Saturday, December 26, 2009

Water, water everywhere!

The poor garden! It's standing in snow and water - again... still. To recap, we returned from a Thanksgiving trip to find the back yard and garden waterlogged - literally so wet that I could not cut the grass. We got significant additional rain that week and the next, and now we have gotten more than 12 inches of snow. I've been in the garden exactly twice since before Thanksgiving - once to check on the fish nearly three weeks ago and again on Christmas Day in search for rosemary! I made a quick check on the fish then, too. They seem to be fine.

Now the concern is root rot.

Whereas, plants look terrible when they dry out, the reality is that they sacrifice their leaves to save their core. So, when you water them they perk up quickly and go back to looking great.

Too much water is a whole different issue. Plants need oxygen, too. When their roots stand in water, they cannot pull any oxygen out of the soil and they can die quickly - a house plant in just a day or two. Our soil is full of clay - and what are pots made of? and what do they hold? One of our first experiences with this yard was a tree that Mitchell watered and watered and watered as it looked worse and worse and worse. When we finally gave up and dug it up, it was standing in a clay bowl of water and had died of root rot. We have spent the past nine years amending the soil, adding humus and gypsum and generally trying to change to composition and it has worked well.

But I am not at all sure that all our best efforts have been enough for this. The magnolia we planted 18 months ago is literally standing in water this morning. Its hole is filled with a special gravel-like substance that is supposed to help, but is it enough?

The xeri-garden is still covered in snow. I know it hates that! I did put nearly 10 inches of gravel and sand in the bottom of that bed and it is built into a slope so that water can drain off and down the hill, but will it work fast enough? Only time will tell.

There are good things to focus on, tho. I won't have to worry about watering for the next month or two. Often that is a hassle in the winter when it's cold and I have to carry water back and forth. We are really replenishing the underground water supply, so the trees and grass will be healthier this summer. We didn't lose a lot of shrubbery in the snow. I was able to get out and uncover a lot of smaller things the first day. We have a lot of breakage in the nandinas, but they can be cut back hard in February and will fill out again quickly. And, it will be in the 50's again today so most of the rest of the snow should met, freeing us from an icy deck. And, I nearly forgot, I still have not had to cut the grass in the back yard!

So all we can do now is wait. Things will either recover or not. And that's the way it is in the garden. We do the best we can, when we can and trust Mother Nature to look after the rest.

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