From the Sperry Garden – October, 2007

Photo: When it’s too dark for flowering plants, I resort to textural differences. This Philodendron ‘Xanadu’ is easier to maintain and requires less water than in-ground plants would here.

So, I’m watching the Weather Channel this morning and all they talk about is the floods in Southeast Texas. Meanwhile, many of the rest of us are struggling with incredible drought. Go figure. So, these notes are for those of you who are in the same situation.

Since June 1 our weekly water day has been Wednesday. Those of you in the Northeast Dallas area know the drill too well, as you, too, get your drinking water from Lake Lavon. However, even more than other area lakes, water levels at Lake Lavon have dropped drastically. If you live in Texas very long, you learn to anticipate these things. Here are some things I have learned from my own personal observations, both in my own garden and in those around me.

Facts I Have Learned in Summer, 2006

I have prioritized my plants. The ones that take longest or cost most are the ones I have chosen to water. Several of my annual beds stayed empty this year.

By comparison, container color works really well. The collection of plants shown in the photo requires far less water than comparable plants in ground beds would need. Granted, I have to hand-water them more often, but the overall rewards are worth that extra effort.

It is, indeed, possible to stay within the once-a-week regulations for watering. True, it was difficult last week when it was well beyond 100 degrees, but I’ve made it so far and I intend to get to the finish line without cheating.

Hand-watering special plants or small problem spots can get you through emergencies.

I have used hose-end sprinklers to spot-water certain areas on my watering days where I used to water much larger spaces. The before-and-after photos of my dead nettle bed (see photos in Timely Tips) show how a durable little plant can get by with one supplemental watering all summer.

I am convinced that “native” is not necessarily a good thing for landscaping. Many native plants are really struggling across Texas. “Adapted” is a far better criterion. It really doesn’t matter where a plant originates as long as it does well for you. Bald cypress and wax myrtles may be native to parts of Texas, but they’re certainly not faring too well in other areas in this summer of drought.

Fertilizers promote new growth and that requires water. I have bypassed feeding my plants during the hottest, driest part of the summer. My next feeding will be in early September. That’s with the exception of the container plants, however. I’ve been feeding them right on schedule.

Take special note of how you have coped with the dry weather this year. It might prove of help in saving both plantings and water in future years.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top