Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The heatwave ends at last

I complained about our extended heatwave in my last 2 posts.  By our usual summer standard, July and most of August were fairly mild in my area.  But on August 26th, the temperature soared throughout Southern California.  Even the beach cities were toasty.  The heat also crept northward, breaking records in normally summer cool San Francisco.  Worse yet, the heat hung on and on, extending through the Labor Day weekend.  Even weather forecasters wondered when it would end.

Every stroll through the garden revealed dead and near-dead plants.

The orange foliage in the foreground on the left is that of a now-dead Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold'.   A healthy specimen can be seen to its right.

This was a Solanum quitoense I planted in early July, shortly after I returned from the Garden Bloggers' Fling.  Even though planting in summer here is foolish at best, I thought the plant was doing remarkably well - until last week.

The heat even took a toll on Dahlia 'Loverboy'


There are many more such sad scenes but I'm not going to depress you or myself by highlighting them all.  Some plants took the heat in stride or simply activated their own defenses.

The Gaura lindheimeri I cut back by half in June is back and blooming with abandon

Aloe cryptopoda (formerly A. wickensii) is back to its summer contortions

And Yucca 'Bright Star' has adopted a similar strategy


Oddly, a plant that is known for blooming after rain, Zephyranthes candida, suddenly burst into bloom just before the heatwave began and continued to produce new blooms while it was at its worst.

Commonly known as rain lilies, these flowers have rarely bloomed in my garden.  I suspect this flush of bloom was a product of a deep soaking I gave the area in mid-August.


Relief finally arrived here in the form of a thunderstorm Sunday evening.  Monsoonal storms are common in the deserts and mountain areas of Southern California but they don't generally extend into the Los Angeles Basin so Sunday evening's storm was a welcome event.  The wind picked up, the clouds blew in, and all of a sudden it was raining.  It started slowly but then came down hard for a period of perhaps half an hour.

This isn't the best photo but, as summer rain here is an event to be celebrated, I'm offering this as my Wednesday Vignette - you can find more such vignettes at Flutter & Hum.  (Pieces of the fountain were strewn across the patio as the pump had failed and we'd taken it apart for repair and cleaning.)  

The rain came down so hard at one point, that the rain chain on the right was overflowing.  By the time it was over, we'd accumulated 0.12/inch of rain, which isn't too bad by our standards.  My 50-gallon rain barrel is almost full.  Debris from the roof interfered with the flow into another barrel.  I don't have a good way to measure the accumulation in the 265-gallon tank.


Monday remained cool.  Our temperature here never exceeded 75F (24C).

This is the Galileo thermometer that sits on our bedroom mantle.  My husband had been complaining for days that "we have no balls!," meaning that all the weights had settled to the bottom of the cylinder, indicating that the temperature in the bedroom was over 82F.  On Tuesday morning, it was a more comfortable 76F.


It's warmed up a bit since and it's still humid but we haven't needed to run our air conditioner since Sunday evening.  After more than a week of hearing it rumbling nearly non-stop during the day, just having it silenced was a joy.  The garden looks fresher too.

The Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) has finally added leaves, as well as producing a new flush of flowers

The white-flowered Lantana in the front garden also has fresh green foliage and a mass of flowers has attracted the attention of the butterflies


And signs of autumn's approach are becoming evident.

Clematis paniculata, aka Sweet Autumn Clematis, has begun to bloom

Is this the end of our summer heat?  Possibly not.  Heatwaves in October aren't uncommon.  But it's time to move on - fall garden projects await!


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

26 comments:

  1. Hooray for fall projects! Our heat is set to break some time tonight, and hopefully the smoke will get swept in a different direction too. I just wish our rain would return. Great shot of your overflowing rain chain. Also, poor Loverboy.

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    1. I was a little surprised that the smoke of the La Tuna Fire didn't reach us - we were lucky with the wind direction this time and I hope your luck will also turn soon.

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  2. So weird that one coleonema made it and another close by, looking to be about the same size/age, didn't make it. Wasn't that rain something?

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    1. That Coleonema had shown signs of failing for a couple of months now but a chunk of it still looked healthy until this heatwave struck the final blow. If my plant record and my memory are correct, I planted it late in 2011 so I'm not sure why it decided to up and die now.

      That rain made me so happy. Despite Weather Underground citing a 60% chance of it, I didn't believe it was actually going to happen.

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  3. So glad this ugliness has passed for you. So many of your plants look unfazed (sorry about the death). I'm lusting after your blue sky and fresh looking air. I don't know if I'm sick or it's a reaction to the smoke and ash in our air but I feel like my head is going to explode. I so want to be back out in the garden and have the windows open...

