Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blinded to Drought

Oops, I made a slight gardening error by taking a short four-day vacation this week.  We've had higher than normal temperatures for a month (one day topping at 110F) and the last significant rainfall was 1 inch on July 14th (this is being written on August 8th).  I knew things were getting a little dry, but prior to leaving, I watered the newest plants and everything else was looking pretty solid. Oh sure, I'd noticed that the clay soil was pulling away from my limestone edging a little bit, but the plants were toughing it out.  Normally, I don't even think about watering plants that have been in the ground over a year. I prefer to practice the tough love xeriscapic approach to gardening.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'
But I should have listened to the story told by the clay and edging.  Upon my return, it was obvious that my 'Royal Star' Magnolia (Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’) and several panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, for instance) were showing the effects of the hot weather and drought.  And a 'Jelena' Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena') was practically burnt to a crisp.  Obviously I could have avoided the worst of the damage if I had recognized that the drought was reaching a critical phase and if I had started watching these indicator plants earlier.

Rudbeckia hirta
Happily, nothing else in the garden has yet been blasted in the Kansas furnace.  All the roses go merrily along, although perhaps they are not blooming as profusely in the heat, and the crape myrtles and the Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are just laughing at the heat.

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