Prunus serrulata 'Kanzen'

Gardener’s Log – April 2022

While Mark Twain is inaccurately attributed with a statement about the bad weather in San Francisco supposedly saying: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” I can now categorically state that the worst winter we ever had in Oceanside, Oregon, was April 2022. The month has been atrocious in just about every manner. It has been cold and wet, including snow and hail. Hardly a day when it became possible to make much progress in the yard.

While conditions are not tracked here, Portland may have its wettest month for any April. They were in the top ten when barely half-way through the month. Snow has snarled the city and brought hundreds of trees down. The weight of the snow captured by slowly opening buds and blossoms caused havoc. The city is saying will take weeks to clean up.

Garden Progress

Still, a small amount of progress has been made. More land for the Mediterranean garden has been cleared. I had hoped that it would be getting more sun than it actually seems to be getting. The large Douglas Firs next door are blocking most of the sun and it is certainly not getting “full sun”. Perhaps it will have to become a Mediterranean semi-shade garden.

You can get a feel for the steepness of the ground when you see the bare soil here. The height difference here is almost 6 feet across the span of 10 feet. To make matters worse, at the far end, the lower point is even lower while the upper point has risen slightly, making it almost a 1:1 grade

Visits

While not a lot of progress was made outside, we did utilize a dry but grey day to take a visit to Dancing Oaks nursery in Monmouth. This is a nursery that has many unique and hard to find plants. The proprietors make international trips and bring new plants back with them. These are plant rarely found in the U.S. nursery trade. Towards the end of last year, they made a trip to England and brought back a number of plants. They are now trialing and maybe will make available in a few years.

What made this visit even more special was the small number of other people who are yet to venture out to the nursery. With only a few other visitors, we managed to make wonderful use of one of the owners (Thanks Fred). Fred not only helped us find plants on our list, but also imparted his wisdom about plants that would do well under our extreme growing conditions. We came back with many new plants and good feeling about plants that we had shunned because we were concerned about the potential for them escaping into our habitat.

Manzanita and Dicentra at Hunter Arboretum
Manzanita and Dicentra at Hunter Arboretum

That visit also resulted in a wander around the Hunter Botanical garden in Dallas, Oregon. There is a write up about that here. A true delight hidden alongside the city park.

On the last day of the month, a plant pop-up in Wheeler and a visit to the Wonder Garden in Manzanita raised the spirits. I shall have to write about the Wonder Garden in the near future. It has much the same climate as we do and a lot of plants in common. Given that they are a volunteer run garden (as is the Hunter Arboretum) I did drop them off a plant that may do well for them – Grevillea juniperina ‘Pink Lady’ This is the plant that got me started collecting Grevillea.

What’s in Bloom

The cold weather has slowed things down this year. But there is a bright side. It means that while some plants have been delayed, others have remained in bloom longer than they would in a more typical year. One Grevillea has been blooming its heart out for most of the month is Grevillea lavandulacea ‘Penola’. It has been loaded with its bright red to magenta flowers that are set off so well against the silvery foliage.

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola'
Grevillea lavandulacea ‘Penola’

There is so much to love about Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzen’, the flowering cherry tree. It sits across from the tea house. The coppery color of the new foliage that crowns the double pink blossoms is stunning. This year, not only have the blossoms lasted much longer, but it is the first year that the deer did not tear the tree apart trying to eat them.

Prunus serrulata 'Kanzen'
Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzen’

Another outstanding plant this month has been Rhododendron x yakushimanum ‘Gold Prinz’. Rhodies do not do well for us. We planted a bunch of them when I first started to create the garden here. But they were one of the plants that told us we were going to have to think differently because they suffer during our dry summer. But this year Gold Prinz has put on quite the show. The buds really do start off an intense red and the final form of the blossom is a pale yellow.

Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Gold Prinz'
Rhododendron yakushimanum ‘Gold Prinz’

Weather Summary

As I said at the beginning, it was a long, cold, wet month. Let’s start with the temperature. While individual days can be really nice in April, not this year. Last year, we had four days over 70 and one over 80. This year, that total would be none. In fact, the average temperature across the whole month was 3.5°F colder. Last year, the average was 49.8 and this year a measly 46.3.

But that is nothing compared to the rainfall comparisons. Last year, we had 1.35″ of rain. This year it was 10.81″. Our last rain event of this year gave us over 2″ of rain. That is more than the whole months total from last year! I hope that makes some of the plants happy, but then again I know that one day after rain, the soil is starting to dry out.

The anemometer remains broken, so please ignore wind speed.

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