The down side of the UP side

Those of us in California that have been enduring the dreadful effects of this epic drought have finally gotten that for which we hoped and prayed.  During the past week, we had a few days of downpour, soaking the thirsty earth quite deeply.  Even the high Sierras mountain range to our east benefitted from this precipitation, in the form of lots and lots of fluffy white, giving them a record early start of ski season in Lake Tahoe.

Our gardens are delighted with this generous but unexpected drink.  It has woken sleeping perennials from their usual autumn slumber, causing them to act like they normally would in February or March, even though it is just early November.

I have large camellia bushes, in both front and back yards, that are absolutely plastered with green pea-like baby buds.  I am always delighted to see these tight green buds start to open into delicately dainty pink roses.   These blooms don’t last more than a day or two, but they are SO stunning while they are there!

Imagine my surprise to see these nubs starting to show the pink hidden beneath the green, and very early.  Since they are doing this so far ahead of their usual schedule, I’ll assume that the sudden rush of water is responsible.

Since we are just edging into the winter season, we know that colder weather is on the horizon.  Last year, we even got a FROST!  Imagine, a frost in California!  It makes sense when you look at a globe, and realize that northern California is actually at the same latitude as southern Ontario.  Windsor is the most southerly point in both Ontario (and Canada!), and even they get snow in the deep dark winter!  Assuming that the risk of frost is a reality, I worry that the over-anxious plants could get harmed, or possibly killed by Mother Nature’s wrath.

So while we are charmed to see these seriously pre-season developments, we also realize that this scenario might not have a happy ending.  If tender plants start to poke out of the earth too soon, they are at a much higher risk of damage.

The appearance  of heavy rain is a usual winter scenario here, so the perennials can’t be blamed for waking up and getting active.  The problem is that these rains we have had lately are SUCH a change from our four-years-long drought that the plants are getting too excited, TOO soon.  Their delicate little shoots are reaching up to the warm spring sunshine that they expect to find above the earth.  That won’t be the case for many more months yet, but meanwhile, these plants will likely have gotten badly frostbitten.

I am going to try to keep an eye on my plants, and at any sign of trouble I can cover them with an extra layer of mulch.  This will hopefully give them that little bit of warmth and protection that they’ll need, should a frost come calling.

This reminds me of the good ol’ days back home……


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