Plants for Dry Gardens

French lavender

Hosepipe bans and talk of drought conditions turns gardeners minds to plants that can still thrive in those circumstances. I have suggested several types of plant to consider in the lists below.

Mediterranean Originated Herbs and Oil Producers

  • Lavender has pungent foliage and makes a scented oil. The dried flowers retain scent indoors.
  • Rosemary and Thyme are both herbs that will survive hot dry conditions. The sun even makes the flavour stronger.
  • Oregano or Origanum laevigatum is blooming fine in my herb bed. The deep pink flowers are a bonus to the aromatic leaves.
  • Other aromatics that will do well in dry conditions include Sage and Achillea.

Silver Leaved (sun reflecting) Plants

  • Pinks and carnations have fine thin leaves so they do not desiccate easily.
  • Santolina with fluffy yellow pompom flowers are good dry spot shrubs.
  • Cistus is a family of flowering shrubs that has developed an oily leaf to protect against water loss.
  • I like the silvery Sea Holly Eryngium giganteum which is a good doer in the dry spots.

Cistus Albidus

Water Storage Plants

  • The cacti and succulent families most readily spring to mind for dry gardens and there is a wide variety to choose from.
  • Sedum and Sempervivums are easy to grow and the fleshy leaves retain moisture.
  • Plants with long tap roots like Verbascum and several poppies can reach moisture deep down.

Tips For Dry Gardens

  • Gravel is a good substitute for a mulch and it provides a reflective background for your plants.
  • Putting new plants in a dry garden can be a problem. Autumn and early spring are the best times but some watering may still be needed.
  • If it is so dry watering becomes necessary soak plants so that they are not encouraged to grow surface roots.
  • A canopy of leaves can keep the worst of the drying sun off your garden but then a lot of dry garden plants are sum-lovers.
  • The famous Beth Chatto gardens have a gravel garden worth visiting


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