>Here in Austin, the past two summers have been brutal but this year tops them all. It has already been declared the hottest summer in history with over 70 days of 100+ highs expected , 32 inch shortfall on rain over the past two years, causing extreme drought conditions, lake impoundment levels over 45 ft below capacity and mature trees are dying. What is a gardener to do?
Rethink, redesign, and redo your garden, Leaning heavily toward xeriscape plantings is the direction I am going. I have finally resigned myself to the fact that this challenge is not a problem but an opportunity to learn about and create a more sustainable garden under the increasingly stressful climate conditions that have become more common place.
So, out with growing Cannas, Gingers, non-earthkind roses and any tropical or non-tropical plant that can’t make it through this trial- by- fire year in good shape. With all the indoor time we have this summer due to the heat, it is a good time to reassess all your garden plantings and develop a tougher, more endurable plan tor redesigning your garden when the heat and drought finally relent in fall.
Global warming trends are real, well documented, and are predicted to continue in the future. Water supplies are becoming threatened (Austin is on water restrictions). It’s time to bring out the tough guns for the garden, Agaves, Yuccas, native grasses and perennials, hardy succulents, cacti, and dry climate proven trees and shrubs. I see my gardens as test beds and don’t hesitate to remove under-achieving or stressed plants as appropriate to make space to new trial plants. Eventually, I will get it right and end up with a year round sustainable, attractive garden and landscape that laughs at the climate extremes.. There is no substitute for successful experience in gardening.
Some good places to see xeriscaping in action are the LBJ Wildflower Center, Zilker Botanical Garden (Grow Green demo area), San Antonio Botanical Gardens, and garden tours that feature xeriscaping .
Use this down time in summer to plan your garden or landscape for next year making the necessary adjustments to cope with changing climate and conditions. Embrace a new garden or landscaping plan that will save you money, time, and effort and allow more time for pure garden enjoyment.
You can see a presentation I do on Xeriscaping
Keep cool, calm, and collected. This extreme summer will end