Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Rain

I know it isn't that pretty and it causes our sewers to overflow, but I'm so happy it's raining!
Anyone who installed a garden in the last month, knows how vulnerable those plants are --
uprooted and traumatized, shy, uncomfortable, and many other feelings we've all had at one time or another. And here comes this late May / early June week and a half long heat wave without rain. Established perennials, shrubs, and trees with at least 2' of soil underneath them may be able to handle this weather but the newbies are dropping like flies. Preventable? Yes.

An irrigation system or a maintenance plan with a landscape company are helpful, but sometimes keeping plants alive really depends on the client. Yes, the clients can save the day- my heroes, clients who water after noticing it hasn't rained for the 10th day in a row. And water deeply, because wetting the surface of the soil or the leaves of a tree is not watering.

On top of the recent heat, many of the gardens we've just installed are in very windy and sunny conditions on roofs and terraces. This is a stressful situation for most plants even in cool and wet weather, but this is also a very common urban garden setting. So, some things that can help in a situation like this:

1. Frequent and deep watering.
2. Loosely wrapping shade cloths around newly planted shrubs.
3. Keeping plants in a sheltered area - if there is one- until they've adapted more.
4. Choose appropriate plants for the tough conditions.No matter how drought tolerant the plant, when it's first planted, it needs special care. But once it's established it will fare much better than it's less drought tolerant plant friends. But, we have to remember this is an artificial environment-we're on a NYC terrace here, so all the plants are in containers, not soil that's 3' or more feet deep. This means their resources are limited. So no matter how tough plants are, keep an eye on them. But, here are some great tough plants to use:

Prunus maritima
Myrica pensylvanica
Pinus strobus 'nana'
Rhus aromatica
Boltonia asteroides
Coreopsis verticillata
Asclepias tuberosa

Here are images that show coastal inspiration.

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