Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's Snowing!

Look!  Snow flakes!


Okay, the heat makes me a little delusional.  Our temperatures have been breaking records, but not for cold or precipitation.  When the Santa Ana winds blew in late last week, temperatures soared, hitting the low 90sF in some areas earlier this week.  They've come down slightly today but it's still very warm.  The "snow" in the photo at the top of my post is made up of flower petals from the Pyrus calleryana (ornamental pear) tree that burst into bloom this week.

This tree in the front garden is the harbinger of spring in my garden

The flowers have a distinctive odor, which I addressed in a 2014 post


These trees bloom, almost in unison, throughout the area.  One day, their branches are bare and the next they're in full bloom.  If past years are an indication, the flowers will disappear quickly, aided on this occasion by the heat, and the trees will quickly leaf out.

When you see this tree in bloom in one location, you almost immediately notice it in bloom everywhere.  The trees in this photo sit in my neighbor's yard, just beyond the property line.


The heat had other impacts on my garden.  When planting the former lawn area out front, I fell prey to the allure of some bi-colored Cyclamen and, having lots of space in the partially shaded area, I planted five.  I knew I was taking a risk planting them this late in our winter season, especially given that the rain El Niño was expected to bring us has largely been a no-show.  However, I love both the flowers and the foliage and I thought these would complement the Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' I'd already selected for this area.

The purple and white-flowered Cyclamen planted with Heuchera 'Palace Purple'


Even after the heat hit, the Cyclamen looked fine for a while but yesterday I found them shriveling.  While the area in which they were planted gets some shade, it wasn't enough.  Rather than watch them die slowly, I moved them late yesterday afternoon, relocating them to a more well-shaded area outside the living room window.

Although the plants are partially hidden when viewed from the outdoor pathway along this bed, they show up well from inside the house.  (I just couldn't get a good photo from that vantage point due to the glare.)


I replaced the Cyclamen with Arctotis 'Opera Rose' I'd originally purchased with another area in mind.  Hopefully, once the Pyrus above them leafs out, there will still be enough sun to keep these plants.  At least I know they can handle heat.

The area formerly occupied by Cyclamen, now planted out with Arctotis

Arctotis 'Opera Rose' does a pretty good job complementing the dark Heuchera and this variety is said to stay smaller than the 'Pink Sugar' cultivar I grow elsewhere

The heat has had other effects on the garden.  For one, my Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' has gained a decidedly red cast.  The bracts normally turn red in mid-summer but it's winter "flowers" are usually predominately yellow.  That's not true this February.

In prior years, the Leucadendron "flowers" developed a reddish pink edge but nothing like the color they're showing now


In addition, after a long wait, my Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola' is finally breaking into bloom.

G. 'Penola' blooms are about one month behind their appearances in 2014 and 2015


Flowers are also appearing in other areas of the garden but photos of those will have to wait until Bloom Day.  Temperatures here are expected to come back down the middle of next week.  There's also a slight chance of rain, although I'm trying not to get my expectations raised.  The forecasters say there's still a chance that southern California will get some rain out of El Niño in March or April.  The current theory is that this El Niño is so big and strong, it's pushed the rain much further north than was ever anticipated.  While that's helped build up the critical snow-pack in northern California, it's left SoCal parched, with the total seasonal rain to date well below normal.  However, as El Niño weakens, forecasters believe it'll bring us rain.  Maybe.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party



32 comments:

  1. If you still believe the forecasters, I have a seat to sell you on the next space ship to the moon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not putting any faith in the long range forecasts, Jane. I found it interesting that, in one of the LA Times recent articles, a weather expert admitted that they had relatively little experience with El Nino on which to make definitive projections. I don't know if forecasters overstated that limited experience or if the media simply exaggerated the early assertions about El Nino but, as with political campaigns, we should all beware of hype.

      Delete
  2. Your title had me doing a double take.. I know the climate's bizarre these days, but snow in Southern California would surely take some doing. As ever, I'm hoping for rain. For you, not for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The San Gabriel Mountains did get snow earlier in the year, Jessica - I could see it in the distance from our backyard (at least before the smog layer thickened). But snow in coastal southern California would probably require reversal of the poles or something equally cataclysmic.

      Delete
  3. Seeing Cyclamen in flower in those temps is odd. I feel a little disorientated by it. Pyrus calleryana are beautiful trees. Enjoy the blossom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cyclamen are winter plants here, Sarah, but our periodic warm spells make them a risky investment even during the coolest portion of what passes for winter here and I pushed the envelope further by buying my plants in late January. If they'd been in full shade they might have been okay but the area I selected was just too sunny and this current heatwave is just too relentless.

      Delete
  4. I like cyclamen! have sown seeds of cyclamen and hope they come up.
    have a nice weekend
    Mariana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure cyclamen like your weather more than mine, Mariana!

      Delete
  5. Sorry to hear that you are getting heat and not rain. Your pear is lovely. Most of the pears here are Bradford Pears and look a bit like lollipop trees. Callery pears do have great fall color. Interesting that they color even in So. California!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The trees do consistently color up here, although that event was delayed this year, probably because our warm weather extended well into November. Still, they came through when the temperatures dropped in December.

