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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 warm
|Earlier this past week, fed the roses with ammonium sulfate. This will be the last time the roses are fed until they start to show new growth in the spring.
Today, had an outside service mow the back lawn and weed My Hill. The red fescue (Festuca rubra) lawn has to be short enough to rake leaves from it as they fall; otherwise, so many leaves accumulate that they smother the grass. My Hill had far too many seedling trees (fallout from both The Tree and a neighbor's Italian alder (Alnus cordata)); they had to be removed before new root growth in the spring made them impossible to pull. Of course, there were many other weeds as I rarely climb My Hill.
Clear, sunny, and mild
|Planted some more wax-leaf begonias along the brick walkway in front.
A few months ago, I had some repairs to dry-rot in the trim on the front of my house. The workers tramped a path through the pink clover "lawn". Today, I generously dusted that path with gypsum to undo the soil compaction.
Tied down two long canes of my climbing 'Peace' rose in back.
It appears that the hollyhock seeds have sprouted (8 Oct). I hope the snails allow them to survive.
Clear, sunny, and mild
|Started weeding the parkway in front, again. While summer annual weeds have mostly died already, there are enough perennial weeds that need to be removed.
Trimmed the edge of the teardrop bed that faces the east bed in back.
Cleaned about 3 feet of rain gutter near the rear downspout along the east edge of my roof. While there are screens to prevent leaves from clogging the gutters, those screens do not stop dust and the tiny leaves from my neighbor's Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens). I removed several handsful of what had become compost. The downspout had become partially clogged, but I rinsed it out (possibly an unauthorized use of water under our local water agency's drought ordinance).
Cloudy, gray, and cool
|After 129 consecutive days without measurable rain, the 2009-2010 rainy season began today. If we had not had an unusual rain storm early in June, our dry summer would have seen more than 200 days without rain.
(By the time the storm ended in the early morning on 15 Oct, we got 1.58 inches of rain. Of course, this does not mean an end to our three-year drought. The end will be determined by how much more rain we get before next April.)
Our climate is characterized by a dry season in the summer and a not-so-dry season in the winter. In the U.S. and Canada, the Rocky Mountains make a distinct climate division. To the east, summer is the wet season; there is more moisture in summer rains than in winter snows. To the west, summer is the dry season; water supplies depend on the springtime melt of winter snows.
With the ground wet and constant drizzle, I did not go into my garden except to check on the drains around my house. When the ground dries enough to support a ladder, I may have to clean some of the gutters at the edge of my roof.
Clear, sunny, and mild
|The dwarf citrus has just started to show new shoots, a result of the latest feeding (16 Sep). Since I don't want to promote new, tender growth just before night frosts begin, I deleted further feeding from my calendar until next March.
My wife went with me to a local nursery. I wanted to buy some more wax-leaf begonias and Shasta daisies. My wife was fascinated by some cyclamen (C. persicum) in bloom. When I told her to pick one, it took her five minutes to choose a bright pink. I also bought some begonias, but they didn't have a good selection of daisies.
Potted the cyclamen and put it the breakfast room greenhouse window.
Planted the begonias along the brick walkway in front, extending the planting that was already there (17 Jun).
Decided to use the remaining rooted cutting of 'Goodwin Creek Gray' lavender (Lavandula lanata × dentata, 25 May) to replace the potted 'Inga' azalea that was fried in the latest heat wave (29 Sep). Although this variety of lavender can take normal watering, it is somewhat drought tolerant and thus should survive the next heat wave without requiring extra water.
None of the seedling hollyhocks (Acea rosea, 11 Aug) survived long enough to produce regular leaves. This was not a surprise since Sunset's Western Garden Book says they must be seeded in place in the fall. Today, I sowed all the remaining seeds that I collected (11 Jun) in the east bed against the block wall, in an area where they will get the sun they need. I sowed them quite densely; if too many sprout and survive, I will thin them in the early spring.
Clear, sunny, and cold
|Dug up and divided the 'Gold Galore' bearded iris in back. After picking over the rhizomes, I replanted three and had 18 left over to give away.
Trimmed along the back walkway between the lawn and the teardrop bed.
Clear, sunny, and warm
|Yesterday, the tree service came and repaired my Liquidambar. They also removed the dwarf myrtle (Myrtus communis 'Compacta') that was crowding the tangelo in back (1 Apr).
Today, I planted three ranunculus (R. asiaticus) tubers in the rose bed, adding red, white, and bright yellow to the ranunculus that are already there. October is the prime month for planting perennials, bulbs, shrubs, and trees in southern California. The soil is still warm from summer, promoting root growth; and the weather is cool or mild, reducing water stress on foliage. Of course, today is an exception: warm Santa Anna winds are blowing, with humidity so low that even established plants are stressed.
Trimmed along the walkway between the lawn and the circular bed. This also involved trimming the grass away from the perennials — heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) — growing within the edge of the lawn.
Because of the drought, I want to make sure my sprinklers are operating efficiently. I briefly ran the sprinklers in back and found four problems.
Finished cutting back the Sprenger asparagus (16&18 Sep). The edible asparagus (A. officinalis) is starting to go dormant; I cut down a few.
Cloudy, gray with occasional hazy sun, and mild
|After 13 consecutive days of temperatures at or above 90°F — five of them greater than 100° — it was great to get out into my garden on a mild day. I had been avoiding most garden tasks because of the heat.
