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To a gardener, the sound of rain on the roof brings complicated feelings


I remember when I would enjoy laying in bed listening to a rollicking summer storm. The rain pounding on the roof above my head, the rumble of thunder, the waves crashing on the nearby shore were all sounds I enjoyed listening to until they lulled me to sleep.

Apparently my brain is now permanently in garden mode, because Sunday night these same sounds kept me awake, staring at the radar loop on my iPad screen, imagining everything that was happening outside. Certainly part of this was hearing the stories and seeing photos from friends’ gardens in the Madison area, which just last week was hit with a damaging and deadly deluge. 

flood aftermath
The creek that runs through the middle of our property jumped its banks, depositing a lot of debris in the garden and moving a very heavy bridge out of the way.

As I sat in bed here’s what went through my head: 

  1. Shoot, I forgot to put my tools and the wheelbarrow away.
  2. I hope I didn’t leave my good pruners outside.
  3. I can’t believe I skipped shoring up the stakes on the dahlias as I had planned to.
  4. I hope the creek doesn’t overflow into the garden (this happens about every other year and it’s a big mess).
  5. Oh man, now the nicotiana is really going to flop over
  6. I hope I remembered to close the valve on the rain barrel.
  7. We’re never going to dry out enough to get the grass mowed.
  8. I wish I had gotten around to mulching like I planned.
  9. I should turn off the water timer for the vegetable garden (set to go off at 5 a.m.).
  10. At least everything I planted over the weekend is well watered.

Most of what I was imagining while I was absolutely not sleeping was right on. A quick survey Monday morning revealed that the Nicotiana definitely did flop to an extent that may be unrecoverable. Some of the dahlia stems broke under the weight of sodden, blousy, blooms. And yes, that wheelbarrow was not just left out, but was now full of water along with a bag of manure (ew) and my tools were trapped underwater at the bottom. 

flooded wheelbarrow

rain in bucket
My deadheading bucket became a type of flower stew.
flooded hosta
A poor hosta near the creek was completely flattened and ripped apart.
sad petunias
The petunias in the containers are all a sad, droopy mess.

I don’t have a proper rain gauge (I must remedy that), but between the amount of water in a previously empty bucket and weather service reports, my guess is that we had 7 to 8 inches of rain that night (since then we had another 2 inches Monday night and storms are rolling through as I publish this Tuesday night). Amazingly the basement is only damp and the creek didn’t appear to have burst over its banks. The bad news is that more storms are forecast for the rest of the week. There’s not much to be done about it except to put my tools away, turn off the watering timers and try to get some sleep. 

11 Responses

  1. I have a great rain gauge which I am sure I wrote about where to order it from but you might have to search on the blog a bit to find it. I so totally agree about how the rain at night is now a scary thing keeping me awake. We got another 1.19 inches last night. So we’re up to at least 14 inches at our house for Aug. And I just added up what I’ve recorded since April when we put the rain gauge out and we are about 20 inches above normal at this point in the year at our house. The weather forecast for the next ten days is scary. I only hope we don’t have high winds or trees are going to come right out of the ground. Glad you guys are OK but this is getting really widespread. I talked to a friend a month ago who works at a nursery and we agreed that our bad weather event was on the way given what the rest of the country has been experiencing. We also agree it would likely be a rain event.

    1. I will look on your blog for your rain gauge. That’s exactly what I need. I agree wholeheartedly with the crazy weather. This whole summer has been strange. What I’m noticing is that the weather just doesn’t move like it used to. The jetstream is stuck, so when you get a weather event, it sticks around for a long time, rather than moving on in a matter of hours like it used to. Sadly I fear this is the new normal.

      1. My next door neighbor has a gauge that is linked to the internet. It measures the rain intensity and amount in real time and stores a history. I can log in to see exactly how much rain has fallen in my little corner of the world.

  2. Ugh, dealing with floods and storms like this is difficult. My yard and edible garden flood periodically–starting to be more frequent, sometimes on a once or twice a year basis. Last May was the last time, prior to that Harvey, then a big flood in 2016 and some others before that. It’s rough.

    Hope some of it recovers!

  3. Darn, you are in that soupy line of storms. This should get your new veggie garden all settled in good. I hope you don’t end up with some damage. Right now I would take some of that rain. We are still dry here.

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