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Little Drops of Water

by germinatrix | September 23rd, 2010

I think gardening makes us look closer. The beauty of a garden is multi-layered; there are the stately trees and shrubs, scene stealing perennials, grasses dancing lazy hulas in the smallest breeze. And there is water. I’m not talking about a water feature, just the beauty of water.

tiny beads decorate a leaf of a Euphorbia wulfenii

It is so mesmerizing, water. I easily get hypnotized when hand watering my containers and selected plants in my landscape. One minute I am in the world, hearing cars and motorcycles pass by (REALLY loudly – damn bikers with their stupid choppers), and the next I’ve gone somewhere else. I’m still and staring. I’m tiny; my brain sends me inside a droplet – or maybe I’m a giant, towering over a forest, in control of an erratic rainstorm. I remember when I was a little girl bored with the summer heat, turning on the hose and letting it run, run, run until the entire back yard was mud. Water transformed the dull, hard, unfriendly Texas soil into a slippery, gooey, fragrant playpen. I could spend hours there, water pouring, making mud until my mother came home from work and gave me all manners of hell for making an unimaginable horrorshow of a mess.

That certainly can’t happen anymore. We are so aware of the precious nature of water now that the days of children entertaining themselves for long afternoon with a hose and some dirt are long gone. Slip and Slide? Shame on you! Water Wiggle? Well, I NEVER!  A hose used to be connected to a seemingly endless supply of water. We now know differently. So when we water, instead of a lavish spray, we sprinkle carefully with a measure of guilt.

succulents love a cool drop or two

I have an automatic sprinkler system. I program it carefully, almost fearfully. But I DO water. I have friends who balk in horror at the fact that I water my garden 3 times a week in the heat of the summer. And the fact that it is a SPRINKLER SYSTEM and not DRIP IRRIGATTION – well, surely I am going to hell.

My garden is a drought tolerant mix of succulents, grasses, perennials, and food. I don’t want to drain our resources, but I DO want my garden to feed me, both literally (my body) and figuratively (my senses). So I water – my sprinkler system turns on and provides a gentle rain, a nourishing drink, and a dose of humidity in our dry desert air. My backyard vegetable beds are on drip, to direct the precious substance exactly where it is needed, and my containers are hand watered, once a week (if they’re lucky) by me and my hose.

As I write this, the last measurable rain that fell on Los Angeles was in June, 0.06 inches. I can’t wait for the coming rains. I am hallucinating the specific ozonic smell of rain. It is different for those of you in other parts of the country – you have other issues to deal with – but for we in SoCal, it is drought. We are always thirsty. This has been an unseasonably cool summer, so it isn’t as dire as it could’ve been, but still, the drought is always present, and dealing with the lack of water is deeply ingrained.  So here is what I do:

My sprinklers are stingy, and go on early in the morning. This way there is less chance of evaporation, which invariably happens when one waters in the heat of the day.

I mulch like crazy – Gravel, compost, leaves … my soil is covered with layers of permeable “softscape” that allows the water to be captured and percolate slowly into the soil and to the root zones of my plants.

I plant like its going out of style. My plants cuddle next to each other and my groundcovers knit together. The all important well-knit groundcover layer helps to keep the soil moist and allows whatever water you give your garden to be used more effectively. The sprinkler system is an aid in this process, because it moistens the top layer of soil, and that moist substrate encourages groundcovers to spread and root, creating a denser layer.

Drip drip drip goes the laser drilled hose. Edible beds get the deep love.

mmmm… see? There I went – off into the world of water. Lovely, complicated water. Without it, we’d be about 3lbs of dust. And so would our gardens. So I will water enough to keep my garden beautiful, productive, and healthy – but not a trickle more. I love lush, but we all have to make compromises. I’ll enjoy my drought tolerant perennials and succulents and the tiny, jewel-like drops of water they live on.

this old man cactus, he plays with diamond driblets of luscious moisture

May you all have lovely, wet, dreams…

XOXO Your Germinatrix

13 Responses to “Little Drops of Water”

  1. I LOVE the picture of the old man cactus. Dreamy – wet dreamy I guess.

  2. Ah, the little girl that plays in the hose in Summer. Stay well!

  3. Germi you wouldn’t ever get anything done this time of year if you lived in Portland! All the rain drops to stare at would have you dreamy eyed 24/7. Our usually dry and hot summer was miserably brief this year. The spigot turned off in early July and back on again last weekend. Virtually no rain in July and August but record setting already in September. Such a strange roller coaster ride.

