People in Southern California have been trying to delude themselves for over a century. Palm trees, sandy beaches, tropical flowers, lush lawns...the dirty truth is that we're not tropical, we're almost desert.
The area only looks a lush as it does because we import tons of water and splash it all over our yards in a desperate attempt to fool ourselves we're in Hawaii or some other island paradise.
In the summer, we get hot. Very hot. Our thermometer peaked at 117 last summer and regularly flirts, or goes steady, with 110.
In the winter, we get cold and the temps can dip below freezing.
One key factor in my garden plan is to keep plants that can tolerate a little cold so, other than our house plants and our lone phalaenopsis orchid, the tropical plants in my backyard can tolerate a day or two down to 28 degrees. Longer than that and they start dropping like flies.
It's not to say that they like it down there. Lately, the temps have been dipping into the low 30s. Our lowest temp so far is 32. I keep a thermometer in the backyard that I can see through our kitchen window. Each morning I check it to see how cold it god and then watch the weather forecast to see if its' supposed to get cooler.
The plants still react. At the top of the page is our plumeria at the height of its summer glory. The next picture down shows what it looks like during a cold spell (with a rogue Mr. Lincoln bloom poking fun at it). The leaves will all be off soon and the trees will go dormant for awhile.
Our bouganvillea looks a little ragged in the cold, as does some of the euphorbia and the guava tree leaves react with a purple hue.
The grape vine is just about to drop the last of its leaves.
If I see that we hit the magic number of 28, and it looks like colder weather will be coming, the potted plants (mostly cymbidium orchids) are moved to the garage until it's passed.
I'm watching those cymbidiums closely, there's too many buds waiting to open to ignore.
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
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