Before the deluge

Some days it really *does* seem ridiculous to be gardening at all in a place that may really be uninhabitable in a few decades. On a day like today, for example, when I took out one of our gardening mistakes—a Home Depot-bought lime tree that in four years provided us with a grand total of three inedible limes but three hundred thorn scratches—and replaced it with a native pine rockland palm (either a saw palmetto or a silver palm, I think probably the former, grown from a seed that I collected on my South Florida travels and germinated), hopefully better adapted to the sandy, nutrient-poor soil of the Miami rock ridge. In such soils, “drainage is rapid with very limited moisture retention,” says one of the guides to pine rockland plantings that I consulted today. Miami condo developers are building their towers—and banks and insurers are still, for the moment, financing them—as if they’ll all be full of apartment dwellers for Miami’s second century as a global city. I’m planting things as if they’ll be growing in the same sandy soil for years and years to come. The photograph is a projection of the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus, where I work, a few miles away from here and at roughly the same elevation, if sea levels rise 10 feet. I see quite a bit of moisture retention right there, don’t you?

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