Welcome to Clay and Limestone~A garden in Middle Tennessee
|Echinacea tennesseensis blooming still|
|Amsonia hubrechtii this fall|
I'm not exactly sure when I really began to notice the changes in our weather events. A few years ago the summers started getting dryer when our pop up summer thunderstorms disappeared. September 2007 we had a record breaking drought after a severe late frost. The devastation to flowering trees and shrubs is still being seen today; other wise healthy trees are dropping limbs and shrubs are dying. September 2009 we had 14 inches of rain in a three week period. The first half of 2010 Nashville had the coldest winter in 30 years and the wettest spring with Middle Tennessee experiencing a 500 and some areas a 1000 year flood.
|Native ex-asters can survive extended dry periods|
|Gaura loves it dry, but, needs good drainage|
But, xeric is an iffy prospect in the Central Basin in Middle Tennessee. Our winters haven't changed~They are wet, wet, wet! That's typically when we get most of our rainfall....about 20 inches can fall from November through April. Drainage is an issue on my clay soil when it gets that saturated. Plants drown.
I've tried them anyway! I planted agastaches and salvias after the 2007 drought and they died in the 2008 winter rains. I've amended the soil to aid drainage and planted again. They still drowned! This spring when three Agastache rupestris followed me home, I immediately planted them in containers that I set in the sunniest spot in the garden. They have bloomed all summer and made me and the hummers very happy. It remains to be seen whether they can survive all winter in containers, but, I'm willing to give it try.
Raised beds would be a good idea in a garden like this one! Were I ten years younger I would dig out the garden and build raised beds. They make sense for the shallow clay soil that sits over limestone bedrock!
There's a simpler solution for me. I can return to my garden roots and plant what I know can not only survive, but thrive here. It means planting more Central Basin and cedar glade natives. There are plenty of shrubs, grasses and perennials that can take the dry summers and wet winters. Flowering plants like I'm sharing with you in this post are the ones that light up the garden each fall. There are plenty of wonderful spring and summer blooming plants, too.
My frustrations arise when I veer from the course; when I am seduced by an English garden, gorgeous xerics meant for dry climates or even native perennials that need moist, well draining soil.
I don't mind losing a few agastaches and salvias to the winter rains when they can survive summers.
Sure, I get aggravated at the weather, I get frustrated at the growing conditions, but, I know what grows here, I know what thrives here and I need to plant more of them and less of those plants that break my heart when they drown in the winters or fry to a crisp in the summers.
* Don't let Me Down~Thanks to The Beatles for their title inspiration.
**“One of the clearest precipitation trends in the United States is the increasing frequency and intensity of heavy downpours. This increase was responsible for most of the observed increase in overall precipitation during the last 50 years.” (Global Climate Change Impacts, page 32)Here for more on Climate Change
***Autumn rain has increased markedly over the southeast over the last century. At the same time the global temperature has risen .7C. Here are some quotes from the U.S.Global change report: “Floods and droughts are likely to become more common and more intense as regional and seasonal precipitation patterns change, and rainfall becomes more concentrated into heavy events (with longer, hotter dry periods in between).” (Global Climate Change Impacts, page 44)