      Delete
  6. Dear Kris, your ornamental pear tree is simply stunning!
    I loved the combination of the heucheras and the cyclamen, too bad that it didn't work out. I am interested to see how your heucheras will do for you over time. I had planted two beautiful green ones with white markings on the leaves and they did fine even through the summer heat, but then suddenly last autumn both plants died. I still have two chartreuse ones that came through the last year, but since I lost heucheras repeatedly I am afraid I have to consider them to be short lived perennials in my garden or even think of them as annuals.
    We can only hope that the forecasters are right and we are still in for some rain this winter. To have such a long lasting heatwave already at this time of the year is really scary. And not only the plants suffer, a lot of people struggle with the weather, too.
    Anyway, I am wishing you a nice weekend!
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had very mixed results with Heuchera myself, Christina. I've tried a number of the gorgeous hybrids with the same results as you described with your variegated selections - premature death in the fall. I've even had problems with Heuchera maxima, a California native, although I've a handful of these limping along in my garden now. Thus far, the ones that have done the best for me are the Bressingham hybrids. Their foliage isn't flashy but, placed in partial shade in fall 2014, they've handled the heat and water constraints here (thus far). The Heuchera 'Palace Purple' are another experiment on my part. They reportedly need only moderate water, as well as partial shade, but it remains to be seen whether they can handle the heat over the long term.

      Delete
  7. I love your snowy white blossom. I always get envious when I see your Grevilleas and Leucadendron.Fabulous!
    You are hoping for rain and we are hoping for a break from rain. We've all got soggy gardens here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too much of anything is unwelcome - be it heat or rain! February is traditionally our rainiest month but this year is proving an extreme exception - I just hope it doesn't prove to be the new normal.

      Delete
  8. I remember the Santa Annas from childhood and they were miserable. I'm glad the mountains are getting the snow they need but I really hope that rain shows up. But at least you have some color to cheer up "winter". But 90's in Feb? That's insane!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After a week, it's also pretty tiresome, especially as we don't expect a break until the latter part of next week (if the forecasters can even be trusted as this point).

      Delete
  9. As Denise said, El Nino turned into Charlie Brown's football. Your 'Wilson's Wonder' is such a beauty--so enjoy seeing it. Nice looking Arctotis--will have to look for it. 'Pink Sugar' is a monster here--didn't expect that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Pink Sugar' has proven to be "vigorous" here as well. I divided up some of last year's crop when it got ratty and used the plants to fill some of the empty space left by removing the lawn but, at this rate, it could fill my entire garden in a decade. 'Opera Rose' appears a little more restrained but it's early yet!

      Delete
  10. You had me fooled Kris! The ornamental pear is a beauty. I like the combo with the Heuchera and Arctotis. I'm hoping that your Cyclamen prefer their new home and thrive for you. I hope you get a turn in the weather soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a little cooler now, Angie, and there's a chance of rain next Thursday but even the forecasters are warning that, at best, it won't be much.

      Delete
  11. The pear tree looks pretty in bloom... I'll be interested to see whether my fruit trees are blooming yet. I've decided the forecasters are just trying to use 'positive thinking'... They probably believe that if they keep predicting rain, they can make it rain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe the forecasters should try rain dancing - at least that would be more amusing. The ornamental pear created a mess with its fruit this year but the flowers are welcome. The petals are dropping quickly - they're all over the front garden and driveway now.

      Delete
  12. What kind of mulch do you use in SoCal, what is locally available? I love learning about your gardening area, so different than mine.
    This morning it was -13.7 when I got up with wind chills in the -30s. God almighty - this is extreme for us!
    Enjoy your gentle (if warm) climate! Hope you get some rain soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brrr! Snow is pretty but I don't envy you those temperatures, Eliza!

      Most of the mulch I use comes from a local provider. It's labeled "garden mulch" but I'm not sure of its composition - it looks like finely ground wood material. I used larger redwood chips under our Magnolia tree and we've picked up wood chips left by the city's tree service on occasion but it's of very variable quality.

      Delete
  13. For half a moment, I believed you! We actually did have snow flurries this past week, but while it was very pretty coming down, nothing stuck. You Pyrus calleryana is marvelous, and how fortunate that you can enjoy your Cyclamen from inside! I love all the color in your February garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Pyrus is beautiful in bloom, although it created a mess with its fruit, which neither birds or squirrels will eat. It hasn't fruited so heavily in any prior year we've been here so I'm hoping that, like some other fruit trees, that phenomenon will only occur every few years.

      Delete
  14. And here I was so excited for you - your very own snow!!! Sorry to hear you never got the promised rain. I hear Portland has experienced an unseasonal heatwave too. I'm on my way home right now. Your post made me wonder if I have any blooms in my garden yet - aside from the usual winter stalwarts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Real snow here would probably signify some worldwide environmental catastrophe, Anna. Bill Murray's quote in "Ghostbusters" comes to mind - "human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria."

      Delete
  15. Does your callery pear produce small fruit that drop in the fall and make a nasty mess everywhere? Ours do, and I hate them for that reason (and the suckering) in spite of the pretty flowers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't had the problem with suckering and, up until this year, we hadn't had any significant issue with the fruit. For some reason, the tree produced zillions of those tiny fruits this year, all of which smash and stain the driveway pavement when they fall. It really was terribly annoying but I can't account for why it wasn't a problem in prior years. The tree appeared to be a mature specimen when we moved in 5 years ago. I'm hoping it's like the fruit produced by some apricot trees and plentiful only at periodic intervals.

      Delete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.