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Coping With the Weather

Once again, a weather report: Today's temperature was into the mid 90's, as it has been almost every day for months, and once again there was no rain. A week ago there were some showers, the first in nearly a month, but not a drop since. The ground is dust. This Red-shouldered hawk is as large as a chicken and is heavy for this birdbath. But I can't blame him for trying to cool off his tootsies!

We see the hawk often. He is welcome, as he helps to control our vole population.There is some chance of showers tomorrow, then no rain predicted for another week. The good news is that long term cooler weather is arriving this week, with temps only into the 80s, and I think steaming, mid-summer type weather will be gone until next year. Fall has arrived, although most leaves are simply shriveling to brown and falling off the trees.

It is so dry that even the weeds are suffering. (Of course, they have innumerable offspring sleeping in the earth, waiting for rain to awaken them!) We have allowed the lawn to turn brown, but we try to keep valuable shrubs alive with hoses and sprinklers. Despite our efforts, a half-dozen young gumpo azaleas have died. I will not replant them. Other azaleas survive, including long-established ones with good root systems and more recently planted deciduous native azaleas, which we have diligently watered. The native azaleas will eventually be more drought tolerant, but they need extra care in their early years.

I confess the droughty, hot weather has taken the joy out of gardening. My plans for transplanting a number of shrubs are on hold. I also have a row of young plants, purchased a month ago at a plant sale, lined up against the house foundation out of direct sun, next to an easily accessible water faucet. They wait their places in the garden, I must be patient. Surely the rains will come in October. October and November, and even later, is not too late for gardening here in Alabama.

I laugh at the thought of good soaking rain at last, just as temperatures plummet to the 40's.

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Reader Comments (15)

Wow, your temperatures are higher than here in Central Florida! Love the pictures of your hawk, great hunter to have as guardian for the garden. I know a hawk is close by when all my little mourning doves hide away.

September 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGone Tropical

I feel your pain, Deb.

We've had similar weather a little north of you in Middle Tennessee.

Another scorcher today.

We did get a nice rain (about 1 inch) on the 17th and 18th, but that was the only really significant rain in the past month. With temperatures in the low 90s each day, the garden is parched here too.

Like you, I gave up on watering the yard (mostly weeds anyway) a while back. And yes, a lot of the weeds are dying under heat stress now too.

And like you, I've been watering shrubs and perennials - especially newly planted ones. I think most of them would probably survive without my help and just go dormant early, but I don't mind getting out there with a hose every week or two to give them a little help.

I had big plans for planting this month, but I've been forced to postpone those dreams.

Meanwhile, it's not all doom and gloom in the garden. The Carefree Beauty rose is still rocking away, the species Hibiscus moscheutos is putting out a few flowers each day, the October Skies aster and the wood aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium) are both in full bloom. The zinnias and lantana are covered by butterflies all day long, while the Vitex is mobbed by big fat carpenter bees. (That's a big part of why I keep watering - so that the plants will have the moisture they need to feed all the creatures that depend on them.)

New birds are showing up in the garden too day by day. The blue jays have come back, as have the sparrows and the chickadees, while the birds that were so prominent in summer (especially the gold finches) seem to have taken flight.

Enjoy the cooler weather that's on its way for both of us and let's hope for some rain in the not-too-distant future (which will no doubt be accompanied, as you've predicted, by plummeting temperatures)! :P

September 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Oh gosh, that is frustrating! That's what happened to me in the summer of 2012 when we didn't have rain from June through mid-August! And the highs were in the 90s and 100s consistently, which is unusual for us. It was sad to see things crisp, go dormant, and die. But all my plants came back the next year--yours probably will, too, because you're watering some and you have some shade. I know it's frustrating though. I will try to send some of our excessive rain (lately) your way!

September 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

I had a visit by a hawk (red-tailed, I think) this week as well. I'm very sorry to hear that your heat and drought persist - the climate extremes are becoming increasingly widespread and disconcerting. I hope your break comes soon.

September 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

I really understand the gardening joy leaving due to the drought and heat. It was the same here, but with high humidity common to our area. Your hawk photos are wonderful. He is a beauty. I just read the entire US is going to be warmer this winter than normal. The Farmer's Almanac said the opposite. With no El Niño and La Niña this season, long range weather prediction is hit or miss the article said. If the weather report is right, your shrubs will get planted.

September 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Great photos. It has been an excessively hot and dry summer here too. Many plants in the garden suffered.

September 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda aka Crafty Gardener

Poor bird. Not enough water for a proper bath. I hope you get more pleasant weather soon so you can enjoy some gardening.

September 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

The photos of your hawk are amazing, how wonderful to see him making use of your bird bath, I hope he managed to cool down. I hope your temperatures are more human and garden friendly now and that you have had some much needed rain, gardening can be so frustrating at times.

September 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

How strange, alarming, to see a hawk in a bird bath!

Hope the rain comes soon and your plants bounce back.

September 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Somehow it is worse when the weather remains hot and there is no rain at a time when you expect it; I am so grateful for the rain we had although it has been dry again for a week now but temperatures are lower, pleasant to be out during the day and cool at night. Some of your plants will recover but I know I have lost some things here.

September 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

That kind of weather would take the joy out of gardening for me as well. I hope you get rain and cooler temps soon! Great pics of the hawk, though.

September 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason

90s, too hot for me also Deb. I am happiest at about 75f. Fantastic pictures of the Red-shouldered hawk cooling off.

September 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

never saw a hawk like that before, He is beautiful and your photo is perfect. So sorry about the heat wave...it sure will take the joy out of gardening.

September 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatsi

I really appreciate your photos...My garden struggled all summer with the same lack of rain, but as fall arrived here and the temperature dropped we finally got rain so that we can get ready for winter. I purchased rain barrels to fill to buffer for the dry spells next summer, I am hoping that will help.

September 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

You were so lucky to get that photo of the hawk. The heat has taken all the fun out of gardening for me this year. I do some maintenance and mow the yard but I'm letting the weeds take over because it's just too hot out there. Still in the 90's here in North Florida but cools down at night.

September 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

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