This Parade Needs Some Rain

Now, this is something you don’t see every day in a chaparral climate.

The lack or rain has really gotten serious! This winter so far has been the driest ever recorded. The past two winters had already been unusually dry. Even when the rain starts, it will be considerably behind schedule. Some seriously torrential rain will be needed to catch up.

As much as we like to think of gardening as something that brings us closer to nature, it demands unnatural volumes of water. Only established native plants or plants that are native to similar climates can survive with the limited moisture that they get from rain. This is why gardens get watered as much as they do.

Lawns of course require the most water because their shallow root systems require such frequent watering, and also because their vast foliar surface area loses so much moisture to evapotranspiration (evaporation from foliar surfaces). Lawns are the first and most prominent of landscape features to succumb to water restriction. Flowering annuals are the next to succumb, because they too want regular watering, especially while they are not getting any from rain.

Fortunately, lawns, annuals and other plants that want an abundance of moisture need less now because they are dormant or considerably less active through winter. Besides, evapotranspiration is inhibited by cooler temperatures, shorter day length, and most of the time, by higher humidity. It is nothing like the warm and arid (minimal humidity) weather during longer days of summer.

Many large and established shrubs and trees can survive quite easily with very minimal watering or even none at all. Established oleander, bottlebrush and juniper may not be as vibrant without watering, but should survive. If they notice a lack of water at all, it would not be until they start to grow again in spring. Mature trees take even longer to notice a problem.

Deciduous plants that are now bare really do not consume much moisture at all and really only need enough moisture in the ground to keep their roots from desiccating. This will only be a problem if the soil is very sandy and drains too efficiently to retain adequate moisture, or if freshly installed plants have not had enough time to adequately disperse their roots into the surrounding soil.

Automated irrigation systems should still be operated only minimally or not at all through winter. However, because of the unusually dry weather, they may need to be used a bit more than usual for this time of year to keep some things from getting too dry.

The Molting Of The Chrysler

P80108+The old Chrysler looks different this time of year. Like dogs, cats, horses and deciduous plants, it adapted to the weather.

That tan canvas structure above the cab is known as a ‘roof’. It was there all along, but folded up behind the back seat. It was merely unfolded over the top of the cab. The ‘roof’ comes in handy this time of year, not only for keeping warmth within the cab, but also for keeping things out of the cab. Allow me to elaborate.

You may nave noticed that the Chrysler is wet. This is a direct result of mysterious droplets of moisture that fall from the sky. We discussed them earlier. They are known ‘rain’, and are falling from the sky presently. The ‘roof’ keeps the ‘rain’ out of the cab. Otherwise, the cab and everything in it would be as wet as the ‘roof’ is now.

The yellow, orange and reddish brown things strewn about are sweetgum leaves. You may not recognize them now because they are not green. They change color when the weather gets cool this time of year, and then get dislodged by meteorological events such as wind and the presently observed ‘rain’. The ‘roof’ excludes them from within the cab of the car.

The two devices at the bottom of the windshield are another adaptation to ‘rain’ known simply as ‘windshield wipers’. When in operation, they pivot from where they are affixed just below the windshield to literally wipe the the wet ‘rain’ away. They are a rather ingenious invention, since ‘rain’ on the windshield tends to inhibit visibility.

Just as a thick coat on a dog or horse can predict an unusually cool winter, the molting of the Chrysler is directly related to the weather. Although it can not predict ‘rain’ as early as dogs and horses can predict cold weather, it quite reliably happens immediately prior to ‘rain’. It is a good sign for the garden.

The ‘rain’ that falls immediately after the molting is composed of water, which is very important and useful to gardens and forests after such a long dry summer. As we discussed earlier, some of the water gets into the aquifer where it is stored for later use in and around our homes. We are very fortunate to have a Chrysler who is so proficient at predicting the delivery of the water that we need so much of.