Digging to drain the swamp

Several puddles remain in the lower garden, and that’s before the thunderstorm that’s passing through this evening. Another storm, probably more severe, is forecast for tomorrow, and chances for more are expected early in the week.

This afternoon was occupied digging in the lower garden, clearing trenches along planting bed edges that have clogged with silt and debris in recent weeks. The drainage was planned and first dug in late winter, and mostly it’s been successful in keeping the small lawn in this area dry enough so that I don’t sink to my ankles. That’s not exactly dry, I understand, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was a year ago, when there was a fraction of the rainfall.

Draining swamps seems to be a popular notion nowadays, but most draining is talk and I suspect not much about digging in the muck on a ninety degree afternoon with eight-six percent humidity. I wouldn’t mind being able to talk the swamp away, but I’m guessing that talk wouldn’t drain a thing in this soggy lower garden.

Joe Pye weeds planted in the damp lower garden.

I can’t help myself, and doubt many gardeners wish for rain to stop. Yes, we’ve gone far over the deep end in this soggy summer, but I’m happy to see a thunderstorm on the horizon. Of course, I don’t wish for it to rain all day, every day, but a good soaking several times each week beats the occasional late summer drought that drains life from the garden. Yes, now the lower garden is a swamp, but after failures of plants several years ago that would not tolerate constant dampness, the current planting thrives in the wetness.

The largest part of the garden is comfortably sloped, so while there’s been a bit of erosion in the worst of the deluges, the ground drains well, and most all plants are looking far better than usual for August. I am not in the habit of documenting the failures or should-be-looking-betters in the garden, which are often numerous in mid August, but not so much in this rainy summer. So, I depend on my not so dependable memory to claim that growth in the garden has never been so lush in late summer.

A break in trenching was necessary to plant several dozen root sections of trilliums (above), Solomon’s Seals, merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora, below), and Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) that were ordered a few weeks ago and just delivered. These were intended to be planted while dormant, which they are, and in the midst of several rainy days the timing should be ideal. I hesitate to plant leafy plants in August, not that I say never, but if the ground stays this damp there should be few worries.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth says:

    Dear Dave. You are right. There has been way too much talk about draining the swamp…saying that, it was lovely to see the Trilliums, the official flower of Ontario I believe! Don’t work too hard in the heat and humidity! And, have a good Sunday! 😀

    1. Dave says:

      I can’t believe that I’m looking forward to spring already to see the trilliums. I’m old enough that the years need to pass slowly.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Hey, I am looking at a winter home in Trona, where the average annual rainfall is four inches.

    1. Dave says:

      No swamps there.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Not much of anything there. Even the high school football field is bare dirt, and famous for it.

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