Anyone who has dug a hole for plants and tended them with the anticipation of growing vegetables, flowers, trees, or just green bushes knows the frustrations of gardening.
There are basically two categories of challenges. Things that are out of our control, like weather. Then there problems that are of our own making. Boy, do I know that one.
Warning: The following pictures are depressing (at least, for me, since they’re from my yard.)
Gardeners usually plant for the average rainfall that can be expected. So here, where our annual average is 27 inches, drought tolerant plants are recommended.
But this was a most unusual year. In May, it rained 14 inches. That hasn’t happened since 1895. So far, our rainfall has been just under 26 inches this year.
I’m definitely not complaining about rain. It’s just that some drought tolerant plants got root rot from too much rain in a short time. Especially here in our clay and caliche soil.
The above picture is one of my favorite native plants succumbed to wet caliche – Texas Yellow Bells.
It’s probably best to consider the most dominant weather factor in a particular area. For us, that’s heat. So drought tolerant plants must be our choice. Even if that means losing some when we have extreme unusual conditions, like our rare rainfall this year.
This Almond Verbena couldn’t take the soggy ground.
Soil is another big issue. Clay and caliche just don’t cut it for gardening. So the choices seem to be: amend the soil or use raised beds. We’ve tried a little of both. The easiest solution is definitely raised beds.
Then we have the heat. August has brought blistering 103 temps. Frequent watering just keeps everything from burning up. Insect and critter pests are also problems for gardeners. For several years, grasshoppers have been our plague. They can defoliate a plant in a few hours.
They’re happily chomping on this Russian Sage.
Here are the remaining stems.
Gardeners have to choose where to be totally organic or to tackle problems with pesticides. Since we live in the country, we don’t spray for bugs because it would be useless. We just hope plants will recover the next spring.
Other pests for us include armadillos and skunks digging in the yard, especially when the surrounding fields are so dry.
In the rear right hand side of this photo is a tower trellis that has been lifted up and twisted by a climbing rose.
Landscape design has become a hot topic in the gardening world. It’s one of my weakest skills. Even though I’ve read the books and attended classes, I still tend to underestimate the mature size of bushes. Plus, I use more varieties of plants than what is recommended. My excuse is that I don’t know what will survive, so I try them out.
Sometimes, we’re faced with a “What happened?” problem. Detective work or seeking advice sometimes helps. Other times, it just remains a mystery.
One day this native Redbud tree was healthy and the next, it looked pathetic.
Another what happened. This Mexican Feather grass may be a casualty of water staying clay or of something else.
Gardening experts warn against planting imported plants that are invasive. But my archenemy is our native Bermuda grass. Its runners constantly invade flowerbeds and put down deep roots. We also have an many assorted weeds. Most of those are easier to pull than the grass. Examples of these are in this pix.
If you click on the links, there are nicer pictures of the plants before they bit the dust.
Wherever one lives, gardening is not an easy hobby. But the rewards are fantastic. So a gardener’s motto is just keep on working and experimenting.
“Gardens are not made by singing “Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade.” Rudyard Kipling