Thursday, June 9, 2011

what happens when the temperature hits 103F in minnesota

The Morden Blush roses seemed to thrive on the heat
I don't have to tell anyone that this has been a weird spring and summer in Minnesota.  For the whole country for that matter.  Almost-record setting snow, then a record-setting flood season, then a horrible record-setting tornado season (which has only begun) and now record heat, at least here in the Twin Cities.  The previous record for the day in the Twin Cities was 95.  But it was 103F on Tuesday- unbearably hot for a place that isn't really prepared for that sort of heat.

Maybe Phoenix is prepared for a day like that.  Every building and vehicle is air-conditioned and the plant life is adapted to hot, dry desert conditions.  Not so St. Paul.  As I was leaving the office Tuesday evening I looked out my south-facing window at another high-rise building covered in a sort of faux-stone sheathing and saw one of the panels- fastened on with glue or construction adhesive apparently- swinging like a door, about to come loose, 15 stories above the roof below.  Other panels were flapping in the 30 mph wind like pieces of tissue paper on a loosely wrapped present and the effect was strangely surreal.  It's a building that I've been looking out on for 5 years now, always assuming that the 'stone' that clad the surface of the building was as solid as it's appearance suggested- only to see that illusion smashed by the reality of what very hot weather and high winds can do to modern, synthetic building materials.

I imagine that the globe's changing weather, and the decrease in the availability of energy in coming years will cause more scenes like this one- where once considered safe and solid structures- are rendered useless,or worse, dangerous.  I wonder for how long will the high-rise I work in remain habitable.

Back on the ground, at my little eighth acre farm, there were other casualtiies

the astible seem completely dead

peonies got dry and flopped over

the ligularia look surprisingly good now, given that they looked completely dead during the heat wave

give siberian irises shade and enough moisture and they always seem to look good
When I walked in the back gate (and checked the thermometer on the garage wall- yes it was over 100) the first thing I saw was the ligularia.  Flat to the ground, lifeless and dead.  (so I thought- see the above picture)  It's fine again today- you'd never know it looked so bad a few days ago.  The cool moist weather has done wonders for it.

Not so for the astilbe I planted last year.  It's crispy and I'm not sure if any of it is coming back.  I paid decent money for the astilbe and some coral bells last year at a fancy nursery that shall not be named, but that rhymes with "Hertins".   The coral bells all died last year and the astilbe are gone now.  This is the same nursery that sold me a mislabled magnolia and wouldn't take it back until the blooms opened and I could prove that it wasn't the right one.   Meanwhile my free throw-away plants and scavenged wildflowers are doing just fine.

The siberian iris that I got free somewhere- I can't remember where- are doing great in the raingarden.  They have almost complete shade, but with plenteous rainwater, don't seem to care.  The whole raingarden, minus the ligularia, continued to thrive during the two days of unbearable heat.

she said, 'daddy take my picture while i pull leaves off the hostas'

My daughter does not do well in hot, humid weather.  This latest spell was dry, but previous days had been humid, and she breaks out with a rash, and scratches until she bleeds sometimes.  I installed the window A/C units we use in our bedrooms and that seemed to help a bit, but the rest of our house is not air-conditioned, and it made for some difficult days.  I love the warm weather for what it does for our vegetable garden, but I love this little girl far more than I love my tomatoes and okra, and wish Mother Nature would cut her a break.

Mother Nature is cooperating today and for that I'm grateful.  Even so, I took both kids to a meeting tonight of a group I am organizing to start a new community garden in our neighborhood.  She must have been allergic to something in the room, or it may have been a bit too humid and stuffy in there, because she scratched and scratched until she cried and we had to go home before the end of the meeting.

My poor lil' punkin.  Is this how it always will be?

We have been foraging more for food lately.  We've had some spinach and mustard greens from the garden this week, and the forage has included lamb's quarters which come up all over the place this time of year whether you want them or not.  Lamb's quarters is delicious fresh or cooked, and if you know how to identify them, you really should try them some time soon.

Gita is a big fan of the weed (which is what most people consider chenopidium album) and has collected it from stranger's gardens in the boulevard when we have been on bike rides in the past.  We can get plenty of it from our own gardens, but I like to pull it before it goes to seed.  No sense in letting it crowd out the stuff we actually intended to have in the garden.

The fern fiddleheads are long gone- the ferns having leafed out completely.  I'm sad to say we had only one good meal of fiddleheads this year- but I will be waiting and watching next year to grab some tender ones early in the season.

I haven't seen any morels this year, either in our lawn, or in the other spots I keep my eye on.  I wonder if we'll see them again in the yard, and if there's something I did that made them go away.  More likely they consumed the dead tree roots they were living off of, and have moved on.

I had a request from a neighbor to jointly make a batch of dandelion wine this spring.  I considered it, but really don't have the time right now.  This is one of the busiest times in my life that I can remember, and don't want to add another obligation.  It would be fun, and I really like dandelion wine- it can be delicious if you make it right!  But that will have to wait until next spring.  I hope that all the dust settles down to earth by then.  And that Mother Nature works stops being mad at us for a while and gives us a pleasantly warm, suitably rainy, but not too wet spring.  Am I asking for too much?

1 comment:

  1. Your garden looks very beautiful, i really like it. Hope you will be able to finish remaining work.