Field of Science

Drought - Garden news during dry times

It's been a bit over 3 weeks since any significant rain has fallen, and it's getting tough on plants.  New plantings are being pampered with regular watering because the only alternative is to let them die.  The natives are struggling, but they will survive.  A number of our perennials have just folded their tents and probably won't be seen until next season, e.g., wax bells, late flowering snake root, and quite a few others.  Some of the hate-to-be-dry plants may have bought the farm: e.g., Clethra alnifolia struggles in our summers in a good year; now it's toast, which is too bad because it's really cute in flower.  It's so dry now that some well established plants are struggling, e.g., the bottle brush buckeye.  A couple of magnolias are showing some signs of stress too.  You may notice certain trees shedding more bark, which is because tree trunks actually shrink in diameter during dry times.  Others plants are doing surprisingly well considering.  When it was younger and during it's growing season, our Japanese parasol pine wilted very easily, but now it has been weathering the hot, dry pretty well in a location where it is protected from the afternoon heat and sun.  A couple of new mountain laurels and a new ornamental black gum are proving pretty tough, and having had rather bad results with ornamental hemlocks in the past, a new one, a quite pretty one, has been watered regularly, and so far so good.  Nothing usually affects wild ginger, but now ours has died back, which it has never done before.  Many of our ferns have packed it in for the season, e.g., the osmundas (3 sp) especially.  The flowering displays of our hostas and native forbs are reduced in size, number, and duration.  The yellow cone flowers seem to be an exception.  However, having seen many maize fields that are clearly a total loss across Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the Phactor is happy enough that his livelihood does not depend upon his garden.  Lastly, the bun-buns are eating things they've never touched before showing that they are getting a bit desperate. This morning dawned overcast, but no rain seems to be in the offing, and if this front passes without rain, it will likely be another week before any precipitation is possible. 

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