Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's not my fault!

From left, nolina, Jerusalem sage and agave, given no supplemental water.
Hurrah!!! I’m so relieved. What a load off my mind! Whew!

The stats are in, and it’s not my fault.  (I’m still looking around for a politician to blame, however.)

According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), many atrocious records were set this summer in Texas. Here’s a list as of Sept. 9:
  • Warmest August on record (same for Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana).
  • Texas’ June-August average temperature was the hottest ever recorded for any state (86.8 F) – Oklahoma was second (86.5 F).
  • March-August average temperature in Texas was the warmest on record here.
  • It’s also the warmest year-to-date average temperature on record here (69.9 F).
  • This was Texas’ driest January to August period on record.
  • 2011 was Texas’ driest summer on record; statewide average rainfall was 2.44 inches (5.25 inches below long-term average).
  • According to NOAA, “The Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index indicated that parts of Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas are experiencing drought of greater intensity, but not yet duration, than those of the 1930s and 1950s. Drought intensity refers to the rate at which surface and ground water is lost, due to a combination of several factors, including evaporation and lack of precipitation.”
  • And more, “An analysis of Texas statewide tree-ring records dating back to 1550 indicates that the summer 2011 drought in Texas is matched by only one summer (1789), indicating that the summer 2011 drought appears to be unusual even in the context of the multi-century tree-ring record.”

This area looks pretty, though it's not flourishing. It gets
a couple of hours' soak every three to five days.
Looking out the window or strolling around the yard, it is so hard not to take the devastation personally. I look online at blogs – even those in my area – and see plants blooming that died in my yard months ago.  

Perhaps I haven’t chosen the right plants, I say. But almost all of my garden denizens are natives or are plants considered adaptable to my area. 

Perhaps I’m not watering enough. Other gardeners have fancy drip systems, with timers and whatnot. But I’m already watering more than I ought to, given the drought and worries about our future water supply.

Maybe I should have built shade covers. Really? Over the whole yard?

I shouldn’t have made so many beds in areas that get full sun. Okay, that’s unreasonable– you work with what you have, right? My house is on top of a sunny hill. Ergo, sunny beds.

I know, I didn’t hold my mouth right.

But now, the truth has been revealed. The spring and summer of 2011 have been terribly hot and terribly dry.

It’s not my fault that so many of my plants have died. The state of my flowerbeds and yard is not a reflection of my gardening talents. I could improve the irrigation situation, and I will definitely have the opportunity to rethink plant choices in those sunny, hot beds. But really, IT’S NOT MY FAULT.

I feel so much better.

Favorite spot in the garden:

I think I will call this the resurrection plant. I stuck two pads of spineless prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana - maybe, but a large pad variety) by the front parking area three years ago. They were supposed to be anchored by a flowering shrub. One held on and started growing while the other promptly died. I thought. Several weeks ago I went out to hand water the latest shrub offering (Mexican bird of paradise - Caesalpinia mexicana - tough!)), and noticed a new green pad on the old, dead, desiccated pad. Amazing!


  1. I had not heard that stat about the tree rings. Interesting! I have lost a lot of plants, too, even though I'm trying to water and keep as many as I can (too expensive to replace everything!). Most of my new plantings are gone, some of the established, but so much has to do with shade. And yes, I agree - you can't make trees suddenly appear! No, it's not your fault. It's Mother Nature's!

    And the porch swing still looks like a nice place to sit in that early (or late?) light.

  3. Thanks. I needed that.
    Even though it's not my fault, I'm going to rethink a lot of things here.
    Let's just hope this is not the 'new normal'.
    Stay safe...

  4. No, it's not your fault. It has been an extremely difficult summer in central Texas. And I'm guessing that you're gardening on thin soil above caliche, making it even more difficult. And I'm also guessing that you're comparing your space to those of Austin bloggers on deeper soil, in shadier gardens, in the city, no? Soil is probably the key difference, along with irrigation systems. Luckily, for those of us who love agave, our climate is getting friendlier and friendlier for them! There's always a bright side. ;-) Hang in there.

  5. @HG - I think of Mother Nature as a benevolent being - but not this year!

    @Lona - late light.

    @Linda - we should confer . . .

    @Pam - well, you're right about most of that - but no caliche. The biggest difference I see out here is shade. Those with shadier gardens have weathered this summer more successfully.