Of course, I was thrilled to be back in the garden after a 5 week absence. The Stipa gigantea (giant feather grass) was beautiful as a focal point. The Ceanothus (wild lilac) was much greener than the year before, and the Eriogonum and Agapanthus were blooming happily.
Mr. Mouse had diligently watered the plants in the containers according to the schedule I had prepared, and the ferns and other plants were looking lush.
But I was just a little worried when I saw the Gardenia. Why did it have so many yellow leaves?
So, the day after my return, I walked up to the irrigation controller to up the time a little bit (imagine ominous music in the background as I walk toward the controller).
I was dismayed to find that a blank screen stared back at me. I checked the GFI, and could not bring it back to life. Finally, Mr. Mouse and I found that the fuse had been flipped or blown by the contractors who are currently doing our deep energy remodel (see Mr. Mouse's blog, Net Zero Life, for a blow by blow account of the decision making, the progress, and what we learn).
After we'd flipped the fuse, the controller came back online. I reset the date -- the controller told me the fuse had blown July 29, so the garden had not been watered for over 3 weeks. I then ran each station for an hour while taking a closer look around the garden to assess the damage.
This Western Sword Fern is clearly on the brink.
And the redwood habitat is a little crispy around the edges.
But a little further into the shade, the redwood sorrel, ferns, and wild ginger actually look just fine.
And even the Rhododendron, in part shade, survived the surprising drought quite well.
In the sunnier parts of the garden, the California native Coyote brush looks great with a Sedum, and some California Fuchsia, though the Japanese maple on the left is crispy around the edges.
And this Festuca Californica is actually suprisingly green in part shade.
Meanwhile, the Epilobium (California Fuchsia) is a constant source of fighting amongst the hummingbirds, and a nice shot of color in the late summer garden.
So, what did I learn from this? Maybe two things: First, it does appear that watering less frequently and more deeply works. I tend to be very nervous about watering only once a week, yet the plants did just fine. I'm planning to reprogram the controller to water less frequently (though the same amount).
And second: If you go away from the garden for a stretch, ask your garden sitter to check the controller is on (and hope for a cool summer if catastrophe strikes).