Sunday, January 13, 2008 Dealing with the Drought

Sundays are an important day for me in the garden. So are Wednesdays. These are my two watering days. In Raleigh, we are still allowed to water under Stage 1.5 restrictions – even addresses on Sunday and Wednesday and odd addresses on Saturday and Tuesday. As I look around, I am grateful nothing needs watering. If we don’t get rain soon, we will go to State 2. Then, no outdoor watering will be allowed except with rain harvesting and bringing water from inside the house to use outside.

This leads me to inspect my rain barrel. At the first of the year, I installed a rain barrel with the bottom spigot connected with a hose to re-fill my fountain. So in some ways, I am better off than last year. Last year, I couldn’t run my fountain because re-filling it with potable water was part of Stage 1 restrictions. Now I can.

As a family, we are also saving every drop we can inside the home. We thought we were always conserving water, but now we know the true meaning of conservation. We are saving so much water, we needed to buy another rain barrel to use as a storage barrel. This coupled with a waterwise garden design, we should be in good shape if the drought continues. I put off getting a rain barrel thinking the rains would return. Now I am glad I have them along with a new perspective of water conservation – one that will be with me even when the rains return.

As I look around, I really wish President’s Day weekend was here. It is then I have penciled in to lay my mulch. Things are looking a bit untidy. Trying not to concentrate on the leaf litter and focusing on the plants, I am comforted by the sight of colorful barks and textures.

The color red is a favorite of mine in the garden. Bright red branches of the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’) glisten with tiny drops of rain. In the evening, low voltage lighting highlights this magnificently colorful tree.

Pausing at the curly weeping willow (Salix ‘Scarlet Curls’) reminds me of the day at the garden of my friends Jim and Sharon. They rooted two cuttings of Scarlet Curls. Two to increase the odds of one taking. With good results on both, they offered me the second. I planted it as an anchor in my mixed border. Seven years latter, Scarlet Curls stands over 20 feet tall with lightly colored scarlet curls dropping from her over reaching branches. Many cuttings have gone home with visitors, making more Scarlet Curls all over Wake County.

As I finish my garden walk, Lily meets me near the fig tree (Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’.) Figs are a favorite in the Philbrook family. Lily wants to know how long it will be before the figs return. I tell her it will be about 8 months. She wants to know if that’s a long time…I tell her it depends on what you’re doing…she thinks for a moment and says when it comes to waiting for a fig, then a day is too long. I will echo her thoughts when it comes to waiting for the rain.

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook friend’s page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence™ Face Book Fan Page.

Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum

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