The Return of Rainy Season

Gardening makes one pay attention to yearly cycles. Before I planted a yardful of flowers, rain was a random occurrence with pluses and minuses. It could be welcomed as a respite from the heat or dreaded as the bringer of humidity that makes it unbearable. It could be the reason for scrapping plans or the perfect excuse for curling up with a good book. Plant a garden, however, and rain takes on a whole other level of significance.

Atlanta typically has dry summers with spotty rain that arrives by way of pop-up showers. A few blocks can separate bone dryness from a deluge. For every past gardening season, it has rained regularly until the middle of May. Then the rain became sketchy, and the temps got significantly warmer. This year, after being unable to plant during April as has been my practice, May again was very dry. As a result, I despaired as May arrived, knowing that planting done later would likely be futile.

Canon PowerShot s95

In my first year as a gardener, I learned that planting in June ends poorly—make that in disaster—even if one waters frequently. Surprisingly, this past summer, my little patches of earth were blessed. Showers popped up in our favor, and the yard got far more rain than I ever dreamed possible in an Atlanta summer. Then at the end of summer, in mid-September, when rainy season usually starts, the pop-up showers stopped. But the customary, near-weekly waves of rain sweeping from the west and drawing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico did not appear. Those missing waves and daily warnings of drought had me worried.

When rain is scarce, flowers drop petals, and few new buds appear. I watched this happen in late September and much of October, assuming the drought had arrived and the season would end early. But then, come November, the wave appeared, and on cue, new flowers! Pop-up showers got the garden through summer, and the rainfall in November has been enough to ensure the flowers can adequately prepare for the coming frost. With that frost will come the fitting and appropriate end to the season. Then we can all rest and meet up again in spring.

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