« Walk in the Woods | Main | Bee Friendly »

October's End: the Good and Bad

I will begin with the bad:

This is a recent news photo of Lake Purdy, from which Birmingham, Alabama gets its water. Residents of Birmingham and its suburbs are under strict, mandatory water restrictions because of the drought that has extended for over two months, with no end in sight. I live about twenty miles south of Birmingham, and we get our water from other sources, mainly from underground aquifers. We have not yet been hit with mandatory restrictions; but with some doomsayers predicting the drought to continue through the end of the year, I can feel the restrictions coming. Helena has not had a drop of rain in October, and we only had a few drops in September. The drought has been especially bad because of daytime temperatures continuing well into the 80's every day.

Meanwhile, we try to keep important shrubs watered, but with 3.5 acres, it is impossible and prohibitively expensive to water everything. Many leaves look like this:Fothergilla normally has beautiful fall foliage. Not this year!

But here is the good! Despite the drought, there is still beauty out there, especially if one looks through the golden light of late afternoon. So here is a tour. This is likely to be as good as it gets until rain returns.

I will begin with fall flowers:This area by the front walk is brightened by various salvias, lantana and gomphrena. I planted the red snapdragons on the right a year ago. They survived last winter and continued to bloom all this year.They are still going strong. Amazing!Autumn sage and blue salvia

'Black and Bloom' salviaClockwise from top left: Marigold; Asters; Mexican Sage; 'Endless Summer' hydrangea.

This creamy lantana is another low maintenance, front garden bloomer.Most of the Asclepias (butterfly weed) has finished blooming, but I came across these seed pods the other day:

Firebush is still blooming, but I am beginning to see seed pods on that plant, too:

One day I brightened my patio with some leftover cut zinnias from the grocery store; I stuck them in a vase with a spray of Mexican sage.:

Here are random views from around the garden:

Forsythia (Yellow bells) is a common shrub with lovely fall colors, even during drought. This plant never gets supplemental water.

This wren hangs around our patio.

An ancient muscadine vine grows in the woodland garden.
Clockwise from top: Japanese maple; Southern Magnolia; Alabama Croton.

Do you see the bug on the hickory nut shell?

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Blessings to you all, Deb


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (16)

I had no idea your drought was so serious. I hope you end up with a wet winter. The garden seems to be hanging tough.

October 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

I'm becoming as concerned with your drought as I am with California's! I'm sorry you have to deal with that problem too, Deb. Your garden still looks gorgeous but I can fully appreciate the difficulty of irrigating 3.5 acres - I have a hard enough time with my property, which is just over half an acre. I hope your drought doesn't drag on as long as ours has - we're starting into our 6th year now and the long-term effects are steadily becoming more obvious. The last 2 rainstorms completely bypassed us, although at least some areas of California are getting wet!

October 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Love the close look at all your flowering bits... would also love to see some more overalls of the garden layout. Best.

October 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCara

I really hope that your drought is soon over, I hadn't realised that it was quite as bad as that.
It is amazing that your garden looks so good, you still have lots of very pretty views. I hope your much needed rain comes soon.

October 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

It really is amazing that your garden looks so beautiful not having the rains you most need at this time of year. It took until October before we started getting rain. I know how you must be feeling about keeping the trees and shrubs watered. I was watering all spring and summer. That is unusual for our area too. I love your little wrens. Gorgeous photos.

October 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

It is grim to see empty dams, and so hard to watch favourite plants struggling thru.

Sparkles of vibrant colour from the salvias.

How is your Japanese maple?

October 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Thanks everyone for your comments! Diana, the japanese maple that was infected with ambrosia beetles is still alive, but I won't know before spring if it may survive. After cutting out the most severely affected areas, I took a syringe and injected borer killer into every single borer hole I could find. The problem with ambrosia beetles is that they infect the tree's vascular system, and spraying the exterior of the tree won't get to them. I don't know if what I did will help or not. I talked to an entomologist, and he said I would have to cut the tree down. However, I read that mature trees sometimes survive. So my last-ditch home remedy may not work, but I thought it worth the effort, especially because this was the first time I saw the beetles. Maybe i caught it in time.
Thanks for asking! Deb

October 30, 2016 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

I would grow a Forsythia if the autumn foliage looked like yours! Despite the hard summer your woodland is still beautiful; less colourful than other years but there is still time for some foliage to give you a surprise.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

We are suffering from the drought conditions in Georgia too. it's terrible! Our lake levels are also low but our water source is not the same as Atlanta (Lake Lanier) so we are not yet under restrictions. I've been supplemental watering to keep plants alive but it isn't enough. My concern is when the leaves have all dropped it will be harder to tell when the plants need water. Despite the lack of water your garden is looking well. That insect on the hickory is a parasitic wasp, definitely beneficial. We have wrens that hang around the house too, serenading us from the back deck. They are energetic little birds.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

Ugh. Dang drought. Things are not quite as bad in Tennessee (we're only in Moderate Drought - not Severe or Extreme Drought), but record high temps and no serious rain in sight aren't helping matters.

Meanwhile, many of the neighbors are soaking their lawns daily. Resource scarcity does not seem to be a major concern here.

Your salvia pic is nice. I was so impressed to return from a vacation and find Salvia greggii looking better than ever and covered in blooms. I guess this little drought ain't nothin' to a Texas native! ;-)

I do hope that we both get rain soon. Hang in there!

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Even with such a serious drought your October garden still looks amazing.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

Yikes, I do hope that drought comes to an end soon. You still do have some wonderful colors in your neck of the woods. Love the picture with the Sulphur butterfly.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjason

I didn't realize that your area was struggling with drought. Still, you still have a lot of pretty spots that carry on despite it.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

Beautiful! I hope you will get some rain soon. Lovely wren photo. I find them so difficult to photograph because they are so vivid.

November 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Your gardens are inspiring and I feel your pain with this drought...It's the fear of loosing the beauty you created. We've always been farmers, so this is not new to us...it always looms on the horizon. But things do work out eventually,...keep enjoying and sharing the beauty.

November 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

Yes, I saw the bug on the hickory nut shell but I might have missed it if you had not pointed it out. Was most intrigued to see seed pods on the Firebush. Mine has never done that but it's only a couple of years old. Maybe the bush has to reach a certain maturity.

November 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>