Saturday, April 14, 2012

Short warning to DC Gardeners

The weather we're experiencing now, that is to say the drought, is potentially very hazardous to recently planted woody plants. We haven't had significant rain for over a month. There's not much water left in the ground that plants can reach. When they're leafing out or putting on new growth, now that is, they need abundant water. Normally we have it this time of year so this is when most new growth is put on. If a plant is trying to refoliate and doesn't have sufficient water, it begins to sacrifice itself. In a drought of these proportions that can mean losing small branches or even large important limbs. For the most part trees and shrubs look okay, but here and there I see damage or the beginnings of damage. Also leaf cover seems to be sparse and small. Many dogwood bracts are half their typical size. A huge Norway maple next door is dropping samaras less than half the size they typically are. If we get rain soon most things will be okay, but if you have newly planted woody plants, this would be a great time to run a lot of water inside their drip-line.

Drought in summer is easy to spot, expected, and plants are better adapted to it. This is blindsiding plants and gardeners alike. I have noticed, after 50-odd years of watching, that while they are adapted to survive the vagaries of the universe, they are not adapted to be attractive all the time. It's our job to keep them looking good; that's part of gardening! Happy watering.

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