Too much of a good thing…

Daily headlines on my weather apps are “Stormy Weekend Continues,” “More Coastal Flash Flooding Possible,” “Expect Pop-Up Showers,” “Downpours in the Forecast.” The month of August has greeted us with more than ample rain. It seems we are locked in this wet, humid and warm pattern with a good chance of showers, thunderstorms, or heavy fog daily. I read in a news release that, should the rain pattern persist, Concord New Hampshire is due to pass the last wettest August on record. They are only ¼” behind their last record set in 1892.  New Hampshire is a small state. We can’t be too far behind.

rain

We had a slight drought in July but that’s long gone. Thirsty plants been replaced with abundant greenery and a Jurassic-like growth in our landscape. Even wildlife has proliferated. Chipmunks are masters of all that we survey. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dinosaur crash through our tropical growth.

fog

Waterhogs like clethra and hydrangea have flourished, doubled in size, and bloomed better than ever. Greenery in the shade garden is looking a little like Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors.

The soggy soil has not helped our grass at all. We developed small pockets of blight on the lawn with the cool nights and hot humid rainy days. I’m trying to be on top of this and have treated it… but once started, fungal diseases are difficult to stop. So far, it’s been two weeks and no sign of it returning.

fungus

I do worry about waterlogged roots in the garden. Much of the garden is raised but to help the wet, compacted soil, I’m taking my garden fork and driving the tines into the soil for several inches. I hope this will provide more air to roots and perhaps dry the soil a little quicker.

All in all, if I had to choose between a drought and abundant wet weather, I’d choose the wet any day. I’d rather fight the fungus, the mosquitoes, the slugs, the chipmunks than a sun baked and hot earth that much of the world has experienced recently. Counting blessings….

 

Adventures with Youngsters

On June 21, summer will officially begin, but you’d never know it by today’s temperature.  It’s 1:00 pm and the temperature on this 6th day of June is hovering somewhere between 46° and 48°, depending on which weather app you check. The weatherman predicts we’ll break the record low for this day.

It’s been a welcome rainy spring to put an end to our drought so we aren’t complaining. We’ve had days of beautiful New England spring weather in-between storms, enough to be satisfied, especially since our goal for this summer is to become better acquainted with everything our area offers…. often through the eyes of children.

Wentworth Marina by the Sea

We no longer own boats, but a stop at the Wentworth Marina by the Sea in New Castle with the grandchildren was one our first spring adventures. What a blast to let the little ones wander up and down the docks, watching boats come and go, including the excitement of the marine police arriving to check the place over. A stop here would hardly be worth it without a relaxing lunch at The Green Bean, outdoor dining while answering 100 little questions, between bites of tasty pulled pork sliders, about boats, birds, water, and rigging.  “What is that spinning thing on top of the masts?” “That’s the wind speed indicator…” “Why do they have them up there?”  Fun, fun, fun!

The Green Bean - Pull Pork Sliders with cheddar cheese and red onions

We’re thrilled to support the wonderful outdoor Exeter Farmers’ Market once again this spring, especially on the warmest days when we can follow-up with homemade strawberry popsicles or the best local ice cream, but that’s only when the grandchildren accompany us. Yes, we all had a popsicle on this day!

Strawberry popcicles - Exeter Farmers' Market

Watching the Phillips Exeter crew teams practice on the Squamscott River is something we stopped to watch for the first time. That was another new adventure for us thanks to keen interest by these little folks.

Grands on the Squamscott River

Our local school crew teams in Virginia were nationally ranked and these crew teams are tops in the nation, according to their website. So much fun to watch… especially through the eyes of children and also after reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Highly recommended!

I’ve been in working hard in the garden in-between rain showers but I’ll soon be back in earnest. A warming (or hot) trend is approaching for the weekend and I’m ready. Stay tuned.

View of the Waterfront

Yesterday, our walk in light rain took us on the opposite side of the Squamscott River with the town of Exeter NH in the distance. This is the first time we’ve viewed the town from this vantage point and it looked beautiful to us on this fall day.

The tidal Squamscott River begins here, fed from the freshwater Exeter River and it runs 6.3 miles through rural areas and small towns to Great Bay, which connects to the Piscataqua River and, finally, the Atlantic Ocean.

Not prepared with umbrellas or raincoats, we were fully drenched by the time our walk ended but we kept our smiles. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to feel a raindrop and it was a very good thing….

Exeter NH

Officially a Drought

The National Weather Service has announced that New Hampshire is experiencing a moderate drought. We’ve had scant rainfall this spring. You might ask: Where’d all that record-setting snow melt go? I wondered, too.

The answer is two-fold: Our snow was ‘fluffy and dry’ according to Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts and the water content of our snow was low. Secondly, according to Michael Rawlins, an assistant professor of geosciences and a hydrology specialist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the small amount of water in the soil has evaporated. The upper surfaces of soil were saturated but with little precipitation, it’s gone.

Rolling Green1

It’s been hot and dry at  my work place, Rolling Green Nursery, but just seven minutes of overhead watering first thing in the morning on the hottest days give perennials enough moisture until we can get a hose to them all.

