As if the merciless heat and the punishing drought weren’t enough to drive this Oklahoma gardener crazy, now we are contending with hateful raging wild fires. All across our beautiful, but stricken state we have seen hundreds of acres burnt and many people displaced. I for one have had enough. I’ve had my bags packed for weeks, ready to move somewhere cooler and somewhere wetter. But after looking at the national forecast, I’m saddened to say that such a place does not exist on this planet. With the addition of the seething wild fires, a transformation has begun to occur within me, a conversion of sorts if you will. Instead of running away, I’ve decided to dig my heels in. I’ve drawn a hard line in my crusty back yard and I refuse to be moved. In anticipation of your disbelief, I have listed a few accomplishments to prove my point. On the rare occasions where it has rained this year, I caught precious rain water in plastic rain barrels. I use that water to soak my house’s foundation and water any plant material that is within 100 feet of my house. It’s called being firewise. By removing any flammable plants that contain resins, oils and waxes from within 30 feet of my little ponderosa, I can reduce the chance of a wildfire burning my home to a pile of ashes. It’s also important to move or remove things that can burn easily like firewood, dead and dense vegetation. Speaking of vegetation, if you happen to be fortunate enough to have any plants still alive, congratulations! You are in the minority. This fall you may consider replacing some of your lost babies with some shrubs and flowering plants that can tolerate dry sites, just in case we have another summer like this one. Shrubs such as; Abelia, Rose-of Sharon, Japanese barberry, Yucca, Indian hawthorn, Firethorn and Yaupon holly will tolerate dry conditions and thrive once established. Annual flowers that also do well in similar circumstances are zinnia, cosmos and petunia. If you are a rose lover like I am, then consider planting an old fashioned rose such as hybrid perpetual, Rugosa, and shrub roses. These require less overall care than some of the hybrid tea types. Whatever you decide to replant with, keep the firewise tips in mind. You can get more information on being firewise at www.firewise.org. Let my semi-conversion and personal commitment to stick it out here in Oklahoma, be an encouragement to you in your Guthrie Gardening endeavors.