear of alarming the neighbours, I lay in bed thinking joyfully of how many days I would be let off from the chore of watering.
Sunshine is great I know, but a heavy nightly shower is even better.
The lawn has been looking desperately parched and in that yellow, brittle state it does little to set off the rest of the garden.
There are a number of border perennials that begin to flag in prolonged dry weather.
Astrantias droop and start to look very bedraggled although they do recover.
I have a tall blue veronica which also bows its head sadly in dry weather and prolonged drought will kill off primulas if you do not keep an eye on them.
I never water the lawn – which always recovers – and try not to water the borders when it is dry.
The mass of foliage and ground cover protects the ground from the beating heat for the most part.
Watering the containers and the vegetable patch is a daily routine in dry weather although I often think twice a day is really what is needed in the raised vegetable bed.
The drought really shows up how weedy the lawn is with many creeping weeds retaining their green colour next to the straw-coloured grass.
If you are not too fastidious, this patchy problem will cure itself as soon as it rains but I do find it interesting to see how the weeds change year by year.
I had a vast ugly patch of what I think was cat mint – I am lamentably ignorant of wild flower names – which used to turn brown in dry weather.
Now, in its place, I have a vast area of some kind of creeping yellow vetch which is green compared to the grass and covered in little flowers.
What has changed to create a new plant environment, I cannot guess.
It is certainly no intervention on my part as I do little to the lawn except mow it.
Untouched and unsullied by drought this week is the star of the garden, Philadelphus ‘Belle Étoile’ or the mock orange.
It is flowering beautifully with great clusters of white fragrant blooms.
It needs a little management to keep it in check but its upright form makes it very amenable.
The clouds are gathering again as I write this. I may go out for that rain dance yet.