UNITED STATES—Seasons here may seem to be less extreme than they are within other climates. Summer warmth is rarely too hot, and when it is, it does not continue for too long. Winter chill may be insufficient for some plants that rely on it to sustain their winter dormancy. Autumn and spring are as notable for the first and last seasonal rain as for colorful foliage and bloom.
This is actually very relevant within local chaparral climates. Rain and lack of rain define seasons here as much as extremes of temperature. Where the traditional four seasons of winter, spring, summer and autumn merge so softly, the rainy season and the dry season generally do not. Rain begins abruptly in autumn, and ends almost as abruptly in spring.
Consequently, home gardens can get inhospitably dry without adequate irrigation during more than half of the year. Then, they may require no irrigation for almost half of the year. Warm weather that coincides with the dry season enhances aridness. Cool weather that coincides with the rainy season enhances dampness. Mild climates can get extreme too.
Gardening changes with the seasons.
Recent rain ended both the dry season and the fire season, and began the rainy season. For many plants, irrigation will be unnecessary until the dry season resumes next spring. Plants that continue to require irrigation will require much less, and only as their soil gets dry during prolonged lapses of rain. Therefore, automated irrigation requires adjustment.
Potted plants, bedding plants and young plants with minimal root dispersion will be more likely to want watering during warm lapses of rain. Substantial foundation plants beneath eaves generally extend roots beyond sheltered soil, but some do not. Also, potted plants under eaves of porches are unable to reach rain moistened soil with their confined roots.
While diminishing the need for irrigation, rain can be messy. It is, of course, wet. It makes soil muddy. Runoff can cause erosion. Stormy weather, which typically involves both rain and wind, dislodges copious foliar debris. Such debris accumulates while no one wants to go outside during stormy weather to rake it. Inconvenient timing seems to be a pattern. Yet, rain is undeniably gratifying.
Highlight: Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
In the wild, Atlas cedar can get almost a 100 feet tall. Bluish gray or rarely yellowish cultivars which are popular for home gardens are generally more compact. Perhaps they could get as grand as wild trees after a few centuries. Weeping blue Atlas cedar, Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ is an strange one. It can barely stand 15 feet tall and wide.
The trunks and limbs of weeping blue Atlas cedar are initially so pliant that they sag onto the ground without support. New stems try to grow upward, and may do so for a few feet, or may hang downward after achieving only a few inches of height. Trunks need binding for either straight or serpentine form. They lignify slowly as they mature and gain caliper.
Weeping blue Atlas cedar requires commitment. Indiscriminate pruning or shearing ruins the naturally sculptural form. Such pendulous growth necessitates meticulous grooming, although it may not be necessary very often within spacious situations. Expanding trunks eventually absorb the curves of serpentine form. Low stems can sprawl over the ground.
Tony Tomeo can be contacted at tonytomeo.com.