Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Rain: we asked for it, we got it

After five years of epic drought, California has swung to the other extreme. A series of wet tropical storms has been dumping heavy amounts of rain (and snow in the higher elevations) on California, raising the specter of serious flooding in many areas. This video was shot by Sacramento Bee reporter Sue Morrow flying into Sacramento International Airport on Monday, January 9.

It's too early to tell what effect all this precipitation will have on the drought, but the longer the rains continue (another one is buffeting us as I write this) the brighter the outlook is.

But I do know that the soil in our garden is way beyond the saturation point. Puddles are forming everywhere. It's a good thing that I've started to plant succulents and other plants that require sharp drainage on mounds. So far they're sitting hit and relatively dry. All I want right now is a break in the rain--how about a week of warm and sunny days so things can dry out?

Backyard; the area on the left is the new bed I'm working on
Newly planted Helleborus and Heuchera maxima
Newly planted Banksia grandis (dwarf coastal form) on the left and Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee' on the right
Helleborus 'Penny's Pink'
Fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis)
Aeonium 'Cyclops'
Aeonium escobarii and Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'
Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'. I just noticed a brown spot on one leaf. I hope it's not the beginning of some sort of fungal problem...
Leaves backing up in the gutter
Aloe ferox flowers looking good
Aloe 'Erik the Red' in the foreground
This is the foliage of a giant Mediterranean bulb called sea squill (Drimia maritima). It's never flowered for me, but I hope it will this year. The smallish agave on the left is Agave ‘Grey Ghost’, a gift from a friend. ‘Grey Ghost’ is thought to be a hybrid between Agave salmiana var. ferox  and Agave asperrima. It was available for a short period of time through Plant Delights Nursery.
Leucadendron 'Jester' all bent over in the wind. It never needed staking but it does now...
We have a copious crop of Bearss limes (Citrus ×latifolius 'Bearss') this year. These are the regular supermarket limes. If you leave them on the tree, they turn yellow, just like a lemon. When ripe, they fall off (and, in our case, roll into the gutter).
Agave guadalajarana 'Leon'
A gift from the wind: mistletoe blown out of the execrable 'Bradford' pear tree that still disgraces our front yard
There's the 'Bradford' pear on the left. I much prefer to look at the Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides 'Viridividatta').
Now time for some abstract photos:






And this is what rain looks like at night (photos taken with flash):



No camera was harmed in the production of these images. They were all taken on an Olympus Tough TG-4 that's waterproof to 50 feet. I originally bought it for my trip to Adak, Alaska in September 2015 but I barely used it there because it didn't rain much. I'm glad I'm finally able to bring this wonderful camera out of retirement.


20 comments:

  1. It never rains, but it pours, eh? A truism come true. I've been watching the weather reports for all over CA and the most interesting is the opening of the weir to flood the Yolo Bypass. Flood and rain is not new. Grand idea you had to put your succulents on mounds. A premonition? Love the abstracts especially the night ones. Aeoniums are lovin' it, here, too.

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    1. Truisms are rooted in the truth :-).

      The Sacramento Weir that allows water to flow into Yolo Bypass was opened yesterday for the first time in 10+ years. In hindsight, I wish I'd gone to see it happen.

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  2. Wow. I hope everything will be okay, that's a lot of rain! Today I discovered a pond in the park just up the street from us. In the 11 years we've been there I've never seen that happen. It's at the bottom of the sledding hill. All it takes is about a quarter inch of snow and kids are up there sledding. Get this...were closing in on 5" of snow now (it started at about 6pm) and it shows no signs of slowing down. I wonder if it will freeze so the kids can sled down and across. Crazy weather times!

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    1. Our weather is more or less "normal" (although "normal" has been redefined in recent years). Your weather, though, is positively crazy.

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  3. Crazy weather! In the desert, we've been getting rain, but in manageable amounts for my back yard to absorb and not puddle too much. I'm so glad that most of my garden is permeable - less runoff and more places for the water to soak in! The roads around here are another matter...

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    1. I always thought our native soil was clay but it turns out it's a Sycamore series soil. It's slower-draining that sandy loam but better than clay. The puddles are all gone today, and a series of sunny days is in the forecast. That's good news!

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  4. Rain is like that too much or too little. I lived in Sacto when there was lots of flooding. I remember after the rain storms would go thru we got a day with no fog. I love that! Hope the plants don't drown. I love your artistic pictures. I was looking at them on Instagram last night.

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    1. I've lived in the Sacramento Valley since 1989, and back then there used to tule fog and flooding almost every winter. All that went away 15+ years ago. I don't think we had a really foggy day once this winter.

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  5. I was wondering how you and your garden fared during the storms. Glad that you finally got some rain and that this will help with the drought. Hope you get a few dry days between rain events!

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    1. I think we're in good shape. I hope that doesn't mean people go back to the old ways. Because the next drought is just around the corner.

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  6. You could justifiably go back to Bamboo! Caveat Emptor: ‘Grey Ghost’ gets MASSIVE -- 11 ft across.

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    1. You're close to the source! Have you seen a full-size 'Grey Ghost' at Plant Delights? I'm hoping in our dry-summer climate it will stay smaller. I have room for maybe 5-6 ft, definitely not for 11 :-).

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  7. From one extreme to another. I hope all your succulents come through the deluge without harm. We haven't received nearly as much rain but even I'm concerned that some of my succulents may not appreciate the nearly continuous wet conditions. Your abstract views of the rain are wonderful.

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    1. I just noticed some rot on one in-ground agave. Hoping it's just the outer leaves....

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  8. I will join in solidarity to vote for 1 week of sun. I'm going to have the mother of all weed seasons here this spring, but I'm glad I didn't follow through on my plan to spread a couple yards of mulch in December-it would have floated away to parts unknown. Do you cover those Aeoniums Gerhard ? I can't get one to overwinter for the life of me. A. nobile held it's own till we had a few nights in the mid to high 20's

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    1. Kathy, neither of these aeoniums was covered but they're in somewhat protected spots. A. nobile is particularly tender; I think mine are a bit hardier.

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  9. We've gotten a puddle or two, but they vanish after about twenty minutes--still so dry here. The prediction is for nearly a week of clear weather starting tomorrow, then a major storm next weekend. Sounds good?

    Abstract photos very cool! The rest of them, too. I am finding with the Leucadendrons here that pruning makes them much better--bushier, happier. Also the cuttings look great in a vase in the house for literally months.

    Is there an issue with the city with your tree in the 'Erik The Red' photo? Anything that blocks a pedestrian's path on a sidewalk here gets a warning/fine/chopped.

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    1. No issue with the palo verde next to 'Erik the Red'. We keep it trimmed so the branches are 7 ft. above the sidewalk. But it's growing fast so we need to keep on top of it.

      Thanks for the leucadendron advice. I'll be much more aggressive with them this year because I do want them to become bushy, not leggy.

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  10. My experience so far is the same as Hoov's -- no standing water, but we haven't received near your rainfall yet. I saw an Instagram or FB of a variegated drimia, and all I could think was what a slooow grower that must be. The non-varieg bulb seems to take forever to mature!

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    1. A variegated drimia? Gotta look for it. It sounds very cool.

      I hope you'll continue to get rain. At this point, you need it much more than we do.

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