Wednesday, 26 August 2009

She will always have the last word........

Last week I started to feel very anxious about the garden. The very wet summer last year, cold winter and spring and the dry summer we are experiencing, has sent my plants and trees into chaos. The rowan trees are now devoid of leaves.
Many shrubs are struggling...........

The wisteria which normally covers three arches has started to die back and now covers just one arch and is not looking well. I spent the afternoon cutting out the deadwood.......


I have lost much of the Gunnera, just a few leaves remain........two crowns have died......
Early this morning I decided I needed to walk with Nella and have some quiet thinking time.........
It will not do me any good worrying about my garden.....I cannot fight Mother Nature....she will always have the last word.........
I must learn from this experience........and make changes once again.....

Climate change is here......whatever the causes......and I must learn to adapt accordingly.......

I will work with Mother Nature.........there will always be a bright future for this garden as long as I have the strength and time to continue with it........
When I moved here I made a commitment........to help the struggling wildlife in Kent. I intend to do that..........now I shall be patient.....I shall stand back......and just wait and see what happens......


33 comments:

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cheryl, I know it is hard to sit back and watch things in your garden die. Several years ago I made the same decision you made. To work with nature, plant things that are compatible in my prairie area and avoid plants that need supplemental water. That included most of the native prairie plants and a few others from dry regions. Since these are the plants the native wildlife evolved with, it is a perfect fit.

In your case, the native plants are not used to these droughts so you can only hope for the best and adjust your garden to whatever the future might bring. Good luck. I hope it is a dormant period they are going into and they will revive when it rains.
Marnie

Lisa at Greenbow said...

The only thing I can say is "natives". Your poor lawn tells the story. When it get dry enough to make the lawn go dormant it is scary. I hate to hear that you are having such a drought. Maybe the tropical storms and hurricanes rolling through the Atlantic will push some rain over your way. I will hope for you.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I agree with Lisa about natives, or just plants you know have done well in your area. The odd flipside of getting most of my plants as divisions from local friends is that they do really well here! But there's always something to deal with each year--and it looks like you have had a lot--but as gardeners, we are patient and we persevere.

Liz said...

Oh dear Cheryl, I am sure they will all spring back given time... Plants can adapt, it is just frustrating that we are having such extremes.

I went to the dentist 'back home' (ie, where I grew up) on Monday and as it's in the country and an hour bus journey I could take in the countryside, I saw many trees wilting and dying too... Elder, rowan just shrivelling up and dying. I was shocked at the reality of how dry it has been. On my walk to work, I've noticed some Elder and Sycamore dying too...

And yet people at work are still moaning about the rubbish Summer?!!! It infuriates me. Just because we're not having Greek temperatures does not mean it's been a bad summer.

We're back to sun tomorrow supposedly...

Cheryl said...

Hi Marnie......most natives are doing well but some are indeed struggling......our summers used to be sunshine and showers.....the countryside always lush and green....things are changing. I am learning but it is a hard price to pay.......

I drove through the Alder Woods today.....hundreds of trees are dropping their leaves early.....it saddens me, it really does......

Cheryl said...

Hi Lisa....thank you......the storms have entered the UK but they are not coming to the South East,so sadly I will miss out.....

The forecast for the next five days in this area, is hot and sunny.......

Cheryl said...

Hi Monica.....we are indeed patient, I have learned patience....

I am trying to remain optimistic.......I shall sort it out when the time is right, that is not now.......

Cheryl said...

Hi Liz....I will be surprised if the wisteria survives......when I scrapped the bark away a lot of it was dead inside......it is a time thing....we will see....

When I walked Nella today the verges were covered in brown leaves........the ditches are bone dry and the rivers are full of choking algae......

I have heard people complaining about the summer.....saying it has not been a good one.....how hot do they want it. We live in the UK, not Spain for goodness sake...

Racn4acure said...

Great philosophy, Cheryl. Work with what Mother Nature is willing to provide. But I hope you get rain soon. Art

Cheryl said...

Thank you Art.....

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Failures/loses are unfortunate
and with us gardeners it's nothing new.
Just don't stop...keep moving.

Hugs,
Patsi

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Failures/loses are unfortunate
and with us gardeners it's nothing new.
Just don't stop...keep moving.

Hugs,
Patsi

ShySongbird said...

Don't lose heart dear Cheryl, Mother Nature has a way....she will survive and come back renewed, she will never be defeated!

I was shocked, though, to see your grass, it amazes me that the weather should vary so dramatically in such a small country as ours. Our grass is so long and lush, the last cut, a week ago, was like the first of the season, so wet underneath and I fear the next will be the same. It really has been a very strange Summer, I have Cosmos which resemble bushes but which still haven't flowered! Today has been grey, wet and miserable and not at all like a late, wet Summer day, there is a 'feel' of Autumn, I don't like it, it is too soon.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Dear Cheryl, I so identified with your post today. I am sorry to hear of your struggle in keeping things alive in your part of the world. If it is any consolation, I am having the same struggle here in Texas. I have been so depressed with our drought and horrible heat I haven't been able to post. It is so ironic--where my mother lives it has been a very cool wet summer. I think these things are cyclical and have heard our weather patterns are showing signs of changing. I hope the same is true for you.

beckie said...

