Gardener’s Log – January 2023
Unfortunately, last year was not the exception. A couple of cold snaps already this January have shown us that last year was aberration. Prior to 2022, we had barely touched freezing since we moved here 8 years ago. A couple of times we could see frost down the bottom of the garden, but the little weather station that we have up by the house hung around the 32F mark. Last year we dropped to 22F and this year we have already seen 27F and 25F. That firmly puts us at USDA Zone 9B at best. Still, this is a lot better than the Z8 that we are officially classified as.
It is time for people to start thinking I am sick or lost my marbles. We have now gone through a whole month of the new year and I have not bought a single plant, bulb or seed. It is possible that my wife views this as a miracle, but I promise this will not continue into February. We have an exciting trip to southern California all set up and I know we will manage to bring back a plant or two. Nothing like our trips over the past couple of years. We are flying this time, and so it will just be a few tucked in with the clothes. In previous years, the car was chock full.
Back in December, one of our local nurseries was doing a lot of wreath making classes. They brought in a bunch of raw material that people could use. Included were a variety of different Leucadendron and Protea stems. I can never pass up an opportunity to try using any material for cuttings and that is what I did. While that was not very successful, it was still fun trying. However, the Leucadendron rubrum had really nice fat cones. I kept those in water until the cones started to open. Then I extracted the seeds, soaked them in smoke water for 24 hours and sowed them in a mix of perlite and peat. They are placed on heat and under mist. No germination yet, but I am quite hopeful.
I did have good intentions to tackle a couple of projects in January. Alas they have not progress beyond order the necessary lumber and moving those into position. One of the cold snaps got in the way. I do not like using power tools when fingers are cold, but hopefully soon I will be able to get to work on those.
One task is to build another section of the deer perimeter. There is an open area at the bottom of the large staircase that has become a path well-trodden by the deer. Once they have their route established, it is difficult to break it just by chasing them off. Just the other day I noticed that the white Camellia was blooming. The next day I grabbed the camera to take some pictures and found two deer just finishing them off. One single blossom was left!
What I have found is that a fence does not have to be solid to deter deer. I know they can jump a 6′ fence, but when there is an easier path for them, they don’t seem to like doing unnecessary exercise.
I have also found that by putting a strip of lattice about 2′ tall and elevated by about 18″ or 2′ from the ground (around eye height for the deer) that tend to see it as an impenetrable barrier. That means the rest of the fence can be very open, airy. In addition, the lattice allows for climbers to get established along the bottom. The picture below shows a similar piece of the fencing down the bottom of the garden.
The other project is to make progress on the pathways across the other side of the yard. This will become the shady woodland and natives area and connect the Winter garden to the Fairy garden. PLus, it will provide a second “working” path up to the greenhouse and growing area. In order to do that, I need to create a foundational deck that will link the Winter garden path to the staircase that will go both up and down from there. It will also help deal with the very steep drop-off of the ground in two direction there, which would have been very difficult to level using retaining walls.
None this month, but next month we will be visiting the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden, California Botanic Garden, Descano Gardens, Fullerton Arboretum, Niguel Botanical Preserve, San Diego Botanic Garden, and Balboa Park (even though the conservatory is closed for renovations.)
What’s in Bloom
While there are things blooming in the garden, and a lot more will start next month, there are a few special plants in the greenhouse that have been blooming this month. Both are Lachenalia (Cow Slips) but both of very different colors. Quadricolor is very much as its name suggest in that its blooms have four colors, and viridiflora, also as its name suggests, is turquoise, although the color does not seem to be true in the photo.
The Iris are normally the first of the bulbs to show, and this year one came along with some snowdrops. But that is not all that is blooming. Some of the Grevillea continue to put on a wonderful display, the Correa are blooming and the Crowea has blossoms as well.
While many of these do not have large flowers or totally covered with blooms, we have to remember this is January and that makes them special!
January has been fairly typical, if a little colder than previous years. The high has been 57.7, the low 25.7 and an average of 44.5F. That comes to a high of 63, low of 30.6 and average of 46.5F for last year. Last year (14.30″) saw more than twice the rainfall of this year (6.25″) although this year it dribbled out across the whole of the month making it feel wetter.
The big impact this year is that California was impacted by most of the major storms that came across the Pacific Ocean. During one week, I think they were hit by three separate atmospheric rivers. Those would normally have been aimed at us. They needed it more, but it is sad how much damage it caused to them.