The U.S. and many other parts of the world have suffered through an abnormally hot summer this year. If the heat wave continues, climatologists at the National Climatic Data Center say 2010 is on track to become the hottest year on record. July was the second hottest month since record keeping began a century ago, topped only by the searing heat of July 1998. The heat has certainly taken its toll on plant life. Some trees are turning early and already starting to drop their leaves. Grass that isn’t watered frequently has gone dormant, turning lawns a dry, dusty brown. Garden plants are wilting, leaf edges curling and burning black under the hot sun. The beautiful white balls of Hydrangea (Hydrangea) blossoms protrude from leaves that have turned a brittle brown.
In the midst of all this hot misery, there are still a few bright spots of color left in summer gardens. A number of heat-tolerant flowers continue to look bright and fresh even when the thermometer seems stuck on 90.
- Sweetly fragrant Alyssum (Alyssum) still cascades over rock garden walls in glorious drifts of tiny white or purple flowers.
- Hardy Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia), commonly know as Brown-Eyed Susans, and its colorful cousin, Rudbeckia Tiger Eye (Rudbeckia Tiger Eye), the ubiquitous Black-Eyed Susan, continue to produce bright yellow, dark-centered blooms even when their leaves dry out and wither away.
- Delicate yellow-petalled Coreopsis (Coreopsis), also know as Tickseed, sits like a golden crown atop soft, feathery leaves.
- The giant, dinner plate-sized trumpet blooms of Hibiscus (Hibiscus), commonly called Rose Mallow, present stunning displays despite the heat.
- Fleshy, desert-loving Succulents (Succulents) are among the few plants that actually thrive in hot, dry weather. Two hot weather garden favorites are prolific Sempervivum (Sempervivum), commonly known as Hens and Chicks, and low-growing Burro Tail (Burro Tail).