As an example of the severity of the latest heat wave, the potted 'Inga' azalea on the brick walkway in front was fried. All of its leaves are crisp. Some green is still visible if I scratch the bark, so I'm going to wait a while before declaring it dead. This plant survived severe heat waves in prior years. In the meantime, I've been trying to think of what plant to use as a replacement.
Most of today, I merely puttered. Besides grooming away various dead flowers, I tied canes of the climbing '4th of July' rose in front and the climbing 'Peace' rose in back into place. I also trimmed a little around the teardrop bed.
The owner of my favorite tree service came today, not the less expensive service that I used early this year (1 Feb) but the more expensive one that I have used on and off for many years. First he looked at the Liquidambar styraciflua in front, which dropped a large branch this summer (4 Jul) and a branch in each of the two previous summers. He told me this is a result of the extreme hot weather we have had; the wood and the moisture in the wood expand so much during a heat wave that it causes the branch to crack. Tomorrow, he is scheduled to remove the broken stub and trim a few other branches that are at risk of breaking. He also looked my peach tree in back. Contrary to my expectations (6 Sep), he told me that it should continue to bear good crops for the next several years. Instead of removing it, he advised me to keep it.
Clear, sunny, and hot
|Trimmed the dwarf ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') growing on the mailbox.
Cut back the Sprenger asparagus some more (16 Sep). This plant is quite thorny. When both hands started to bleed, I stopped cutting.
Trimmed some more along the walkways in back (16 Sep). From the Alstroemeria, I continued along the rose bed to where that bed ends on the circular brick patio. Next, I have to trim between the lawn on one side and the circular teardrop beds on the other side.
Clear, sunny, and warm
|Trimmed the edges of the pink clover "lawn" in front along the shrubs that grow against my house.
Started cutting back the Sprenger asparagus (A. densiflorus 'Sprengeri') that grows at the extreme south end of the east bed (adjacent to the camellia bed). I want to cut this down completely to bare soil. In the spring (or sooner), it will resprout.
Trimmed African daisies (Osteospermum fruticosum) that were crowding one of the Rhaphiolepis 'Majestic Beauty' on My Hill.
Fed the dwarf citrus and gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii') with ammonium sulfate with small amounts of iron and zinc sulfate. I expect the last feeding of these will be early next month.
Trimmed some more along the walkways in back (10 Sep), almost reaching the walkway intersection where the Alstroemeria grows in a container.
Clear, sunny, and hot
|The harvested dill (11 Aug) is now quite dry. I discarded last year's harvest. After removing all the coarse stems, I still had more dried dill than I got last year.
We're planning to have the front (south side) of the house painted soon, so I trimmed the Podocarpus, Rhaphiolepis indica, and dwarf Burford holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii Nana') away from touching the house.
Planted a rooted cutting of 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender (Lavandula lanata × dentata, 25 May) in the circular bed in back, where Cleopatra ate the sea pinks (thrift, Armeria meritima) to death.
Continued Monday's trimming along the walkways in back (7 Sep), getting halfway past the rose bed before the heat made me stop.
Clear, sunny, and hot
|See my new Gardening During a Drought.
Finally resumed trimming along the walkways in back (2 Aug), continuing from the dwarf lemon to the separation between the west and rose beds.
Trimmed the Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum), which is the focus of the teardrop bed. I removed shoots that interfered with walking along the path towards the east bed; although the tree tends to have weeping growth, I also removed many hanging branches. Then I started trimming the edges of the bed and weeding the adjacent path. There was so much spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata) coming up through the decomposed granite that I was quite tired before I finished. Spurge is an awful weed. It seems to start dropping very tiny seeds almost before the plant is large enough to see. Any shoots that break off and don't get picked up will take root. Added to the spurge were seedlings of pink clover and Cuphea hyssopifolia from plants in the bed. Both my hands were getting sore from grubbing in the grit of the walkway.
My neighbor across the street has a nice fig tree. He said I should come over and pick ripe figs whenever I want, without even ringing his doorbell. Today, I got about eight large figs (one, however, was already fermenting). In exchange, I gave him two lemons from my dwarf tree.
Clear, sunny, and hot
|Through Friday (two days ago), the temperature reached or exceeded 100°F on nine consecutive days. Between the heat and the surgery on my right hand (and yes, I'm right-handed), I've done no serious gardening for three weeks. (Feeding the citrus and roses (26 Aug) doesn't count as serious gardening.) Today, the weather is slightly cooler and my hand feels much better.
A search for a 'Golden Blush' peach (to replace the 'Ventura' that is well past its prime) has been unsuccessful so far. I can't even locate a source for another 'Ventura' peach. In four months, the local nurseries will be selling bare-root peach trees; but they can't tell me yet what varieties they will have in stock.
Trimmed the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) in front from the brick walkway and the wax-leaf begonias that border the walkway.
The potted sage (Salvia officinalis) in back did not survive. I bought yet another and potted it. This time, I will leave the pot in a shady part of the patio until October or November, after the weather cools. This is an herb we actually use in the kitchen. In fact, I used some today on a pork roast.
Inserted another screw eye into the top of the slough wall behind the climbing 'Peace' rose in back and then tied down several canes. Some critter broke the only long cane on the climbing 'Dublin Bay' rose, so there is nothing to tie down for that one.
Weather data are from the Cheeseboro (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 the 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 13 Oct 2009 with the first measurable rain in 129 days, 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. Also, a day that would normally be characterized as "mild" might instead be "warm" if the immediately previous days were quite cold.
The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:
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