Friday, July 17, 2009

Drought Flowers

Either because our plants are just that badass or because we've been watering more heavily, we do actually have some that are attempting to bloom in the midst of the drought and the heat. Brave souls.

For the most part, they are strange, tortured versions of themselves, which is actually kind of interesting in its own way. For example, you would never guess that this was 'Lichterloh.'

The bleached and emaciated petals of 'Lichterloh' in July

Similarly, the normally delicate, genteel, and shapely blooms of 'Duchesse de Brabant' have become ragged and irregular.

A gasping, titanic effort from 'Duchesse de Brabant'

'Graham Thomas' conserves his resources by drastically reducing the number of petals he produces. Usually fat, golden, and fully double, he's become a pallid semi.

'Graham Thomas,' like Sir Eliot, reluctantly retrenches

The passionflower is bearing up well--it does indeed appear to be dark purple! Wonderful plant--so extravagant.

'Dark Purple' passionflower

The frill bursting from this passionflower bud looks like wayward bits of Silly String.

Interesting passionflower bud

And the most surprising and delightful news: one of the 'Ellen Bosanquet' crinums that we planted this May is actually already blooming. The buds are rather washed out, but the fact that it's blooming at all comes as a pleasant shock--I assumed it would take a year or two to get established. Of course, the bulbs Dad gave us were quite enormous--larger than softballs in some cases. They have an incredibly rich, heavy lily fragrance.

The precocious bloom of crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'

Project Mesopotamia
(Simulating the Land Between Two Rivers) The irrigation project continues. Hopefully, we'll be able to hook several of the systems up to the computer this weekend. Getting everyone on a regular system is essential if we're going to survive August; otherwise, some plants will inevitably slip through the cracks.

We still need to hook up the shade garden and the two gazebo zones, change out the two heads by the pond, put mini sprinklers over the hanging 'Kimberley Queen' ferns and make the front porch a separate zone, and pipe the rose bed, mutabils, and blue and purple bed zones to the central location. We may also make the pole bed and pecan a separate zone and add lines out to the Eve's Necklace and the linden.

Irrigation Schedule
We also need to think about scheduling. I think all of the zones need twice-weekly watering until the heat breaks (~late September, I assume). The weeping yaupon (rose bed), baldcypress (blue-and-purple bed) and Montezuma cypress (pond/gazebo bed) probably need water three times per week, since they're in a fragile state.

If we start getting rain in September (as some people predict, pinning their hopes on El Niño), we can reduce everyone to once per week. If the weather really improves, we'll be able to take the rose bed, blue-and-purple bed, front porch bed, pole bed, and gazebo beds off irrigation altogether in November and just turn the system on manually as needed. I think we'll want to keep the mutabilis bed and shade garden on once-weekly water indefinitely, though.

Next March, we'll put everyone back on once-weekly to take advantage of the growing season and get everyone juiced up for summer. And if the summer isn't too brutal, we may be able to leave it at once a week the whole season. Imagine it: a garden robust with plump, healthy plants, getting enough water to actually grow steadily rather than just enough to stave off death, full of flowers and green leaves... a beautiful sight. And in the long run, very little need for watering at all, once the roots are nice and deep and assuming the current weather pattern is a hiccup, not a terminal case of climatic cancer.

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