An eye on Irene

Along with everyone else along the Eastern Seaboard, we’re battening down the hatches and doing whatever we can to prepare for what looks to be a sizable storm. Some of us (that’s me) can’t help but remember last year’s hurricane-that-wasn’t: Good old Earl passed us right by and it’s tempting to think that maybe forecasters are crying wolf again with this one. But then there are others of us (not me) who were here for Hurricane Bob, 20 years ago last week. During that storm, Blithewold lost about 40 trees and another 40 plus died soon after. So we’re all (me too) watching this storm closely; doing what we can to prepare, and taking it very seriously.

Gail, Tara and I moved our most fragile container plants along with any that might act like sails or projectiles back into the greenhouse yesterday. And then Gail and I spent part of today moving a few more inside, tipping others on their side, and memorizing the gardens and taking pictures. It is a beautiful day – the calm before the storm…

The Rock Garden is the most vulnerable garden on the property because it’s so close to the Narragansett Bay shore. The storm surge is expected to be a big one and as it will be coupled with a high moon tide, that garden will likely be submerged sometime Sunday. And the North Garden is so exposed at the top of the Great Lawn that it’s the most likely to be wind damaged. We re-staked all of the dahlias and have to hope for the best. In the display garden, which is fairly protected by the bamboo grove and hedgerow of trees along the property line, we re-staked the dahlias and decided to allow the burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia) to flop onto crutches (a crisscross of bamboo stakes to protect other plants) so that they maybe won’t get wind-whipped. And Dick, Gail and Tree (Blithewold’s director of communications) went through and picked every ripe and almost ripe tomato from the vegetable garden.

Fred and Dan removed the shade sails from the arbor, some garden ornaments, and all of the outdoor furniture. Blithewold’s curator, Margaret has been securing the mansion’s archives – moving everything away from windows and covering furniture and artifacts with plastic. We’ll be closed for visitation for the whole weekend; tours have been cancelled and the tent will be taken down. The only thing left to do is wait – and watch.

Are you glued to the forecast too? What are you doing to prepare your garden and home for the storm?