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  • Keep on the sunny side…

    of gardening’s weather challenges

    As the unofficial end of the gardening season, November is also the month to reflect on the past year. Thanksgiving allows the opportunity for us to be thankful.

    So, what’s there to be thankful for in terms of gardening?

    Well, we had the drought and heat. Summer’s conditions might not be something we need to give thanks for, but we can be thankful for the lessons it provided.

    We now know what plants will survive hot dry temperatures, and give up the second the thermostat climbs above 100 with no rain for two weeks. Tropicals, including ferns and dracaena, seem to thrive with the heat and humidity, and the occasional watering.

    So did many of the herbs. In fact, my basil only started flowering in September as opposed to July, though the plants kept on growing and ­­growing. The flavor was concentrated and perfect with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese or in a tomato-based sauce. Other herbs did just as well.

    We now know how to manage watering so plants survive, though maybe not thrive. We can always be thankful for these learning experiences.

    Some lawns died, but most came back with the September rain and many of us were thrilled. Some parts of lawns died for one reason or another such as slopes, soil types, exposure or the fact the garden hose didn’t reach that far.

    Looking further back, winter and spring were fantastic though it would have been nice to have a little more snow. Those with new snow blowers never got to use them. Spring went into May instead of stopping in April, but we can be thankful we didn’t have any severe ice storms.

    Still, anyone who had planted the multi-colored hydrangeas will not forget their beauty and abundance this past spring, and neither will the nurseries and garden centers who sold many of the plants to those that didn’t have one.

    The heat and drought did a number on many of the harmful insects, such as Japanese beetles, which showed up but died in a matter of weeks instead of months. However, some mos­quitoes proliferated.

    Many diseases also took a holiday. More death, such as on arborvitae, came from the weather.

    Sadly, insect and disease problems aren’t gone with the weather. They could be smaller next year or worse; it’s all weather-related.

    I guess we can say we are ­thankful that nothing is consistent, and that keeps us on our toes. Gardening changes year to year to year. And next year will also be different and ­challenging. And that makes it ­interesting.

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