The extreme drought continues and that calls for some extreme action in the garden. Normally I start cutting back perennials mid to late September. This year I have already started cutting back those perennials that are so adversely affected by the dry conditions that no amount of watering or rain will bring them back. Phlox, salvia, peony, and comfrey are just some of the varieties that have been cut to the ground with the hope that any available water will strengthen the roots for next season’s growth.
I have even started removing some of the longer shoots of growth from shrubs such as rhododendron, viburnums, and hydrangeas to help concentrate any available moisture to the main body of the plant. Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle, Incrediball, and Invincible Spirit have been cut back one-third to one-half and I have even started harvesting and drying hydrangea paniculata flowers. The drought has fast-forwarded the garden into fall.