Wet stuff is finally here

Until yesterday, less than 3 inches of rain had fallen since the current water year began on July 1, 2011. That is dry even for us! In fact, I can’t remember ever having to turn on the sprinklers and drip irrigation in December and January as often as I did this year. Even then it was challenging keeping everything hydrated, especially potted plants. Occasional high winds did their part in drying out sensitive plants, like the yellow Buddha belly bamboo (Bambusa ventricosa ‘Kimmei’) in the photo below.

These potted bamboos are loving the rain!
LEFT: Bambusa ventricosa ‘Kimmei’
CENTER: Bambusa dolichomerithalla ‘Silverstripe’
RIGHT:Semiarundinaria fastuosa

All of that changed when the first in what is predicted to be a series of wet storms made its long-awaited entrance last night. It has been raining steadily all day—slowly, almost like a continuous drizzle. This is the kind of rain I love because it soaks into the parched soil instead of running off like a gully washer would.

On Thursday my wife and I put up the tarp over the succulent table once again to protect my xeric beauties from the rain. I like how the tarp seems to collect the light; the entire area appears to be brighter than without it.

Succulent table
Tarp with rain drops

I also set out a few potted plants on the walkway so they can get a good soaking. Rain water is so much nicer than our alkaline tap water!

Soaking up the long-awaited rain

The three clumping bamboos in front of the house are loving the rain. Now they can drink their fill and work on replacing the leaves that have become ratty over the last few months.

LEFT: Bambusa oldhamii
CENTER: Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’
RIGHT: Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’

Aeoniums—like many aloes—are winter growers. This is their active season, and they appreciate a good soaking. The soil in these pots is loose and fast-draining so there is little risk of rot in spite of nighttime temperatures in the 40s.

Unknown green Aeonium species. I used to think this was Aeonium undulatum, but I’m not longer sure. Can anybody give a positive ID?
Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’

Some plants are beyond rescue, though. Not even the most restorative rain can revive these gingers and elephant ears in our tropical bed. But that’s the normal life cycle of these plants in our less-than-tropical parts. As soon as reliably warm days return in spring, they’ll produce new growth from their rhizomes or tubers.

Tropical bed


  1. I'm going to have to remember the tarp idea (on a smaller scale) for those few plants that can take the cold but not the wet winters.

    It seems brighter under the tarp because it's diffusing the light, sending more of it toward your eyes and less down to the plants. 8^)


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