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    1. Our sky isn't quite as clear as my photos my suggest, Loree. We've avoided both ash and the smell of smoke from the La Tuna Fire 50 miles away but the horizon remains hazy. I think the continuous smell of smoke and those nasty ash particles can make you sick - it always bothers me too when we get it blowing in our direction. I hope you get relief from it soon!

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  4. It's a relief, isn't it? Your garden continues to look great despite last week's misery.

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    1. The rain instantly made everything look cleaner and fresher. If only we could order it up on a more routine schedule!

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  5. I am glad your heat finally broke. It is raining here, so it's a good day to catch up on posts. Your Aloe cryptopoda is fascinating!

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  6. Hooray!!! You got some rain!!! That is indeed a thing to be grateful for... How fascinating to see the responses of the Yucca and the Aloe. Such self preservation skills are so useful - I wish I could fold all my limbs up and protect myself from the sun, sometimes.

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    1. When I first saw the Yucca do that, I thought maybe it was preparing to bloom but such was not the case - it's an interesting phenomenon. Plants are smarter than we are I think, Anna - we should carry umbrellas when the sun gets intense, or at least wear a hat, neither of which I ever remember to do! I hope the smoke clears up your way soon and that the community learns from this fire about protecting its natural resources, not to speak of its fellow citizens.

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  7. Rain and relief from the heat! I'm looking forward to our heat ending for a time and hoping the chance of rain brings some relief to our gardens here and the many fires throughout the PNW, even as I fear possible lightning strikes from the predicted thunderstorms. I'm sorry for your losses, but the rest of the garden looks great! I am really looking forward to fall, for the projects, an end to watering, and relief for the firefighters.

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    1. I hope those thunderstorms come through for you, Evan! Unless our rainy season arrives early, our fire risk unfortunately only intensifies in the fall. My in-laws lost their Malibu home to fire in November 1993. It was horrible.

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  8. I am glad your garden has received the precious relief that rain brings after a heatwave! Here the weather forecast announces another rainy weekend... things will get a bit drier by november-december I must be patient.

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    1. After being largely side-lined and unable to do much of anything in the garden during our recent heatwave, I can understand how you feel about your current rain delays, MDN! I hope you get a break in the rain soon.

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  9. Thanks goodness for some rain. Isn't it amazing how some plants are just able to cope? I'm going to try your tip and cut back Gaura lindheimeri next year--mine only flops and flops but yours looks beautiful.

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    1. The spring flush of bloom on the Gaura is stronger than the fall flush but it's still great to get a second season of bloom out of the plants, Susie. It's definitely worth the effort.

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  10. There's just nothing quite like a rain shower after a dry spell. I hope your plants spring back. Happy gardening!

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    1. Some plants will spring back, Joanna, although that Coloenema and that Solanum are goners for sure. The Coleonema had been in the garden for 6 or so years but many of the other deaths were among plants I put in during the summer. Apparently, I have to relearn the lesson that summer-time planting is foolish here all over again each year.

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  11. I bet all the plants enjoyed that quick shower and cool down. Will there be a noticeable resurgence from the added water?

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    1. I cruised the garden on Wednesday to see if the rain had produced any miracles but, alas, other than a few Pentas that looked far less withered, there were no miracles to be found. However, at least the garden looked just a bit fresher with plant leaves washed clean.

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  12. So glad you got some rain and a cool down! I always love seeing your Bauhinia. And your Zephyranthes may be surprising, but they certainly are lovely!
    It's so incredibly frustrating to watch plants simply give out and die when the temperatures stay high... :( Even my white gaura (Belezza White) turned brown and died for no apparent reason back in July. I knew better, but I pulled it out, thus exposing the small Notocactus behind it to sunscald. Oh well, the cactus may still survive and I picked up a replacement gaura the other day - ready for autumn!

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    1. Cactus sunburn - ouch! The leaf-less Bauhinia was looking somewhat tawdry without foliage so I'm glad it's finally clothed itself in leaves, Amy. I too am ready for autumn! A drop of another 5-10 degrees would be wonderful.

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  13. Oh cooler temperatures and rain must have come as a welcome relief to you Kris. The plants must be singing. It's funny how it's all relative - your cool 75F would be a hot day here.

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    1. Oh, how I wish 75F was as hot as it could get here, Anna! Daytime temperatures will get down into the 60s here eventually but not until winter.

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