Friday, February 8, 2019

The joy that rain brings

Last year was one of the driest in Southern California since records have been kept but this year we're on target to reach or exceed our "old normal" standards.  The rain has come in several bursts over consecutive days.  Our last storm cleared out Tuesday morning.  There's a chance of another this weekend and still another during the middle of next week.  We've been lucky to have a couple of sunny, albeit cold, days in the intervening period, during which I took time to clean up the garden a bit and take some pictures.  It already looks as though were headed in the direction of a nice spring.

I don't usually get much pleasure out of visiting my back slope but on this occasion it offered a few positive surprises.

The lemon tree that dropped every single piece of fruit in early July when our temperature hit 110F has fully recovered

Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt', planted in 2015, is finally taking on the tree-like form I envisioned for it

With the rain, the calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) planted decades ago by another gardener at the bottom of the arid slope have magically reappeared

Centranthus ruber has self-seeded generously in the same area and it looks as though the California poppy plugs I planted in December are thriving too


On the main level of the back garden, I couldn't miss the fact that the Xylosma congestum hedge that surrounds it produced fresh new foliage.

The garden service that maintains our hedges cut the new foliage back the day after I took these photos but, with more rain expected I don't think it'll be long before my "ring of fire" is back


The backyard offered other surprises as well.

I'd entirely forgotten these plants with the tiny white flowers.   I think they smartly went underground last summer.   This is Arabis alpina 'Variegata'.

This is the first flower on Isopogon anemonifolius, an Australian plant I picked up on a whim while plant shopping in November.  It's interesting but it doesn't look like much like it did on the plant tag; however, I'll give it more time to develop before making any decision about whether it stays or goes.

Plants showing flower buds include: Ageratum corymbosum (left) and Leucospermum 'Brandi' (right).  It'll be awhile yet before either will be in full bloom but it's nice to see progress in that direction.


My discoveries weren't limited to the back garden.

Euphorbia rigida is blooming in the succulent garden on the south side of the house

Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' produced its luminescent flower-like bracts seemingly overnight in the front garden

After looking near death this summer, Aeonium 'Mardi Gras' is blushing again

Moss has appeared on paths, along the stairs leading down my back slope and between paving stones

The first flowers have opened on the tall bloom stalks produced by the 2 Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' planted in my street-side succulent bed.  The foliage of each plant now has a pretty pink blush too.  I don't know if that's a reaction to the cold or simply part of its slow process of dying.


Along with the calla lilies, the first Freesia bulbs are flowering.  I expect my other early spring bulbs aren't far behind.

The blue Freesias are the first to appear this year.  Ferraria crispa (upper right) has also produced fresh foliage.  Leucojum aestivum, Narcissus and Sparaxis are also on their way.


I know it's been a nasty winter for many of you in the Northern Hemisphere but spring is getting closer.  Take heart!


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

36 comments:

  1. It's so nice to catch a break, rain-wise, isn't it? I've had a small 'Safari Goldstrike' in the front garden for a few years. It survives but doesn't increase in size. Maybe the rain will move it along. Should be a banner spring!

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    1. I'm looking forward to that banner spring, Denise! Is it too much to ask Mother Nature to try not to incinerate us when we move into summer?

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  2. Oh, to have a lemon tree!!! What a treasure... So glad you have gotten that much rain. It must feel like an absolute luxury after all those dry years. That new Ceanothus is lovely. Love the dark stems and those sky blue flowers!

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    1. The Ceanothus took it's time to gain a bit of height, Anna. I planted it from a 1-gallon container nearly 4 years ago. It's still under 4 feet tall but it looks as though it's finally got a growth spurt going.

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  3. Hooray for getting more rain! This post is a nice reminder that spring is slowly creeping northward. What a luxury to be able to grow citrus trees outside.

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  4. The Ferraria that I bought last year after seeing yours has also produced new foliage. It died back in the summer but when it got rained on in the fall it popped back up again, and it's been overwintering in the greenhouse. All those lemons look so luscious! So glad you're getting rain this year. I have an Agave desmettiana in a pot, I wonder if it will ever bloom? It produced pups, which strangely have a lot of pink on them, but the mother plant doesn't.

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    1. The two Agave desmettiana I planted along the street were pupping like mad when I got them in 1-gallon containers. I removed all the pups and planted them elsewhere and they haven't produced any pups since. I'm surprised they're already blooming. I think I planted them in 2014.

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  5. It all looks healthy and happy, but that lemon tree is gorgeous. Hard for me to imagine something like that in one's garden.

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    1. Although more citrus is grown in Florida now, California used to have extensive groves of citrus. When I was a kid growing up in an inland valley, we had citrus groves all around us but my understanding is that the valley now has just one citrus tree farm left.

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  6. How very delightful! There is nothing like some rain (in moderation!) It all looks so happy and healthy. Here in the SE we've been having unusually warm and lovely weather and I think the worst of winter is over for us. yay!!

