Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rain, Frost & Blooming Manzanitas

Needless to say, we've had a strange weather pattern this season. La Nina acted more like a coldish El Nino, and we got pummeled by record precipitation for the month of December. At month's end, after the endless rain, we were accosted by very frosty temps.

12/30/10 6:45am. 30F, 26F with wind chill.

12/30/10 Frost on all that grassy stuff that's been sprouting up from our wet weather.

12/30/10 Frost-covered mulch along the driveway.

12/30/10 Calle Centro at Avenida La Cresta.

12/31/10 A 1/2" layer of ice formed in my utility wagon, which had been filled with water from our recent rains.

12/31/10 Remnants of the ice layer from the wagon. 

12/31/10 Hana, absconding with some of that ice.

On the bright side, the manzanitas are starting to bloom! 

11/30/10 'John Dourley' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos hybrid).

11/30/10 Santa Cruz Manzanita (Arctostaphylos andersonii). This was the earliest blooming of the bunch.

12/24/10 'Danville'/Big Sur Manzanita (Arctostaphylos edmundsii).

12/26/10 'Paradise' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pajaroensis).

12/24/10 Pointleaf/Mexican Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens). This lovely specimen is 4+ years old. No flowers yet, but should be forthcoming.

1/7/11 'Austin Griffiths' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita x densiflora).

1/7/11 'Ian Bush' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora x pungens).

12/26/10 'Ramona' Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca).

1/7/11 'La Panza' Grey Manzanita (Arctostaphylos hybrid).

And there's more:

12/26/10 Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia).

12/26/10 Shrooms. I'm no expert in this realm, so are they edible? (Darwin award!)

12/26/10 Tons of clarkias have reseeded in the wildflower bed from last year's crop.

12/26/10 'Allen Chickering' Sage (Salvia clevelandii x S. leucophylla).

12/24/10 'Torrey Pines' Red Monkeyflower (Mimulus puniceus).

12/24/10 Canyon Sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides).

12/24/10 Coyote, just beyond the fenceline.

12/17/10 California Quail under the bird feeder.

12/17/10 Lesser Goldfinch.

12/24/10 Lark Sparrows.

12/5/10 Osprey! perched on a floodlight in the neighbor's corral.

12/24/10 Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) along the driveway. Much more bootiful than Pampas Grass!

12/24/10 Arizona Sycamore (Platanus racemosa var. wrightii), with it's own rendition of Xmas ornaments.



  1. Yeah, the weather has been interesting this year. I rode my bike to work last Thursday (I really do try to avoid driving) and found out later that it was 36 degrees that morning. No wonder I was cold.

    Very pretty manzanita. I saw the first outside today as well.

  2. Town Mouse, you bike to work? I'm impressed!

  3. I'm also on two wheels, though motorized, so the past two mornings have been pretty chilly here too, though nothing like you farther inland and a little north. I went to the windchill charts and figured 40 degrees at highway speeds would equal something around 20 degrees. Wimps! Californians, all of us!! I'm at a conference right now with people from out of town...genuinely cold places like Kansas and I'm getting zero respect for how cold it is here.

    Anyway, it's interesting to see your A. pungens having grown so large. In two years mine has maybe grown a total of .3738 inches. I'm getting impatient, though this isn't a genus for the impatient. Nice to see that you're getting some blooms from the other species. Enjoy!

  4. James, you're right - we are weather wimps here in California. I remember when I was a freshman in college (many moons ago), my aunt invited me to spend winter break with her family in Colorado Springs. I had never seen snow before, and a couple days after arriving there, they got hit with one of the worst snowstorms in years, with wind chills down to 20 below zero. And greenhorn that I was, I trekked out to their closest supermarket, which was only 2 blocks away, in near white-out conditions, thinking no way could I get lost. Well, guess what happened? Pretty embarrassing. But kudos to you and Town Mouse for braving our version of a chilly winter in your commute- I certainly couldn't do it!

    The A. pungens is doing amazingly well, after a shaky start as a 1-gallon plant planted on a slope of pure decomposed granite. It's now about 6' tall and thrives on neglect (i.e., no water except from winter rains). I have other manzanitas, however, that have the same growth rate as yours. I guess they just have to find their sweet spot and then they'll take off.

  5. The weather is officially bonkers this year. Woke up to 28 degrees this morning here! Ice everywhere, and all the poultry waterers frozen over.

    Love all your Manzanitas, I haven't planted any here yet, but I'm hoping to soon.

    As for the mushrooms, I vote they're all inedible until proven otherwise. Too many look-a-likes out there, but they do make for lovely photos!

  6. Isn't this crazy, Clare? Btw, how have your poultry fared in our recently frosty weather? I used to see a red glow coming from our neighbor's hen house in the winter and have always wondered if it was come kind of heat lamp (they've since moved, so I never had a chance to ask them about it). Our own plans to build a cozy chicken "palace" for four have been put on hold until it's less wet and cold. Hubby and I just don't have the constitutions of spring chickens anymore...

  7. Great tour of your hood, as always. And now I'm wondering whether the hawthorne in my front yard is a manzanita afterall.

  8. I never expected you to get frost!!!

    I hope your plant will be able to cope with those temperatures but your lovely photographs show that all seems to be well - your plants are flourishing.

  9. Altadena Hiker, ya just never know what's lurking in your front yard...hopefully, it's a manzanita!

    Rosie, we do get frost in our area, probably because of our elevation (2,000 ft.). Some years are worse than others, and in 2004 (before we moved out here) there was actually snow from an unusual weather phenomenon involving a "cut-off low." Most of the plants survived this last cold spell, except for my Encelias and a couple monkeyflowers. They were frozen at the roots and are pretty much toast. Trying to restart them from seed now.

  10. All those manzanitas - very pretty blossoms. We also had cold and frost, but not ice like that. This weekend has been just wonderful, and I got out weeding this afternoon, very peaceful.

  11. Great photos, Aileen!
    It's hard to resist the tiny bell shaped blossoms of the manzanita. The three I have on the bank opposite my bay window are blooming now. Low, small, fine textured leaves...can't recommend it more. Arctostaphylos d. 'Howard McMinn'

  12. It seriously has been a wacky winter this year, hasn't it. Those Manzanitas are all beautiful...just love 'em! I adore the Muhlenbergia...I'm totally adding some to my garden this year :-)

    1. Hi Scott - thanks for following my blog! It has been a wacky winter, indeed. Barely any rain at all and then, out of the blue, we got deluged today. I, too, just love the manzanitas, hence my predilection to plant as many of them as will take in my garden. And, by all means, do plant some Muhlenbergia - they are so low maintenance, drought tolerant, and a stunning feature in any landscape.