Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wilting Worries

When the ambient temperatures top out daily over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even a diligent gardener can miss the important signs of plant stress, but it would be tough to miss the miserable plant suffering that I've seen over the past two weeks here in Kansas.

There are many plants that I believe seldom or never require extra water in my garden, but I've seen my beliefs and plant knowledge tested recently.  Consider the well-established forsythia at the left;  when you drive into the driveway after a work day and you are greeted by this sight, it is a not-so-subtle hint that practically everything in your garden should get a little extra watering.  Even the normally drought-resistant lilacs planted alongside this forsythia were showing signs of stress.  At such times, my general philosophy of never providing extra water to my landscape cedes to my pragmatic side and my water bill begins to skyrocket.

I do expect some degree of damage in this heat from a few of my more pampered beauties.  My witch hazel certainly tends to like its water in bucket-full amounts, as do most of its family members, and I always try to add a little extra water during these tough times to keep it happy.  Witch hazels are seldom seen in landscapes in this area, and for good reason, and I gain a little pride by keeping it alive in my garden.  But sometimes, as you can see pictured at the right, even extra water isn't enough, the leaves drying up in a single day as the ground below it turns to concrete.  I've seen the same thing happen to magnolias in my garden, and I am wandering the garden morning and night with a hose right now to try to prevent disaster.
I can't blame the plants, though, or the Flint Hills climate that tests them. I wilt right alongside them whenever I have to venture out at midday, and I take just as much extra water to keep going while I work in the garden.  I do, however, curse those modern Chicken-Littles/Nanny-State Ninnies who have written that we shouldn't drink out of garden hoses.  It doesn't stop me from doing it, and I don't believe that I have experienced any negative effects from that practice in 50+ years of doing it, but now I think about it almost every time I take a drink of that life-giving fluid.  Please, just leave me alone to drink in peace.

1 comment:

  1. I actually hope my forsythia will give up the ghost this year. The prior owners planted a huge bank of them on the south side of our garage - the blooms seem to get picked to death each spring by birds staging to come in to our feeders; the rest of the summer they are just a big amorphous green mass, adding nothing to the yard. If they're half dead, we may find the impetus to yank them out this fall and put in something interesting.

    I SO agree with you on the "fear" of drinking from the hose. I've got many more substantive things to worry about...but find this niggles me a bit every time I do it these days. What a waste of good worrying energy!


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