Call of the Wet in a Dry World

Call of the Wet in a Dry World

This is the first in a series of posts on water. Or rather, the lack of it. Even here, in the "temperate rain forest" of Transylvania County, things have gotten dire. Today's post comes in the context of wildfires in surrounding forests--the Nantahala National Forest is being particularly hard hit. I recently traveled to California to take a look at things there--the drought in that part of the country has become almost legendary--only to return to a state that is in extreme drought, as classified by the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council

More than twenty wildfires are burning across WNC, and 25 counties are currently under a state of emergency: Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey.
— http://wlos.com/news/local/fema-money-will-help-fight-wnc-fires

This morning, our yard, parched as it is, was covered with birds. They were hitting the sunflower seeds, the peanuts, various trees and shrubs with berries...and the little water feature we installed earlier this year. 

Water feature added to the quarter-acre lot we occupy inside city limits. 

Water feature added to the quarter-acre lot we occupy inside city limits. 

Some neighborhood associations have rules requiring folks to use FireWise guidelines in the landscape plans for their homes. Many do not. Especially here--after all, we're in a temperate rain forest, right? The Land of Waterfalls, right? 

An American Robin explores the source of the sound of running water.

An American Robin explores the source of the sound of running water.

And yet, both the birdbath and the water feature are being explored and used by birds who didn't give it a glance this summer. The setting of this feature is recessed between grasses and catmint, but there is no "overhead" cover from raptors. The songbirds are right to be cautious. Up until today, I had only witnessed smaller songbirds, such as Song Sparrows and Titmice, edging down the branch and into the water. 

Also today, we took steps to try to ensure the success of plantings that got put in this year. At the beginning of what passed for "cooler weather," we made some changes to the round planting bed we have in the middle of our front yard to introduce more shrubbery (clethora alnifolia) and a couple more plants known for their attractiveness to pollinators: catmint and St. John's Wort. The hoses came out, along with the sprinkler, for a 30 minute "soak." At a temperature of only 39 degrees, we won't lose much to evaporation! We had also planted a crape myrtle, after losing a dogwood we planted two years ago, and this morning, the only word for the leaves of this small tree was "crispy." 

"Crispy" leaves, as opposed to colored leaves ready to fall, indicate the stress of this crape myrtle.

"Crispy" leaves, as opposed to colored leaves ready to fall, indicate the stress of this crape myrtle.

Current climate patterns have many of us in a state of drought. How do we prepare our landscapes to make our housing safe, while at the same time providing habitat for the other lifeforms that need space? The next post comes from Alexandra, who will address Building in a Fire Zone-- particularly pertinent to those who live in traditionally drier climates, but becoming more relevant to those of us who do not, as well. 

A note: the water feature pictures in this post were shot through screening of a porch. 

Building In a Fire Zone

Building In a Fire Zone

Did Someone Say "Poo?"

Did Someone Say "Poo?"