Friday, June 9, 2017

The Joys of June Gloom

Other SoCal gardeners have recently waxed rhapsodic about the June Gloom we're currently enjoying and I'm following suit.  Last year at this time, the marine layer was noticeably absent but this year the foggy blanket of May Gray spread into June, keeping temperatures down and providing the plants with natural moisture that's otherwise lacking during our long dry period.  The marine layer has been particularly thick here this past week, at least until this morning.  Usually, it clears by late morning or early afternoon but it's extended into the late afternoon on some days and, this past Tuesday, it never really cleared at all.  Our roof-top weather station even recorded a total of 3/100ths of an inch of "rain" over the course of the day.

The garden takes on an other-worldly feel

Neighbors become nearly invisible


The fog was so thick that the Los Angeles Harbor below us entirely disappeared.

This was the view looking southeast from our back garden one morning this week

And this is the usual view from that same vantage point


The gloom didn't bother the birds at all.



But I wonder how the spiders felt about it?




I've read a bit about fog harvesting as a means of collecting moisture in dry climates.  The droplets collected on spider webs and plants provides an object lesson on how the technology works.

The blooms on the Agapanthus are even prettier

Respite from the heat of early summer and an extra dose of moisture extends the normally short life of Aquilegia flowers

Even succulents like Cotyledon look better with diamonds

The buds of Globularia look entirely different decked out in water droplets


Not everyone likes our June Gloom.  When I asked my neighbor if she was enjoying the cool, damp weather, she thought my question was facetious but, in my view, the longer the marine layer remains in place, the better.  When it fades out, our temperatures soar and gardening is increasingly limited to early morning and early evening hours.  Dare we hope for "No Sky July" and "Fogust"?

Wherever you are, I hope your weekend weather is just the way you like it.



All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

31 comments:

  1. Your garden looks fabulous in any weather and very nice shrouded in fog. We get the marine layer in late summer and autumn and, of course, we have that whole PNW rain festival from October through July each year.

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    1. There's probably a happy balance between sunshine and cloudy, rainy days that either of us has yet to discover, Peter. I expect you wouldn't be entirely happy if you were rain-less for 9 months of the year - think of all the time you save not having to water your garden! I wonder if there is a place where the balance is, in Goldilocks' terms, "just right"? Wasn't there a song in the movie 'Camelot' about that?

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    2. 'the rain may never fall till after sundown'

      that would be just perfect!

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  2. I wonder if I moved to live near you then I too would adopt your love of the gloom, or if - like your neighbor - I would scoff at the idea of such a thing being pleasant?

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    1. I had a discussion with yet another neighbor early today who was overjoyed by the fact that we had sun this morning, so even here the appreciation of June Gloom is clearly not universal. Luckily for us, even our gloomiest days usually come with a healthy dose of afternoon sunshine. But summer can be downright unpleasant and the marine layer is a salve of sorts.

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  3. I'm a huge fan of the June Gloom and glad to see it back. As you say, the plants sooo appreciate it. Makes everything quiet and mysterious, punctuated by birdsong and fog horns here. But this morning, with the gloom gone and the sun shining early, it was so startling I just watched and traced the glow on plants for a couple hours -- gloom is the perfect foil for truly appreciating morning sun. I could ping-pong back and forth for another couple months ;)

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    1. As mentioned in response to Peter above, there's probably a healthy balance somewhere between the extremes. When my husband and I considered moving north, I wondered if the relentless gloom would get to me too. The notion of ping-ponging between gloom and no-gloom has appeal. Personally, I'd be happy with sunshine from 2pm until evening in summer, which would keep those afternoon temperatures down to a reasonable level.

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  4. Hi Kris, the foggy photos from your garden look quite fascinating, especially the second one.
    I am very glad to read that the May gloom continues and that temperatures are not that high yet because I am out of town and a house/dog/garden sitter is taking care of the watering of some parts in my garden. That way there is a good chance that I still have a garden when I come home ;-)!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. We had a break in the gloom today, Christina, but forecasts suggest that it'll be back this weekend continuing into the early part of next week, after which temperatures are expected to climb. Fog was visibly moving through our area an hour ago but the winds have now picked up and pushed that off-shore already so perhaps tomorrow's weather is still anybody's guess.

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  5. May Gray and June gloom and the others. I live in Oregon where this is the norm but I've never heard it described quite so cleverly and succinctly. It's good to get the rain though and to be able to garden without being sweating to death. To answer your questions, yes. It's Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'. The grass is Stipa gigantea and would you believe it grows in Zone 10? Yes indeedy! And Digging Dog Nursery is selling it. Here's the link: http://www.diggingdog.com/pages2/plantpages.php/G-0024 So are you gonna get one? :)

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    1. Thanks for the input on the plants, Grace. That Stipa gigantea is impressive. I grow Stipa tenuissima, which requires some effort (regular combing) to keep under control and which the California Native Plant society considers invasive. I'll have to see if gigantea has a better reputation!

