Sarina Dellinger: Resilient landscapes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

By Sarina Dellinger
For the Salisbury Post

We’ve made it to August! Even with the hot days and sounds of cicadas still lingering, the sweet relief of fall is finally on the horizon. Here at Hurley Park, we’ve been lugging water around and repairing irrigation heads trying to keep all the tender and newly planted perennials alive. By design, many of the established plantings are resilient even in the North Carolina summer heat.

Perennials, trees and shrubs that are resilient in the hottest days of summer can save you a lot of strife come the end of July. However, even the most resilient plants need time to settle their roots so they should be watered regularly for the first year or two. After that, watering becomes minimal instead of essential. Resilient landscapes look different depending on what type of environment you are working with. This includes things like wet or seasonally wet areas, dry shade, full sun, etc. Once you have that figured out you can better choose plants that will thrive in the conditions you already have.

Starting to think more about resilient plants, I’ll share a few of my favorites that can be found at Hurley Park. The sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) can be found to the left of the pond deck. This shrub tolerates wet areas, occasional flooding, and can withstand periods of drought. The fragrant summer blooms are a pollinator magnet and the seed pods from which the name is derived provide interest and food for birds in the winter. An excellent choice for rain gardens, low-lying areas, or near the air conditioner condensate pipe. Another resilient shrub or tree, depending on the cultivar chosen, is the Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) which can be found by the stairs in the Earl Bullard Holly Collection and various locations across the park. This plant can tolerate a wide range of conditions from full sun to shade, wet to dry soils, and is evergreen.

One of the plants I am eagerly awaiting to bloom is goldenrod (Solidago spp.). This is a top-tier resilient perennial plant that will bloom reliably, given enough sun. A benefit to adding goldenrod to your garden is that it is one of the later blooming wildflowers (August to October) that provides a critical nectar supply for monarchs on their southward journey and our local insects to prepare for winter. Another popular yellow perennial are Black-eyed Susans and related species (Rudbeckia spp.). Very popular for their easy-growing nature, resilience to drought and prolific blooms. Even through the excessive heat of the last month the Black-Eyed Susans at the Lib and Ed Taylor garden have remained bright and blooming — a solid choice to add into any resilient garden space. A resilient plant to enjoy all season long is Wild Indigo (Baptisia spp.). The flower spikes light up the springtime garden while the foliage and seed pods provide ample interest until winter. Underground, the roots of Wild Indigo are deep and able to survive hot summer days and drought. This plant can be found in the Ingeborg Seiffert Perennial Garden.

Those are just a select few of the resilient perennials, shrubs and trees at Hurley Park. Visit soon and see what’s in bloom for the fall. If you have questions about Hurley Park or how to book an event, please give us a call at 704-638-5298. Stay up to date with what’s happening at Hurley Park by following us on Facebook or Instagram @HurleyParkNC. To view a map or donate to Hurley Park, visit our website at

Sarina Dellinger is public garden supervisor for Salisbury Parks and Rec.

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