Rain—just kidding!

As I mentioned recently, 2013 was the driest year on record in California, and we’re on the verge of a severe drought. Rain—or the lack thereof—is on everybody’s mind. Watching the weather forecast for any sign of precipitation has become a pastime for many.

Palpable excitement was in the air on Saturday because there was a 40% probability of rain. The day started out cloudy—fairly promising!—and as the morning progressed the clouds became ever more brooding. And finally, it started.


And then it stopped just as fast as it had begun.

Yep, what you see in the photo above was all the rain we received.

Joyous anticipation was quickly replaced by sadness and impending resignation. There’s no precipitation in the 10-day forecast. In fact, meteorologists are saying that January might be completely dry, without any measurable rainfall. A sense of foreboding, even disaster, is beginning to build. What will do if this continues?

I’m not sure, but what I do know is our backyard with its many potted bamboos is looking sad indeed. Just take a look.


Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Castillon Inversa’


Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Castillon Inversa’


Phyllostachys nigra


Phyllostachys nigra


Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’


Sasaella bitchuensis


Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda


Pleioblastus viridistriatus


Indocalamus tessellatus


Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata ‘Aztecorum’)


Otatea acuminata ‘Aztecorum’. There’s no coming back from leaves looking like that. I’ve been watering this bamboo quite regularly, because it’s one I definitely want to keep alive.

What’s doing well in this corner of the backyard! Agaves and cycads! They don’t seem to be fazed by the lack of water.


Agave chiapensis (and Dioon edule on the left)

In the front yard, the Bambusa oldhamii and Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ are hanging in there. They are in the ground which must still have enough moisture to sustain them. (I ran the sprinklers last week.)


Bambusa oldhamii and Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’

Even some of my cacti, which general don’t want much water in the winter, have started to shrivel from the lack of moisture. While this looks a bit alarming, it’s a normal response and no cause for worry. Still, it’s a metaphor for this cruel and unusual winter.


White Sands claret cup (Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘White Sands’)


Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris)


  1. Cacti shriveling says it all. Extremes are never good, neither is desirable. Hope you guys get some much needed rain soon, cross fingers!

  2. Yeah not good. But I would just give them some water as you don't want them to die! I'm crossing my fingers and toes like Mark and Gaz say and doing the rain dance!

  3. I am a bad person, because I've started watering more heavily in anticipation of the coming water restrictions (if we don't have water restrictions this summer, I'll be amazed). I did something this weekend I've never done before--I watered the ficus tree.

  4. Knowing how "PC" Davis is, I'm afraid we'll be stuck with water rationing too, despite the fact our source is wells, not river water. I was contemplating a makeover of a few of my garden beds this coming year, but will probably not do it. I'd hate to drop a bundle at Annie's, Berkeley Hort. and other destination nurseries, and have to watch it all die once the 90-100 degree days start. Sue

  5. Wow, that sounds rough. We're pretty dry here too, hitting 44 degrees this past weekend, with 4 bushfires to go with it (one near my parents' house taking out 46 homes and a life, not to mention countless animals). Then today I read an article saying our Eucalypts are dying because they're unable to adapt to the changing climate quickly enough, and it's not the first time of late that I've heard/seen this. If a gum tree can't survive, I worry. The shriveling cacti are alarming!

  6. Have you thought about looking into a greywater tank, to be used for garden irrigation? I think about this myself all the time, and we've got "plenty" of precip compared to you.


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