Garden Canals, Deadheads and “Dear Friend and Gardener” by Lloyd and Chatto


August and September in the South Sound are months that beg for some of that rain we complained about back in April and May. It’s drought time. Late summer brown lawns are not only tolerated, they’re environmental badges of honor.  However, the rest of the garden can’t go without water.

To begin with, everything should be mulched. The initial investment far outweighs the cost of replacing plants every year.

Overhead watering is a big waste of water and money. Drip systems are ideal until you change out plants.

Trees are easy to keep water-healthy. Move the hose around to each tree and let it drip for a half an hour or more depending on how fast your soil drains.

Watering a mixed border is a lot more fun. Make a river full of tributaries and flood it. Pretend you’re about 6 years old (or enlist a 6 year old) and build a 5 or 6” river bed (trench) winding in and out around the plants. Rhodies are shallow rooted so you’ll want the trench to be farther out from them. Just make sure the trench is free-flowing, no rock or soil “dams” to slow down the water. Water seeps in and doesn’t evaporate. Powdery mildew is less likely to form because you aren’t watering from the top.

If any of the plants are susceptible to spider mites, shower them from the top occasionally. Spider mites like it dry and the shower will keep them at bay.

“Dear Friend and Gardener”

Other than watering, harvesting and bug/disease fighting, high summer is fairly leisurely in the South Sound garden. That backyard furniture gets some actual use. A very satisfying book to take on is “Dear Friend and Gardener: Letters on Life and Gardening”.

Two of England’s most highly regarded gardeners are Christopher Lloyd, who passed away in 2006, and Beth Chatto, who still oversees her gardens. It just so happens they were good friends with more than gardening in common.

Dear Friend and Gardener

Dear Friend and Gardener

“Dear Friends” is a fascinating wealth of letters from their 1998 correspondences. The letters are their friendly and combative views of everything from their latest plant acquisitions, successes and failures to cooking, opera and how they really felt about the yearly visitors who tromp through their famous gardens. Christopher Lloyd’s Great Dixter, East Sussex, and Beth Chatto’s Garden, Essex, have been destinations for gardeners around the world for 50 years. Both depend on “outsiders” to keep the gardens going.

Many South Sounders have visited these gardens or heard Lloyd and Chatto speak at garden societies and garden shows.  It’s fun to read about the behind the scenes lives of these gardener/friends. It’s an eye-opener.

$24.95, 250 pages

With a Nod to “Jerry”



The best English tools introduced this year are little gems called  “Deadheads”. They do exactly what they say. They “deadhead” flowers and snip back bonsai and small topiary. They look like a standard thread cutter but they’re way better because they come in three colors. AND they come with a tiny sheath. You caN get them at $10 ea