Today I calculated there are just over eight weeks to summer solstice.
According to weather wallahs, temperatures in my little patch of geography have been way hotter than average this April. Today, in the cool of morning hours, while slapping at the odd opportunistic mosquito, I’ve been working on trellis and shade infrastructure out back.
A few months ago 3 landscaping posts were set in cement (to hold against strong monsoon storm winds) as the anchor posts for canvas sails over the cement slab which serves as outdoor living area, dining area, yoga practice area and general place to drink tea and be. I’m thinking triangular sails like the sails of the traditional Hawaiian voyaging wa’a (canoes). I have yet to source them. Or find old canvas to repurpose.
Throughout winter I have appreciated the sun’s warmth outback, but the heat is ratcheting up now. My goal is to cool the area and cut down on radiant heat as well.
Diligent second hand store and junkyard trawling has (so far) scored three old iron bedsteads for the garden. These are now installed as trellises on the south (above) and western edges of the cement slab.
Kentucky Wonder Pole beans, seeds sown today, will hopefully climb the one and gem squash the other. The thinking: if my seed sowing produces vine and leaf, the area will be shaded early morning and late afternoon.
It was around six pm tonight, eight weeks from solstice, when I spent some time watching where the shadows fall. If (big IF) the gem squash, seed just sown this weekend along the white bedstead trellis (on the right in image above), grow and reach for the next level of support, they will shade this cement slab at this time of day, give or take some change in angle of the sun’s arc as it moves to summer solstice and then begins the return.
Grapevine is also going to be encouraged to grow across the area with some strong hints and suggestions of arial structure for it to twine around.
I am the first to admit that this the first time I’m consciously partnering with plants to create structure and change a microclimate, even infinitesimally. I am a decided novice at all this landscape engineering. I also know plants are living beings who might or might not choose to partner with me in this shade in the heat of a desert summer/cool the yoga area dance.
As my horticultural advisor said recently: “plants are more wolves than dogs”. They were talking about plants in containers not thriving in captivity, but it could also apply to the training and making to perform to my will bit.
Will I be able to draw to the hacienda the horticultural and the engineering skills necessary to achieve a vision of respite from fiery sun, with the wolves I feed outback?
And then the question remains: now that the weather is warm again, what to do about the ants whose highway cuts across this dance floor? Shavasana with ants, anyone?