The run of extreme, hot weather we are getting at the moment and which climate scientists are forecasting we will see more in the future, prompts me to think about the best way to manage the hottest spots in our gardens. The simple answer is to choose the best plants, suited to growing in open, full sun positions. Grassy plants such as Lomandra tanika and even the old fashioned strappy agapanthus seem to be good fillers or edging plants for sunny garden beds.
More formal, low growing hedging plants that seem to handle the heat well include westringia and rosemary. Two showy, flowering perennials are salvia hotlips and salvia huntington red, which are apparently natives to the hot, dry south western parts of north America and Mexico.
Roses of course grow very well in hot, dry, sunny situations too and can be complemented by hardy groundcovers such as convolvulus and gazania. Other “specimen” plants that are worth considering for hot, exposed positions in the garden are red hot pokers (Kniphofia), which actually come in a range of flower colours these days-including an interesting green/yellow flowering one called Limelight.
Aloes are a succulent that will thrive in these conditions too-some of the old fashioned ones get very large but there are more compact, colourful flowering cultivars available now that grow to about 50cm high and wide. Small trees and shrubs that will do well in hot sunny conditions include many of our native Australian shrubs such as grevillias, callistemons (bottle brush), eremophila and banksias. An “exotic” small flowering tree, the crepe myrtle, is flowering beautifully around the district at the moment in full sun positions.
Apart from choosing the right plants that are suited to growing in hot, sunny positions- the other must-do’s are a good, deep watering once a week (late evening or early morning) and heavy mulching to preserve moisture and reduce heat extremes in the soil root zones of the plants.
Millthorpe Garden Nursery