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Some Evergreen Shrubs

Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia) I can never over-emphasize the importance of evergreen shrubs in the garden. Otherwise, you have nothing to look at during the winter months. Here are a few of my favorites. Talk about a carefree plant! The PNW native  Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia or Creeping Oregon Grape) requires nothing special and will even tolerate drought after it is established. I tend to think of this plant more as a groundcover but after many years (six to be exact - it was planted in April of 2017) it is beginning to look more like a low-growing shrub. The height is less than 2 feet tall. Growth tends to be more horizontal and it has spread 3-4 feet. Not a fast grower. Sun or part-shade. The leaves are an attractive blue-green and they become tinged with red and purple when the weather is cooler.  Flowers have been sporadic but every year they increase. It usually blooms around April - The flowers are then followed (around July) by the berries or "grapes" - Os

Waiting for the rain...

The waterfall area has to be watered almost daily because of the potted impatiens.

I don't give a hoot about football, which is all you hear about around here, but I am excited about one thing this weekend - rain is on the way! Tropical storm Lee is sending it this way and the weatherman says 6 - 7 inches can be expected in our area. Hooray! I was getting to the point where I don't think I could drag hoses around one day longer.

The only plant I've watered in this area is the potted geranium and it is sometimes days between watering since I'm not in this area often. It seems to like this and this is actually the first geranium I've ever grown succesfully.

I have been watering less this summer because our garden is just too large but overall, we have received regular rains up until August. I know it is a lot worse out in Texas and Oklahoma and I feel for gardeners out there. I've been keeping the containers watered (daily or at least every two days), the hydrangeas (every week, sometimes twice per week) and the vegetable garden. All other plants are on their own!

These impatiens out by our front gate require daily watering and even with that, they look like they are ready to throw in the towel. I have them on a soaker hose which makes it easier. Next year I'm going to try something different. Perhaps Vinca (Periwinkle), which I have planted next to your back entrance and doesn't seem to mind less water.

Even the poor rudbeckia hates this dry weather.

As this situation seems to be a regular thing every year, I seriously debate adding plants to the garden that are not drought tolerant and if and when we do retire to the country, I'm going to design a garden with drought in mind and only plant hydrangeas and such in close promixity to the house.

Hydangeas - I love them dearly but you water them one day and this is how they look the next. The wilting is partly a matter of the plant's natural reflexes against the heat so don't over-water them
Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena), one of my favorite annuals for pots. Daily watering is a must. This is near the back door so I'm better about it keeping it watered.

Some plants that don't mind the drought are the 'Adagio' ornamental grass and liriope.
Viburnums don't seem to fare well in drought but this one, the Leatherleaf Viburnum
(Viburnum rhytidophyllum), performs better than many of our others.
Cornus kousa "Wolf Eyes" dogwood, one of my favorite trees, droops
badly without water but manages to hang in there.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) - a sign that fall is near -
let's hope it is not a dry one.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Your garden looks pretty good for being so droughty. Our garden is looking bad. I am even hoping that Lee with push some rain over our way. We need water desperately.

  2. Phillip,

    Hope you get a long slow rain without too much damage. I give out pond 2-3 days before it dries up. Six inches would bring back our pond!

  3. The rain is here with a tornado watch.

    If you want something that will work in pots with less water and grow in shade, wax-leaved begonias are my choice. Will not faint if you skip watering for a few hours or even a day or two the way impatiens do.

    Madagascar periwinkle (vinca) I use for sunny beds. They wilt here AFTER melampodium, if that tells you anything.

  4. As of 6 PM today, I've had 1.41 inches of rain. I wish I had a before picture of my dogwoods, as they have perked up from the sad droopy state they were in despite watering. It was so dry I had to water the weeds before I could pull them. Use the rainy time to repot some orchids and work on my Tuscumbia calendar. Mary

  5. Phillip, We do have to rethink our plant choices...But, how sad to have to limit hydrangeas when you both love them so much! What a summer we've had~I know that lee's going to bring your garden some relief. gail PS Your garden has great bones and no matter what you plant will look wonderful.

  6. I am glad you are getting rain, but sorry that a month's worth is coming at one time. One annual that has done well for in the heat and drought are the small narrow leaf zinnias like the Profusion or Zahara series. Angelonia has done well too.

  7. Phillip,
    Just uncovered your blog and am so glad I did. It's been a tough year in the Midwest as well. Your 'Wolf's Eyes' against your wooded scene looks almost magical. Keep up the great work,

  8. The Summer grind, watering!

    I grow Ivy leaved pelargoniums in window boxes at a property I rent a short distance from here at Le Banquet. I water only once a week at best and they grow in a part sun location and love it. My point is that they seem to best out of full sun and prefer it dry.

    Do you know geranium maderense? I found a great photo of one at Flikr.

    It often dies when finished flowering, literally flowering itself to death. Tragic and beautiful.

  9. Hope that you get some rain soon. We just had Lee visit and he left 2inches...can't complain.Christine@inthegardenwith...

  10. And a good rain it was Phillip! We've had much less rain than you have had. It stopped here in June! It has been rough of everything and I'm learning what can take the drought and what can't. Thanks for the great info and beautiful photos!

  11. I hope you got some rain, Phillip. Your garden looks lovely, even with a little wilting here and there. We are absolutely parched -- and burnt -- here in Texas. Here's hoping for fall rains.

  12. Hope that rain've obviously invested much labor into maintaining this beautiful yard & gardens! What a joy to visit you today.


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