Officially, the temperature topped 106 yesterday, hot enough to fry a whole omelet on the sidewalk! Triple digit temperatures have been the rule lately in Tidewater, giving us one of the hottest weekends in our history. For the past week or so, temperatures have settled into the mid to upper 90’s each day, chasing us from the waterfront and garden to the relief of air conditioning.
Sadly, as I make my way around the community, the sight of dead or dying landscaping, especially newer shrubs and trees, has become more common. When temperatures rise to the mid-90s, photosynthesis begins to shut down and trees begin to drop leaves. In the 100-degree range, irreparable damage can often be done to trees as cell membranes begin to dissolve. Water can be the solution but not always.
Several of our young trees, planted less than a year ago, have succumbed to the extreme heat despite being well-watered. A young serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) turned brown and died despite trucking water on a regular basis to this remote location. We also lost a year-old golden raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata) and a year-old bald cypress (Taxodium distichum).
Today we expect temperatures to drop about 16 degrees. A slow-moving cold front is pushing though and winds will drop temperatures into the upper 80s or low 90s. We’ll have sunny skies again, nary a drop of needed rain in sight, but the scorching heat should be over.
What is July like in your neck of the woods?
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester