No rain in sight. The thunderstorms that have been in the forecast periodically haven’t materialized for us in Bristol since a month ago in June. It’s dry dry dry and even the pond has emptied already just as if it’s sprung a leak. The watering rotations have begun in earnest.
I feel sort of hyper conscious about water usage and whenever I suggest that the gardens are alright without a dousing, my co-workers* look at me like they might hiss “Blasphemer!” and start throwing stones. (*Lilah excepted – she doesn’t want to water either.) Admittedly my garden at home suffers somewhat. The blooms on my Clematis ‘Roguchi’ are half the size of the ones here and I almost lost a new Star magnolia last year due to an extended period of miserly neglect. I have a rain barrel at home that is still somehow miraculously half full although I draw exclusively from it to water my parched potted plants. I know the Blithewold gardens need to be on a rigid watering schedule to remain lovely and I know in my heart that mine at home would be happier for it too. The trick is to be careful while being generous. It’s best to water early in the morning – especially if you’re running a sprinkler so that you don’t lose too much to wind and evaporation – and to water really really well and deeply. Here we water whenever we can and most of the gardens are done by hand under the blazing sky which is hot and awful but affords plenty of time for daydreaming and wishing. I wish for a rainspell and a new hat with a fan attachment…
The trees on the property are watered by sprinklers and the web of hoses running around the property amazes me. I’m glad the guys take care of all that because I can’t be trusted to remember to turn off a sprinkler once I’ve turned it on… Blithewold recently received a grant to service and utilize the network of cisterns on the property and yesterday we heard the new pump working for the first time. Drawing water from a large cistern in the enclosed garden the guys were able to run 2 sprinklers on the Giant Sequoia and one on the Katsuras for a total of about 6-7 hours. Unfortunately it’s only a drop in the proverbial bucket since the ground under the Sequoia is still dry deeper than 2 inches or so from the surface. We need more rain to really drench that ground again – and to fill the cistern back up. I think it’s really astounding that the owners of Blithewold had the forethought to conserve water and install these giant underground tanks. Hopefully soon, they’ll all be in working order again and we’ll hear the thrum of pumps occasionally over the buzz of the cicadas.
We are also watering with town water and from the wells on the property. The Pump House where we store our tools actually does house the pump for the main well. Dan and Fred used the new portable pump to finally tap the old well on the front lawn today (I don’t know how many years it has been out of commission).
Are you experiencing a dry spell too? What do you do to conserve water?
In other news: The house today has been a veritable hive of activity in preparation for the RI Federation of Garden Clubs’ Flower Show. There are gorgeous arrangements and horticultural specimens displayed all around the first floor of the house. They all look like winners to me – despite some cutting criticism from the judges. Come see!