My secret garden will be three years old this spring. It sits in a sunny spot with sandy soil which means that the water literally drains off. We planted it back in 2013, filling it with peonies, roses and day lilies along with a “Tigers Eye” sumac and some Heliopolis split from a big clump in another spot. Some of these plants have done well, some not so much. My poor roses and peonies just haven’t fared well here at all. So this spring, I’ll be making some changes, moving the roses & peonies and adding some of these drought tolerant perennials.
I’m on the hunt for perennials for hot, sunny locations! Drought tolerant perennials that will survive the hot, sun and sandy soil.
Here’s some of the favourites I found:
Russian Sage (perovskia):
Russian sage is one of those plants that you wish you’d planted years ago. It’s feathery purple spikes add movement and light to a sunny spot. Russian sage is a deciduous semi-woody subshrub with upright, grayish white stems and attractive lobed, silvery gray leaves. The stems and leaves give off a pungent odor when crushed or bruised. In late summer and fall Russian sage produces 12 in spires of small, tubular lavender flowers. The flowers last for two or three months beginning in July until frost. It can get quite large at 2-3′ wide and equally as tall.
Another silvery, blue plant. Artemesia comes in all shapes and sizes. But I’m partial to the low mounding variety like this “Powis Castle” or another favourite, artemesia “Silver Mound”. It’s great to place at the front of the border as it stays low but spreads into a nice mound. As you can in the photo above, it can get quite large. But it splits well after a couple of years so that you can add to your garden without spending extra money. Once established, it is drought and heat tolerant. Exactly what I need for my hot, sunny secret garden.
False Indigo (baptisia)
False indigo comes in light blue, purples, dark purple and even white. So there’s a false indigo to go in any garden colour scheme. This shrub like plant is actually a perennial that grows into a striking 3′ bush every year. Each flower spike contains dozens of small pea shaped flowers that will last up to six weeks in your garden. A native of the prairies, false indigo is tolerant of wind and sun making it a perfect plant for a drought tolerant garden.
Red Valerian (Jupiters Beard):
What a stunner! The red valerian breaks away from the yellows and blues of a traditional sunny garden with their bright pinky/red blooms. Sturdy spikes bloom from late spring into summer. It loves full sun and well-drained soil while it attracts butterflies and bees to your garden. Be sure to cut it back by one-third after it finishes blooming to keep it under control. And don’t forget to deadhead or you’ll have seedlings throughout your garden.
No drought tolerant garden would be complete without Echinacea – usually purple coneflower. But when I saw this variety – “Hot Summer”, I was instantly intrigued by the wide variety of shades in this plant. A native North American plant, coneflower is a great addition to any garden that is stressed by lack of water. The flowers bloom from mid-summer right through to frost. And leave the stems – the seed heads attract birds all winter long.
Yarrow (achillea millefolium):
Another favourite in a hot, sunny garden is yarrow. This “Rainbow” yarrow is a kaleidoscope of colour – yellows, pinks, blush and peaches. Yarrow’s feathery blue/green foliage creates a mound topped with these gorgeous heads of tiny flowers – hence the Latin name of “millefolium”. Yarrow blooms for almost three months in the garden and is perfect for cutting and drying. Plus it attracts bees and butterflies making it a good pollinator.
With these additions to the already existing day lilies, lavender and purple coneflowers, my secret garden will be looking refreshed and able to tolerate the hot, sunny and dry conditions of that location.