Perennial gardens love rainy days

Perennial gardens love rainy days, but the vegetables, tropicals and annuals, not so much. The tropical plants are shivering in their little holes. I keep telling them to hang on. It will get hot again.

My garden has had over sixteen inches of rain in the last few weeks. I started out counting, but I didn’t keep up so I don’t know the exact amount. The vegetable garden looks nearly drowned, but I know it will be okay. I lost a few plants which I wrote about in a vegetable garden update. I just replaced them. Even the best gardeners kill plants so don’t feel bad when it happens to you.

Fortunately, since our weather has stayed cool, most nurseries and box stores have plenty of tomatoes, peppers and basil. I also planted basil seeds. I love basil.

Back garden draped in green in the early morning.
Back garden draped in green in the early morning.

Nature turned on the spigot in late April, and it’s rained nearly everyday since. We were in a terrible five-year drought so we needed the rain. Oklahoma City, which is just south of me, broke it’s all-time record for the most rain in a month. We haven’t had flooding here, but the Cimarron River, a few miles north of me, is very high. Normally, it looks more like this. However, I took a photo of it on May 17, as we drove over the bridge. It was nearly at flood stage then, but now it’s swallowing houses along the edge and is flowing right beneath the bridge. I think we’ve had six more inches of rain at my house this week. The river is that lovely shade of red because of all the soil washed down into it.

Cimarron River on May 17, 2015--Red Dirt Ramblings
Cimarron River on May 17, 2015

Mr. Sun is out this morning although we have thunderstorms forecast for later tonight. I went outside and thinned seedlings. I know this much about Oklahoma–the weather will change. We’ll be complaining about the heat in July and August, but I’m so grateful to see raindrops glistening in sunlight. No clouds this morning. Just a gorgeous blue sky.

In the meantime, here’s the plants really happy this year. Hydrangeas and daylilies top the list. Both love water. Hydrangea even comes from the Greek word, hydro, meaning water so you can guess they are rejoicing this spring. All are just starting to bloom. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ leads the charge with H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and H. paniculata Quick Fire® coming up quickly behind.

Hydrangea paniculata Quick Fire
Hydrangea paniculata Quick Fire

When you shop, pay attention to the species of hydrangea you’re trying to grow. Panicle (paniculata) and oak leaf (quercifolia) hydrangeas are much easier to grow in Oklahoma than mopheads (macrophylla.)

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers' blooming at the end of the garden.
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ blooming at the end of the garden.

In fact, I can’t grow any of the H. macrophylla very well. I know some people in Oklahoma City can, but that shows the difference in microclimates. It gets so hot and cold where I live, that mopheads can’t seem to cope. I also don’t have the protection that you get in an urban garden because I live in the country.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

I am trying H. serrata Tiny Tuff Stuff™ from Proven Winners this year. The plant is tiny so I’ll let you know how it does in coming years. ‘Limelight’, ‘Pinky Winky’ and Little Lime® are just starting to form buds. I have a hydrangea show that will go on for months. Some hydrangeas can even survive full sun if they receive consistent water, but most like at least a little shade. Who doesn’t?

One of my ornamental grasses. I can't remember the name, but it might be one of the Bunny Tails types.
One of my ornamental grasses. I can’t remember the name, but it’s a red Pennisetum like ‘Red Bunny Tails’ I think.

The whole garden is draped in emeralds with only a ruby or two from plants with red leaves.

Green, green garden.
Green, green garden.

Not much is blooming because of cloudy skies, but it won’t be long before everything breaks out. Daylilies are scaping, and it should be quite a show in two weeks–just in time for our local daylily show open to the public on June 20, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Will Rogers Park. You should come. It’s fun to see what’s blooming in everyone’s garden. I added many new cultivars this year so they are small single or double fans, but the rain will make them mighty.