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  6. I vote for No-Sky July, too. Fogust would be heaven. I'm love-love-loving this grey, because it means I can garden all day. Your place looks even gloomier (better) than mine.

    Enjoy, while it lasts, the end of next week heat is predicted. Hopefully not The Big Broil like we had last June--remember how awful that was?

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    1. I'll never forget The Big Broil, which I usually call the Horrific Heatwave. My lemon tree has only just recovered!

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  7. I wonder if perhaps it's just avid gardeners who appreciate what June Gloom brings. I'm not a big fan of hot sunny weather myself. I was out yesterday gardening in the rain. It took me a few years of living here to figure it out, but I prefer cool, rainy weather, especially for being outside. Your June Gloom dew definitely added a little somethin' somethin' to your flower photos.

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    1. Both of the neighbors I spoke to this week are gardeners but they appear to be much more heat-tolerant than I am. While I've been known to continue gardening in 90 degree heat, I don't like it and generally retreat inside much earlier than I otherwise would. Our summer heat is hard on the plants too, especially when the humidity level drops into the single digits.

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  8. June gloom is a depressing concept here where we need every ray of sunshine we can get. But your garden must welcome it. It all looks rather mysterious and autumnal.

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    1. In contrast, here autumn is usually bright and sunny - and often hot well into October. While I appreciate some afternoon sunshine, the morning clouds are welcome when they keep those summer temperatures down. It sounds as though the June Gloom pattern may be coming to an end later this week.

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  9. I can understand why you love it and the plants clearly do too. We have June Gloom as well this year and as Chloris says, it isn't nearly so welcome. I must remember if I am ever lucky enough to visit California I should avoid June. Although, if my usual powers are anything to go by, I'll undoubtedly bring rain with me anyway. I still think the state of California should sponsor a trip!

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    1. If you could guarantee to bring rain, Jessica, my guess is that Governor Jerry Brown would offer you a free annual pass to visit California!

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  10. I love being completely shrouded by fog. The rest of the world falls away and it's so peaceful and magical, to me, at least. I was terrified that our rains had stopped when we started getting days in the 80s and even a couple over 90 in May. It seriously increases my anxiety. I'm glad June returned to our more usual balance for this time of year, of rain and clouds with breaks of sun, and temperatures in the 60's to low 70's. I'm far enough away from the ocean and Puget Sound that I don't get much of the marine layer after June (or April, the last two years), except occasional morning fog. I welcome relief from the blazing sun and the onerous task of watering a very large, young garden.

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    1. We're lucky to have a built-in irrigation system here, Evan, even if we do face some limitations on its use. I can't imagine the task of watering a garden as large as yours by hand. I hope you get an easy summer!

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  11. I think that the equivalent over here is known as a sea fret or haar which occurs from April to September on the north east coast - sadly it's not always followed by warm sunny afternoons. I can understand why you appreciate it Kris. Does the June gloom ever overspill into other summer months?

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    1. While we often get "May Gray" leading into "June Gloom," a spillover into July, much less August, is far less common, Anna. The forecast suggests that the marine layer may desert us later this week - whether that means it's gone for the season is still unclear.

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  12. Great photos! I like fog and the atmosphere it creates. We are having a gorgeous weekend with moderate temps and blue skies with puffy white clouds. However, during the past two weeks we received over 6 inches of rain! Except for a lingering couple of counties, Alabama is now officially out of last year's drought.

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    1. Six inches of rain is more than we got in our entire season last year, although we've received almost 4 times that amount this year. Weather patterns are difficult to predict, especially in the short-term, but the trend toward general warming and greater extremes is disturbing.

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  13. It is quite unusual for that sort of photos on your blog. Normally I look at warm and sunny side of LA. The fog changes everything in how the plants present themselves on the photos, and they look lovely.
    That is a powerful fog making the harbour dissapear ;)

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    1. Los Angeles deserves its place on the list of the sunniest cities, Aga, but that's what makes our brief periods of foggy gloom so wonderful. The harbor's disappearing act is even more magical at night, when the fog slowly turns off the omnipresent lights of the city below us.

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  14. Hi Kris, light is so important, and it's wonderful when it changes. Your photos capture the mysteriousness of the fog. As for the glittering water drops on spider webs and leaves, I always think they're like diamonds too only much more desirable.

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    1. I love the look of water droplets on plants too, Sue. It's something too rarely seen here with our painfully short winter rainy season.

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  15. Your garden is superb, and looks great in any weather! Love the atmospheric feel the gloom has bought!

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    1. The clouds and fog can make it feel as if we're all alone up here, rather than sitting in the middle of Los Angeles County, surrounded by more than 10 million people.

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