by Leslie Cox; Saturday; November 27, 2021

Everything is soggy. The third atmospheric river in the last two weeks has reached the east side of Vancouver Island and there is a rainfall warning in effect for 50 – 70 mm (2 – 2.75 in) of rain for parts of this side of the island today.

Luckily for us, that rainfall warning ends to the south of us in the Fanny Bay area which means our rainfall amount will fall short of 50 mm. Good thing. As of yesterday, I have recorded a total of 419 mm (16.5 in) of rain so far this month. We “only” got 332 mm (13 in) of rain in the month of October, hence why everything in the garden is soggy.

Soggy plants are definitely not a good thing. In fact, it can spell death to many plants…the exception being those plants which are classified as “marginal”. (I will talk about these later.) When the crown of the plant…the part where the stems emerge and which should be planted at, or just slightly above, the level of the soil…is under water it starts to decay. In effect, the crown cannot breathe and therefore drowns, killing the plant. A slow, agonizing death for your plant, or plants. And sadly, because our plants are dormant this time of year, there are no visible signs of stress. Except one.

Take a walkabout your garden and pay attention to the ground around your plants. If you see pooling water around the stem area, take a trowel and carefully dig a trench roughly two inches (5 cm) away from the stem, or stems, and all the way around the plant. Then create a shallow run-off drainage ditch away from your plant.

Back garden with part of herb garden - May 2004If your plant is sitting in a slight hollow area of the garden bed, best you dig a drainage trench away from the plant in order to lessen the amount of water pooling around the stems.

The ultimate goal here is to create a “fix” which will lead the water away from the affected plant, leaving the crown above water.

Admittedly, these are only quick fixes and not designed as a permanent solution to increased rainfall amounts as we progress through a changing climate. To fix the puddling problem, you must mark the affected plants now with a piece of string or a plant stake marker and wait for spring.

When the weather warms up and you can safely work the soil, you will have to dig up the water-logged plants and replant them a little higher. Make sure the crown of the plant is just slightly above soil level because the plant will settle a bit as the soil in the planting hole compacts slightly.

If you have a number of plants that were waterlogged in the rain deluge, save yourself a bit of work and wait until you see some sign of growth from the plants. If none appears in a reasonable amount of time, it is probably safe to assume that plant is toast.

I mentioned “marginal” plants at the beginning and promised to pick up the thread…

Marginal plants are those plant species which can live happily at the side of a pond, bog, or river. In short, they like lots of water and because of the normal flow and ebb of most waterways, these particular plants have adapted to periods of partial submersion. (Many sedges such as this Carex ‘Everglow’ in the photo to the right are marginal.)

And this is where it is very helpful that you know all about the plant species you have included in your garden landscape. Keep a list, or a detailed record of each plant you add. Or, at the very least, just throw all of the plant tags and labels into a shoebox. However, that recording system can be a little tedious when you have to look for a particular plant label.

After talking about all this doom and gloom of atmospheric rivers, flooding, loss of homes and life…both human and animal…and possible plant fatalities in our gardens, I pray that readers who visit my website remain safe and well. My prayers to all of those who are suffering in any way through this…yet another…difficult period.