Cheryl, it is hard to know how and what to plant with Mother Nature sending such extremes in weather.
But I have no fear that you will work with her and wildlife in Kent will be the better for it.

With such oppisites in weather the last two years, at least those plants that have survived give you a good idea of what to plant more of in your gardens.

Your grass does look sad. I am used to thinking of it as lush and green. Must be very hard for you to see. Hopefully a wet fall and winter will replenish the soil's mositure.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Liz said...

I'm with Jan on this in terms of the grass, I haven't had problems with it dying off... But it is slowing down and my last cut produced only half a box of it (that box thingy which attaches to the mower) yet previously it was over-flowing.
I'm shocked at just how dry it must have been near you that the grass is dying off too. I guess even our short showers are enough to sustain ours.

In the latest Gardens Illustrated there's an article on planting for drought... Perhaps you could take some ideas from it? However I do wonder whether planting for hot, dry conditions also means it's less attractive to wildlife?

Cheryl said...

Hi Jan.....I was a little downhearted but I have picked myself up and given myself a good talking to. Negativity is a bad thing.....I must not go there.....

I have been in the woodland walk this morning with my ladder and saw cutting out all the deadwood on the trees and shrubs......that should help them if the rain arrives.....

Thank you for caring.....

Cheryl said...

Hi Morning glories....it must be awful when you live with this every year.....you do have my sympathy.....it is a struggle I am sure....

This time will change, I must stay positive and focused.....I can do that now......

Cheryl said...

Dear Beckie......my gardens are most certainly not lush at the moment.
Trees and shrubs have put on little or no growth this year and the hedgerows are thinning. I have a lot of dieback there to. I am going to be working very hard this autumn. I will do it......I am blessed with my fathers stamina, and it does not take much to get my enthusiasm back.

When I was working in the woodland area today I noticed woody was sitting on a nest....more offspring to come......
My garden is important to the wildlife that call it their home, I owe it to them to keep it going........

The lawn looks awful but it will come back.......at least I think it will!!!!

Cheryl said...

Hi Liz.....I cannot plant too many drought tolerant plants....the reason being I live in a low lying area (we are only 60 feet above sea level).......in the autumn winter and spring my ground is wet, and I mean wet.....so planting is extremely difficult .....

I have some ideas and some wonderful old books that deal with these problems.....
I am looking forward to winter in front of the log fire and planning.......

Rose said...

I've found, too, that Mother Nature always wins out, and one can only "go with the flow." We have been fortunate this year with a cool, wet summer so everything has stayed green and full. On the other hand, a few of my tomatoes look rather sickly because they've gotten too much rain, I think.

While it has to be difficult to see your grass turn brown, Cheryl, a wetter fall could make it revive very quickly. At least the bees are still enjoying your garden!

Cheryl said...

Hi Rose.....You seem to have the summer that we had last year....my tomatoes did not do well in 2008......

The grass should revive, I would be very surprised if it didn't......

At the moment I am more worried about the wisteria.....it is such a huge specimen.....I cannot believe it is so sickly. I am now wondering if it has root rot due to the wet summer last year and cold winter.......

Gail said...

Cheryl, I am sorry to see your dying garden plants. You've created a wonderful haven for yourself and visiting creatures. Your plan to go with nature and not fight the vagaries of fluctuating weather is more proof of your deep wisdom. In the mean time...hang in there. We are doing a rain dance for all our water depleted friends' gardens. gail

Q said...

Dear Cheryl,
I do understand. It is not easy. I have tears for your dear plants. Watching cherished friends die is so very, very hard....please know I am sending hugs....and compassion not only for you but for the trees and all the creatures that depend on them.
I also have needed to stand back. When Spring came too early in 2007 over 400 plants died in my gardens, long lived plants, dear friends. I still miss them. I went into a deep depression and lost my trust in Mother Nature. I did not think she knew what she was doing at all! Climate change was fine for others but not in my gardens...not here, where I have put my hopes and dreams for over 30 years....not here, where I depended on Mother Nature, not here, where I loved every blade of grass!
I needed to change my focus. This was not about me alone. These gardens are about the relationship of me and the natural world. It is a give and take. Sometimes the gardens take care of me and sometimes I take care of them.
Like you, I plant for the wildlife.
When it is very wet I make sure the birds have dry seed. When it is too dry I add mulch and hope the plants will be okay. I do keep the pots and planter boxes going for the bees and butterflies and make sure they have plently of water. I have to think, think, think before I plant anything....I ask myself, "Is this good for the bees, bugs and birds?" "Is this good for me?"
The Garden Centers and nurseries are full of fancy delights but they are not for my gardens any more...if I am smitten I will do a pot for the deck or the kitchen counter. These fancies are just annuals for me....My gardens are changing like the climate. Mother Nature needs my help. She is depending on me now to take care....she is hurting and I feel her wounds.
I am studying the Prairie this year...I am studying the relationship of the grasses and the creatures that depend on them.
I am studying me too and my relationship to my area...my inner Prairie Girl.....the wild Prairie Rose is very beautiful....big hips too!LOL!
As you walk with Nella may you find peace in the countryside. May you know how you, an English Lady, has made a difference and will continue to do so.
Autumn is coming....it will be time to rest. Time to think about what next season will be.
I hold you in my thoughts...
Seed to seed,
Sherry

Cheryl said...

