Thursday, April 24, 2008

Plenty of Rain in Washington...Not so much in Florida

We had almost 3" of rain in Washington last week. That's great. It hasn't rained in Wildwood since we left. It is a sort of helpless feeling knowing you have a garden 900 miles away with newly planted plants and no water. The internet makes it easy towatch the weather anywhere. I monitor Wildwood, Florida and I haven't seen any rain since we left. And there is no rain in the 15 day forecase.

I did realize at some point that we had to use xeric plants. We killed a few Tibouchinas and the Hibiscus suffer mightily during the dry winters. Florida scrub plants work well and we lhave a lot of them, This time we planted specimens from dry lands all around the world. Plants from Australia, South Africa. SW US. There is no rain in the winter, I am not there to water, and the soil is sand and holds no moisture. These plants need to be self sufficient. I am not worried. The Bismarckia will be fine, as will the Xanthorhoea and the Dasylirion. I'll only lose plants that oughtn't to have been there anyway.

Gardeners are beginning to look for plants that are more heat and drought tolerant as Global Warming surges forward. I have always had an interest in "Mediterranean plants", from those areas in Chile, Australia, S. Africa, S. Califonia, and S. and E. of the Mediterranean Sea. Traditionally xeric plants have come from these area. The climate is characterized, broadly, by cool wet winters and dry summers. In Washington we have sometimes cold winters and that eliminates a subset of these plants. Summers while often dry can occasionally be quite wet further limiting the usefulness of some Mediterraneans. Finally our high humidity is the kiss-of-death to more. Still some are adaptable.

The plants that really look promising for us though are the non-wetland plants of the SE Coastal Plain. They expect high humidity to go with summer's heat. As Global Warming nudges average temperatures up, most of these plants, excepting the sub-tropicals of peninsular Florida, move into our range. We should all thank Woodlanders, an excellent Nursery in Aiken, South Carolina for tirelessly discovering, propagating, and retailing many of these plants. They are an incredible resource.

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