Sunday December 14, 2008 Puttering in Helen’s Haven

Finally, that cold spell is behind us and we are predicted to have warm temperatures for the week ahead. 

As I looked at my rain gauge measuring 2 inches, I’m reminded of the drought we suffered in 2007.  Specifically, I reminded of the weather pundits saying that our worse drought in 100 years would continue for 18 months.  That prediction came in December, 2007, a month we had record rain. 

No questions we suffered a horific drought, but to predict anything for the next 18 months was just irresponsible.  The rains returned in the month the 18 month doom was predicted.  Within 4 months we were officially out of the drought.  If we listened to the pundit’s predictions, we would still have another 6 months to go. 

This isn’t to say we wont get another drought as severe as 2007 or worse, but it proves we shouldn’t predict beyond what we are truly capable of predicting.  It set the industry on its ear.  Many growers went under due to the drought and those hanging on lost more due to the predictions.   These predictions kept people and gardeners from buying.

While that was sad enough, what was worse to me was that when the rains returned, people returned to “gardening as usual.”  And I want to emphasize  use of the word “people'” when I should be using the word “gardeners.” 

I believe the gardeners did learn form this.  Gardeners redesigned their gardens to respect water-wise principals, managed their property better to use less water – better hole preparations, more mulch, less fertilizer, watering only when needed and not because it was Tuesday and that was the day they could run their irrigation. 

People planted as usual.  People reset their water irrigation to the number of days allowed.  People didn’t learn from the experience.  And we had a wealth of experience to learn from.  Many realized that their established plants fared relatively well.  But still, when allowed to rewater, they did so with no regard to if the plant needed watering. 

As I look around my water-wise garden design, I am pleased with the results.  It  fared well during the 2007 drought.  That years’ (2007) growth of my perennials will be marked as puny – stunted actually,  but I lost little.  The trees and shrubs, for the most part, did exceptionally, save a native Dogwood.

Now armed with water reseviors around my property, I’m ready for anything.  I’m grateful I didn’t need to use much of it in 2008.

Knowing I have all this water stored, I happily went about my favorite day in Helen’s Haven.  Here is some of my fun:

  • Admire the Edgeworthia.  I’t always surprises me to remember Edgeworthia set bud so early.  Now with all the leaves off, they are very evident.  I’m  looking forward to the flowers wafting my gardens.
  • Snipped the straight branches of the Henry Lauders Walking Stick.  I have two bushes; one does this a lot, the other doesn’t do it at all.
  • Leveled some stepping stones in the Red Bed that heaved with all this cold weather.
  • Finally told my Husband what I wanted for Christmas…the new steps going up my Mixed Border – and he said yes ;=]
  • Fed the birds. 
  • Relocated 3 squirrels so far, at least 2 more to catch.
  • Planted yet another box in the new design…I think I finally have it.
  • Racked some; the leaf litter was getting the best of me.
  • Made arrangements for Heather, one of the volunteers I work with at  the JCRA Butterfly garden and also employed at Garden Hut to help me lay mulch between Christmas and New Years.
  • Made a note to order composted leaf mulch tomorrow – will order 17 cubic yards.
  • Picked up the kids toys…this task seems endless…one day I will wish there was a ball for me to kick around…
  • Leveled a ground level bird feeder
  • Moved some pots around
  • Stored some garden accents…it was starting to have that garage sale look to the beds.

Tomorrow, I will get a yard of landscape soil to back fill where I took out that little retaining wall.  Dirt is heavy to move.  I’m not looking forward to it – jeez, it’s only a yard, I think I can do THAT!

Helen Yoest



  1. What a nice sensible post on the drought! 18 months is indeed too long to predict a drought. We had it worse than you and ours did last longer–between the huge downpours that just ran right off into the streams and rivers there was scant slow rain to replenish the local ground waters. But I don’t think things were as dire as the news reported. Boy we sure lost a lot of garden centers though didn’t we? And the uninformed landscapers who plant the same old stuff didn’t help the retail garden centers either:( Poor new homeowners who have to live with plants planted in poor soil through these drought sessions.

    People don’t understand you need a good soaking ran to help the garden. I’ve been blessed with clay soil–not as bad at the new house as was with my former gardens. Leaf mulch is my best friend. Jealous that you are getting good dirt. I admire a good load of dirt. That hill I landscaped in my former home…it had good dirt!

  2. If those trees you are after were here, this rain would help you alot. But the age of them will work against you and will be painful. Any chance you can ask the demolishers to help you lift with a earthmover…I’ve had luck asking for this kind of help in the past.

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