Brown is the New Green

This summer, it seems the weather forecast is always wrong. Friday was 110. This weekend was supposed to hover near the century mark. Instead, someone ordered up a breeze and clouds. Rainless clouds. But clouds, nevertheless. We have been surfing temperature waves all summer. Peaks and dips. They are taking their toll on the garden.


The USDA declared a drought disaster for California, now listed as being in “exceptional drought.” Fires are breaking out everywhere. The forecast calls for a warmer than normal September through November. While our friends in the east endure soggy – we sizzle. And pray for rain.

In my favorite public gardens, you will find casualties of city-imposed water cutbacks.


Brown is the new green.


In our Memorial Garden, we have reduced our water use by nearly half.


We’re fortunate to have established trees to provide more shade…for the plants – and the dogs!


The soil contains a good amount of clay to hold the moisture in…and drought tolerant plants combined with heavy mulching have kept the losses to a minimum.


In sharp contrast to the brown, dry dog walking paths at Homeward Bound –


is this strange sight: the lush green of flooded rice fields which surround us.


Don’t ask me to speak with authority on this embarrassment of riches. Apparently, if you are a farmer high enough on the water rights ladder, you have the option of paying dearly for the water you use (up to ten times the usual rate) or letting your fields go fallow and selling your rights to someone else.


Those that are less fortunate are on long waiting lists to dig ever deeper wells – hoping and praying that the ground water will be replenished this winter with rain. If not – we are all in a world of hurt.


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir

Brown is beautiful and all of that. But please send rain.

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I am a nascent gardener, rescuer, and photographer, chronicling the journey of the dogs at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary near Sacramento, CA - and the Memorial Garden we have devoted to them.

18 thoughts on “Brown is the New Green”

  1. I wish I could send you some of our rain! We got a downpours off and on last Thursday that partially flooded our back yard, some of which still has not dried out even though we haven’t had more than a few quick showers since then.

  2. I do wish we could find a weather balance where all parts of the Country could thrive in these changing times. We are suffering unbelievable humidity – 61 degrees this morning with 97% humidity. I’m praying for a nice gentle rain for your area. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Judy. We have some great cloud cover today…but just a couple of drops on the windshield. Hopefully a sign of things to come. For you – I wish a nice thunderstorm and a gentle breeze to push it all out!

  3. What a beautiful quotation from John Muir: and so true that when one tugs at one thing in nature, we find that everything is attached. THANK YOU for putting these thoughts and images together!

  4. Reblogged this on Gardening Nirvana and commented:
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir
    So ends this lovely post by Ogee at Gardens For Goldens. I’ve been meaning to write an update on California’s water woes. Ogee shares my sentiments on the water inequities in our state, while at the same time setting a good example in the memorial garden she tends. Enjoy!

    Meanwhile, thank you for all the great advice on my squash bug dilemma. Stay tuned. Alys

  5. I’m so worried for you all there. All my dear friends and all the nature that surely must be suffering too. It hardly makes any sense to me to grow rice in California, but what do I know. It seems like we’re all having to embrace a new normal. We’ve had so many super hot days here in Northern Canada. But we also usually get a weekly downpour after extremely hot weather. I have very little to water but do water pots and a small curb garden. Since we moved at the end of June, I didn’t plant as much as usual. Maybe that’s a good thing. I’m hoping like crazy for rain to come your way.

  6. Audrey, I think of your garden every day we get rain and try to send some your way – I’ll redouble my efforts! It seems that “new normals” are evolving everywhere as our planet tries to find some equilibrium. Glad to hear that your gardens and pups are adjusting well.

    1. I’m afraid that the new normal is going to be very dry for our beloved corner of the world. Weather forecast says continued drought through January – the furthest the forecast goes out. 😦 Maybe we should start studying up on cacti and succulents! Sorry you are all so soggy.

  7. I wandered over from Gardening Nirvana. And yes, I’m a little late. There will be wars fought over water just like oil. We CAN live without oil, not water. Spent 20 years in S. Cal and I understand how bad it is. It’s become much worse since I left. My son still lives there. I always pray for rain in those much needed areas. Too bad they can’t make a pipeline from the east and midwest to the parts of the country that need water. The pipes can sit along side the oil pipes. 🙂 BTW Beautiful dog.

    1. I suspect water pipes will be more often sabotaged than oil at the rate we’re going! Thank you for visiting with us…and yes…pray for rain. 🙂

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