Sunday, July 23, 2017

THE DESICCATED GARDEN

A friend went away for a couple of weeks leaving her indoor cat with only an occasional visitor to feed and water him. When she arrived home the cat never stopped meowing for over an hour. He had so much to tell her, mostly about how much he had missed her but probably about leaving him for so long too.


If plants could do the same thing I know I would be getting an ear-full right now. While I was busy swanning around Europe for a month my poor garden was slowly desiccating. I really did try my best to prepare it for my absence but I also rely on a little rainfall to help out. It was not forthcoming this time and my drip irrigation system is no match for this brutal Texas sun. (The garden is too much of a responsibility to leave to someone so I let it fend for itself.) There is a lot of damage out there.
You probably had no problem identifying the desiccated individual above. When I left there were a couple of nice green cantaloupes, which I carefully wrapped in netting, to thwart the critters.


I was so looking forward to enjoying a plate of melon with prosciutto, just as we have had many times in the past 4 weeks.


So, you can imagine how I felt when the reality sank in that my lovely cantaloupes would not be on the menu. Ah! well, maybe next year.

All my cactus and agaves are in pretty bad shape. Most of them were under cover where they only get morning sun but the dry heat has most of them shriveled and sunburnt. There is plenty of sun scald on the ones that are in the open.



But I have learnt one thing over the years and that is that these will mostly repair themselves when they get a little water and temperatures moderate. For now I am getting out the sunscreen cloth to give them a little relief and next year I will put them under the trees outside the garden.

It is never a good thing to arrive home in the late afternoon, when the day has taken its toll. That first  walk around the garden can be heartbreaking.  Much better to wait until the morning when new flowers will have opened on the gaura and will be wafting on the early morning, cooler air. Cooler by Texas standards at 75° and enough to give a little respite for the plants.

My first morning, jet lag had me up before 5am and, in the dark, doing my first job; filling the stock tank pond in the entry garden which was down about 12" Fortunately because the plants are in floating islands they had survived the drop even though leaning. As daylight broke there were a couple of lovely surprises. Both the white echinopsis and the plumeria were flowering.






Then I began to water with the hose giving the plants growing in the gravel a much needed drink. That has been my main focus for two days in the short window of cooler mornings. Just a little water each day to get the plants used to the fact that I am home to take care of them. And this morning a water lily in the recently filled stock tank bloomed with a beautiful white flower. ( A passalong from my friend Cat at the Whimsical Gardener)



Things are already starting to look up.

21 comments:

  1. Do you know how much rain there was while you were gone? Coming back after a month away I think I'd even have trouble remembering which plants I had. ;)

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    1. My rain gauge was empty and word from people who live just a few miles away was that it was probably less than an inch. It may even have been nothing as rain in this area is very hit and miss. I think we are influenced by the river which seems to channel the storms to the north east. I have a lot of dead plants and event he cactus are in bad shape.

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  2. I can empathize. When you put so much into a garden and your heart is attached to it, its hard to leave only to return to plants that are damaged, dead or on the verge of death. My daughter had a baby last month, and I left my garden for 4 days just as summer's furnace was beginning to heat up. I worried the entire time. As it turned out, I only lost one plant, and the cause of death was due to a squirrel, not the heat. Had I left this month, I believe my losses would have been far worse.

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    1. The first time left the garden was the hardest. Since then we have been away for as much as 6 weeks in the summer. I have a good cry when I get home and then I get on with it. Fortunately I have excellent structure and even without plants in has merit.

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  3. You're tough Jenni! Going away and leaving my garden to fend for itself would be so difficult. I admire your desire to travel.

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  4. Alan, she would have gotten maybe a half-inch in rainfall while she was away for a month, based on the records I've kept here in Austin and what I've heard from other bloggers in her part of town. Not much.

    Jenny, I continue to be impressed by your floating-pot pond solution, to keep your pond plants wet while you travel. Smart! And yes, even my potted agaves on the deck in full sun and heat are looking stressed -- although I kind of like the orange-streaked colors their leaves now have. We sure could use some rain and relief from the heat, but I don't expect any for a while. Hope your trip was wonderful!

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    1. It is the perfect solution Pam. One time I came back and the water level was down well below plants that were on pedestals. Now I don't have to worry. And yes we need rain and quite a bit of it.

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  5. Welcome home.

    I'm always amazed that you have anything left, after being away so long.
    I'm here, and mine is not that good.

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    1. Thanks Linda. I do have some irrigation but drips just aren't enough in this heat. And yes I have some tough plants.

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  6. I enjoying seeing your travels and it is always a balance. At least your tank garden has perked up. This year any plants that don't make it in my garden will be replaced by tougher plants. Even when we are home the garden has become a challenge to keep going through summer.

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    1. I have a few plants that can survive with no added water but even those are looking pretty sick right now. I just got home in time.

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  7. You're right - leaving a garden while vacationing can be as bad as leaving a pet, and produce nearly as much guilt. I'm impressed that the Plumeria is blooming, though, and I'm sure the rest of your garden will recover under your tender ministrations. The garden wreckage aside, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your trip!

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    1. The plumeria are on a separate battery timed water system which I have found to be very effective for potted plants. Their survival alone was enough for me to feel some sense of relief. And yes we did have a wonderful trip.

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  8. We are going on a little vacation starting tomorrow for a week and I worry about the garden. I'm not sure I could leave for a month even knowing I would see great gardens elsewhere.

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    1. If mine can survive yours will be fine. Have a wonderful trip.

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  9. Its so hard to leave during the summer, in fact this year we decided to vacation in the fall. We get my FIL to was a few things that we know won't make it and we have an irrigation system (that is pretty good), so typically the damage isn't all that bad. Still it seems that something always suffers and something typically dies.

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    1. I took two plants over to my neighbor because having nurtured them from cuttings over the winter it would have broken my heart if they had died. And this winter I will try to improve my irrigation because as long as we are fit we will be traveling.

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  10. welcome home, Jenny & David!

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    1. Thanks Linda. We love to travel but there is no where like home-especial our own bed!

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  11. I LOVED your Europe photos...made me feel like I was getting a taste of the Continent too. But oh the garden. You have more backbone than I when it comes to injured plants. We're installing more drip emitters on our system to cope with the August heat. If they prove too much in wetter times, I can always cut back on watering days.

    Your stock tank is sweet. Wish I could talk Denny into one...

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  12. I'm afraid my drip emitters only go half the job. I haven't found a system yet that works well. They constantly clog with lime. But that said it is the only answer in my garden and I will try another system this fall.

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