We said it couldn’t get worse, but in the year 2012 it did
By Jimmy Williams
Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 8:00 pm
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast. …”
— Alexander Pope
No it doesn’t. The year 2013 is going to be worse. There will be yet another drought and your beloved plants will go the funeral pyre by the cart-loads.
Optimism hasn’t worked much of late in these year-end columns, so I will go the other way. Five of the last six years have seen droughts of great and greater proportions, all serious.
You (we) have already burned on the hearth dead trees resulting from them, and the numbers of lost shrubs are almost uncountable.
Even in 2011 we couldn’t escape drought damage. We had almost double the amount of precipitation that year — 80 inches — yet July and August went without and plants keeled over left and right.
I have seen it go along like that for a while then all of a sudden get worse. It got worse. We had less rain than normal in 2012, it was hotter, and the drought set in earlier.
Farmers and we gardeners were elated when March and April — normally wet months — were dry enough to till soil and plant corn. The spring nationwide corn crop estimates were the highest ever and futures prices went down.
Then guess what? The dryness that allowed planting continued. Early corn, generally the best of the season, went down to drought and heat and later corn fared a bit better, when piddling showers assuaged it. Futures shot up and any rare farmer that realized any kind of corn crop did well with it.
The big difference in 2012 and 2011 is that the burn started much earlier, with record heat in June, and right on through the rest of the summer and, in fact, into fall and early winter. Not many plants can take 107 degrees that we experienced in early summer for long, even with irrigation. I believe the horrible heat had as much to do with losses this year as the lack of moisture did.
Even earlier in December, there were several days when the nightly low temperature was higher than the normal high for the date. Blame Goreable warming.
For the first time in at least a year, I have no woody plants at my back door awaiting planting. They have all been put into the ground in the last month or two. Some had sat around since spring, waiting for moisture to keep them going. None came, and the plants-in-waiting were easier to keep alive in their nursery pots than in the ground.
Even so, my records show that, on the year, I have set out 106 shrubs and trees and in excess of 1,000 bulbs, not to speak of herbaceous perennials and hundreds of annuals. If I really am a pessimist, why in the world would I engage in such foolishness?
From Poor Willie’s Almanack
You are, say, 75. You are beginning to forget things. It’s just going to get worse.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is the garden writer for The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Mondays at (731) 642-1162.
Published in The Messenger 1.1.13