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The Dry Garden

Dry Gardens tend to be low maintenance and rely on good drainage, and the use of gravels, slates and ground cover as accessories. Key features are:

  • Limited range of plants will survive drought
  • Very low maintenance, in fact some survive on neglect
  • Most Winter hardy when established, giving long season interest

Great plants for the Dry Garden include:

Succulents – conserve water in their fleshy stems and leaves. Plants like Aloe and Agave require very little care of watering. Can be grown in pots, or in well drained soils (dig some gravel in the planting hole). Look out for black Aeonium Schwarzkopf for moody colour too.
Yuccas – tough as old-boots, and with year round colour and shape, and easily manageable in size. Several variegated colours to choose from, ideal as focal point in a big container. The grey leaved Beschnorneria is good too.
Grasses –  some grasses originate in scree and mountainsides - such as Fescues (blues), and make ideal dry features year round. Large grasses include Stipa gigantea, Helicotrichon (blue) and many of the taller Miscanthus tolerate droughts well.
Perennials -  colour and shape are often best found from perennials. Many grey or solver leaves plants tolerate drought, the colour coming form small hairs on stems to conserve water. Eryngiums (like blue thistles) are great. Lavendars, Kniphofia (red hot pokers for bright colour), Iris (they are not all pond plants), and herbs
Fasicularia – a tough, hardy Bromeliad, like the plastic looking houseplant versions, but tough as old boots. Thrives on neglect, and being pot bound. Produces striking red and blue flowers in Autumn once established.
Cordyline – the toughest “palm” easily grown in UK, the vigorous green Cordyline australis (Cabbage Palm) withstands drought once established., and can grow up to 3-4M in 10 years, so gives height. Hardy and tough enough as well.
Phormiums – providing they are well watered after planting until established, Phormiums are tolerant of Summer droughts, and so easy to look after. They offer more leaf colours, and can reach 1.2-1.4M in 10 years as well.

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