oscillating garden sprinkler fan shaped spray watering

A Strange Start to Fall

Here on southern Vancouver Island, fall has been cancelled and summer continues.

Our normal temperatures for early October are a low of 8C and a high of 16C (46 to 61F). The past week has seen highs topping out in the low 20s (low 70sF), and this trend is forecast to continue for at least the next week. This after above average warmth in August and September.

And it hasn’t rained since early July.

On the plus side, these dry, windless, not-too-warm days are great for gardening and other outdoor activities. On the minus side is the giant water bill I’m anticipating later in the year, and the continuing drudgery of hauling watering cans and hoses around. Ironically, our routine summer watering restrictions ended on September 30th, which means we can now water whenever it pleases us, for as long as we want (keeping the bill in mind, of course).

pink watering can

More seriously, the long rainless period has adversely affected entire ecosystems. Salmon are dying in dried-up rivers. Forest trees, already stressed by the “heat dome” of June 2021, are struggling. These are quiet disasters, unlike intense and dramatic ones like floods and fires. But the effects are potentially dire. Fewer salmon means fewer killer whales and fewer bears.

Returning to the garden, it is true that with shorter days and cooler nights, plants are preparing for dormancy. It’s not like May, when everything is making new growth and setting buds. Plants don’t need as much water now, but they usually enter dormancy with several good soaking rains. So I’ve kept up my watering program, hoping to send the little green dudes into their off-season in at least a dampish state.

Because of last winter’s copious rain and a cool, wet spring, I didn’t start using my soaker hoses until late July. I expected to stop watering before the end of September. I was wrong. Moreover, I have discovered something about soaker hoses, which I use to irrigate several perennial beds. They’re fine for normal summers, in which the rainless period lasts for two months or less. But when the garden dries out completely, soakers simply don’t have the reach of sprinklers. So even though they’re a less responsible irrigation tool, I’ve been relying on sprinklers for this late-season watering binge.

Old black rubber soaker hose coiled up

Despite the abnormal warmth and dryness, there are the usual signals of the turning year. Heavier dews and occasional foggy mornings. Winter birds—juncos, northern flickers, spotted towhees and others—are back, bopping around the garden and foraging. Hardy cyclamen are in bloom.

Hardy cyclamen blooms with ferns and fallen leaves

But tomatoes are still ripening on the vine.

"Roma" tomatoes ripening on the vine

And asters are in full, glorious bloom.

Light purple asters and geranium "Ann Folkard" in back garden

So is this dahlia.

Pink dahlia in full bloom October 2022
Pink dahlia cut flower on dining nook table

There is a lot to be grateful for on this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

Featured image from Pixabay; other photos by the author.

68 comments

  1. you being interested in botanical mysteries Audrey should like this one.
    I saw a Yucca tree flowering today! They normally flower in June. There is one in Tofino that has flowers budding. I couldn’t believe it!
    Have you ever heard of that before?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I just returned from a visit to BC and Alberta and found it as warm as Spain. I was happy not to have to wear the heavy clothing I brought but I recall being there three years ago at this time and it snowed! The trees were starting to turn as we drove from Courtney to Nanaimo and it was o beautiful. Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We’re still on water restrictions here. It rained only twice in the summer. The grass and weeds crackle when you walk on them. There’s a lot of sand exposed. I keep thinking the desert from extreme western Texas is expanding to here (to the eastern part of western Texas). Your flowers are beautiful, and the tomatoes look perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here in Sacramento the temps are higher than average. Not middle of summer heat, but still in the high 80s and low 90s, later into the Fall than normal. We had a couple of days a few weeks ago, but nothing since and none in the forecast. Hope you get some soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lack of rain has been a serious problem for a lot of places this year. Hopefully it doesn’t continue for too much longer.
    At least you’ve been able to keep your plants looking healthy and happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The weather is doing odd things globally I think – here in New Zealand we’ve had a peculiar spring. It’s been freezing cold, down to winter levels (including snow in lower-lying areas of the North Island, which is rare even in winter), followed by rain – and all this following the wettest winter on record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard the ocean currents are becoming unstable, which affects large scale water temperatures, which affects weather. Meteorological models may not be able to make accurate predictions.

      Like

  7. We’re having a very similar autumn, Audrey, though we did have a couple of days of sprinkling rain. Not enough to soak the ground, but better than nothing. I worry too about the quieter long-term impact of climate change. All elements of our ecosystem are intertwined.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is eerie. Here in south eastern Australia, winter continues with below average temps and rain, rain, rain. Sounds as if our La Nina is sucking all the moisture out of the northern hemisphere and sending it south to us. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Winter could bring anything from unusual warmth and drought, to torrential rains, or even serious cold. Remember the end of last December? We had -10 one night and several days that didn’t get above zero.
      But you’re right, Debra, in the short term, it’s been really pleasant.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve had no more than a few sprinkles here on the south coast, but at least rain is a possibility now. It feels more like early September than late October.
      I think we’d better get used to wild rides! 😃

      Like

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