As this past summer goes, here in New England, we’ve been blessed. We didn’t have very many 100+ days, we had drought, but it wasn’t the searing drought that so much of the rest of the United States had, and when the rains came, for the most part, they did not bring with them the damaging winds that so many other parts of the country got. Connecticut was, I believe, even spared its usual tornado or two although we did have plenty of watches and warnings and occasional straight line wind damage.
So I found it interesting that I was getting so many calls for my “Putting the Garden to Bed for Winter” lecture. And judging by publicity for other speakers, I see that they are getting the same requests. I have to wonder what’s behind this and I’ll certainly ask my groups when I speak to them (after the lecture of course).
I have a couple of theories. First, I wonder if it doesn’t have to do with the fact that none of us could “Put the Garden to Bed” properly last year because of the freak October snowstorm. For most of us, the gardens lay under a tangle of vines, broken branches with wet, brown leaves and who knows what else, until springtime came. As a result, many people lost plants–or thought they did–because of that.
For those that were able to get the gardens cleaned up–or out–last fall, after the storm (and I was one of those) what I found this spring was even more disheartening! I’ve never had as much dieback on my hydrangeas as I’d had over the last winter (I’ve spoken about this before–and even shown photos–for those of you that are longtime readers). I attribute that to the long-term drought which is still continuing here. We have consistently been 5″ or more shy of the moisture we need since the beginning of 2012. Hydrangeas, as moisture loving plants–are going to take that worse than most.
The other phenomena that we’ve had is these heavy flooding rains that come all at once. That’s really not terribly beneficial for the garden. It’s great for replenishing the reservoirs–I’m not going to complain about any rain at all when we get it–but as far as the gardens are concerned, so much of it just runs right off it can’t really benefit them much.
I’ve been seeing evidence of this all over the place–down by our lake, in the runoff patterns leading to it, in my own gardens where the water will pond (hooray for clay soil–at least it traps and holds the rain better than most) and in clients’ gardens where I go to consult and also see runoff patterns in their beds and mulch.
It is said that this is the “new normal:” patterns of drought followed by huge storms. Again, remember, weather does not equal climate so I’m not going to pass on reasons, other than to say that I firmly believe that we are killing the earth with our behaviors.
But if this is in fact the pattern of what is to come in the future, we’re all going to have to change how we garden–and how we grow food, for that matter, both in our own yards and on a large scale. But that’s a post for another day.