Your garden deserves a drink during the dog days of August

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were traveling down U.S. 97 in Eastern Oregon on our way to Crater Lake. That area of Oregon is high desert, dry and desolate, unless you are lucky enough to have irrigation. For those land owners that are in an irrigation district, it is the difference between night and day. Farmers can grow onions, potatoes, alfalfa, seed crops and sugar beets, all because they can water the soil. Add a little fertilizer to the ground and you can grow some amazing crops.

Fast forward to our trip back home and another stark contrast came to my attention as I drove up Sunnyside Boulevard and into my driveway. Most of the boulevard is residential and many of the home owners let their yards go dormant in the summer. The lawns turn brown and the shrubs and trees can look stressed. It’s not a particularly uplifting sight. But when you get to my property suddenly you are transported into a luxurious paradise of foliage and flowers that is reminiscent of some tropical island. The only difference between my property and that of my neighbors is the amount of water I apply to my landscape (plus a little food, perhaps).

Water can work wonders in the garden and considering the benefits it brings us, it is truly a bargain. As you can imagine, being the fanatical gardener that I am, I use an inordinate amount of water in the summer to keep my garden looking good. Even with the high volume I consume, my bill is only around $75 a month. Now, I know people that spend that much a month at Starbucks for coffee that goes through their system in a matter of minutes with no long term benefits. My kids spend almost twice this much on their monthly cable bill and most of us spend at least $75 a month year-round on our cell phones. All of these expenditures bring us some degree of pleasure, otherwise we wouldn’t be spending the money on them, but for me the water bill is the best deal going.

Having a verdant, luxurious and productive garden has many benefits. Being surrounded by this beauty has a subconscious effect of calming us and reducing stress. This fact has been validated many times in studies where attractive landscapes in areas such as schools, parks and even prisons have been shown to reduce depreciative behavior (that’s a fancy way to say vandalism). The field of horticultural therapy has shown that working with plants can have a healing effect on our souls. Healthy and opulent landscapes can pump oxygen into the atmosphere and at the same time sequester carbon dioxide, all of which is a benefit to us.

As we move through the month of August, which is traditionally the hottest and driest month of our season, consider doing some watering. Your plants will appreciate it and whether you realize it or not, you might find yourself in a better frame of mind. And to think, all it took was a little water.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville; info@sunnysidenursery.net.

Talk to us

More in Life

Nathan Welton/ Dreamtime Images
Photographer David Welton’s work has appeared in the South Whidbey Record and The Daily Herald.
The camera is Whidbey Island man’s second calling

After retiring from a career in medicine, David Welton of Langley focuses on his first love: photography

When battling a summer cold, a quick trip to the drugstore and a painless test to rule out Covid helps provide peace of mind. (Jennifer Bardsley)
When you get a cold even though you’re still wearing a mask

She stocked up on over-the-counter medicine at Walgreens after getting a drive-thru COVID-19 test.

How to cope with pandemic letdown in face of delta variant

It’s not over until it’s over. The whole world is still dealing with a COVID-19. It is OK to be disappointed and sad.

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam sell marijuana.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Dutch Tolerance: Red lights and pot shops

Amsterdam is a laboratory of progressive living, bottled inside Europe’s finest 17th-century… Continue reading

What should she do about expired flight credit on Expedia?

When Heidi Edmonds tries to use her Expedia flight credit to book a flight from New York to Dublin, Ireland, she finds her luck has run out. The vouchers are expired. But whose fault is that?

Sugar beets with fresh leaves in the garden. The Red Veined Leaves of Beetroot (Beta vulgaris).
Love it or leave it: The gardener’s to-do list for August

If you do this month’s chores, you’ll no longer be referred to as a “yardener,” or a casual gardener.

The 13-inch-high antique wooden San Rafael figure with wings and holding a staff and a fish sold at a Cottone auction for $9,600. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Wooden figure of San Rafael the Archangel made circa 1763

Fra Andreas Garcia, an 18th-century Mexican Franciscan friar and folk artist, carved and painted the figurine.

"Blackadder" hummingbird mint features flower spikes of dark red-purple peppered with tiny mauve blooms. (Rick Peterson)
Great Plant Pick: Agastache ‘Blackadder,’ giant hyssop, hummingbird mint

The highlight of this clumping perennial are the flower spikes of dark red-purple peppered with tiny mauve blooms.

Everett indie rockers Moondoggies will perform for A Dick's Drive-In Summer Series at Wetmore Theatre Plaza on Aug. 6. (Jason Neuerburg)
Get ready to rock ‘n’ roll outdoors in Everett this August

The events Music at the Marina and Dicks Drive-In Summer Series have eight outdoor shows set through August between the two of them.

Most Read