After natural disasters such as the recent tornadoes that raced through the South, storm-damaged garden plants often recover much better than expected, says a gardener who's braved floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
After the disquieting experiences of life’s disasters (natural and otherwise), I seek the garden, where recovery usually comes blessedly faster than anywhere else.Skip to next paragraph
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It’s not that I attract catastrophic weather or can even predict it. The fact that my one lifetime has witnessed every sort of natural calamity does not send people fleeing into the streets when I approach. Yet one of my most vivid memories of elementary school is filling sandbags against the rising Ouachita River in Louisiana.
From hurricanes to tornadoes
The first hurricane I remember is Audrey -- I always "knew" she was named for my mother.
I’ve driven through a Texas sandstorm and dug out my car buried by a blizzard Humboldt County, Calif. Earthquakes have rearranged my furniture more than once, and an engine fire consumed years of handmade blankets and quilts in a heartbeat when I used them to put it out before it could reach the house.
Last month’s killer tornadoes touched down too near my house and destroyed the venerable Malaco Record Studio just down the road. When the air turned green that day, I was sure there’d be more losses than the huge red oak in the front yard toppled by a twister a few years ago.
It was a few days before my neighbor’s neighbor’s three-trunked oak fell, taking with it all the wires and the services they provided on the block.
Out of power and thus unable to work that day, the bunch of us with home-based businesses gathered to watch and offer encouragement to the platoon of utility, cable, natural gas, and police professionals who worked all day to restore us to the 21st century.
Plants recover quickly from natural disasters
It always amazes me how quickly things get back to normal in the garden after such events tear them up. The plants usually recover, fortunately unaware of the garden "rules" that are supposed to apply to them.
I’ve replanted hostas at the wrong time when they were suddenly shade-deprived and noted that lawn grass does do so much better in full sun, once the water recedes.
Everyone knows about the ‘Peggy Martin’ rose that bloomed undaunted despite Katrina’s weeks-long flood south of New Orleans. (If you don’t know, visit this Texas A&M website). She’s blooming now in my front garden, basking in sunlight created by the red oak’s loss.