Unlike the gentle Ian I am not qualified to pass judgement on the economic consequences of the recent flooding. I am sure however that they will have been fairly severe. I am always thankful when my garden is brought up to what is known as ‘field capacity’ by our ‘normal’ rains. At that point any surplus just drains away without too much trouble. In times of severe flooding, ground quickly reaches saturation point, after which there is nowhere for the water to run. Sometimes rain goes on for so long that many plants and trees just stand there and drown. When plants are kept too dry they will often recover once you get water to them. When they suffer from prolonged submersion they will not (often) recover.

Sometimes people in Region 8 have less than four inches of rain in as many months, and are often crying out for it as their crops begin to suffer. Many of their ornamental plants will recover once it rains or once they manage to get water to them from the streams and creeks. In that sense they are far luckier than we are, except of course, for the poor farmers who want it for their cassava and other vital food crops.

My grass is now being cut once more. Patches die out and have had to be replanted. It is remarkable that more didn’t die out.

Although at the moment I don’t like to think too much about water shortage I am subconsciously thinking of getting prepared for the ‘dry.’ Weeds will always make their unwelcome appearance and will have to be eliminated to save water. Border plants are best mulched, and laying down several inches of compost over the borders and around the trees is excellent preparation. Mulches protect the roots of your plants from excessive drying out. If you have an area devoted to vegetables such as lettuce, which are only in the ground for a couple of months then applying compost is not so effective as digging plenty of compost into the ground. This will help to retain water and encourage deep rooting, even for the short time they are in the ground. In the long term the improvement of the ground by the addition of plenty of compost being dug in will also help with the drainage if the soil gets a bit too wet.

One of my prized possessions in the garden is a plant of the Mexican pony tail. In a catalogue

You’ll probably find it under the name of Nolina recurvata. I got it from one of my best friends in Guyana who runs Channel 28. You’ll not be at all surprised to learn that after many, many years its name had been changed to Beaucarnea recurvata, and I can now report that is now changed back again! It belongs to the Agave family and there the similarity ends. It grows as a single stem adorned with the most graceful head of leaves you’ll ever see. The base of the stem swells and is used for the storage of water. It looks like an elephant’s foot.  It is not an invasive plant, and mine after eight or nine years is not much more than three foot tall. It will be a very successful plant in a pot on the patio, or indeed for the interior of the house, as it needs little water.

My Antigua heath has inadvertently caused us a great deal of trouble over the past few years. It grows outside the main bedroom window and is a particular haunt of a pair of humming birds. Having taken their fill of nectar they have on a few occasions ventured into the house, have a good look around, been mightily bored with Test matches on the television and gone out again to top themselves up with more nectar. Andrea, the young Amerindian girl who lives with us is able to mimic their humming sound and very gently catches them and releases them. So dear readers have a happy time with your plants, and may your God go with you and keep your safe.

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