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Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.
Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. So here it is.
Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?
Entries are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.
When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold.
Dates refer to other entries in the same year (but perhaps a different page) as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given.
|Date and Weather||Observations and Activities|
Clear, sunny, and cool
|Planted a variety of spring "bulbs" in the rose bed. These included freesias, ranunculus (R. asiaticus), and lady tulips (Tulipa clausiana). Most tulips are not suited to the mild winters here in southern California; they must be refrigerated before planting and then replaced every year. However, T. clausiana seems to naturalize quite well in our climate.
For each bulb, I dug a hole. Because the soil was quite moist, I mixed peat moss into it to prevent the heavy clay from becoming a single mass of paste. Then I mixed bone meal into soil at the bottom of the hole and covered that with some more soil before planting the bulbs. Finally, I put a large handful of gypsum on top to help prevent the clay from becoming paste.
Actually, only the tulips are true bulbs. Freesias are corms, and ranunculus are tubers. Also, I ran out of bone meal and finished by using super phosphate.
Clear, sunny, cold, and windy
|Planted a heather bush in the middle of the front lawn and a Camellia japonica 'Daikagura' in the camellia bed in back, replacing plants that had not been doing well (20 Dec). I added generous amounts of gypsum, peat moss, and partially composted wood chips to the native soil. Since the camellia prefers an acid soil, I also added two small handsful of soil sulfur to its mix. As I refilled the planting holes, I added a handful of bone meal, with additional soil on top to separate the fertilizer from the plants' root balls. The result was that both plants were slightly above the natural grade, which — with the gypsum and organic matter — helps to provide better drainage in my heavy clay soil
Pruned the 'Baby Blanket' rose in the large pot on the patio.
Cloudy, gray, and cold
|We finally got some real rain. The total so far for this season is more than twice what we had at this time last year. However, last year was a severely dry year; so we aren't out of the drought yet. In the 2004-2005 rainy season — the extremely wet year when My Hill slipped (11 Jan 05) — we already had 10.12 inches by this date.
My landscaping is all done (2 Nov) with one major exception and some minor touch-ups. The exception is the red fescue (Festuca rubra) lawn in back. The sod farm that grows this ornamental grass can't supply any until February.
Stirred the compost pile and added some urea (50-0-0 fertilizer). Since more rain is expected (possibly tonight), I did not water the pile.
In anticipation of rain, I placed generous amounts of gypsum where I'm going to plant new roses, a Camellia japonica 'Daikagura', spring bulbs, and a new Christmas heather (actually a heath, Erica canaliculata 'Boscaweniana'). The rain should disolve the gypsum, which will improve drainage in my heavy clay soil. The Camellia replaces the same variety in the camellia bed in back. The old shrub was damaged both by the Great Freeze of '07 (15 Jan) and the trenching for the drain lines from My Hill; however, it had not been growing well even before then. The old heather had also been doing poorly, and I had it removed. The new heather will be in the middle of the main part of the front yard, away from the competing roots of my neighbor's Italian cypress.
Moved the potted herbs back onto the restored walkways near the circular and teardrop beds in back. Groomed the peppermint (Mentha piperita), tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), golden thyme (Thymus vulgaris 'Aureus'), and sage (Salvia officinalis).
(After I wrote the above, we did get a trace of rain — only 0.05 inches.)
Clear, sunny, and cold
|Although the temperature at the CHE weather station did not drop below 40°F, we had frost last night.
Took cuttings of the variegated pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum 'Aureum') from the hanging pot in the upstairs blue bathroom and potted them in a half-and-half mix of sand and peat moss. When they are well rooted, I will use them to replace their parent plant, which is becoming over-grown.
Repotted the Cymbidium orchid that winters in our dining room. It was still in its original plastic 1-gallon nursery can. I used a mix of 1/4 sand, 1/4 peat moss, and 1/2 partially composted wood chips with just a pinch of bone meal added to ensure phosphorus would be found by the roots. It was so pot-bound that I was unable to divide the individual plants. If it outgrows its new red-clay pot, I might have to cut the plants apart.
Started to assemble a new trellis to replace the trellis that buckled in October's Santa Ana wind storm (22 Oct). I used 18-gauge steel L-strips when I assembled the damaged trellis; I chose this lighter gauge because it was both less expensive and easier to handle. For this one, I'm using 14-gauge strips, which are actually heavier and thicker than 18-gauge. I have always been confused by the fact that gauges with lower numbers mean thicker strips of steel or larger diameter electrical wires.
Clear, sunny, and warm
|Last month's severe Santa Ana storm (22 Oct) substantially defoliated my dwarf navel orange tree. I saw new growth a week ago. Now, there are shoots along most branches. Normally, I don't feed the citrus after September because fertilizer promotes new growth that is much more easily damaged than mature growth by winter frost. However, since the new growth is there anyway, I gave the tree a very small dose of ammonium sulfate, iron sulfate, and zinc sulfate.
Had the final on-site inspection of the repair of My Hill this morning. The only thing left to close out the grading permit is some paper shuffling by the County, but the papers have not yet been sent by the grading contractor or by the civil engineer.
Thin clouds, hazy sun, and mild
|Earlier this year (28 May), I divided and repotted the oregano (Origanum vulgare) the same way that I did two other herbs. For some reason, the oregano failed to survive. Today, I planted a new oregano.
The 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender that I planted last month (24 Sep) failed to survive last month's Santa Ana storm. I planted a new one.
That same storm sucked the moisture out of my dwarf orange tree faster than the roots could replace it. Although the soil remained damp, leaves shriveled. There is some die-back, but new growth is sprouting.
The rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in front was blocking the public sidewalk. When I went to trim it, I discovered that last month's wind storm had shifted it so that major limbs now extend over the sidewalk. I trimmed it back to make the sidewalk passable. I now have to decide whether to remove those limbs or to try and straighten the bush.
Clear, sunny, and mild
|The landscape contractor has finished planting My Hill. In the photo, you can't see the English ivy (Hedera helix) and African daisies (Osteospermum fruticosum), both of which I hope will cover the drain pipes and V-ditches. Even the shrubs are too small to really show. (Because of the geogrid embedded in the slope, the landscape contractor could dig holes only large enough for 1 gallon shrubs.) Now, the landscape contractor will start to repair the damage to the flat area of my back yard caused while My Hill was being repaired (26 Aug).
Raked leaves in front to add to my compost pile. I put the new leaves at the bottom of the pile with a bit of partially composted leaves every so often. After watering the pile, I scattered some urea (high-nitrogen fertilizer) on top and rinsed it into the pile.
Trimmed the Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum), which was blocking the adjacent walkway.
Weather data are from the Cheesebro (CHE) weather station, a little less than 1.2 miles ENE of my house.
The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the night ending on that date.
The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)
Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before then end of the day).
Rain is in inches. Rain amounts are omitted after 60 consecutive days elapse without any measurable amount.
Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall since the start of the current rainy season, which began on 24 Sep 2007 with the first measurable rain, until noon on the indicated date.
Week is the cumulative amount of rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.
Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter.
The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:
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