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My Garden Diary

May and June 2020

Copyright © 2020 by David E. Ross

Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site. 7

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. This diary is primarily for my own benefit, so that I can look back upon what I did and when. But I thought others might also be interested, so here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?


January-February 2015
March-April 2015
May-June 2015
July-August 2015
September-October 2015
November-December 2015
January-February 2016
March-April 2016
May-June 2016
July-August 2016
September-October 2016
November-December 2016
January-February 2017
March-April 2017
May-June 2017
July-August 2017
September-October 2017
November-December 2017
January-February 2018
March-April 2018
May-June 2018
July-August 2018
September-October 2018
November-December 2018
January-February 2019
March-April 2019
May-June 2019
July-August 2019
September-October 2019
November-December 2019
January-February 2020
March-April 2020

Diary entries for 2004 through 2014

Entries below are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.

When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold or appears as a link to another Web page.

Unless a different year is given, dates refer to other entries in the same year as the entry in which they appear, including entries on prior pages for the same year.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
30 Jun

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 55-81
Humidity: 38%
Wind: 1-14

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 43

No peaches!! When I wrapped aluminum flashing around the trunk of the peach tree and trimmed branches away from the adjacent block wall (24 Jun), I saw some peaches. Three days later, there were none. I strongly suspect squirrels got them. Next year, I will hang cloth bags of blood meal from the branches. Squirrels are reputed to avoid places where they smell blood.

Fed the potted lavender in front. I put a large pinch of ammonium sulfate in a quart of water and poured that into the pot.

When flower shoots of fortnight lilies (Dietes iridiodes) finish blooming, they are not supposed to be removed. They will produce even more flowers in two weeks (hence the name). Today, however, I removed flower shoots that were near the ground. They were simply in the way.

Trimmed the edge of the back lawn adjacent to the west end of the main patio. I then started trimming along the edges of the path between the lawn and the west bed. Trimming the edges of the path is much easier this time because it has not been long since the first trimming this year (25 Apr).

26 Jun

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 57-87
Humidity: 36%
Wind: 1-12

Pruned one of the three heavenly bamboos (Nandina domestica) growing within the eastern edge of the back lawn. Not a true bamboo, these are flowering plants whose stems and leaves resemble bamboo. (Bamboo is a form of grass, which Nandina are definitely not.) They have grown so tall and thick that they are interfering with the irrigation system. I filled the garden waste bin by pruning only one. I will have to wait a week — until after the next time trash is collected — to prune another one.

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 39

24 Jun

Some scattered thin clouds, mostly sunny, and warm

Temp: 57-88
Humidity: 36%
Wind: 0-10

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 37

Wrapped aluminum flashing around the trunk of the peach tree (Prunus persica 'Santa Barbara) to discourage squirrels. I also trimmed some branches away from the adjacent property-line block wall. I thought I would have a bumper crop of peaches this summer, but I only saw two in the tree. I have seen several very green and hard peaches on the ground that had been gnawed.

The dwarf lemon tree has leaf miner. I gave it a drench of a systemic insecticide. Given the trauma of losing all its leaves this past winter, it is especially important to stop this infestation quickly. None of the other citrus seem to have leaf miner yet.

Tested the irrigation system in front. I trimmed the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) ground cover away from two of the sprinkler heads.

22 Jun

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 56-87
Humidity: 43%
Wind: 0-12

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 35

Climbed My Hill to train the 'Flame' grape vine near the top. I tied several long shoots to the supporting wire and headed a few shoots. I also did some minor training of the two grape vines closer to the bottom of My Hill.

I try to avoid climbing My Hill for only one task. Today, I also sprayed herbicide on several seedling trees and on sow thistle (in the genus Sonchus, possibly S. arvensis, S. asper, or S. oleraceus). I expect there will be some collateral damage to the African daisies (Osteospermum fruticosum) and English ivy (Hedera helix) ground cover, but they should recover from runners from nearby plants. The African daisies will also recover from the multitude of seeds they drop.

20 Jun

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-79
Humidity: 56%
Wind: 1-12

Fed the recently pruned Rhaphiolepis indica (18 Jun and earlier) and all the roses with ammonium sulfate.

Trimmed some of the eugenia (Syzygium paniculatum) in front that was blocking a sprinkler head.

Trimmed the edge of the back lawn along the main patio.


Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 33

18 Jun

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 56-77
Humidity: 60%
Wind: 0-10

Back to work! My finger seems to be healing (14 Jun). So I finished pruning the third and last Rhaphiolepis indica adjacent to the public sidewalk in front. Next year, I will prune the dwarf Rhaphiolepis indica in front near the front door.

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 31

14 Jun

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 55-83
Humidity: 33%
Wind: 1-9

The heat wave ended.

Finished pruning the second Rhaphiolepis indica in front (6 Jun). Then I started pruning the third and last, during which I badly cut a finger with my pruning shears. Spending two hours at a nearby urgent care center ended my gardening for today and for the next three days.


Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 27

11 Jun

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 71-96
Humidity: 11%
Wind: 0-12

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 24

What happened to June gloom? Today is the third consecutive day when temperatures exceeded 90°F. Yesterday, it reached 101°F.

Fed the dwarf citrus and gardenia with commercial citrus food plus a trace of zinc sulfate. I saw several immature fruit on the navel orange but no fruit on the tangelo. Because of their winter trauma (8 Feb), I do not expect any fruit on the kumquat or lemon, although the latter now has flowers.

All the fruit on the MacBeth loquat is now gone. I removed the aluminum flashing from around the trunk and the hanging compact discs from the branches (3 May).

Removed some red fescue that had encroached into the root zone of the gardenia. I also trimmed some of that grass that was interfering with the lawn sprinklers.

6 Jun

Mostly overcast, occasional hazy sun, mild

Temp: 54-73
Humidity: 50%
Wind: 2-13

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 19

Raked up dead weeds on the east side of my house (accessed from the back). I also removed a significant number of dead shoots from the Sprenger asparagus (A. aethiopicus 'Sprengeri') where the camellia and east beds meet. All of which were a fire hazard.

I do not know why there were so many dead asparagus shoots. I had a gopher problem, and Cleopatra insisted on burrowing under the plant. Either of those activities might have damaged the roots. In any case, that asparagus — not edible — was a volunteer that I never planted.

Raked the paths in back to remove some of the dead weeds killed by my application of herbicide (23 May). Some of the dead weed, however, did not want to let go of their roots. I might have to scrape the paths with a hoe.

Started pruning another Rhaphiolepis indica in front (25 May).

3 Jun

Clear (large clouds on the north horizon), sunny, and hot

Temp: 67-100
Humidity: 14%
Wind: 3-16

Climbed only part-way up My Hill to train the 'Perlette' and 'Black Monukka' grape vines. Although they are only one-third up from the bottom of My Hill, this was still exhausting.

Relying on an article in Wikipedia, I cut back the potted nephthytis (Syngonium podophyllum) that is in the greenhouse window. Its shoots were growing far too vigorously and encroaching upon other potted plants.


Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 16

1 Jun

Mostly cloudy and overcast, hazy sun, and warm

Temp: 59-84
Humidity: 29%
Wind: 1-21

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 14

Trimmed the edges of most of the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) in front along the driveway, public sidewalk, and brick path. I did not trim all of the edges because the two Rhaphiolepis indica remaining to be pruned are in the way.

Removed some of the inward-pointing new growth on the dwarf kumquat. While citrus should be allowed to have dense top growth to prevent the branches and trunk from getting sunburn, that is not a problem with my citrus. The Tree provides them with shade during much of the day.

Tied down a long cane on the climbing 'Peace' rose.

30 May

Scattered clouds; some sun, often hazy; mild

Temp: 53-75
Humidity: 48%
Wind: 0-19

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 12

The weather was just right to move the potted dill (16 May) from the patio to among the other herbs.

Yesterday, bought three wax-leaf begonias to replace some that failed to survive the winter. Today, I planted them in the cinder blocks forming the raised bed around the tangelo.

While roaming the back yard to remove faded flowers, I found a small, partially eaten rabbit at the edge of the circular bed. I stongly suspect it was left by one of the many owls I have seen in my garden this year.

Lightly trimmed another lavender in the circular bed (7, 9, & 19 May). This will have to be an ongoing effort since the lavender in this location grows quite vigorously. The alternative would be to do major pruning after adjacent azaleas (Rhododendron indica) and daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrids) are already suffering from being crowded. (As with removing faded flowers on all plants, I will no longer be reporting this ongoing effort.)

Finished pruning the Rhaphiolepis indica (25 May) at the foot of the driveway. I still have to prune the two that flank the brick path from the front door where it meets the public sidewalk.

