Friday, July 19, 2013

Monsoon Rains Save the Day

I was awakened just before dawn to the sound of thunder, lightning, and rainfall. We've had rain at my house everyday since the first of July. July is our rainiest month as the Southwest monsoon season brings us rain from the Gulf of Mexico. This morning's total so far is .35 inches (9 mm).  My home is located in Sandia Park on the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains (about 25 miles from Albuquerque and 1500-2000 feet higher) and our average annual precipitation between 1981 and 2010 was 18.93 inches.  But in recent years, we've had reduced snow and rain levels so we are officially in a drought  After months of no rain at all, we have had more than 2 inches of rain since the 1st of July!

Now for you in wetter climes,  you may well scoff at our paltry precipitation levels, but truly the monsoon rains are saving New Mexico this month.  Here in central New Mexico, where half our state population lives, the average annual precipitation for Albuquerque is 9.1 inches (or 240 mm).  Yes, other cities in New Mexico average double digit annual precipitation totals (Clovis to the southeast gets 19.1 inches, and to the north, Santa Fe gets 14.2 inches and Taos gets 12.8 inches, and Ruidoso, our southern skiing paradise, averages 21.8 inches of precipitation each year).  Now some of that annual precipitation comes from snowfall from October through May, but half of our annual precipitation falls in the summer in two and one half months (July to early September).  New Mexico has been in a severe drought so we are very thankful for these daily rains.  As of this morning, Albuquerque's July precipitation has totaled 1.2 inches, twice the average July precipitation to date.  The July rainfall has allowed the Cibola National Forest Sandia District  to once again open our National Forest near Albuquerque. I am hoping to resume Wildflower Walks that were cancelled in June because of the drought and lack of wildflowers.  Here at my house, the trees, shrubs,  flowers and vegetables are drinking up the delicious rainfall.

The distressed pinon trees are beginning to recover.

Most of my plantings are native plants that are xeric

Vegetables in my garden have doubled in size 

My rain barrels fill up in a few minutes
Tomatoes, Chile Peppers and Cucumbers

My Cottonwood tree loves water but sustains itself through long periods of drought

Pinon Pine getting their annual ration of monsoon rainfall

With more rain, perhaps a pinon pine nut crop may come next year

My lower patio is flagstone with Creeping Thyme
planted in between the stones

Upper patio and deck is planted with wildflowers to attract birds

A Lesser Goldfinch stops by at the feeder for breakfast

More rain barrels behind the garage catch rainfall

Yellow Columbine

My xeric garden of Butterfly Bush, Sages, Germander,
Perky Sue, Red Yucca,
and Native grasses (Blue Grama,  Buffalo, and Blue Avena)

Cat Mint, Germander, Butterfly Bush and  Perky Sue

My lawn is composed of Blue Grama and Buffalograss
that need as little as 6 inches of water per year to survive.

Xeric plantings of Red Yucca, Butterfly Bush,
Blue Avena, Texas Sage and Lavender

My Japanese Honeysuckle is not a xeric plant
 and does need regular watering
My front porch is a great place to sit and watch the rain.
Here's hoping we continue the pattern this summer and put a dent into our drought.

Hope you are having a wonderful summer where you live.


  1. Very Nice!!!

    Lawler of Nature Abhors a Garden

  2. We are the opposite of you for sure in British Columbia. We are a rain forest at heart and so far July we have had no rain. Usually mother nature saves it up for when the big fair in Vancouver runs in August...standard joke around here when it has often rained day after day while the fair is on.
    Even with all the rain we get and the snow in the mountains we have watering restrictions for our yards.
    Isn't it amazing how the plants just perk right up when they get that extra water. You can almost see them growing right before your eyes.