Oh, what a month. To say that this has been a wild weather month is no exaggeration (see below for the averages).
The month started off great, with our second trip down to California this year. The main reason for this trip was conference but then we also visited three University of California locations that have arboretums or botanical gardens (Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Davis) and the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek.
We had 40 new plants crammed into our car, but then impending bad weather all the way from the Bay Area up the coast made us cut the trip short. Fearing that the mountain pass would become treacherous, we assessed coming up the more coastal US101, but there were reports about road closures due to landslides. Instead, we took a chance on I5 and the snowy pass. Chains were purchased, although in the end not needed.
Then came Christmas and Oceanside Oregon got a white Christmas. Most of it was hail, but there was also some snow mixed in. More arrived on Boxing Day (that’s the day after Christmas to us English folks) and some disagreement on the weather forecasting models had us dreading temps in the teens – unheard off for us. Temperatures have only touched 32 a couple times in the 6 years that we have lived here.
We crammed as many plants as we could into the greenhouse which has a small heater, but there was not room for everything and we had to be selective. There were some wrong choices, or perhaps better put, we did not have enough knowledge about some of the plants to know their tenderness.
Thankfully, we only dropped to 29 that night, and all of the later threats of cold – well evaporated. Even that has brought some heartbreak. It is now evident that we are not in zone 10 as we were beginning to assume. Some plants are clearly suffering or have died, and we may not know the full impact for some time. Still – gardening has always been about pushing limits and trying new things so we expect to have some failures.
It certainly was a cold, wet December compared to last year. On average we were almost 5 F colder. We also had 5″ more rain, the total this year being over 17″. The setup for the cold over Christmas was a weather pattern we had not seen before. Thankfully, it did not turn out to be as bad as the models predicted, but it has still resulted in some plant losses. Time will tell if any of them re-sprout in Spring. Until then – here is hoping that 2022 is a great year for the garden and all gardener’s out there!