Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where's the rain?

It's a good thing to have drought-tolerant plants
when you garden in a drought-prone area:  Silver pony-foot
(Dichondra argentea) under Lindheimer's muhly
(Muhlenbergia lindheimeri), with spineless prickly pear
(Opuntia ellisiana, maybe).

We just wrapped up a November totally devoid of measurable rain. I can’t find any records for Hays County, but in Austin where they track such things the last dry November was in 1897.

As you know, this part of the country recently endured an extreme case of the dries during the summer of 2011, culminating in the terrible fire near Bastrop. The next summer and fall were reasonably wet. We gardeners were ecstatic! Probably the farmers and ranchers were pretty happy, too.

But anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with history (which accurately describes my acquaintance) knows that droughts can be multi-year events. The drought of record in Texas happened in the ‘50s, and lasted seven to 10 years (depending on the source). And when you see a factoid like this – the last dry November was 115 years ago – well, your heart sinks a little.

I read somewhere (and now can't remember where) that when very thirsty, the Agave americana's leaves start opening wider. These are pretty wide.

According to the U.S. Drought Portal, 82 percent of Texas is in moderate to extreme drought as of Dec. 4. Hays County is in the “moderate drought” category. To my recollection, we have been categorized in some drought category or other since 2011.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index measures forest fire potential on a scale of 0 (saturated soil) to 800 (completely dry soil). The majority of Texas counties, including Hays County, appear to be in the 500-600 level.

I may have posted this before, but I still find it fascinating so here it is again: an animation of the drought index:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58S0cmdfoKg.

I’m not a meteorologist, nor do I play one on television, but I’m beginning to wonder if drought is just Texas’ natural condition in the brave new world of climate change.

Days with 20%, 30% and 40% chances of rain continue pass by dry. Seems like there’s a good chance this drought is not through with us.

Favorite spot in the garden:  The white crape myrtle behind my porch swing is at last bowing to the season, and losing its leaves. The fall color of its leaves, decorating the tree and the ground underneath, really accentuate the red of its trunk.


  1. It does worry me, that the rain keeps missing us.
    It is SO dry out there.

    Another chance is coming up. Hope we get some of it.