The National Weather Service tells us that summer will bring extended dry conditions to southern portions of New Hampshire. Voluntary water restrictions are already being put into effect. Thankfully, we aren’t experiencing the dire conditions that western states are enduring but we’re having a small taste of it and the National Weather Service is predicting a dry summer for us in southern New Hampshire. Mild droughts are more common here than many realize and data tells us that droughts are expected to become more frequent as our climate changes.

However, our collective wish was answered yesterday when the heavens finally opened for a good part of the day. Today we have a soaking rain and tomorrow should bring the same. We will need a lot more though!

I took a walk around my own landscape this morning and saw some happy plants just soaking it in. There is nothing quite so beautiful as a life-sustaining rain. Hover over photo to ID plants or click to enlarge.

My Ten Favorite Photos of 2014

Les over at A Tidewater Gardener annually posts his ten favorite photos from the year and he challenges readers to do the same. Since we have downsized and no longer maintain our acres of gardens, I’m not as serious about garden photography and rarely carry my heavy 35mm camera around my neck. But I do carry the world’s most popular camera in my pocket at all times. My iPhone! Not sure about these being my favorite photos but they jumped out at me while scrolling through hundreds!

Since we spent most of the winter under a blanket of snow, I thought I should add at least one photo of the beauty it can bring. Taken on February 8, prints in the snow show where animals come to the stream banks.

Click on photos to enlarge.

IMG_8150I love photos that tell a story and there’s one here. Peaceful demonstrators in Keene NH braved the elements for several hours for a cause on February 7. I can almost hear them talking amongst themselves…. maybe seeing whose turn it is to get some coffee.. among other more important things.

Make Love, Not War!Keene NH also provided another photo that I like. A rainy, gray day was brightened only by taillights at a stoplight on April 15. With family in Keene, we visit this area on a regular basis.

IMG_9886We ventured out of the Granite State for this photo. Two lovely ladies in straw hats were admiring a seaside garden on the rocky shores of the Atlantic. We toured several Cape Neddick Maine gardens on this day during Garden Conservancy Days, June 22.IMG_1338Anyone who knows me knows I am interested in insects and have hundreds of photos and IDs The plump fellow below, the jumping spider, claimed the watering hose as his own at Rolling Green Nursery this summer. These are brave and scary looking spiders, but, oh so harmless. Whenever I moved in, he moved closer. They stalk prey and can pounce a few inches but I just give them a puff of air and they fall to the ground and scamper away. I really like these spiders because they have personality plus. July 12.

The second photo below was a two-for-one. I was photographing the tachinid fly and didn’t see the second insect until I downloaded the photograph. The tachinid is a nectar eating fly as an adult, but one that lays eggs in insect hosts. This time the lowly hover fly is the victim seen just below her body. I don’t like these flies very much as butterfly caterpillars are often victims. July 16.

IMG_1635 IMG_0712Rain drops on vegetation after an all night soaker is always interesting to me. The new growth on this spirea is an especially nice color. May 19.

rain dropsThe sunflower below was a volunteer from our bird feeder. Several seeds that the birds overlooked germinated but only this one grew tall and straight and eventually fed the chickadees many ripe sunflower seeds. (Staring at the center long enough may hypnotize!)  August 26.

volunteer sunflowerFinally, the highlight of 2014 was a vacation with the youngins to Bethel, Maine. Below are two photos from that hiking, swimming, boating trip in August.

IMG_2741IMG_3346

It’s not the Heat in Virginia….

…it’s the Tidewater humidity that gets you. It can be sweltering and uncomfortable. Tidewater is classified as a subtropical zone which includes parts of Texas, most of Florida, up through Georgia, North Carolina all the way to Washington, DC.  Our winters are basically mild and dry and summers in Virginia are more often hot, humid, muggy, sultry, sticky, damp, rainy, steamy. Groan….. Moan….  Grumble…. Complain….

We are experiencing that high humidity of our dog day summer right now. Receiving 3-1/2″ of rain (joy, joy!) in the last 24 hours (7″ for the month) has turned our world into a sauna. I am venturing out daily to work for short periods in the yard but find myself dashing for the coolness of the porch beneath the big fan or escaping to the house where the air conditioner hums consistently even when set to 80º.

Watching the rain from the porch

Watching the rain from the window

The heat, humidity and recent gully-washer rainfalls have turned our area into a kudzo-like lush landscape. The greens of leaves on trees, shrubs, vines, grass seem to be closing in on roads and pathways. Steam rises over pavement, grass and soil. It’s more tropical than subtropical right now.Flowers in the garden bloom and die too fast and are taking a back seat to green chaotic growth everywhere. Weeds are finding a new foothold. mister gardeners tomatoes are ripening too fast to pick, his potatoes are trapped in the wet ground… too wet to harvest, the corn in the fields has bolted to 7′ tall (8′, says mister gardener). Grass needs to be mowed too often. Frogs, toads, birds and insects form a daily symphony of sounds, noisy sounds, screeches, squawks and bellows that continue day and night.

Corn towers

Delighted ferns... looking a little Jurassic in this humidity!

This is the Tidewater I have always known and loved. I may grumble but I wouldn’t trade one sultry day for life elsewhere.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester