Thursday, October 25, 2007

Drought and Waterwise Gardening

We had an inch of rain this week, thank goodness, since we hadn't had anything since mid-September, but I'm continuing to notice what plants are doing well in this droughty fall, following a brutally hot and dry August.

I attended a waterwise gardening symposium in Athens at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia recently, and the depths and extent of the drought we're in here in the Southeast became ever more evident. I'm certainly rethinking my approach to the challenge; I don't think my fellow participant is on the right track, when she pointed to an aloe plant on the lunch table, and said, "this is what we need to grow," nor that Mediterranean-style gardening or High Desert gardening is the answer either, but we do have a whole range of exceptional native plants with deep roots that are able to withstand long periods of drought in summer. Mix in a few of those Mediterranean plants and high desert plants that can tolerate our heat and humidity in summer, and you've got a great group of plants to work with.

Personally, I think we'll need to phase out the temperate Asian plants (Hostas and Hydrangeas) that need regular summer water beyond what we ever normally get -- this is life support, not gardening. And watering lawns and turf is just not necessary. Our Zoysia lawn areas went dormant, developed brown patches in the shallowest soil areas, but after the one drenching rain we received in mid-September, recovered quite nicely.

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