Friday, October 10, 2008

Rain at Last!

After more than three weeks without, we finally got some rain here in Athens. And not just a little, either. According to my rain gauge, we received more than 2 inches on both Wednesday and Thursday--more than 4 inches all together. The newspaper reports that even with that we're still down about 10 inches from normal for the year. Throw in the deficit from last year and we're even further behind.

The drought hasn't been as bad as what we had last year. I'm not sure how the two years compare as far as total precipitation--about the same I think. This year hasn't been as bad because there has been less time between showers. Seems like just when I was ready to throw up my hands and give up, we've had enough rain to keep everything alive for another few weeks. I don't think it's been quite as hot this year either.

Up to last spring, I focused almost entirely on planting annuals and perennials. I like being able to completely change the look every year. I also enjoy growing my own plants from seed. I finally realized that this style of gardening required a tremendous amount of work. Between tending all the seedlings, and then the weeds and all the volunteers, keeping the beds neat and tidy on my one acre lot was more than I could handle.

So in February of 2007, I came to my senses and started filling in a lot of my beds with shrubs. I planted nearly 100--most for $5 or less from the local Lowe's store. Leave it to me to plant that many new shrubs in a year when outdoor watering was to become totally prohibited. The situation was so bad there was a concern we'd run out of drinking water, so I wasn't about to cheat.

Off the top of my head, I'd say I lost about a fifth of what I planted. Some, like the yellow eonymous, were eaten down to the ground by deer. To be fair, two are still alive but any time they put out new growth, the deer knock them back to the ground. The shrubs I planted near the street (cleyera and holly) might have made it were it not for all the dog pee. The rest--mostly deciduous and evergreen azaleas--died from lack of water.

This spring I was less ambitious, planting maybe 50 new shrubs and trees. Nearly all have survived. I planted a few more that I picked up at the UGA Hort Club sale last weekend, so was very glad to see the rain. I also transplanted a few things last weekend, figuring they were doomed. The rain gives them at least a snowball's chance of surviving. Maybe this weekend I'll get some bulbs planted.

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