25 May

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 60-94
Humidity: 27%
Wind: 0-15

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
Days since last: 7

Hope springs eternal. Despite earlier failures, I once again put up cuttings of dwarf Burford holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii Nana') and weeping Chinese banyan.

Removed a major limb of the rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in front. The limb was about 3 inches across and was sticking out over the public sidewalk. This removal was something I planned about two years ago. I waited to see how well the bush responded to other pruning before performing "major surgery".

Started pruning the Rhaphiolepis indica located where the driveway meets the public sidewalk.

23 May

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 53-74
Humidity: 22%
Wind: 3-10

Sprayed herbicide on the paths in back to eliminate the grasses and other weeds. I had some of the spray mixture left over, so I sprayed the brick panel in front on the far side of the driveway between the sidewalk and the street and also some patches of pimpernel (Anqagallis arvensis) in the east bed in back. Although it tends to be low-growing, pimpernel can grow quite dense where it gets water and crowd out other low-growing plants.

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
The past week: 0.19

21 May

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 59-87
Humidity: 14%
Wind: 2-15

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
The past week: 0.19

Citrus leaf miner — in which the grub of Phyllocnistis citrella tunnels between the upper and lower surfaces of leaves — can severely damage new citrus leaves and even kill young and dwarf citrus trees. Since both my lemon and kumquat dwarves were entirely leafless earlier this year, all their leaves are new and susceptible to this problem. I have been closely examining both plants quite frequently and have not yet seen any signs of leaf miner. I could apply a systemic insecticide drench to prevent leaf miner, but that would harm any bees that come to pollinate lemon and kumquat flowers. Thus, I must wait until I see actual damage.

In the meantime, I fed the citrus and the gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii') a today with ammonium, iron, and zinc sulfates. I also fed the roses with a commercial fertilizer that contains a systemic insecticide. I am less concerned about bees visiting my roses since the initial bloom period has passed, and flowers will be few.

All three chrysanthemum divisions (9 May) have survived and now have new growth.

19 May

Mostly clear with occasional clouds, mostly sunny, and mild

Temp: 59-67
Humidity: 42%
Wind: 0-20

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.21
The past week: 0.19

Yes, we had rain.

All of the old branches in the dwarf lemon now have tiny shoots if not actual new branches and leaves. I trimmed away some more of the old branches to further direct the new growth (3 May).

Severely pruned the two Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (A. arborescens ' absinthium) that I did not prune while trimming the edges of the path between the back lawn and west bed (25 Apr).

Raked the paths in back to remove the debris from trimming their edges. I also raked the small brick patio between the rose and east beds, which required further trimming of the edges of that patio. I had planned to spray herbicide on the paths after they were raked, but there was a wind. To avoid damage to my landscape, I can spray herbicide only when the air is still.

Pruned another lavender in the circular bed before it became grossly overgrown. It was already starting to crowd the adjacent plants.

Ate loquats from my tree for lunch. Yum!

At least one of the chrysanthemum divisions (9 May) is doing quite well, and one other looks like it might have new growth. On the other hand, the rooted weeping Chinese banyan cuttings in their new pot (11 May) have lost all their leaves and look very sad. Since this is common whenever this plant's environment changes, I cannot tell whether they have died. Indeed, the parent plant lost all its leaves last year when I gave it a small amount of fertilizer; but now it is growing quite vigorously.

16 May

Clear with some high, very thin clouds; sunny; and hot

Temp: 59-89
Humidity: 29%
Wind: 2-12

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.02
Days since last: 34

Two days ago, I went to my favorite nursery and bought four plants:
  • Christmas heather (actually a heath, Erica canaliculata 'Rosea')
  • two Cuphea hyssopifolia, one pink (almost magenta) and one white
  • dill (Anethum graveolens)

Today, I planted the heather in the teardrop bed to replace the dead Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) that was removed (15 Feb). Right now, it is a tiny thing from a 1-gallon nursery can. Eventually, it should grow as tall as the tea tree, as much as 10 feet tall. However, the heather will not spread as wide as the tea tree.

Also planted the pink Cuphea in the teardrop bed, replacing one that died. I then planted the white Cuphea in the rose bed, also replacing one that died.

Potted the dill. For now, it stays in the shade on the main patio. When it is fully established, I will move it to be with the rest of the potted herbs.

13 May

Mostly clear with a brief mid-day heavy cloudiness; mostly sunny, sometimes hazy; and mild

Temp: 51-73
Humidity: 41%
Wind: 0-14

Trimmed the path between the teardrop bed and the lawn. I also got part-way along the path between the teardrop and east beds before I was exhausted.

