Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wet Meadows in a Drouth Year

As awareness grows on the impact of this summer's widespread drouth across the central US, it's interesting to look at the wet meadows in Ann Arbor's Buhr Park. Wet meadows, like many artificial "rain gardens," feature native plants that can thrive when occasionally inundated, and that grow and bloom even if they have "wet feet" for days or weeks at a time.

So how have they handled this year's drouth?

Exhibit A, in very sandy soil (upper basin on west side, almost behind the locker rooms, says "Drouth, what drouth?". It's growing bigger, to catch more sun.

Well, you say, cacti are a special case. So let's hear from someone else.

Exhibit B says,"I'm happy and healthy, thanks." This shrub (Ptelea trifoliata or wafer-ash)is also in that sandy upper basin. For plants that thrive on sand dunes, every year is a dry year.

Take a look for yourself. I think you'll agree that many, perhaps most of the plants are doing just fine, with no supplemental watering. A community of diverse species, well-established and appropriate to the site and soils, is remarkably resilient.

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