Monday, June 01, 2009

Music to Garden By in Times of Drought: Interview with a Terrible Drought Gardener

“Mind and experience are like water and earth co-operating—neither of which alone can bring forth a flower.”
Jon Wortabet, Arabian Wisdom, [1913]

Kent Brokman: What are you listening to these days as you garden?

Terrible Drought Gardener: That’s a long story, Kent. Recently, my iPod screen got wet in my apron pocket, as I bent over a tub of water lilies to trim some mums, and wicked up enough water to burn out the screen. I did not know this because the pod kept on playing, not that it probably would have mattered. The result is that I now can listen to it but without knowing what play list or how music was selected. I just turn it on and mess with the controls until music starts. Buck Owens after Martin Denny? Existential! After two swings and two misses at getting the Apple so-called “genius” people to locate my on-line appointment, I was considering whether or not to try to baptize it (the pod, not the geniuses) again in the hope that it would be born again. Cooler and more secular heads prevailed.

KB: So, what’s this we hear from San Diego County Water Authority about a Stage Two Drought Alert?

TDG: Gardening in a stage two drought alert is a challenge for the expert and careful gardener. So, I’m sure you can imagine what a pain it is to a terrible gardener like me. I worry whether I will get to a point where I have to triage and sacrifice some bushes in their second year of settling in, still fitting in a one gallon pot size. Will some of them have to die, like say, the stupidly impulsive miniature weeping cherry tree at the left of the lantern in the above pic, or the juvenile Alphonse Karr bamboo way out back? Will the slow and steady baby’s tears in the tsukubai garden (above) shrivel before the creeping thyme can spread to shelter them and gradually replace them? I have no lawn left to kill, no martyr to the cause of having a 1.5 Million population in a region where there’s enough local water to support 100,000. Between the gophers and the rabbits, the thirsty coyotes and the drought, this may not be an ideal summer to garden.

KB: Excuse me, coyotes?

TDG: Yep. Coyotes strolling through the front yard at midday. Lean and parched looking themselves, I’m considering luring them into my backyard to feast on the rabbits and gophers. The water features may draw them naturally, especially now that the old dog is barred from my yard since I got tired of picking up his poop. Come for the water, stay for the rabbits and gophers. The damn gophers have now invaded a rocky section of the garden at the shallow end of the big pond where I moved my precious bearded Iris, thinking the rocks would deter burrowing animals. BTW Kent, my water features are ok as long as they aren’t spraying water into the air. I’ve bypassed the waterfall, and the small “old pond” filtration system (behind the big rock in the rear of above pic, at the end of the brick pathway) has managed to eliminate the trickle of water there. That leaves only the tsukubai water(pictured above), which is a small flow that drops barely 4 inches into the black stone bucket.

KB: Good luck, TDG. And may the drought bring new lessons and wisdom about water and the cooperating earth.


Christine said...

Hilarious!! I live in San Diego County, too (think I found you through some "garden blog by location" directory). Fortunately, I'm just a container gardener for now, so the water restrictions won't be too hard on my plants. But I very much enjoyed your post.

walk2write said...

I'm glad the yellow alert hasn't dried out your sense of humor. It's too bad your water management district doesn't spend wisely like the one here in NW FL. Here the district limits its number of water-well inspectors to three for the entire portion of the state west and south of Tallahassee. The money it saves on payroll and pensions (and of course direct oversight of that vanishing liquid asset) is bankrolled into buying up land to set aside. Now that property values have dropped like flies everywhere, I wonder why the San Diego Water Authority doesn't do the same?

Weeping Sore said...

San Diego County is home to dozens of tiny fifedoms/water districts. There is no comprehensive authority with the power to enforce water restrictions. The result? Gutless decisions by elected/appointed officials not to take the first step toward sensible rationing. Politics.