SUN LOVING DROUGHT TOLERANT PLANTS

Member Dugald Cameron, owner of Gardenimport, writes "We never seem to know what the weather will bring from one season to the next in spite of the various predictions from science, almanacs or groundhogs but I can confidently say that by growing everything you're bound to have some plants that love the current conditions. After last summer's baking hot weather, it might be a good idea to include some drought tolerant plants in your garden. This week I'm discussing the plants that prefer it dry, often liking sharply draining soil as well. They also need drainage in the winter. It is important that these plants are only drought tolerant once they're established so don't just plant them and forget them. They will need watering for the first season to get roots established.

Check Gardenimport's stock of perennials.

BAPTISIA
These are the most drought tolerant plants I've ever seen. I've seen photos of a brown dry prairie (home of  Baptisia) with Baptisia looking healthy and green. Their roots go down 20'. They are virtually indestructible.

CALAMINTHA
(lesser catmint)From June to frost this bee and butterfly magnet is covered with airy racemes of white-lipped flowers with nicely fragrant foliage. It likes full sun and a dry spot in average, well-drained soil.

COREOPSIS
Coreopsis are loved by gardeners for their dependability and long season of bloom. But for a long time all Coreopsis were yellow; some light, some dark, but still yellow. Darrel Probst has created many outstanding varieties and while he wanted outstanding performance he also wanted more colours.  Their hardiness and long bloom time deliver a great performance. Coreopsis prefer a well-drained soil in full sun. Blooms from May until frost.

DIANTHUS
(Pinks or Carnations)Tidy and compact, fragrant and easy to grow, Dianthus is perfect for the sunny border or rock garden. Unlike the older spring-flowering Dianthus, these new varieties bloom continuously from spring until fall. They are brilliantly coloured and have nice grey-green foliage. Best in an alkaline, well-drained and sandy soil. The abundant blooms have a delicious spicy fragrance.

LAVENDER
Truth to tell, Lavenders are hardly a new discovery. Way back in 1671 an enterprising chap, Yardley by name, bought the soap monopoly from cash-strapped King Charles I. He simply added a touch of fragrant Lavender oil and started an industry thats still around today, and so is the plant. Bright spikes of bloom and scented foliage make Lavender a splendid specimen plant, or edging for a border. They need full sun, a sharply draining sandy soil and little water once they're established. Always popular with Butterflies and Bees, Lavender are also evergreen in milder parts of Canada and benefit from a good winter snow cover.

LESPEDEZA
(Bush Clover)Just when your late summer garden is beginning to look tired, GIBRALTER's arching stems become a waterfall of vivid, deep pink pea-like flowers that look spectacular until late fall. The blue-green foliage is attractive throughout the summer even before the flowers come into bloom. Lespedeza prefers a poor, well-drained soil in full sun with average moisture. Even though it will die back to the ground every winter in most parts of Canada, it is zone 4 hardy and will reach 1.2m (4') in height and 1.8m (6') spread again by late summer.

PENSTEMON
(Hybrid Beardtongue)This member of the snapdragon family is a sturdy, easy-to-grow perennial that, once established, thrives in a dry, well-drained soil. The spikes of dainty trumpets are produced in profusion and look perfect in the naturalized garden where they are a real draw for butterflies and hummingbrids. For repeat flowering trim after the first burst of bloom. Their drought tolerance and deer-resistance makes these perfect plants for the weekend garden at the cottage.

PERSICARIA
(Mountain Fleece)Striking crimson-red spikes of poker-like flowers dance in the breeze from midsummer 'til winter on this wonderfully adaptable perennial. You get an incredibly long season of gorgeous bloom from a really easy-to-grow plant. What more could you ask? The bushy clump of mid-green leathery leaves contrasts nicely with the flowers. It makes an excellent ground cover and will spread (but not invasively) so give it some room. The flowers are also excellent for cutting and are popular with birds and butterflies."