Isn't this heat wave getting old? That's a pretty poor question for what is at stake for the region as we now are classified as SEVERE drought. EXTREME drought is the next category that Western Kansas and Southeastern Missouri are now experiencing. It's painful to watch the important agricultural crops wither all around. We are able to water most of the horticultural crops at Powell Gardens and our gardens are holding up well thanks to a hard working and committed horticulture staff. Kudos to them!
I am surprised by how one group of native trees is handling the situation. Oak trees are not withering but putting on NEW growth!
Powell Gardens Parking Lot Arboretum contains 96 oak trees comprising 16 of Missouri and Kansas's 21 species of native oaks and virtually all of them are not just enduring the heat and drought but putting on new growth. I noticed that the River Birches (Betula nigra) were shedding leaves to conserve water.
Does this mean anything? Was it caused by conditions earlier in the season or do they know something we do not? I would love to be an optimist and that they fortell a change in the weather pattern that would bring a monsoon flow and returning rains to the region. Time will tell. I can say that oaks are one tough tree once they are established so no wonder that they were the dominant tree in the region when the settlers first came here.
My friend Leah Berg said this reminds her of a talk by America's tree expert, Guy Sternberg on a recent talk for Gardener's Connect / Garden Center Association. Guy explained a need to plant more heat resistant trees as our climate warms. He recommended oaks for such and I sincerely concur.