Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursdays in the Garden -- Triple Digits in October

It's a sad, sorry state of affairs in the garden these days. I'm not taking it personally, though it's been a struggle.

The first winter we were here there was a hundred years frost . That is exactly what you think it is - you only see temperatures this low every hundred years or so. And it stayed cold for 5 days. Everything died. I was in New York, moving G'ma out of her house, and TBG was no-way-no-how going out in the dark and the cold to throw sheets over the precious flora. And then take them off before the sun got too high in the sky. Every night. For 5 nights. No, Ma'am. He was bitter enough that it had snowed on him when he took out the recycling cart. This was, after all, "the f'ing desert for crying out loud."

This summer's monsoon was a total disappointment. There just wasn't enough rain during the time when the plants are most stressed and most in need. As if that weren't enough, we had 5 or 6 days in a row where the temperatures were over 105 and it didn't rain. True, that's nothing by Phoenix's standards, according to C&B. But here, in the middle desert, it's quite unusual. Combine the sustained heat with the lack of natural moisture - both in the ground for the roots and in the air (humidity) for the leaves and blossoms - and even the most desert hardy of our plants are suffering.

Yes, I wrote are not were. I don't blame you for being surprised. I am sure you thought that by mid-October our temperatures would have tempered and the greenery would be greening. Wrong. Somebody never got the memo (or, this being Tucson, and politics and governance being what it is, probably the memo never got sent). It bumped up against 100 earlier this week, and the solar heater working alone is enough to warm the pool to a comfortable-enough-for-laps 74. We humans are loving it. The plants? Not so much. Just look:

Of course, there are some that are doing very well, like this lantana.

And some that are really really trying to make a comeback.

Yes, the bark is green.
It's a palo verde - as opposed to the palo blanco
which has.... YES! ... white bark.

But all in all, it's been a tough Fall in the ground for the newbies. I really have to get to work on the irrigation system. I'm just not diligent enough, and the flora are feeling it.

See how the fronds are curling into themselves and bending. This agave is water deprived.... and I am to blame.

All except the oleander, of course. It just sits there, perking up when I water it, but never growing and never dying. Who knows.

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