  4. I need to go get a drink of water now…thirsty! We had a lovely wet summer in Austin this year, but of course we are intimately familiar with the horror of drought. Water is precious indeed.

  5. Lovely water droplet photos. I agree, water is mesmerizing. I actually don’t have an irrigation system installed because I love the connection that watering gives me with my plants. I see what’s going on with them more often. Yes, it can be hectic when heatwave hits, but it’s a great way to learn what is truly drought tolerant.

  6. Beautifully said…I am longing for a little moisture too.

  7. Water droplets certainly do make us stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Here in CT, I always look forward to the mornings when there is frost on the plants. Sometimes they look like they’ve been sprinkled with sugar and others like they’re simply frozen in time. Magical indeed!

  8. I hate to interrupt this lovely, moist reverie, but surely you’ve heard the rumors of this being a La Nina winter, which usually coincides with…drought. The horror! And if you’re going to hell for irrigating during summer, then I’ll be sizzling right alongside you. I think your watering system sounds very sensible.

  9. Dear sweet naughty Germi,

    Look for a special shout-out for the Germinatrix on today’s Bay Area Tendrils!

    tendrilly yours ;~D

  10. Hi G.

    I had a wet dream last night (ahem), it naturally involved the Botox lady…who else? All of these sort of dreams tend to revolve around her, as you can imagine! I do not need to go into any more detail…you have met her in person after all… “Say it don’t spray it”!

    Your “old man” is delivering some serious driblets of luscious moisture?

    You will get arrested for these posts at some point, but I know you know this already?

    ESP :-)

  11. i usually see these photos when I get out of the house every morning to watch the sun shine. The sun makes all the dew drops glitter like crystals on plant leaves! You can see them all glitter like diamonds which is really inspiring and relaxing. Thanks for sharing these photos. this is great photography!

  12. These are some amazing photos. The planets look like they do here in New Mexico after it rains. Very lovely photos Ivette

  13. Hi ALL!!! I am so glad you like the photos! I’ve been trying hard to work on my photography since the book – I had to take about half of the pics and became KEENLY aware of my lack of skills! This makes me feel better!

    Loree – you are right – I would TOTALLY be the sleepy, dreamy rainy day woman! HOW do you do it? This was such a weird summer here, too – mostly cool and it almost never got above the mid 80′s! Unheard of! I am bracing myself for the hottest Autumn ever. i HATE the thought of sweating on Halloween!

    Pam – lucky Austinites!!! That is why it is so beautiful over there, your gorgeous thunderstorms! But I remember last year’s drought being really hard on my Texan friends. Will there ever be a happy medium, a nice in between place? The “baby bear” weather situation? Probably not! XOXOXO!!!

    Kat, I didn’t have any irrigation for 8 years! It was travel that made me put one in – I was tired of coming back home to a dead garden (the housesitters SAID they watered, but I saw no evidence of it!) I agree – I developed my relationships with plants because I had to go out and tend to them so closely. I wouldn’t trade that for anything!

    SUSA!!! HI!!! So good to hear from you! Did you get some of the recent rains? I was so surprised that we actually got measurable rain! Yahoo!!!

    Ah Debbie, I can see it – and I think roses capture dew drops SO beautifully! MAGIC….

    Denise! AAAAHHHH!!! NO!!!!

    Darling Tendril – you are TRUUUULY the best!!!

    ESP you CAD!!! Of course the Botox lady would be a source of moisture in your garden, even during a drought!!! As for me being arrested, well, it is my duty to garden in double entendre, so I may have to take it on the chin someday … but until then I will try to make people exclaim “Oh NO, she WENT there!!!”

    Rose you made my DAY!!! You too Tracy!!! I’m going to learn how to take pictures if it takes spraining my shooting finger!