Quercus rubra in a drought

oakverticalGardening is a cruel sport. I’m making these oak trees suffer in this climate.

I’ve been forced to haul the hose up here above the courtyard each week and give these poor trees a deep, deep watering.

Which for this garden and farm means tender loving care.

Even the gaura and eragrostis grasses are getting crisp and cranky. Or maybe that’s just the gardener being anthropomorphic. One can tire of having to haul the heavy hose across the courtyard up the broken stone steps, taking care not to smash the pots on the way.

And I feel so distressed that these plants are suffering.

But it is quite interesting to see just how the plant copes with drought. The leaves don’t all turn brown, crispy and dead in a uniform pattern. hornbeamheatstress

Well the tops of this particular oak is dying from the top. But I can’t understand why so many of the outer leaves stay green, but the ones closer to the trunk of the small trees are dying back.  Curse being a self taught botanist. My levels of ignorance never cease to amaze.

I could spend a happy few hours going online and educating myself. And reporting back. But all I want to do is get the hose packed away (it rolls better when it’s blazing hot but makes for an uncomfortable moment when it runs through your hands) and write a reminder to water some of the hornbeams next time too.

twohornbeamsAnd this is also a mystery. Why does one hornbeam tree – carpinus betulus – thrive in this drought and the one right beside it suffer?

Well, I can guess that the tree on the left is closer to the very large granite rock, so has less soil. And there is a band of clay that runs right through this bank under the walnut, so the hornbeam on the right might have better water retention qualities.

And I must confess they have not been watered since they were planted. Years back.  But my hornbeams are the work horse of the farm. I have hundreds of newly planted trees – and they get lavished with love for as long as it takes me to dig the holes, soak the root ball and then get them in the ground. hornbeam detail

I do plant in autumn to make the most of the old winter wet, summer dry mantra. The roots get away over the winter months and early spring without the need to lavish much care.

Last year was brilliant for this garden and the trees thrived with all the rain.  But summer dry this year means summer drought.

I’ll water and keep a closer eye on them. And keep them out of the gaze of the camera so you don’t take a sharp hissing intake of breath every time you log on and wonder what fresh hell is this.

walnutbank hornbeams