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.
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.
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.
May you all have lovely, wet, dreams…
XOXO Your Germinatrix