The South Border: Courting Disaster

As I have hinted earlier, there have been serious water issues for the garden lately.  There is not actually a lack of water in the well, just a bad pump that is making for very low pressure.


It all came up quite suddenly, so I have had no time to prepare my plans or the plants.  And it is open-ended, subject to agreement among three households as to what is to be done and what well company called in to do it.  And, as I have since learned, two of the three were already not on speaking terms... (which is sad as all have been very nice when I've interacted with them!)


And it all began when temperatures were well over 110 F/43 C daily.  With no rain in sight.


Results in the garden are not good, but, I think, under control at this point.  Above is the South Border on Tuesday. Grasses are marvelous, aren't they?  Pennisetum setaceum rubrum is looking a bit dry but not too bad.

Perovskia atriplicifolia has flowers drying on the stems...

...but the foliage is still looking fairly fresh, so I think it will pull through.

I should explain that I am still able to water a little bit, just not to give the deep soakings that everything needs in this kind of weather.  So emergency water is going to plants that seem to need it most, but I know none of it is going deep enough.


I've been quite concerned I might lose my still-small Lagerstroemia indica "Rhapsody in Pink".  It has never been as strong a grower as the all-conquering "Dynamite", and it looked a bit bleak for a while.  But it is going on gamely at the moment, even opening a flower or two again.  It should, however, be a froth of pink right now, and I am concerned about signs of salt damage on the foliage.

The miniature roses (no good photos) have some foliage blackened by heat- and salt-damage.  The former is self-explanatory; the latter occurs when salts cannot be washed away, which, as there is so little rain, must be done with deep watering.


But Salvia leucantha "Santa Barbara" - little maverick that it has always been for me - is looking healthy and more vigorous than ever before.  Now if only it will bloom...!

You can see why I adore Eremophilas.  E. hygrophana is looking a little dry but going calmly on blooming.

E. maculata "Valentine" is a very rugged shrub, going greenly on into the heat while, sadly, my white gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri "Belleza White") to the left has given up the ghost.  I mean to replace the gaura, though, as the pink version is proving just as hardy as ever.  I do apologize for the poor quality of some of these photos!

At the top of the border, where there is over a half-day's shade, most plants are doing better.  No pictures, but Leucophyllum frutescens is sailing through in a green and growing state.  The Leucophyllums are marvelous shrubs here: L. pruinosum "Sierra Bouquet", a more rustic-looking plant, is thriving in nearly full sun in the White and Silver Garden, a tribute to the sturdiness of plants from the Chihuahuan Desert.  I must get some pictures of it!


Meantime, even Kalanchoe "Pink Butterflies" is managing to hold out, though with some yellowing that leaves me dubious as to its long-term survival.

So there it is...


The goal is to avoid burning out the pump altogether, leaving everyone completely dry.  I want to keep as many plants alive and as healthy as possible, while respecting the needs of neighbors and animals - there must be at least five horses for whom the well is their only supply of water.  I don't want to have to tank in more for my Johnny, and I'm sure our neighbor feels the same for her horses.  So it's a balancing act which is certainly leading to some thoughts of rainwater catchment and so on.  But in the meantime, there are plants to nurse through the hottest, driest part of a desert summer.


Not my usual Tuesday View post, but this is certainly what is happening in the South Border this week!  Leaving a link and a very late hello to Cathy at Words and Herbs!  

Eremophila maculata "Valentine"
Eremophila maculata "Valentine"

Write a comment

Comments: 6
  • #1

    Cathy (Thursday, 29 June 2017 14:00)

    Hi Amy. Your water problems sound very severe, and I do hope you find a solution soon. In the meantime I hope you can enjoy your garden still - it copes remarkably well and you have chosen some lovely plants. The Kalanchoe is very pretty!

  • #2

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Thursday, 29 June 2017 19:32)

    Cathy - I think it will get sorted soon because all of us are having to make do on things like laundry... ;-) I do think this episode will be telling in terms of which plants are most resilient, and I begin to think some of the results will surprise me, though it really shows once again that shade is one of the most important factors! That Kalanchoe is a little charmer, isn't it?!

  • #3

    Kris P (Friday, 30 June 2017 13:44)

    Oh no! I hope a dialogue in underway and the pump problem is addressed soon. I've been surprised to learn just how many people, including members of my extended family, are dependent on well-water. That certainly complicates water issues!

  • #4

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 30 June 2017 17:00)

    Kris - This area grew out past available infrastructure. I have no idea where city water ends; landlines are never going to make it out here, and the electric grid stops about a mile past us. As we are tapped into a major aquifer, the well is not really a problem in itself, and I'm actually more comfortable drinking well water than re-re-re-processed city water. The biggest complication in this case is getting agreement among neighbors, which is sad in itself. In rural areas one is so much more dependent on help and cooperation among neighbors, which makes it worse when that breaks down.

  • #5

    Diana Studer (Friday, 07 July 2017 17:35)

    Daunting to share a well with a neighbour 'you' don't talk to.

    Can you use grey water to tide the garden over?
    Shower and washing machine rinse, if salt is already a problem.

  • #6

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Sunday, 09 July 2017 23:46)

    Diana - So true... Happily, the pump has just been replaced and all is going well (no pun intended!). As to grey water, we had cut back so heavily that we did almost no laundries during that time. Showers were fewer as well :/ Long term changes would have to be made on a different basis!