More About The Lack Of Rainfall, And What It Is Doing To Our Garden
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

July 26, 2015

Our Yuccas are now totally finished for the year, but I’ve included a shot of one of the plants growing along our seawall several weeks ago; the next four shots are of the two butterfly bushes and close-ups of the individual flowers (note the honey bee at the base of the lowest flower in the yellow cluster); our variegated Japanese maple planted in a pot right outside my office door remains there year-round; and the hedge maple (Acer campestre ‘Carnival’) planted adjacent to the front fence that runs along our street. Below, two of our Hydrangea shrubs with their best colour yet; miniature yellow water lilies in full bloom in our small pond; a white oriental lily (‘Casa Blanca’) growing near our front door; a ‘Stargazer’ oriental lily and some orange lilies in a perennial border; the extremely tall Lilium ‘Robina’ growing just in front of our street fence; and new vs. old foliage on our evergreen pink Azalea—note this year’s new foliage at left and last year’s (with old flowers) much smaller at right.
Author photos.



For those of you awaiting the second ‘chapter’ in the story of the CNIB Fragrant Garden, begun three weeks ago, again this week I failed to get all of the additional information I was hoping to get, and so that second `chapter` is having to be put off yet again. Sorry about that, hopefully I’ll get lucky next week!

On Friday morning this week I had to be in nearby downtown Nanaimo for an 8 am meeting! When I got up at 6 am, it looked like it was going to rain, as had been forecast, and sure enough by 6:30 there was a light rain falling. Thank heavens!

I had a rain the entire way to Nanaimo although it didn’t seem to slow the traffic. I am told that by 10:30 am here it had stopped and there was not much more than a Scottish mist for the rest of the day. Not much rain, a few millimetres only, but we’ll take it. We ran our irrigation systems Friday night anyway but the rain did help everything I am sure. There is more rain in the forecast over the next few days so it will remain to be seen whether that comes true or not.

The firefighters (over 2200 of them) were the really pleased recipients of the rain, particularly because the rains were much heavier in certain areas of the mainland were fires were prevalent. But we need two or three weeks of steady, heavy rain just to replenish the reservoirs.

Through the use of our own well, we have been able to keep the garden looking quite good and even the lawns are not too bad. Parksville is officially on a total outdoor watering ban (although adjoining Qualicum Beach is still allowing watering during early morning and late evening hours). Nanaimo (30 minutes south of here) is still not on a total ban, but just across the Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia) the metro area of Vancouver is also on a total ban of the outdoor use of water.

Despite the heat and lack of rainfall, the plants in our garden are doing rather well, and most are ahead of their usual time of bloom schedule. The one unfortunate aspect of this summer is that with the higher-than-usual temperatures, flowering of most plants is finishing much faster than normal. Lilies in particular are finishing fast—unfortunately.

I have included a couple of photos of some of our lilies for your interest.

Also now almost at their best are the many Hydrangea shrubs and several of them are looking really nice. I’ll try to include some recent pictures of those as well.

The other noticeable thing that is happening in our garden is that the new growth on many broadleaf evergreens (Rhododendron, Azalea etc.) is much more prolific and larger than would normally be the case.

Another example of growth exceeding previous years I think is our two butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii)—a yellow one and a white one. The latter has grown to become a tree! They are both in bloom now but not quite at their best. Take a look at the photos.

While writing about butterfly bushes I should pass on some information that a number of true naturalists are urging all gardeners and homeowners never to plant a butterfly bush again—ever! Doug Tallamy, PhD, professor and chair of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, gave me the hard truth about butterfly bush. Doug Tallamy also wrote the must-have book for every home, Bringing Nature Home.

Butterfly bush is an invasive plant, meaning it outcompetes and crowds out beneficial native plants that have been naturally growing in your community for centuries. Native to Asia, in this country butterfly bush readily spreads and takes over space where native plants—the ones naturally selected to nourish the local food web (the birds, butterflies, and moths most people love to watch in their yards)—would normally thrive. In fact, Buddleja davidii has life history traits that make it invasive in most environments.

Interestingly enough, for those in (Canadian) zone 6 and colder, most butterfly bushes do die back to almost ground level over the cold winters, so they might be considered slightly less invasive in colder zones.

What butterflies are desperately in need of are proper host plants so they can reproduce and their larval offspring can feed on host plant leaves. Instead of being sucked in by butterfly bush's beauty, start making the connection between plants, butterflies, and other members of the food web, and work more native host plants into your landscape, such as butterfly weed, other milkweeds, joe-pye weed, and oak trees.

I’ll finish this week with a weather update, there was no more rain here other than the two or three hours of very light drops that fell early Friday morning!


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