Added in Tales From My Wildlife AllotmentWe had a bit of rain now, but not much and it is still very dry. I feel quite confident, if we don't get another 40C heatwave, that most of my plants will be fine despite the ongoing drought. I do water some of the perennials occasionally but most don't get much additional watering and have to survive on their own. Some might remember the demise of my ‘Forest Pansy' which I had written about in my last blog. I can now report that the tree is coming back from the dead with new leaves appearing from the bottom of the stem where it touches the soil, and some buds swelling further up. Grasses are looking good now and many don't need any additional watering. Especially all the different Stipa species such as Stipa itchu, S. (Nasella) tenuissima, S. gigantea and S. calamagrostis love dry weather and look better this year than last year which was a lot wetter. Many of the perennial Helianthus species are not very drought-resistant and need additional watering to look good. But H. mollis is an exception as it has hairy leaves which limit evaporation and the plant can cope well with drought once established. All my Kniphofia are looking good as well without much additional watering with many of them flowering now, some, such as Kniphofia ‘Rich Echoes' even flowering for a second time. They seem to cope well with dry soil and will be a mainstay of the drought-resistant planting on my allotment. ‘Arctic Glow' is still looking good and copes well with drought, but Echinacea and Rudbeckia need moisture-retentive soil and additional watering to look good.

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Grasses are looking great now
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Helianthus mollis and several Kniphofia are flowering
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Echinops, Rudbeckia and Echinacea are still doing well

The mini-prairie is looking best in August and September with , and Helianthus mollis flowering. Soon Symphyotrichum novi-belgii and S. oblongifolium will start flowering as well, adding some purple colours to the mainly yellow and pink theme. Many of the prairie grasses such as and are starting to flower now as well. At the front of the prairie I planted Ruellia humilis, also called prairie petunia, which is a pretty little plant with hairy leaves and small bluish-purple flowers which look a bit like petunia flowers. The plant likes well-drained soil and seems to love the dry weather as it looks very happy this year. The Echinacea are also still attracting many bumblebees, but some look quite old and tired as many colonies are at the end of their life now with workers starting to die off and new queens emerging. If you see a very large fresh-looking bumblebee at this time of year it will most likely be a new queen. She will busily search for nectar as she needs to fatten up before she goes into hibernation before winter, only emerging again next spring to start a new bumblebee colony.

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The mini-prairie looking nice now
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Ruellia humilis is aptly named the prairie petunia
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Bumblebees love the Echinacea growing in the mini-prairie

I love the pretty flowers of Echinops ritro which look very ornamental for a long time. They look especially good in the early morning sunshine, like glowing little balls. The plants are sturdy and drought-resistant and are loved by bumblebees. They only ask for sunshine and well-drained soil to be happy. is another easy plant which likes similar conditions as the Echinops and has a lovely blue flower colour as well. But be careful with the spiky leaves and flowers if you have to prune or stake the plants as I got a rash all over my arms when I had to tie one of my plants together with string after it had collapsed after rain. I have not planted many new plants recently as the soil is so dry that I need a pickaxe in many places to dig any holes. But one plant I just could not walk past in a garden centre as it looked so pretty is Centaurea ‘Silver Feather' which has silvery leaves and purple flowers. It will hopefully be hardy enough to survive winter but with well-drained soil and maybe even a dry mulch cover it should stand a good chance.

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Echinops ritro in the early morning sunshine
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Eryngium bourgatii
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Centaurea ‘Silver Feather'

The South Africa garden is still looking colourful with Kniphofia ‘Bees Lemon', K. Green Jade, K. ‘Rich Echoes' and several Agapanthus flowering. I make sure this garden gets occasional watering as many plants from South Africa like adequate moisture in summer. Kniphofia ‘Wrexham Buttercup' looks spectacular again this year. The plant always waits until the end of August to finally erupt into flower but it really is worth the wait as the flowers are eye-catching as they are quite large and a brilliant yellow. I have many different grasses and I love them all. But one of the more interesting-looking grasses which also freely self-seeds, but never annoyingly, is . In summer the grass develops very showy tall upright bottle brush like flowers which still look good in autumn and winter. The grass copes with some shade and dry soil so can also be planted under trees as long as they don't cast too much shade.

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The South Africa garden is looking very colourful now
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Kniphofia ‘Wrexham Buttercup'
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The unusual-looking grass Hystrix patula

I love Eucomis as they look very exotic and they also fit well into my South Africa garden. I planted the bulbs in autumn a few years ago, quite deeply so they are safe from frost. They start growing in May each year, after the lasts frosts, and once the leaves show aboveground they grow really fast. They all flower in August and so far have been completely winter-hardy. The largest Eucomis I have is E. pallidiflora subsp. pole-evansii with tall stems and white flowers which last a long time. E. ‘Pink Gin' is slightly smaller and has a lovely dark red sturdy stem and dark pink flowers, the smallest is E. ‘Nani' with light pink dainty flowers on short stems.

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Eucomis pallidiflora subsp. pole-evansii
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Eucomis ‘Pink Gin'
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Eucomis ‘Nani'

August and September is yellow daisy flower time on my allotment. I grow many late-flowering yellow daisies such as Inula racemosa, , S. mohrii, Helianthus mollis, H. salicifolius, H. atrorubens and Helianthella quinquenervis. They provide a nice contrast to all the late-flowering asters with their pink and purple flowers. Many are also quite tall and give some much-needed height to the allotment without casting too much shade. Silphium perfoliatum in particular is an imposing plant, growing like a triffid in spring and early summer and is now towering well above me at over 2m.

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Lots of yellow daisy flowers on the allotment now
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Helianthus mollis
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Some of you might have seen my allotment on TV again. I appeared in the new TV series ‘Garden of the Year' on Channel 4More in episode 3 on Wednesday 24 August. The series is about following three judges, one of them Zoe Ball, the other two garden designers, across the country to look at nice gardens, and to find the best of them. In total they visited 20 gardens, one of them my allotment. The filming was done in one day at the end of June and was quite exciting. Seeing the final series now I have to say that most of the gardens are huge, done with designers and lots of money, so my allotment is a bit like the odd one out. But luckily there are a few other more normal gardens as well, done by real gardeners with passion and lots of enthusiasm. They should have shown more of these gardens as I find them a lot more interesting than grand designer gardens which have their place but maybe in a separate series, as otherwise it is a bit like comparing apples and pears. I will be back with more tales from my allotment next month.

Nadine Mitschunas