A Drought of Posts (and water too)

I haven’t posted anything since early June and have been cataloging my excuses, foremost is that the garden is full of plants (potted and otherwise) all screaming for attention.


Two decorative rain barrels each holding 65 gallons

The small kitchen/vegetable garden needs weeding, tending, watering etc.; three quarters of an acre of property (even if just brown lawn and bone dry meadow) demand a modicum of upkeep; and keeping all the potted plants limping along in the face of record drought calls for hand watering using collected water from ten rain barrels supplemented with post-shower gray water left in the bottom of the bathtub.

All of which leave me less time for reflection then I planned.


Eight more rain barrels (hold about 417 gallons)

Paradoxically, I suppose I could cite our incredibly warm and dry weather as motivation for sitting at a computer and writing rather than toiling in the garden, but since garden chores are a proven antidote to a sedentary lifestyle, I force myself to work outside no matter how hot.  [See my post on why gardeners live better and longer lives]

Add to that mix the example of five cats (now sadly four) who perfectly model indolent behavior in the face of really hot weather, and you can see why I long to curl up in the shade and nap too.


Emma, snoozing

****  ****  ****

Despite its reputation as a rain and cloud magnet, our region typically has very little rainfall in the months of July and August, and many of our native plants are adapted to our dry summers. This year rainfall fell off precipitously in early spring and was accompanied by hotter than usual temperatures.

Unlike the greater Seattle area, which depends heavily on runoff from the snow pack in the Cascade mountains, Vashon Island (about 37 square miles) must rely on our sole source aquifer, which is reportedly still in good shape.

Many folks on Vashon have their own wells, while others belong to small water districts. Our water district, Heights Water, reports that while use is up this summer (after two years of summer declines) the aquifer is holding up nicely. Nevertheless, we are keeping the perennial plant beds, the trees, the shrubs and the potted plants from suffering severe damage by using rain water and hand carrying gray water as much as possible.

Here’s a look at some more scenes from the garden.

Morning sun from grape arbor

Woody enjoying morning sun as seen through the grape arbor

Sword fern, Japanese fountain grass, hosta

Sword fern, Japanese fountain grass, Hosta


Agaves, Cerinthe, Campanula

grape arbor1

Pots at entrance to grape arbor

From left, variegated sedge in pot, dwarf cyprus (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwoodi'), lilac and hydrangea

From right , variegated sedge in pot, dwarf cyprus (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Ellwoodi’), lilac and hydrangea

Our old apple tree is laden with fruit this year

Our old apple tree is laden with fruit this year


Mason bee house might be why


4 thoughts on “A Drought of Posts (and water too)

    • Yup. We are expecting a warm and wet winter here too. El Nino, according to Northwest weather guru Cliff Mass, means the following for the Pacific NW:
      1. Modestly below normal precipitation
      2. Warmer than normal temperatures
      3. Less chance of lowland snow
      4. Below-normal snow pack in the mountains
      5. Less storminess, with reduced probabilities of major windstorms and floods.

      Good for me and my tender “zonal denial” plants and probably good for our island aquifer, but not good news for the greater Seattle area that depends on the snow pack 😦 Especially if next summer’s drought is like this year’s. Two straight years with well below average snow in the mountains is ominous.

  1. For a record drought, the profusion of plants in your garden is inspiring. Also glad to see your words again in print, so to speak. Those cats look beyond content. They are in their element!

  2. Thanks Meg. The weather has quickly changed here with clouds and significant rain the last few days. Add that rain to the 1.2 inch thunderstorm on August 14th and this August will be above average for rainfall for the Seattle area! Unfortunately I don’t believe this exact weather pattern extends east past the Cascades, certainly not with as much rain as here, though apparently southern British Columbia’s Okanogan region has enough rain to help with some of the record wildfires; and lower temperatures, higher humidity and some scattered rain showers have helped fire fighters in Washington state get a handle on many of the record wildfires in Okanogan and Chelan counties.

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