Wednesday, September 6, 2017

GARDENING AFTER HOUSTON'S HURRICANE HARVEY

Draining the Opuntia Pot

There are several ways to lose plants along the Texas coast. As a tropical gardener, FROSTS & FREEZES top the catastrophe list.

DROUGHT is second on the list followed by HEAT WAVES.
HIGH WINDS are always a concern for the canopy of trees so they're ranked number four.
WATER STANDING IN THE GARDEN FOR FIVE DAYS IS A NEW EXPERIENCE.
I have many types of plants besides tropicals, so let me share my newest learning curve.
As you might gather from the above image, this agave did NOT like the flood. We shall see about the rest in the weeks to come.
The herb garden was hit and miss. The lavenders are of course unhappy as are the rosemary.
Their thin, well-draining raised beds might save them in the long run. But it will be nip and tuck.

 Thyme abhors overwatering. And yet... it looks like its going to make it. I love having thyme in the garden. I wish I had more. ha ha

The zinnia bed was up near the street and literally washed away, but these Rudbeckias (though a bit wilted) look like they are going to recover. These are my favorite flowers and a nice gift from my gardening friend in Katy, Texas.
 They are the bright spot after the hurricane.

It is simply bizarre to see plants wilt after a flood. Usually I associate this behavior with drought conditions. This was a clerodendrum.

THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT TROPICAL GARDENING IS THIS...IT SEEMS NO AMOUNT OF WATER IS TOO MUCH FOR MOST TROPICAL PLANTS!

The gingers did fine!

The banana trees are reaching towards heaven and looking quite majestic.

I use pothos ivy as a ground cover in many parts of the shade garden. I can't believe this plant can sit in water for days and remain healthy. And yet...here they are along with purple Zebrinas! 

Wind gusts topped 45 mph from Harvey. My windmill palm is now leaning and the roots seem very weak from the many days of water-logged soil. It might be time to sing "Let it Go".
So long windmill palm. 

On the other hand,
these Chinese Fan Palms fared very well throughout the ordeal.

Our native Texas trees like this redbud in front of our home have adapted to the local climate for  thousands of years. Dealing with floods is in their survival guide.


I'll end with a view of my favorite tree, the live oak. Its nickname is the Hurricane Tree since it has a low, streamlined profile that can take heavy winds. This one is in a neighbor's yard, but I wish it was in mine!
*****
As I end this post, our first cool front has arrived and its cool for the first time in over three months. THE GARDEN IS CALLING AND I MUST GO!!!
Texas gardeners look forward to this first cool day like most people look forward to Christmas.

Merry Christmas!
David/:0)
RIDICULOUS FOOT NOTE:
Same species, same soil type, same light conditions, and same location...but not the same ending.
(Gardening is full of mysteries)










Monday, August 28, 2017

REPORT FROM A GARDENER DEALING WITH HURRICANE HARVEY


It's been a difficult week.
I live at the "x".  Since Thursday, we've had 33 inches from Hurricane Harvey. A few areas have had even more!
 This will soon be the worst rain event in our 130+ weather history!!! Rains are expected for tonight, tomorrow and in to Wednesday.
I'll update tomorrow!

WIND MAP OF USA ~ AMAZING!
http://hint.fm/wind/

******

Data compiled by David Ross ~ National Weather Service
source:  "Texas Hurricane History"
https://www.weather.gov/media/lch/events/txhurricanehistory.pdf


******


Early in the week, the predictions for epic rainfall totals started to pour in. The National Weather Service started with 10-15inches and by the end of the week this news source predicted up to 40 inches (101.6 cm)!
Thursday remained dry, but cloudy. Friday ended with .80" (3.3cm) and that night brought 3.00 inches (7.6cm) of rain. It all soaked in the ground since this part of Texas had not seen rain in two weeks. So far so good.

Saturday brought only .50 inches (1.2cm) of rain. I was beginning to feel relieved....until that night.
As you can see by the above photo the first band of tropical rains completely filled our street. I measured 3.40inches (8.6cm) in 4 hours. 
It was a lot, but I had been through more until....
just a couple of hours later it poured buckets AGAIN as another band of tropical rain drenched the Houston area. I sat up and took notice!!! Two floods in one night! Geez!!!
My garden is low compared to most and the runoff from the gutters have always overwhelmed my drainage systems. So...leading up to Harvey, I set up an entire system of pipes that took the water directly from the roof to the front drive and on to the street.
My yard is too low to bury them, so I just considered the whole thing a temporary stop-gap measure against the railings of Harvey. 
This morning (Sunday) I woke up to this! It had been raining steadily since 3:30am!
To keep the water out of our house I would have to do even more.
By the way, that house on the corner is not damaged; it is new construction and they aren't finished.
I had put this nice path way in a number of years ago. But today in an extreme effort to get the predicted rains out of my back yard, I decided to pull the pavers up.
I'm so glad I did because....

KAPOW!!!
We have had FOUR cycles of horrific rain bands travel through our part of Houston today.
I have kept careful records from my rain gauge.
The number for today is an all time record and looks like this:
4.20inches (street floods to all time high)
3.30 street floods again
2.40 floods again!
.90 afternoon lull (thank God!)
5.10 inches tonight (up to my porch and door! Street hits second record high in one day!)

TOTAL for SUNDAY, AUGUST 27th, 2017....15.90 inches (40.3cm) of precipitation

You might be wondering where all our street water is going? Well, here's the place.
This is White Oak Bayou near 34th street. This goes directly to downtown Houston and on to Galveston Bay. 
As you can see, we really can't handle any more RAIN here! 
Sadly, Harvey has stalled and is throwing tremendous bands of rain across this part of the Texas.

On the map above, my house and garden are next to the letter "H" in Houston. Seeing a hundred mile long rain band sends chills down my spine. Sometimes they move around a bit and that's what you hope for! Otherwise, you get 4 straight hours of drenching rain.
My 'Hill Country' stream has been flowing a lot lately. If it weren't for the hurricane, I could actually enjoy the sounds of the rippling water. 
I'm not thinking very much about my garden these days. The plants will make it just fine. Tropical gardens are like that.
What I'm thinking about right now are the people sitting on their rooftops waiting to be rescued!
We have TWO MORE days of this. I am praying that Harvey will somehow move away early and die out in some drought stricken part of the country. 
I've lived along the Texas coast all my life and seen a number of hurricanes and flood events in my 59 years.
But this ONE ranks number ONE on my list of worst FLOODS!

The old record for my garden was with Tropical Storm Allison at 20.00 inches.
All for now! Keep dry!!!
David/:0)

Final Updated Total Rainfall Event:
Overnight Early Morning 1.2" 
Monday Morning: 1.4"
Monday Afternoon 2.3"
Monday Night 6-10PM  2.4"
Tuesday Early Morning Midnight-8am  1.5"
Tuesday Morning 8-12  0.9" 
Tuesday PM  0.15"

GRAND TOTAL...... for 5 day Hurricane Harvey.....35.75" (91cm)


Watering Can filled itself this week!


Ceiling in bedroom now has a slow leak. It looks at bit like the shape of Antarctica.
Must now cut a hole in the sheet rock and put a plastic container up there to catch the drip.
Still no water in house, so I count myself lucky.









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