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Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Better wetter

Here in the States, children memorize all sorts of rhymes, even before we learn to read.  Among them,
Rain, rain, go away
come again some other day.

and....

April showers bring May flowers...

Once upon a time I'd fervently sing the first even while I deeply believed in the truth of the second.  It never occurred to me the two could be either contradictory or linked.  I was a child and questioned little that arrived wrapped in either a catchy tune or a rhyme.

After I became an adult, and especially after I began to garden, the nonsensical nature of both rhymes were fully revealed.  These rhymes simply don't apply, at least when it comes to life in the Lone Star state.

Because everywhere in Texas, when it comes to rain, there is no "other day". And as for May flowers, well....
Didn't wait for May, or rain
May flowers are late comers in our native landscapes.  Flowers here just west of Austin appear in early Spring, and to thrive they need a steady supply of winter rain showers.  Come February seeds are popping up and flower rosettes are trying to establish themselves, growing deep tap roots long before the bluster of April arrives.  
Nope - these guys didn't wait either
But this last February, we didn't get any measurable rain.  No rain in February means powdery dry soil and a hard slow start. A hard start can mean not much of a wildflower show in fields and along our roads.  With no February rains, local gardeners miss another cool weather month's worth of chances to sow seed, transplant established species and set in additional plants unless they are willing to provide supplemental watering along with covering tender growth from freezes.
I planted native milkweed seed here knowing I'd have to hand water the area for weeks with no guarantee of germination
Without fields filled with native flowers, we offer a very poor welcome for beleaguered native pollinators wakening from their winter slumbers.  A low bloom rate bodes ill for migratory visitors as well.  This year's display was in jeopardy.  We were running out of time for the rain we needed.
Pink Evening Primrose patch-to-be (also not waiting)
Enter my new favorite month, March.  Not only did March slide in on skids of mist and fog this year, but it just finished delivering us a gentle area wide three inches (or more) of soaking rain.
And not one day too soon.  
Give it a few more weeks and I'll be sneezing, shaking a facial tissue at the live oaks, March, and ruing the day, but for now?
For now I say thank you! Unlike February (my new least favorite month!) it is clear you read your job description and showed up ready to get to work.
Every flower and flower visiting creature to appear in the weeks to come all owe you a life saving debt. Here's to you, March.  You've gotten Spring 2015 off to a better, wetter start!

15 comments:

Kathleen Scott said...

Yes, this should be a good wildflower year!

Tina said...

That rain was pretty magnificent, wasn't it? And look at your bluebonnets--they'll only get better and better. Once your oak allergies kick in, can you see them from some window in the *relative* allergy free zone of your house?

Love your spiderweb and its resident--waiting for moths and butterflies, no doubt. I was at Shoal Creek Nursery yesterday and they had a load of tropical milkweed--I was sorely tempted, as mine all were dinged in that last freeze. The monarchs are starting their migration north, apparently and it's a matter of a few weeks.

texasdeb said...

Kathleen: From your lips....

I completely agree - I think the conditions are setting up for a banner year, especially now we got a good rain area wide. Phew and Yay!

texasdeb said...

Tina: I can indeed see the bluebonnets from one set of windows, though I have to stand right next to them and lean in close to the pane. That posture makes it look like I'm some sort of sea captain's wife watching the sea and pining... (or so my allergy medicine'd brain thinks currently).

And because I'm wired to always be moving on, moving on, I am focusing instead now on the primrose plants. That reminds me - I'm going back to check previous year's photos to see when they first appeared!

And that is too bad about the milkweed for our Spring migrators. My tropical milkweed isn't back up yet (that is IF it will come back) and the native stuff won't be ready, IF it comes up. Sigh. I just can't get that timing right yet. No wonder monarchs aren't visiting here - I'm unreliable!

Kris Peterson said...

I'm glad the rain arrived to rescue your wildflowers. Three inches is a LOT of rain - we haven't had any storms that delivered that much this season and it's unlikely we'll see a March miracle at this point. We need a song to promote rain - and maybe a dance too.

texasdeb said...

Kris: February is not typically a dry month in our area. We usually get a couple of inches of rain in February and then another couple of inches in March.

Calling this last three inch rain a March "miracle" is not exaggerating much. And while it sounds a bit like I'm "only" interested in the wildflowers, the fact is that most of our native plants here gear up for a big show in March-April-and to some extent May because it gets hot before the end of May, and stays that way until our second high growth season in October. If we don't get rain now, everything is susceptible to heat and drought stress for months to come.

Pam/Digging said...

While we got "only" 2-1/2 inches in NW Austin, I too am extremely grateful for that wonderful soaking rain. We needed it. I have high hopes for a good bluebonnet season this year. I just wish the Hill Country and Highland Lakes were getting the rain they really need.

texasdeb said...

Pam: It is a shame so much of the rain is falling east of the Hill Country/Highland Lakes area. The aquifers (which means all of us) need the water certainly.

I am happy for all the farmers east of here however. They've been struggling with falling well levels and crazy weather for years now (as have we all!) so this is at least a step in a good direction.

Tina said...

It isn't you who is unreliable. I also don't think I'll have milkweed. I'm sorely tempted to run out today or tomorrow and buy some of the tropical that I saw. Btw, I love your new gravatar. I think that's what it's called.

texasdeb said...

Tina: We may need to form a support group. Gardeners who love Butterflies but can't keep Milkweed... something like that.

The gravatar is new/old. Nold?

Debra said...

That is a really fun gravitar! Your bluebonnets look great and the primroses look lush. It should be a good year for them. (Don't tell the SXSW people but I've come to depend on the early weeks of March for rain.) I went out for a walk in that rain and had what was nearly a religious experience. Way up in the tree tops there were a whole lot of red-winged blackbirds, mockingbirds, grackles and various sparrows singing like a choir. They didn't stop even though they were right above me. It was like swimming in birdsong. I believe it was a song of thanksgiving.

texasdeb said...

Debra: That sounds absolutely amazing. Birds singing a song of praise for the rain. I'm a little envious frankly, though I can imagine other people dashing around trying to get OUT of the rain and not even noticing the bird song. It took your attentive witness and that feels very appropriate somehow.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I often thought of these silly rhymes and I think they were meant more for the NE where after so much snow and April showers, we need the rain to go away...and maybe to TX. And definitely April showers bring all my May wildflowers...so many show in April and then in May. You have some lovely flowers peeking out finally Deb.

texasdeb said...

Donna: Thank you! I"m excited for the prospects this year native plant wise. And you are right. I'm sure those rhymes are old enough to have existed before even the idea of Texas was anything other than a political pipe dream.

Growing up however, a rhyme was a rhyme, there didn't seem any reason not to think they applied universally. When I was young, if it was raining wherever I was, that simply meant it was raining everywhere.

Rock rose said...

That was quite a dose of rain wasn't it. And all that gloominess. I hope it is over and done with for a while. Our flowers need some sunshine. Yes it should be a wonderful year for wildflowers. I have to smile at your rain gauge. I have one very similar to that only the top of the glass tube is fluted. You know what that means. Not as much rain as it says! I need to find a simple boiling tube to replae mine.