The outpouring of help that is coming to the victims of Hurricane Sandy is immeasurable, varied, and often incredibly generous.
We have seen heroic efforts and we have seen small wonders that all contribute to bringing some sanity and reassurance to those who have suffered much. This time it was “us,” New Jersey and New York who, instead of watching and reacting, were fleeing and praying.
Now to address the flooding and salt water damage from the storm as it pertains to your garden. Since this storm has come as most plants are going dormant and not conducting as much water, there is hope for them.
Evergreens will be the most vulnerable as they still move fluid about all year. Water these heavily over the next few months any time you feel it is windy or dry and warm enough to run a hose.
Perennials and grasses will mostly be fine as they too are dormant. Not to say things won't look worse next year, but overall, unless you have a lot of time and a late active sprinkler system, we will have to depend on rain.
All of the same will apply to your lawns. Some apply gypsum like you would lime, but this isn't fast acting at all and watering seems to cleanse just as well.
As far as debris and sand, try to get the grade back to normal and remove salty marsh debris as soon as you can as it will leach into the soil. Some folks may just have to replant if their grade was changed, but if that happened, you probably have more important things to address.
Scientists say this is a 30-50 year event. A tide like this can happen again in five years; averages are for the weak. 1985 and 1992 were seven years apart, but the height of those tides remains in the top five of our county's history.
The way storms and climate change is going, this is a warning to build higher, further back and respect Mother Nature. It would also be prudent to keep heeding my advice and plant natives as much as you can when in places where weather is so severe.
Pines, hollies, junipers, bayberry, oaks, maples, serviceberry and other natives will probably be just fine once the growing season comes back. If you have any direct questions, go ahead and give us a call, we want to help all we can.
And please, even though the weeks go on, help is needed for months to those who lost so much and can't return to their homes.
—Stan Sperlak, painter, teacher, author and nurseryman writes from Goshen, and operates Cape Shore Gardens with its tireless staff off 20 dedicated gardeners! Visit them at 1028 Rt. 9 South in Court House. Call 609-465-5161 or www.capeshoregardens.com, or Face-book us.