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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Gardener's Diary Archive: Dreams of Streams, June 19, 2015

Well, we had a fifteen-minute thunderstorm this afternoon; it came on at 4.50 and ended at 5.05. The sun came right back out, and the wonderful cool breeze evaporated just like all that rainfall is now- into steam. Time to turn the fans back on.

Mid-storm, we got a surprising microburst of wind. With windows open for the draft, we got a sudden maelstrom of water blowing into the house and one window had its screen stripped out of the frame. A big pot of peppers on the deck leapt off and did a header on to the driveway; I'm hopeful most will make it, as it was the lot doing best so far.

We had another little storm like this last night after after midnight, though without the special effects. They are nice but not very long-lasting, and much of the water just runs off. This afternoon's burst reminded me I need to get moving faster on my dry stream bed. 

My yard tilts downward, north to south. Along the south side, running into the undeveloped, wooded lot next door, is a swale. It meanders a bit into the woods, and is an attractive, if undeveloped, feature. I realized it is, in fact, a dry stream bed about a month ago, when we had a real frog-strangling rainfall and suddenly I found most of the backyard under several inches of water- all headed that way. 

I decided to make something of what is there in potential, and, maybe, in the process, reduce erosion of the limited topsoil that has built up since the contractor scraped the land bare in 1985.

When you live a mile from a quarry that has been producing aggregate for over a hundred years, you don't lack for rocks, and when you have red clay soil getting backed daily at 100 degrees, you get lots of them heaved up to the surface. I walk around every few days, gathering a boxful, and lengthen the course of my dry bed a bit. It'll be about 30 feet when done: I'm maybe ten feet into it. I want to move some mondo grass along the sides, and some nandinas; both thrive in these conditions. Maybe it will amount to something. If nothing else we will have fewer rocks in the yard.

I transplanted eighteen nandinas week before last: a neighbor has a clump that is out of hand. Those went in at intervals in the front yard, along the wooded lot, where the ground drops off more sharply and heavy rains sheet over the driveway and down into the leaves. Grass won't grow there; it's too shady. But some test nandinas have done well, and mondo grass does well, and I hope to transform the red dirt from a rivulet-carded waste to something reasonably green, especially for winter, when all the leaves are gone and dullness prevails in view.

The general idea.

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