Spiraea x bumalda 'Anthony Waterer' is an oldie, but a goody. I love this plant because it blooms consistently every year, and it has great foliage.
Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’ is an oldie, but a goody. I love this plant because it blooms consistently every year, and it has great foliage. I have one each planted on either side of an arbor to add balance and symmetry to the garden.

Everyone has asked about my crapemyrtles. We had that early and very hard freeze last year. They all were shocked by winter’s rude behavior when it muscled out fall. Several of my crapemyrtles died back to the ground. ‘Pink Velour’ didn’t. It was the hardiest of them all. Smaller cultivars seemed especially hard hit, but that may be because they are young. However, all are recovering rapidly. They will be fine this summer. Just cut off anything that looks dead at this point because they are fully out of dormancy. If you don’t see live growth, that part of the branch is dead.

Gardens facing the street are mostly green.
Gardens facing the street are mostly green.

My perennial garden is singing a happy song. Even the hostas are happy for a change. I look forward to the culmination in summer and fall, but I’m enjoying now too. Let’s hope the rain gives Oklahoma and Texas a rest though. We need a little sun to grow.



  1. I have been worried about you and your garden, Dee, and glad you are both surviving the deluge! It is raining for the third day here and quite cold. As you say, the perennials are happy, but my veg. seeds haven’t germinated yet and I hope they aren’t rotting in the ground. I can see me searching for veg. plants in the stores next week! Beautiful blooms in your garden. P. x

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Pam, we just got back from vacation, and it’s been really hot here again. Haha. Oklahoma and changing weather. I’m glad you’re surviving cooler than usual temperatures in your part of the world. I think I’ll pop over and see what’s up your way. ~~Dee

  2. I’ve thought so much about your garden, and all the others in Texas and Oklahoma that have struggled with the deluge. But over all, I know you’ve needed the rains, and your garden will thrive over all. Maybe next time it could come a little more spread out though, yes?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Robin, I think Texas got it so much worse than we did. I’m fortunate to live north of where the rain was absolutely crazy. Yes, the garden seems very happy this morning. It’s going to be a great summer. Gardens and gardeners are so resilient, don’t you think?

  3. Keeping good thought that the rain will stop…at least some of your garden likes all the rain…we are headed into another hot drought…

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Oh Donna, I hate to hear that.

  4. Kathy Sturr says:

    We are receiving a sprinkling of desperately needed rain – ironic how all that snow melt dried to the bone. My plants seem stunted. I usually don’t water. Love your panicle hydrangeas! I planted Quickfire a couple years ago to replace a sadly departed Oakleaf – just too cold here.

  5. Yes, there’s nothing like a garden after a good rain. I just can’t imagine that much rain in such a short time.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Good to hear that you and your garden are doing alright with this wetter than wet weather. I can almost hear your hydrangeas saying finally enough water. 🙂 The rains have been going either north or south of us. Ever hopeful that some will grace the garden yet today.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, I’m wondering if you finally got rain? I know Layanee has.

  7. marna says:

    Gardens do love the rain and boy, is it raining here. More spring rain than we have had in years. Everything is lush and happy and I’ve been taking advantage by transplanting like a maniac. You have hydrangea that I would love. Hope to add some when they finish with my window replacements. Carpenters are never careful when working among plants so better to have them done and gone before adding more plants or shrubs.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Exciting times at your house Marna!

  8. Your garden is so lush this year…It is so enjoyable to see the photo series.

    1. vwgarden says:

      I’m so glad you’re getting needed rain, though I feel bad for those whose homes are flooded right now. Your hydrangeas do look wonderful! And crepe myrtles – those are one plant I pine for in our cold climate. I have grown ‘Tiny Tuff Stuff’ hydrangeas for a couple of years, and they do bloom well for me despite our cold winters. Our spring is farther ahead than usual, and I already have buds on them. They die back to the ground each winter, but the new growth get going quickly and has time to bloom for a couple of months before we start getting early fall frosts.

Comments are closed.