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Brenda's Garden
by Brenda Beust Smith

Sunday, July 03, 2011

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it." — Russel Baker

DEAR BRENDA:  Help! My garden is dead, dead, DEAD! Nothing is blooming, most plants are only half alive.  I've got to travel in the summer and when I get home, I'm too tired to water. Is there anything I can plant that will tolerate this horrible heat and drought? Sally in Dickinson

DEAR SALLY IN DICKINSON:  Normally I try to keep this column and my Houston Chronicle Lazy Gardener blog separate in topics.  But this summer's heat and drought are so overwhelming, I need help too!

In a recent Lazy Gardener blog post, I asked readers to please report on any flowers that are blooming without extra TLC.  By "extra," I mean regular watering, whether by a hand-held hose or a sprinker system.

As I type, I'm sitting here in our house on Bolivar Peninsula, looking out over a sea of wild rudbeckias. Our ditches are full of bluebells. There are coreopsis blooming and I saw some of the small pink swamp mallows. Coming south down Hwy. 145 from Winnie to High Island, Texas swamp lilies were blooming between the big bridge and Whites Ranch Rd. (Hwy. 1985).

In the photos to the left are Beach black-eyed Susans, Texas swamp lilies, MallowSeaside and Bluebells.

Nobody waters or feeds these flowers.  And they're growing in pure sand.

Surely there are equally hardy plants that will do well in our home gardens.

I'd like to say my Texas swamp lilies are surviving the drought just fine in my home garden.  But the truth is, they're growing in my pond, so I can't.  They are happy as can be and blooming just fine.

The one plant that I can say is surviving in my gumbo clay Aldine-area garden just south of Bush Intercontinental Airport (on Greens Bayou) is the crepe myrtle (right).

I never water them because they're doing so fine without my help. 

Two readers reported their zinnas (see top photo) are doing fine without any "pampering" (translation: watering).  I found that absolutely amazing but I haven't planted zinnias in years, so maybe the newer varieties are hardier. 

I sure intend to plant some now!

What are your Summer-of-2011 success stories (so far?)  I'll report on all nominations in my August column.

P.S.  Don't miss new posts. Make the Lazy Gardener's Blog ( your home page.

Brenda Beust Smith (Features > Brenda's Garden)

Email Brenda for list of area gardening/environmental speakers ($5) andlist of her topics for garden club presentations ($300 plus travel; retail $500)


"THE LAZY GARDENER'S GUIDE ON CD" — Specifically for Houston area gardens: monthly do-now reminders & gardening advice. 12 pre-designed gardens for butterflies, hummers, sun, shade and more. A gardening book on CD. $20. Make checks payable to Brenda B. Smith & mail to: Lazy Gardener's Guide on CD, 14011 Greenranch,
 Houston, TX 77039-2103.

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