Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thoughts From The Abyss

Wednesday morning I walked through my garden with trepidation, fearful that at any minute I would slip and fall into one of the drought-created crevasses that lurked everywhere, sometimes obscured by a tuft of bluestem grasses, often hidden by a thin bridge of grass mulch.  These clay canyons, pictured here and just below to the left, are deep, Grand Canyon-style deep, perhaps opening all the way to the bedrock below.  Last weekend I chose to water a few of the less-established roses and I poured water from the hose into one of these caverns for over 2 minutes and never filled it up.  Finally, I gave up and moved on, fearful that the water was just gushing through the Earth to China, where the accumulation of all the moisture might make the Earth lopsided and spin us out of orbit.

I can't fathom how so many of my plants survive, roots anchored into parched soil like this.  If I would slip an endoscope into these cracks, would I see bare roots spanning the abyss like a primeval bridge, or would I see broken roots, snapped off under the tensile strains as the soil dried and shrank?  Are there entire new desert ecosystems growing deep inside the chasms, xeriscopic fungi gardened by thirsty insects with hardened chitin shields?  However the manner in which the soil splits and cracks, the survival of most of my plants right now stands as a testament to the natural selection pressures over the past 12 years in this garden.  It also illustrates just how drought-tolerant established roses can be.  If you want flowers in Kansas, grow roses.

This morning, Thursday morning, there is a mist in the air and the 0.9 inches of rain that fell last night (the first moisture in over a month of hot days) has begun to erase the fissures.  Taken at the exact same spot as the first photo above, you can see in the photo at the right that the edges of the canyons are eroding, and that the soil, although not nearly wet enough to be classified as moist, at least appears softer.  Always the cautious gardener, however, ProfessorRoush stayed away from the rims of the abyss because he knows that the now unstable edges might crumble beneath his feet, sweeping me down into the depths.  I fear that Mrs. ProfessorRoush would just never accept that explanation of why I was calling collect from Canton, China.  


  1. This was a most entertaining read. I have to admit to having some of those same crevasses in my yard!

  2. You've been in the heat too long.


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