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Welcome Rain

July 5, 2021

front slope after rain 7-5-21Vacationers who came to Maine for the long July 4th holiday weekend were probably not happy to be greeted by three days of cool, rainy weather, but Maine farmers and gardeners were thrilled. A dearth of winter snow, followed by little rain in May and June and the warmest June on record in Maine meant that we arrived at the end of June with 100% of the state abnormally dry and 70% in drought conditions.

At the Sunday Farmers’ Market, no one was complaining about the need for jackets and rain gear. I asked several farmers how much rain they had gotten, and the general consensus was about 3” (and intermittent rain continued through the day on Sunday). This was not the kind of torrential rain that sometimes interrupts a drought, running off bone-dry soil and causing erosion; this was the kind of long, steady soaking that is absorbed by the soil and that nourishes plants. And, while 3-4” of rain over three days doesn’t erase our precipitation deficit, it does take the edge off.

lavender walk 7-5-21When I walked out into my sunny garden this morning, many plants were lying prostrate under the weight of their rain-soaked foliage. But by late morning, they were picking themselves up and looking perkier than they have in weeks. Some plants, like the lavender lining the lavender walk, were  happy to bloom in hot, dry weather. Others, however, had been biding their time waiting for some moisture.

Barth large gold 2021 Harriet's Red 2021

Daylilies (Hemerocallis), especially, responded to rain with blooms. While the first daylily flowers opened earlier this year (June 23rd) than ever before, only five varieties had begun to bloom before the rain arrived. Today that number had risen to fifteen varieties. As daylily season gets underway, the soft pinks, blues and violets of the garden in May and June, are giving way to the strong oranges, reds, and yellows of summer.

front slope oranges 7-5-21

16 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2021 9:55 pm

    As upset as I am about drought conditions here in California, Jean, I think it alarms me even more to hear that you’ve been facing drought conditions in Maine. I had something of the same reaction to the horrible heatwave that afflicted the PNW last week. I’m glad you got a good soak at last. Your lavender walk has realized its potential by the look of it.

    • July 9, 2021 2:54 pm

      Kris, Drought is, of course, a relative concept. Our normal annual precipitation is about three times what yours is, which means that, even with an 8″ deficit for the first half of the year, we have still gotten an amount of precipitation that would make for a rainy year in Los Angeles. I was once in Ketchikan, Alaska when water conservation measures were in place because Ketchikan’s precipitation in the first half in the year, while much more than Maine typically gets for the whole year, was still far below normal for Ketchikan.
      Happily, the remnants of tropical storm Elsa have gotten here today, which is giving us another several inches of rain.

  2. July 6, 2021 4:43 am

    Hello Jean, it looks like for every dry day you’ve had, we’ve had a wet one, I’m glad you and the garden have had some relief. It’s amazing how the garden responds after some prolonged rain, followed by hot, sunny weather, the plant growth is crazy.

    • July 9, 2021 2:56 pm

      Sunil, I’ve noticed this pattern in the winter, too. When we are having a dry winter, you are having a wet one. When the arctic cold slides down over our part of the globe, you get warm weather (and vice versa).
      This summer, we had the hot sunny weather first, and then the rain, but the plants are definitely responding.

  3. July 6, 2021 8:52 am

    I know people who were visiting and realizing how dry it had been, they were trying not to complain about the interference with tourist activities. So glad for you that you’ve had rain! Looking for it here in the upper plains states this week.

    • July 9, 2021 2:59 pm

      Darlene, I hope you’ve gotten some rain. We are welcoming the remnants of tropical storm Elsa today, which is giving us another good soaking.

  4. July 6, 2021 2:04 pm

    Hi Jean. The weather has certainly been crazy this year. It was actually hotter in Seattle than South Florida — if that doesn’t say upside down, I don’t know what does. I hope this isn’t another new normal for us. I’m relieved to here that some rain has helped your garden — and it’s wonderful to hear the relief among locals there. This is rainy season in South Florida. Normally, that means an afternoon thunderstorm. Instead, we seem to be getting long stretches of gray and rain and then long stretches off heat and humidity. Stay cool!

    • July 9, 2021 3:02 pm

      Hi Kevin, Dry has been more of a problem here than heat. Although we have had temperatures up in the nineties for two or three days at a time, we haven’t experienced anything like the temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. What has changed here is that we can no longer count on the overnight lows getting back down into the sixties during a heat wave, which means starting each day with the house hotter than it was the day before.

  5. July 7, 2021 5:09 pm

    Such a relief to get soaking rain when you need it. We made the most of today, as we have ‘normal’ winter rain for the next few days.

    • July 9, 2021 3:03 pm

      Diana, It was a relief, and we’ve been having more normal weather patterns since that first rain. I’m sure you are all relieved to be getting some normal winter rains.

  6. July 7, 2021 10:08 pm

    Rain in July seems so strange. Of course, I know only chaparral climates. We got lightning without rain last August, and it started the CZU Fire!

    • July 9, 2021 3:06 pm

      Tony, You and I garden is such totally different climates! Although some months tend to be wetter here than others, we don’t have a wet season and a dry season. Precipitation is normally distributed throughout the year, just falling in frozen form during the cold seasons and liquid form during the warm seasons.

      • July 10, 2021 6:47 pm

        ? That’s is odd. I know that your region gets more precipitation, and that it continues though the summer, but I would have expected there to be more through winter than in summer. Climate can be so weird. I had always thought that ALL of New Mexico was either desert or chaparral like ours, and much of it really is. However, the chaparral climates can be dry through parts of winter, with monsoonal rain about now! That would be COOL! (and wet).

        • July 10, 2021 10:41 pm

          Maine winters are very cold, and cold air can’t hold much moisture, making winter air dry. Our winter precipitation falls mostly in the form of snow, and at our winter temperatures, an inch of liquid precipitation turns into 10″-12″ of snow. Snowstorms typically alternate with bright, sunny days.

        • July 10, 2021 10:50 pm

          Snow look interesting in pictures, . . . but I think pictures are just fine.

  7. Pat Leuchtman permalink
    July 14, 2021 10:46 am

    Jean – We are in the middle of Lots of Rain. I find it amazing that the daylilies perk up as soon as there are a few hours of sun. That isn’t true of all my plants We have planted many plants that are waterloving and the garden does pretty well wet – or dry.

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