Living in the Hudson Valley of New York is like a dream most every day. Rarely is one day exactly like the other, and that is what makes it so special. However, it seems as though the last three years have been years of extremes for this area as well as across the globe. There have been two summers that could be categorized as drought seasons in 2016 and 2017, followed by the 2018 summer of extreme heat and then constant rain. I kept saying that this summer of 2018 has made up for the lack of rain in the previous two years. Yet, like trying to make up for lost sleep, I’m not sure that’s how it really works.
By the end of 2017 I was feeling very wasteful about having to water plants in a time of such little rain. I started thinking Boss and I should only plan gardens and containers with drought-resistant plants. Some of our thoughts went to sedum, grasses, and lantana.
Sedum album ‘Chloriticum’ -Baby Tears (Anyone else creeped out by this name?)
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’
Lantana camara -Bandana White
(This is one of my personal favorites! I can’t get over it!)
Thankfully, we did not do complete overhauls to make drought-resistant gardens with the rain we have had this year (2018). These dry-loving plants listed are still doing fairly well with the biblical rains we have had this season. Yet, it is nice to have a variety in the garden not limited to a handful of plants.
With the hot hot heat and the dry spell we had in July, containers and cutting gardens appeared to be stagnant.
May 23rd (top) compared to July 17th (bottom)
The annuals (in zone 4-5) that were planted near Memorial Day weekend, had not grown nor produced any significant blooms in spite of proper watering and fertilizing. Some plants even gave up so much that we decided to cut them all the way back or pull them out completely.
By the close of summer, rains came to provide some relief to the heat and constant sunshine. These particular containers came back to life when we thought there would be no hope.
September 6th: What a sight to behold!
Standouts: Blue Salvia, Dusty Miller, Red Verbena, Creeping Jenny
Although these particular containers thrived in the abundance of rain, not everything responded in quite the same way. A lot of perennial beds refused to produce the usual blooms under the constant deluge of rain. Some of the mass plantings of sedum began to brown out close to the ground. I could not keep up on deadheading the geraniums that became sogged out and mushy. I threatened to install umbrellas for each geranium. Anything from those little tropical drink umbrellas, to rainbow hat umbrellas; I didn’t care how silly it would look!
Here, the geranium blossom in the center was preserved from the rain as each bloom was protected in its own pod. However, the blossoms that were open and exposed to the rain became “sogged out,” moldy, and brown. Yuck!
So what can we do about the weather?
Not much. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Pray? Make your own controlled environment in a greenhouse or underground. (Sounds crazy? Check this out.)
It seems as though our favorite small talk topic is quickly becoming a very important one. How we talk about weather patterns and climate change with the people around us may help to encourage small scale changes and large scale solutions. Even if all of your plants are inside, and your outdoor activity consists of walking from one enclosed space to another, the weather still has an impact on your life. If your gardening is primarily outdoors, you may find yourself pulling your hair out with the changing weather patterns. Maybe, you’re just so zen that you easily find a solution to suit your needs and carry on with it. (If this sounds like you, please let me know how you do it!) Whatever your style of gardening, Mother Nature seems always to be in control. She keeps us on our toes; reminding us of just how small our efforts are, and how great they could be together.