The Southern California garden…the weeds are thriving!

I’d be very unwise to imply any complaint about winter weather conditions in Southern California. Many of you comment with a hint of awe at the warmth that comes through in the photos I’ve recently shared.  Our coldest day in February is probably warmer than most in the northern hemisphere.

But we have had some cold weather, too.

Mt. Baldy with snow

Southern Californians know this peak as Mt. Baldy–it’s rarely called by its real name, Mount San Antonio. This tallest point in the San Gabriel Mountains was named “Baldy” by the miners who came in the 1860s during the Gold Rush.

At 10,068 feet it’s the highest point in Los Angeles County, so when topped with snow, we certainly gawk a bit, marveling at the sight of all that unfamiliar white stuff.

This week’s storm didn’t produce that much rain for the valley, but we did gain plenty of fresh white powder in the mountains.

Baldy’s snow is beautiful, but what I’m most wondering is what is happening to the snow pack in the Eastern Sierras?

While we Southern California gardeners like to pretend water is not a problem, drought conditions are always a threat.

And since 65% of the water intended for Los Angeles comes from the Eastern Sierras, we hope for a good snowpack and a healthy supply of runoff to feed the Aqueduct.

I’ll never complain about our mild winter weather, but I do sometime feel weary with year-round garden maintenance. We don’t get much of a break in garden chores.

The weeds continue to grow, and although the sky may spit a little of the wet stuff, it rarely lets loose! Gardens still require some watering even throughout the winter.

These are just a few of the many succulents that  sweetly bloom in winter adding quite a bit of warmth to our landscape. They are drought tolerant, requiring very little care except for a covering of frost cloth during the most extreme cold snaps.

But do you notice the weeds? They never stop thriving!

Last weekend was dry and warm, and we thought about heading out to do something fun. Instead, I evaluated frost damage and trimmed plants, alternately spreading several bags of compost, while Jay spent the better part of two days on his hands and knees pulling dandelions and spotted spurge.

That’s part of the price we pay for a garden in a year-round Mediterranean climate. Light moisture and warm sun equals fresh weeds.

I haven’t yet decided how much time I’ll spend working in the garden this weekend, but I have a couple of hours between appointments in Pasadena today, so I’m going to spend at least a little time soaking up some garden inspiration.

Arlington Garden is a heavy dose of serenity in an urban setting. If I’m going to spend so much time weeding and pruning, I like to go where I soak up inspiration.

The garden emphasizes drought tolerant plants and the most creative use of space. It has an interesting history, too, so I’ll share that with you soon.

Arlington Garden will be my first step towards my weekend exhale.

Don’t you think we all could use a transition from the workweek to the weekend–a change of pace to help eliminate stress?

I like to give gifts.

So my gift to you is a short article from a few years ago,  “A Poet in Winter Relishes Spring in His Garden.”  This 2005 NY Times story features Stanley Kunitz, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet laureate of the United States, as he approached his 100th birthday.

Kunitz loved his garden in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and this short article makes me smile as I picture a poet using the joy he received in his garden as the palette from which he painted words…and I’ll bet that’s also where he did a lot of his own exhaling.

Now it’s your turn!