Rain Envy

When I hear about devastating floods, as in Louisiana just now, I wish rain could be better distributed around the continent. Especially now, when I have just spent an hour raking leaves. Not yellow and orange autumn leaves, but dead, dry green leaves jettisoned by the Norway maples, along with zillions of maple seeds, as the trees respond to what has become a hot, dry summer.

Norway maple seeds and withered leaf.

Norway maple seeds and withered leaf.

In April and May we had at least three hot spells, with temperatures freakishly above normal for several days. June and July were relatively cool, with just enough rain to stave off a drought, but the last six weeks have been totally dry. I delayed starting my usual summer watering program well into July, hoping to encourage plants to toughen up and send their roots well into the ground. That’s the advice of seasoned gardeners such Beth Chatto, author of The Dry Garden. She claimed never to water once plants were established, but I can’t make myself do that. At first, I limit watering sessions with sprinklers to two hours every two weeks for each area of the garden (noting dates so I can keep the schedule straight). Eventually, though, it becomes clear that this isn’t enough. Either I have to start watering at least weekly or give up and let the plants struggle on as best they can. By late August, most have made as much growth as they’re likely to, and most have finished blooming, so they really don’t need as much water as they do earlier in the season. (That’s what I tell myself, anyway). But parts of the garden look really bad right now. I’m not going to post pictures — too depressing.

One of the joys of gardening is to see the plants one has chosen doing well, growing to their maximum sizes and blooming when they’re supposed to. Participating in the cycle of sprouting, growth, budding, blooming, withering and dormancy is what it’s all about. But a drought short-circuits the process and leads to oddball scenarios like raking up bushels of dry green leaves under a hot summer sun. And instead of a graceful transition into fall colours, I’m seeing an abrupt case of the browns.

The weather forecast for the next week includes three days with high temperatures between 27 and 30 degrees C (81 to 86 F). After that it will cool down to 21 (about 70 F) but there is no rain in sight.

On the plus side, tomatoes are ripening on the vine, and in the front garden (less beleaguered by Norway maple roots), asters are showing a million buds, some of which are starting to open. That’s where I go to reassure myself that some things are working out as they should.

Aster "Pink Cloud" starting to bloom, with lots of buds waiting to open.

Aster “Pink Cloud” starting to bloom, with lots of buds waiting to open.


Purple aster, pink nerines and ornamental grass "Little Bunny"

Purple aster, pink nerines and ornamental grass “Little Bunny”


  1. This is an interesting and informative account; all the same sorry to read about your gardening problems.
    Weather is indeed a stern and sometimes cruelly capricious friend to have around.


    1. The latest heat wave brought on a bout of whining. It’s supposed to end by Saturday, Aug. 27th, and forecasters are even hinting at a possibility of rain or at least showers next week. But it’s true that you can’t do much about weather.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quite, we are here at Nature’s behest and would do well to remember that.
        Here in NE Wales, there were some very heavy clouds hanging about for 2-3 hours and about 7:15, the rains came down, and are still doing so. Hope some comes your way.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My summer gardening routine involved a daily struggle dragging hoses around trying to keep shrubs, bushes and a modest garden from getting too shriveled. I finally got smart and installed a permanent system that delivers water to each plant. It’s quick, easy to install inexpensive, and saves water. Set up on timers, the watering drudgery is gone – and my plants are much happier. Westtech irrigation on Alpha street across from Mayfair Mall has everything you’ll need plus knowledgeable staff eager to help you out

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I consider this option every time I see the components for irrigation systems in the Lee Valley catalogue. Thing is, I’m planning some major digging, plant moving and replacing projects in the garden for fall and winter, so will postpone considering it until after that. Besides, the really dry period is only 3 months, max: July, August and at least part of September. I think hot weather back in April and May was a factor this year. I see showers in the forecast for next week, so things are starting to shift into fall. Thanks for the tip, though.


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