DEATH BY DROUGHT

One of the most amazing aspects of indigenous vegetation, be it grass, flowers or trees, is the way even the most hopeless looking environments can bounce back after a little rain. Last summer most of the indigenous trees looked like desiccated spectrals of their former selves. I thought we had lost them … until the first rain of only a few millimetres arrived. Our garden trees – all indigenous – now show an amazing variety of hues of green. Their foliage is thick, buds are swelling and we can look forward to a variety of blossoms. Exotic trees do not have the same tenacity. This Brazilian Pepper tree has shrivelled over the past year, lost its leaves, and has finally given up.

It is one of the trees planted along the street in front of our home. In its heyday it would have looked like this:

All of these trees are stunted thanks to the hard clay soil that is unkind to their roots – and they were never watered, even when planted as tender saplings. It has taken over thirty years for them to reach the height they are, which is relatively short when compared with others planted in more favourable positions in town. While they are not my favourite trees, I have always had an empathy for the way they have had to struggle to survive. It is thus sad to see this one finally succumb to a drought that has lasted too long. It is gradually falling apart:

22 thoughts on “DEATH BY DROUGHT

    • When the municipality had the tall Eucalypts removed, to their credit they replaced them by planting a number of indigenous trees instead. Sadly, the Urban Herd of cattle have chomped them all!

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  1. A cautionary tale about planting non-native species. BP trees are invasive in Florida, where they thrive in the tropical warmth. Officials are trying desperately to eliminate them at great cost.

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    • These, and other exotic trees, were once favoured as ‘street’ trees – probably because they were fast-growing and provided attractive flowers and / or berries. Fortunately, indigenous trees are in favour now, so newer suburbs are graced with them, which should be better for the environment over all.

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  2. Yes, a sad story. After reading your description, I was struck by how challenging it can be for an area to support life. Maine has its own challenges—primarily extreme cold in the winter and a short growing season. But mostly we have enough rain. Until last summer, when we actually had a drought. Unusual for us, but then this has been an unusual year.

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    • There is no question that this has been an unusual year. Apart from the pandemic, the weather has been topsy-turvy everywhere. Normally I wouldn’t expect to don a jacket on a December evening – I would more likely to be cooling off in our swimming pool! It is all very strange indeed.

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    • Having moved around the country fairly often in my youth, it is glorious to do just that. We admire the tall forest of trees that have grown in our garden and still remember planting them as saplings …

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    • I think the swing away from fast-growing exotic trees is well in motion. Even though they tend to be slow growing, they probably require less long-term maintenance too.

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