Summer's End

Here in California, we have been praying for the end of summer for months.  Even in the city, the drought has been a constant low-level irritation.   I am trying to water my garden just enough so that the plants survive until the promised El Niño.  It feels cruel, to withhold the full measure of water they need to flourish.  My rose bushes are so old, about twenty years now, that they have held up pretty well with the minimum water, even though they are thirsty .  The rhododendrons, on the other hand, are shallow rooted and disease-prone  when water is scarce.  When plants die, I leave bare spots.  The front lawn, about 100 square feet, is mottled brown and green.  We are allowed to use the sprinkler twice a week, which is sufficient  to sustain the grass when we sleep under our fog blanket but last week's heat wave was additional stress.  There's little air conditioning here and none of us do well with more than two ninety degree days in a row.    I make everyone collect a bucket of water while they are waiting for the water in the shower to warm up and I carefully rotate which plants get the bonus water.  Carrying water daily makes me more conscious of its value.  We save water from boiling corn and blanching vegetables, too.   After cooking, I set the pots outside to cool down.   More mulch, less fertilizer...every trick I know.   The water bill in August said that we had used 30% less water than in 2013, so we're on track.  And there have been no major fires near us, although we flinch every time we hear a fire engine.   Could be worse.