Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Watering woes

It's been in the high 80s for months, and now the 90s all this week, with the same for today and tomorrow. This sure belies my previous "Ahhh Coool" post. No cool in sight. More importantly, no RAIN in sight. We only received 3/4" in August and between that and the persistent heat (and now desiccating wind), the gardens are not faring very well.

Because I have a well (and am very resource-conscious) not all plants are getting watered during this awful heat. Like the balsam. A member of the impatiens family, they like moisture. But even here in the shade, they are suffering. Since it's mostly done blooming, this annual will be allowed to succumb. I'll save seeds for next year.

Some perennials will suffer the same fate. The astilbes will be allowed to die back. No amount of water will lush them out again this season and there is no real reason to try. They will come back next spring.

Some things, however, I will water - sparingly. I have 2 doublefile viburnums (rescued from my mother's gardens when they got too big). They were planted late last fall and obviously don't have extensive root development yet to withstand long dry spells.

I have 2 blue rose-of-sharons that I also transplanted last fall. They, too, have less root development, but unless I see more stress than this, they may be able to wait until the rains return.

This is a frustrating time for me. Though I plant drought tolerant varieties, they have limits. In the veg bed I am watering only those that will still crop if given a chance (beans, Brussels sprouts, peppers, carrots, butternut squash, tomatoes). Others - well, time to pull the plug (cukes, basil).

My angst comes when I see mass plantings of salvia subrotunda, salvia spendens and the-yet-to-bloom salvia elegans go limp and lean toward crispy. Or watch the toughest agastache start dropping leafs. Or notice the leaves on the zins and cannas curl.

So this morning, knowing that there is no rain in sight and that there are gahundreds of bees and butterflies counting on the beds for forage, I went out and watered. I watered the salvia and swear I could hear the well pump running in the basement. I watered the viburnums and brick bed zins and imagined that below my feet the water table receded. I watered some of the agastache, the potted plants, and refilled the birdbaths. And felt - guilty. (I did not water anything in the ring bed - those plants have been - and always will be - on their own.)

Logically I know I'm not really squandering water. I doubt I used more than 50-60 gallons on this big splurge today. Emotionally, however, it's tough to deal with it. I refuse to rationalize that oh, the guy next door washes his car all the time or the guy down the street has a pool or (for crying out loud) the golf course behind me runs their sprinklers every night!!!

Still, I'll be very very happy should some tropical system send some rain this way. I think my brain is getting a little fried.... 8-\

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  1. Welcome to Blotanical. I noticed your blog in the 'new blogs' list.

    I love bees and have a few bee photos on my own blog. If you'd like a peek, put 'bees' into the search box, on my blog.

  2. It's sooooo hard to watch as our beloved plants succumb to heat and drought...especially since you've obviously been very thoughtful about planting tough and xeric plants. You are right though, sometimes you have to help the poor things out! I always feel a little guilty about watering...but I always think the benefit outweighs the damage. Watering wisely and conscientiously goes a long ways too (mulching, watering at the roots rather than spraying, etc). can at least ensure that the water does the most good and little gets wasted. If only the golf courses and the car-washers were as conscientious as you are!

  3. Thanks for making me feel welcome, Robur. Now that I'm on Blotanical, I'm looking forward to checking out a lot more garden blogs than previously. And, hopefully, mine will provide some interesting diversion to other members.

    Scott, I really appreciated your comment. Yes, I mulch heavily and water roots, not leaves. I also water early in the morning for best results. I know we can't have the lushness of spring stay into late summer, but after so much work it's hard to watch Nature take its course when the weather doesn't cooperate. But we'll soldier on...always with an eye toward next year's gardens. Meanwhile, hope your beds are doing well. :-D

  4. I remember how I used to visit your blog often, a couple of years ago when I first started! I'm glad you have 'shown up' again because I lost track of you! I didn't realize you are only now joining Blotanical. Well, I hope you will enjoy it. There certainly are a ga-zillion garden bloggers out there to share with and to learn from! Regarding a well, my mother has one, and doesn't fret at all about watering her yard every single day. In her opinion it isn't a 'waste' since it is 'her own' water! She doesn't realize that it still has to 'come' from 'somewhere'. Anyway, I am more aware of the need for conservation. I love your hyssop covered with looks exactly like mine! The bees and butterflies go nuts over the Agastache, don't they?!! It is their favorite plant in my yard.

  5. Jan - Hi! I didn't see this post until today. Sorry I missed it sooner. It's great that you stopped by. Yes, just joined Blotanical and hope to see lots more garden blogs.

    I hear you about your Mom. Unfortunately too many folks still don't get the big picture.

    I can't say enough good things about the bottlebrush hyssops. Now I'm looking for seeds for the PINK botttlebrush to add another color note in the bee palette.


Thank you for visiting. I appreciate your notes, comments and questions and will try to reply to each one! :-)