UNITED STATES—Rain is at least as relevant as temperature is to the seasons here. Temperature does not change as much. The warmest of summer weather does not seem to be terribly hot. Low humidity helps. The coolest of winter weather is not too terribly cold. Some local climates lack frost. The difference between dry weather and rainy weather is much more obvious.
After all, rainy weather ends during spring, and does not resume until about now. Almost no rain occurs during the extensively arid summer season. This includes late spring and early autumn. Summer thundershowers are uncommon. Therefore, almost all rain occurs during winter. Some also occurs somewhat variably during late autumn and early spring.
This is quite normal for local chaparral climates. Comparatively to other climates, it might be both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is why most landscapes, particularly lawns, rely on irrigation. It is also why the growing season is so long here. This climate provides more pleasant weather to facilitate more gardening. It also necessitates more gardening.
This is now likely the rainy season.
Recent rainy weather is likely the beginning of the rainy season. If so, it is obviously also the end of the dry season. Transition from one season to the next is not on a very precise schedule, though. Dry weather could potentially resume for a while. Conversely, El Nino has potential to promote rainy weather. This winter could be even rainier than last winter!
Even if rainy weather does not resume for a while, irrigation requires seasonal reduction. This includes frequency and duration of automatic irrigation. Vegetation consumes much less moisture while dormant through winter. Less moisture evaporates from soil while the weather is cool. Rain may provide most of the garden with more moisture than it can use.
Unfortunately though, rain is also potentially messy. It makes soil muddy, and can cause erosion. It dislodges deteriorating deciduous foliage, especially in conjunction with wind. Colorful deciduous foliage is much less appealing on pavement or lawn than in its trees. Raking fallen leaves, and all other gardening, is less pleasurable during rainy weather of autumn.
Highlight: Variegated Boston Fern
Boston fern is merely one of several cultivars of Nephrolepis exaltata. Its cultivar name is ‘Bostoniensis’. Variegated Boston fern, or tiger fern, is reputedly a cultivar of this cultivar. Its cultivar name is either ‘Variegata’ or ‘Tiger’. From a distance, it seems to be a yellower version of the original. Prettily intricate stripes become apparent with closer observation.
Variegated Boston fern is a bit smaller and a bit less vigorous than common Boston fern. Like all variegated cultivars, it works with a bit less chlorophyll. Mature potted specimens might get no wider or higher than three feet. Unvariegated Boston fern can be more than four feet from top to bottom. Both could be larger if their long fronds were less pendulous.
In home gardens, variegated Boston fern can get rather tattered through winter. It is likely to defoliate if exposed to even minor frost. This is why it is more popular as houseplants, usually in hanging pots. Such potted specimens rely on consistent watering. Diffused but bright sunlight is best. Occasional application of fertilizer enhances foliar color and vigor.
Tony Tomeo can be contacted at tonytomeo.com.