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying a mild winter, Libby. I suspect that our "old normal" rainfall is probably far less than you'd considerate "moderate." We've had 12.52 inches of rain since our rain year started October 1st, which is 167% of where we'd normally be at this time according to the LA Times.

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  7. After your long drought the plants seem to be taking advantage of their extended drink. The lemon tree is lovely. What do you do with all of the fruit?

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    1. I usually supply all my friends with all the lemons they want but that's usually not enough to come anywhere near exhausting the supply so I leave buckets of lemons next to our driveway inviting the neighbors to take what they'd like. They usually go pretty fast!

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  8. Your lemon tree is impressive. So much fruit makes it decorative.

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    1. It's set back by extreme heat, which has twice caused it to drop all its fruit, but otherwise bears fruit year-round. It's a great tree.

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  9. I am impressed by your lemon tree. Amazing what enough rain will do for your plants. I am the opposite right now. I am wondering if this winter is going to kill my garden. Snow, melt, Polar Vortex, Thaw, flooding rain, Freeze again. Geez, Mother Nature make up your mind. I wish you could see my poor excuse for a lemon tree. It would give you a fit of giggles or perhaps disgust you. I sure won't show it a picture of your tree. Mine would die of embarrassment. Your moss garden is pretty now. I bet it dries up during your long summers. It is such a lovely green. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Mother Nature can be cruel, that's for certain. I hope the negative impact of the severe cold and weather swings you've experienced won't be as extreme as you fear, Lisa. California doesn't rule the citrus industry but we do have the climate for it; however, I'm impressed by people that defy the odds to grow things they shouldn't be able to, and that includes growing a lemon tree in Tennessee.

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  10. Truly a garden of many delights - So many lemons, you must drink lots of lemonade. ;)
    I love freesias and callas... wish I could grow them. Soon there will be lots and lots of different flowers for your vases (yay, rain). Looking forward to that!

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    1. While we use lemons in cooking, we've never made lemonade, Eliza. I give the vast percentage of our lemons away.

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  11. Moss! I love seeing it in your garden, thank you. And the Agave desmettiana blooms are gorgeous. I think that’s one that produces bulbils, isn’t it?

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    1. I'd forgotten about my moss path when I commented on your own moss-related post, Loree - unlike the moss growing elsewhere, that patch retains at least a trace of moss year-round. As to the Agave desmettiana, I haven't seen any sign that it's going to produce bulbils but, as these are the first of my agaves to bloom, I'm still in the learning phase on the agave's death throes.

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  12. Wow! Your lemon tree is really impressive, it must be wonderful to always have your own lemons that haven't had their skins treated with wax.

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    1. The lemon tree normally has fruit year-round. It was a shock the first time it dropped all its fruit almost overnight in response to an extreme heat event. I had to buy lemons! That's happened twice now but the good news side of that story is that the tree recovered magnificently on both occasions.

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  13. All of your glorious photos have made my day and I'm looking forward to spring more than ever! It's amazing what a few good days of rain can do. And that lemon tree....I am in total AWE - just wow!!

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    1. I'm lucky to have inherited the lemon tree as well as lime, navel orange and mandarin orange trees with the garden, Margaret. Unfortunately, citrus trees in California are currently under threat by an insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads a disease fatal to citrus.

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  14. Wow, look at all those lemons...and Calla Lilies...and flowers! I'm glad to hear you're getting enough rain this year. The garden looks great!

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    1. It doesn't take much rain to make a major difference here, Beth. Well, last year's 3.88 inches did us no favors but we're at 12.74 inches as of this evening with more expected. We may exceed our "normal" annual total of 15 inches this year.

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  15. Wonderful news about the wet stuff Kris! Your lemon tree is absolutely glorious.

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    1. More rain came through this very afternoon, Anna. And another storm is due on Wednesday. We're at risk of getting soggy but I still love it.

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  16. You have moss paths, too! As well as so many other botanical beauties. And a lemon tree! Lemon trees can survive here only in hothouses, but most gardeners I know get dreamy when thinking of them. So glad you are having lots of rain. I can imagine how wonderful your spring will be.

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    1. I'm starting to get a little worried about some of my succulents, Deb, but trusting that my sandy soil will whisk the excess water away. I'm hoping that spring will indeed live up to my expectations.

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  17. Wow, you have a lot of color in your garden with very few actual blooms (at least in this post!). Oh, the magic that rain can produce - it all looks so beautiful. May I lift the photo of the Ageratum corymbosum leaves for inspiration in my fiber work?

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  18. Hooray for rain!! Woohoo! Moss in Los Angeles? Wow!

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    1. Moss happens even here, Tammy :) It usually doesn't hold up against summer's heat but it's resilient and returns once the rain and cooler temperatures do. Or perhaps I should say if the rain and cooler temperatures return.

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