Hibiscus Gives Hope in a Dry Summer
The summer continues to produce a few flowers and a lot of complaints. We complain because we are so incredibly dry. When we moved to Montrose and began our garden, I decided to try to make a garden without an irrigation system and without watering the beds in between rains. My solution is to plant them shortly before a rain, to spread mulch over the surface of the beds after we plant, and to hand water the new plants for a week or so. This year has been a challenge. We planted when the weather forecasters led us to believe we would receive rain within a day or two. Alas, we have not had a good rain for weeks now. Dark clouds appear in the late afternoon sky and seem to vanish over Hillsborough. Some of our most reliable plants, which bloom without our adding water, include hibiscus, both chance seedlings and the ones we planted years ago. They look as good as if we had watered them daily. The surprise about this is that most hibiscus have the reputation for craving water. Our favorite, H. dasycalyx, never begs for water and has narrow leaves, a shaggy calyx, and creamy white flowers. This species seeds around in the garden; one of our best plants grows in one of our driest places—right in the middle of a gravel path in full sun. Yes, Hillsborough soil is special! We recently cut the dead limbs and removed most of the lowest branches from a large yew, a Canadian hemlock, and an unidentified corylopsis, which grow near the driveway. Now we can walk under these large trees, see their structure, and look across the bed to the center of the circle garden. Our next challenges are to remove the ivy and poison ivy, which grew in their shade. That will be my job for I am the lucky one—not allergic to poison ivy!