My dear Sherry....Thank you so much.....I have tears rolling down my face because I know you truly understand......I know like me, you will feel with your heart.

I to know every blade of grass, every wildflower, every ants hill......I am totally connected to the garden, such a deep connection it is hard to explain. I know that you understand.

I am working on the gardens all the time at the moment. Taking out dying wood and giving the shrubs a good chance......
I had to remove a beautiful little maple today.....it was without doubt dead........it gave such a colourful display last autumn....

Thank you for your caring, it means so much, and gives me added strength to face what is ahead.....

I will be fine......

Studying the prairie is wonderful....I can see changes in your garden.....a mini prairie habitat.....it will be wonderful to see how it developes....

I have bought a book on farmland habitat........I am going to walk Nella new places.....I shall study the landscape as I walk....I am on a new journey....I am looking forward, I must not look back......

See you for safari.....it is going to be hot here.......

Cheryl said...

Hi Gail....thank you....
The thought of you doing a rain dance made me smile.....

I remember a few years back we had not had rain for many months. In jest I told my mother I would be doing a rain dance. The next day it rained and for the following two months. I got the blame for that....my mother was convinced my dance had worked. So funny.......

naturewitch said...

Hi Cheryl

So awful when you watch your beloved garden get scorched by the hot summer sun and no rain! My heart cries for you.

We had that same experience last year and it certainly has made me rethink where things are in the garden and the conditions I create for them.

Some of the reading I did claimed that the condition of the soil has a lot to do with how well plants survive extremes of climate. Yours always looks so beautiful, that I'm sure it is helping keep the plants alive when otherwise they may not survive.

In Australia, we are very big on mulching our soils to help retain moisture during summer. Lucerne hay is especially good as it provides a lot of nutrients as it breaks down.

We used to be told to mulch as deeply as possible (up to 30cm), but the latest research is to mulch to a depth of about 3cm. Apparently that is enough to stop the evaporation, but also allows any rain to penetrate, which the deeper mulches do not.

How has your hot, dry weather affected the wildlife? Your garden has been a wonderful feeding ground and shelter for them.

I really hope this is just a little glitch and not a permanent change for you. It would be great if everyone took to their gardens; they would learn a lot about what is happening to our planet. xx

Wendy said...

You express yourself so well. It is truly sad to see your garden change and die in this way, seemingly at the whim of Mother Nature. I also grieve over the loss of plants, I don't care how silly anybody else thinks I am. They are my friends. So, I truly understand.

You sound like a wise old soul; taking this time to step back and allow Nature to take her course, meanwhile keeping your eyes and ears open for the lessons She is teaching you.

Hope you have a quiet and relaxing weekend.

marmee said...

cheryl...this is the exact place we were in last year. i think we have your last years weather this year. nature can be cruel and it is so hard to watch the thing you have worked so hard on...start dying. every plant you put in the ground is important.
the thing to remember is that the seasons will change and it will be different next year...adapting to what happens naturally is something that we all must do...and do it more gracefully...like you. i do hope you get some relief from the drought. my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Cheryl said...

Dear Naturewitch....thank you so much for a detailed and informative comment.

I mulch in the spring and mid summer every year with garden compost and spent mushroom compost........I mulch with bark in autumn to protect the plants durning the cold winter....

I have never read about using hay.....this is interesting.....living in a farming community it would be easy to come by. Do you mulch in the same way, just lay it on the soil?

I can feel huge changes with my garden this year....I must say it is slightly frightening.....there is a difference I cannot quite put my finger on yet. It will come to me, it always does....I am so in tune with this space, I think if I stood still for too long I would root..lol

Birds have done extremely well.....the breeding season has been good for them...

Bumbles have declined in the last few weeks, which has saddened me. There are still plenty of blooms for them but they are infrequent visitiors at the moment.
Insects are good......but not many moths.....and my bats have disappeared. The frogs are getting ready to leave the pond and I fear there may not be enough food for them. I am actually feeding them fish food at the moment and that seems to be helping. I do not have fish in the pond by the way....I bought it for the frogs.....

Thank you for your kindness....it always help to know there is someone out there who really understands.....I am grateful......

Hope your bees are well and happy.....

Cheryl said...

Hi Wendy...thank you for your sincerity and thoughts....

Every plant has a reason for being here in this garden.....every season has been accounted for....I have carefully to put it together...

Changing weather is going to be a challenge.....I shall meet it head on.....

Cheryl said...

Hi Marmee....thank you for you kindness....it is difficult to accept that plants that fill a huge space may possibly not be around next year....
When I moved here it was such a sad plot of land apart from a few trees and two circular beds......I have enjoyed seeing it grow with me and have felt happy with my personal goals......

I have felt more positive the last few days....that is a good thing......

Ruth said...

Our summer has been very, very cool and wet. We are suffering from too much of this extreme. I do not understand climate change at all!