When we made a trip to Texas A&M a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't help noticing that many trees along our route seemed to be dead or dying. Since then, I've been paying attention whenever I'm out and about and trying to notice if the trees of our area are losing their battle with the drought. After a trip into Houston today, I've reached the firm conclusion that many of them are.
All along the way, I kept seeing trees that had turned brown and appeared dead or were turning brown and seemed to be dying. My observation was that the pines seemed to be the most affected species but other trees were suffering as well.
I've even noticed here, near my home, close to Spring Creek, several trees have already turned brown. One would think that trees near the creek would be able to access water and weather the drought, but evidently one would be wrong in that assumption. Of course, the marshy, swampy, backwater areas that border the creek are completely dry now and the creek itself is a mere shadow of its former self. It's getting quite desperate out there.
In my own yard, I have many large trees and there is no way I can give them the water that they need. No doubt they take some of the water that I occasionally give to the beds near them, but that is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to what a big tree needs to live. I can only hope that their roots are deep enough to find the water that they need, and, indeed, so far they all seem to be holding their own. Not my apple tree though.
Yesterday, my old apple tree that we planted more than twenty years ago split right down the middle and half of it fell to the ground. I knew that the tree was diseased and I thought that I would probably have to have it taken down next winter, but I was hoping it would make it through this season. It was absolutely loaded with apples as it never had been before. In fact, the weight of the fruit may have been the final straw that contributed to its splitting. I am sure that the lack of water also hastened its demise, even though, as my husband said when he saw it, we knew it was just a matter of time.
All the trees are under stress as they struggle to find water and to diminish the lose of water through their leaves, and it is stressful for the gardener, too, knowing that there just isn't much one can do to help the big guys.
We can help the smaller trees though, and I have several of those, too - fruit trees and shrubs that I added last winter and early spring. I'm working hard to keep them watered and hoping that I will be able to pull them through. Some have a few brown limbs but so far most seem to be coping.
This drought continues to try our nerves and our skills as gardeners as it tries the survival tactics of our trees. Most of my trees are oaks or magnolias - tough guys of the southern landscape. As the drought grinds on, we'll see just how tough they really are.