State of the Season

droughtThe low-lights of this summer are too painful to touch on too deeply, but too intense to ignore. Namely a drought so extreme and excruciating that it makes the

other major drought years of my past fifteen years in Santa Fe seem like lush summers in the east by comparison.

A drought so extreme that it has nurtured pest problems that were beyond my wildest imagination, namely the bark beetle that has knocked out over half the Pinons in Santa Fe County, started last year and nurtured by weak and stressed trees. Also the flea beetle that has brought down many hardy perennials months before their time of bloom was up. Not to mention that every plant knows, and shows, the difference between rain and irrigation.

In spite of these problems, enough to break a fragile gardener’s heart, there have been a few moments of pleasure that my garden has brought me this year that have been so wonderful that they can erase all discouragement.

One was at the end of July when my little son turned two. I had just returned from a weekend in NYC for a wedding to face another landscaping week of drought plagued problems. I wanted to go to bed but I mustered up my energy to invite a few friends of my sons’ and their parents over for a garden party. My husband grilled salmon and we sat out in my garden while the kids ran around and danced, first through the sunset and then into the evening hours. As dark descended, my Datura and Nicotiana (see August 2002 articles) opened up their perfume scent. As this happened, the hummingbird moths, truly a cross between a hummingbird and a moth, descended to flutter around, pollinate the flowers and feed themselves. It was an event of romance. Thank you Henry, my little one, for having your birthday on that long warm summer night.

The next was again at night when my four year old son and I dragged the futon out and slept in the back yard. Again we experienced the nocturnal scents and moths of all shapes and sizes. Also we experienced the stars and a great sense of peace. Even in the driest of air, a flower bed will share moisture and its essence with you. Thank you, Max.

Of course, my garden gives me the highlight of every day. It is my place where there is no drought, where there is always joy and peace. My family has spent every evening there, including our dog and cat. I let the weeds grow with the flowers, and I let the flowers go to seed. There is always color and moisture. It is home to hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, bats, stink bugs, praying mantis and more. Also our pond full of fish, tadpoles and snails. If I can get it through this drought, it can get me through it too. We are a team.

Kendall McCumber Fine Gardening designs, installs and maintains all sizes of drought tolerant gardens, stonescapes, irrigation and water harvesting systems.

by Kendall McCumber