Our official status in Western New York is “moderate drought.” I can’t really remember the last soaking rain we got—maybe a couple times in June and a couple more in July—and the temps have ranged into the 90s with regularity. That’s unusual here. There are no watering restrictions that I’m aware of, though articles and op-eds advising people to stop watering their lawns have appeared in the paper a few times.

Thankfully, I have no lawn here, but there are 4 big maples whose roots soak up all the water they can get and a bunch of annual-filled containers with their corresponding water demands. I have luck with hostas, hakonechloa, hellebores, and other sturdy perennials in the beds, and the shrubs seem OK, but I haven’t really tested them. Because I water. That is how I deal with drought.

Would most of the in-ground plantings survive without regular water? I suppose. They would be stressed, for sure—this is not a xeriscape. I imagine many would droop and fade, if not die. But that’s all kind of beside the point, because the reason I have a garden is to be in it during the summer, and I can’t enjoy a suffering garden with a lot of dead plants sitting in pots. I’d go further—during a hot summer like this, I need the garden to look extra lush. The shade, the sound of running water, and the abundance of green foliage are essential, and all that takes attention.

Regular watering—within reason—is also helpful because it forces me to look at all the plants, deadhead if needed, cut back if needed, and attend to anything that needs attention. It helps me enjoy the plants. Because that’s why I have them. I’m not running a drought tolerance testing site here; I’m maintaining a garden that’s meant to give me and others pleasure. This year, supplemental watering—with a bit more frequency—is not a heavy price to pay for that pleasure.