A dry garden, until it rains

Today, in this first week of August I’ve just planted a handful of hostas, several red hot pokers (Kniphofia, below), and a few ferns. Thunder rumbles in the distance, with the promise that a soaking storm might get the new plantings off to a splendid start. I’ll water this evening if the rain doesn’t amount to much, but rain or not, this is likely to be the last time these plants are irrigated. It’s up to nature from here on.

I once considered automated irrigation for the garden when it was quite small thirty some years ago, but decided against, probably because I couldn’t afford it at the time. Now, I’m happy not to have to mess with it, and through the years I’ve seen little reason to have irrigation, or even hoses that stretch the length of the garden. Yes, the garden would be slightly more vigorous in midsummer, but in Virginia there’s rarely a dry period that extends long enough to cause problems for the garden.

A shaded spot and a comfortable chair are greatly appreciated after an afternoon digging in the garden.

Without dependable irrigation, good sense would dictate planting in cooler seasons, but I suppose I’ve been spoiled by success. Admittedly, I must not plant three and four inch pots and then forget about them. I’ve lost too many, and now if I start with anything smaller than a gallon container I must pot it up, then grow it on for a few months until there’s more roots.

My ideal is to plant just like today with a storm on the horizon, but that doesn’t always pan out, so if it’s not looking like rain I carry my little jug around, dipping it to fill from one of the garden’s ponds, then saturating the surrounding soil. My planting habit will not be deterred by summer heat.

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