We need new descriptors for gardening in our valley now. Thanks to climate change, “full sun” should be relabeled “scorch-resistant.” Beyond “drought tolerant” should be a new category: “desert-like.”
Everything I thought I knew about the garden has changed.
“Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise.” ~Michael P. Garofalo
Nature will improvise. But our gardens, as we have known them may be forever altered. Plants that once sought daylong sun now shrink from the blazing afternoon heat and require shade relief.
In years past, we had to provide protection for a couple weeks of 105 to 110-degree weather each summer. Now, most days from June through September brush or crest the century mark requiring a very different strategy for a garden that is not visited by its keepers daily and can only be partially served by a drip system.
Mulch is a necessity, but not near plant bases to ensure the water reaches roots. Planting in mounds surrounded by moats allows water to collect and pool while still providing good drainage. Systematically amending the clay soil with compost and leaf mulch helps it retain precious moisture, deliver nutrients the plants need, and supports an ecosystem of beneficial microorganisms.
Extra steps are required to support those who visit as well. Shallow trays of water are placed throughout the garden for thirsty birds, bees, and butterflies.
Tall, airy plants help to shade more tender varieties while still letting light in.
They also provide shelter for birds and butterflies from the baking sun.
With the cooler temperatures and a fall bloom, our hummingbirds and butterflies have returned to feast on salvias, penstemon, asters, zinnias, California fuchsia, and verbena.
I will have to get used to seeing these friends early and late in the season but not in the heat of summer.
“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.” ~ Jay Inslee