Crow’s Nest: The hot garden

July 12, 2017

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

It seems appropriate, as it is now hot, to highlight a garden that makes effective use of a hot space—the walkway to the intern apartment on the west side of the house.

In late afternoon the area gets blasted by the hot sun, and it is at the top of a dry hill and partly under the rain shadow of the eves. I softened the weather by adding a water fountain; even a xeriscape can benefit from a little water. Moving water soothes and acoustically isolates the separate tenants of the house (it is on a timer, and I do add a couple gallons each day).

There are some warm-season grasses such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). Flowers include some yellow tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata), and the orange sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale). The gray green foliage of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) will be joined later by the flowers of asters (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum and Symphyotrichum oblongifolium).

It’s an easy planting to maintain, particularly since the desirable plants are doing well and few weeds get in. The aromatic plants gives off a scent as you brush past them and the garden gives great pleasure to residents of the house when returning home at the end of the day.