Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to Kill a Bed in Three Easy Steps

Step 1: Get as close to summer as you can before placing your plants into the ground.

I waited until May 20 before placing the thirteen Autumn Ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora) into the middle tier of my Three Tiers Bed.  Would have preferred to have accomplished this sooner, but was unable to find the desired size & price until late in the season.  Might have been better to just leave it bare until fall.

Step 2: Trim lower tree limbs to expose previously dappled shade bed to intense shaft of sunlight.

Last summer, this bed received dappled sun for most of the summer day.  But after having some tree trimming done to remove lower limbs and get branches away from the house, the bed still gets the dappled sunlight but also additionally receives two hours of direct late afternoon sun.  Which helps a lot if you desire fried plants.

Step 3: Be sure to schedule an ongoing extreme drought and intense summer temperatures.

A steady stream of above 100 degree days combined with a complete lack of moisture have combined to desiccate the soil layer to the utmost level of aridity.  Tried to provide assistance with sporadic showers from the hose - but with our present weather conditions, just haven't been able to keep pace with the moisture loss.

So there you have it, three simple steps to wiping out a new garden bed.


  1. I see the oak sucker/sprout looks just fine! Amazing.

    Sorry about your ferns. My river fern looks horrible too. I don't think they are done for but they sure look bad...Don sure didn't do much for the situation, huh?

  2. Sorry to see the ferns in such conditions. Thankfully, I got some of the rare rain from Don and for the FIRST time since January, I'm up on my rainfall. Sadly,that will all be a fond memory after this next week of 100+ temps here in Houston and I'll be back to 'drought' mode by next weekend.
    Hang in there.
    David/ Tropical Texana

  3. I feel your pain. And so do all my potted plants.

  4. Mine are looking that same way. No tree trimming here. But, the trees don't have as many leaves this year. So, sun where only shade last year. Hard to plan a bed, when the weather won't help...ugh
    Stay cool.....

  5. I'm in a similar situation with some Holly Ferns, and they're squeaking by with added water. I killed an Autumn Fern a couple years ago, and it made me so sad that I never planted another.

  6. Cat: Yes - the oak sprouts are quite happy (damn them).

    David: Glad someone did; you know things are getting scary when the lowest high temperature in the weekly forecast is 103.

    Caroline: Most (though certainly not all) of my pots are succulents, thank goodness!

    Linda: Yeah, I'm already pondering which drought-tolerant plants might survive in the bed (of course, I then have to consider last winter's 48+ straight hours of below freezing temps too)

    NotSoAngry; I'm just the opposite: never had any luck with Holly Ferns, but lots of success with Autumn Ferns (until this summer - when I'm only having luck with shriveled, brown plants).

  7. Sorry to hear about your fern, Ronnie.
    It's just a crazy hot and dry year this year and many of my plants are suffering the heat. I have many of my plants in pots and moving them around trying to find a place the extreme hot sun won't fry them. We trimmed two big trees is our backyard last year and now we have way more direct sunlight on most of our plants than we had before.
    Same as David we have seen some rain of the tropical storm but not nearly as much as I hoped for. A couple days later and everything is back to desert gardening condition.
    Oh well, let's hope for some more rain soon and the temperatures to decrease a little bit at least.
    Best Wishes
    Paula Jo

  8. It's the dryland equivalent of a perfect storm!

    We had necessary tree trimming done too, RBell and could take similar photos. My fried ferns are established & in other years have gone dormant & come back, but this year? Who knows.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  9. Thanks, Ronnie! Your instructions are so clear and easy to follow. The lovely thing about dead plants? You don't have to water them! ;-)

  10. Ug! My sympathies. We're struggling to keep our late-planted roses, hibiscus, and palmetto alive. The Tillandsias, on the other hand, are doing great. They seem to find the heat pleasantly amusing.

  11. Three easy steps to success! I'm desperately trying to keep alive 3 holly ferns - in dappled shade - and I'm not sure I will win this summer.