Thursday, June 25, 2015
A Very Short Post: White Heat
At other times of the year this view would be a little bit greener with desert weeds. But most of these simply crisp up and blow away by June, leaving bare soil held down (often ineffectively) by little tufts of dry leaves.
With respect to growing plants in these conditions, I am coming to the conclusion that drought is not actually the prime limiting factor here. After all, we are on a well (shared with neighbors, so I have to respect their bills as well as ours!) which sits on a major underground reservoir. I have enough water for reasonable use.
But the last few weeks have driven home the point that heat and drying winds are major factors in plant selection and garden design.
Some plants will simply be unhappy with 108 F+ (42 C+) heat, no matter how much water they have. Curiously, I feel that this is a serious issue in selection of succulents. The Echeverias, for instance, dislike the intense heat, and watering does not help because they also seem to resent being watered. Senecio "Blue Fingers", on the other hand, appears to be happy with a little more water these days, allowing me to nurse it through... I think! It has taken me awhile to adjust to this concept, and some of the plants have suffered in the meantime.
The other factor is drying winds. These are blowing from the west, from miles and miles of empty land already heated by days of high temperatures (and the gritty soil surface heats like a stovetop, creating dangers in itself). Again, it is not drought in the soil, but the desiccating effect of the winds that has cost me the little stand of crocosmia in the center bed, as well as browning leaves on the tangerine tree. Both had enough water... at their roots.
I expect this second difficulty will be cured less by plant selection than by garden design. Trees and large shrubs that can take these winds need to protect smaller plants within their influence. In the meantime, a thorough hosedown after dusk raises the humidity around the plants and makes them a good deal happier. It's not something I'm doing frequently; but when I do, I notice a big difference in the plants next day. Much more vigourous!
Just a few thoughts as we sail on toward July. By this time next year, I may be looking at things entirely differently, but this is necessarily a journal of where my thoughts are at present!
Weather Diary: Sunny; High: 109 F (43 C)/Low: 86 F (30 C)