It the beginning of August, and I am happy to report, that despite record heat and drought this year, my established native garden is doing fine without ANY water. Now I’m not saying my garden is looking perfect, but if I were a plant and experiencing the hottest summer in recorded history for our area, a drought on top of that, plus super early spring and warm winter, then I might look a little worn out too.
Here are some photos and observations rom late August 2012:
- Many native plants are still flowering, but for shorter periods and are shorter in height. Plants need energy to flower and grow, and without water, no can do.
- Several native plants are blooming earlier. I had New England aster blooming late June and Hazelnuts in July, a couple of months earlier than usual. Many fall blooming grasses are blooming now. My Smooth Blue and Aromatic Aster are not in full bloom yet.
- Birds, dragonflies, voles, toads, and other wildlife are plentiful because they are seeking shelter, cover, water, and food from their favorite plants during this severe weather. My across-the-street neighbor mentioned she is getting a lot of gold finches this year at her feeders this year and she doesn’t know where they are coming from. Hmmm.
- Some of my native shrubs are showing fall color on a few of the leaves.
- This was an excellent year for Compass Plant – they really thrived in this heat and drought, although shorter in height. The tall grasses, such as Indian or Big Bluestem where not as dominant this fall in my praire garden or in other prairies I’ve visited.
- Some woodland plants and plants that like more moisture have gone dormant but I know they are still living. In fact, the sensitive fern in my rain garden went totally dormant, then came back in less than a week with just a couple of rain falls in late July. Magic! See photo.
Now the questions is: If the trend of record heat and overall warmer temperature continues, what will happen to my native garden in the long run and to the wildlife that depend on them?