This is what many plants look like when you plant them in the heat of the summer in a drought. I was deseperately trying to fill in bare spots with plants to prepare for a big party I was planning that would take place out in the SJC gardens. All the leaves died within the first month on this acanthus, but new ones have already started to grow.
I know I wasn't the only one with sick looking dahlias, I heard many other gardeners complaining this year. Since they hate soggy soil you would think they would do better with limited water. This may be the result of a virus or disease, but that is what happens to stressed plants - they are more likely to fall to either of those maladies as well as insects, than when they are well watered (for their needs) and strong.
I don't know what kind of tree this is on our neighbor's property behind us that looks like it is on its last leg, but it was once a full, lovely tree that added dimension to our garden. It is just over the fence in a part of their large property that doesn't get watered at all except from rain. I imagine that it may be reaching its roots out to get some from our garden, but if it is near its end of life span, it may not be getting enough to hold it over.
I am so grateful for our trees that are wonderful at cooling the yards and house with their shade. It is about 20 degrees cooler standing under them than walking out into the hot sun. One is a Brazilian pepper tree that was already here and the others are California pepper trees that we planted about six or seven years ago. Both kinds are very drought tolerant and I see them growing around here in terrible conditions looking like little oases of green in an ocean of brown. I would love to pull over every time I see someone in our neighbor hood installing synthetic lawns and advise them to plant a few drought tolerant trees (there are lots of them) and surround them with a crunchy gravel and a few distinctive but beautiful agaves or native perennials and they will be much happier as will the wildlife!