The potted basil (Ocimum basilicum, 25 Apr) appears to be well established. I moved it from the patio to where the other potted herbs are located.


Rain —
This rain-year: 15.02
Days since last: 31

11 May

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-78
Humidity: 42%
Wind: 1-16

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.02
Days since last: 29

Yesterday, I tied down some new canes on the climbing 'Peace' rose. Also, the potted tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) was infested with ants, so I gave it a drench of malathion.

Today, ran twine inside the breakfast room from the greenhouse window — adjacent to the all-green pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum 'Jade') — to a hook in the ceiling near the family room. Then, I tied the shoots of the pothos to the twine.

The weeping Chinese banyan (Ficus benjamina) cuttings (11 Apr) have rooted. I potted them up together, placing the pot in the living room to replace the dead Schefflera arboricola (24 Dec 2019) that used to be there. Although the cuttings were from plants outside, they should also survive indoors.

Climbed My Hill to check a leak in a sprinkler pipe. I needed to see what the damage is so that I could go to a nearby hardware store tomorrow to get supplies to repair it. Think again! There is an established sapling tree (possibly some kind of elm) growing right over the leak. It would be impossible to remove it without further damage to the sprinkler system. I trimmed away all new growth from the tree. When it sprouts again, I will apply an herbicide. I will have to wait, not only for it to die but for its remnants to decompose. Fortunately, the leak is not major.

I really hate to climb My Hill unless I can accomplish at least two tasks; so while I was there, I groomed the 'Black Monukka' grape vine. I tied some new shoots — especially those with immature grapes — to the supporting wire, headed back other shoots, and completely removed several shoots that sprouted from the trunk.

9 May

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 59-87
Humidity: 22%
Wind: 1-11

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.02
Days since last: 27

Now that the heat wave ended, I took the spoon-flowered chrysanthemum (C. morifolium) out of its pot, divided it, and potted up three young shoots with fresh potting mix.

Went back over the areas where I already trimmed the edges of the paths in back and trimmed ground cover away from the blue fescue.

Trimmed the edges of the path between the back lawn and the circular bed. This included lightly trimming another lavender. I also trimmed the lawn's red fescue (Festuca rubra) away from two clumps of variegated society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea 'Silver Lace') that are growing as accents within the edge of the lawn.

An owl has been roosting in The Tree for a few months. As I work in the back yard, I often find the regurgitated remains of its meals. I do not mind this because the owl feasts primarily on rodents. I just hope it remains in my garden — to keep the squirrels away — until I have harvested the various fruits I am growing.

7 May

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 73-97
Humidity: 13%
Wind: 0-15

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.02
Days since last: 25

Trimmed the edges of the path between the rose and circular beds in back. I also did it half-way around the small brick patio that separates the rose and east beds.

Cleopatra was a real pest while I was working in back. I had cut fading rose blossoms and given her the petals, which she really enjoys eating. However, she then followed me around, seeking more rose petals and getting in my way.

While trimming the edges of the paths, I also remove weeds from the paths. I cannot get all the weeds, however; so I will have to use an herbicide. That will wait until I have trimmed the edges of all the paths, and then I will wait for a windless day.

I lightly trimmed a 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender (Lavandula lanata dentata) in the circular bed. No, it had not yet overwhelmed adjacent plants. I should do this more often because it is much easier than doing a major pruning less frequently.

5 May

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 68-94
Humidity: 13%
Wind: 0-14

Partially divided an overgrown clump of blue fescue (Festuca glauca) in the rose bed. Instead of digging up the entire clump, I only dug a portion, which I used to replace a dead clump also in the rose bed.

Finished trimming the path between the back lawn and rose bed, finally reaching the intersection with the path between the lawn and circular bed. Next, I will continue along the path between the rose and circular beds.


Rain —
This rain-year: 15.02
Days since last: 23

3 May

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 57-78
Humidity: 40%
Wind: 2-14

Rain —
This rain-year: 15.02
Days since last: 21

Yesterday, I removed the rest of the deadwood from the dwarf kumquat (30 Apr). Today, I trimmed some of the greenwood from the dwarf lemon in order to direct the new growth.

Significantly trimmed the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) in the west bed in back. From its trellis, shoots were growing out over the walk on the side of the house. As a ground cover, it was blocking a sprinkler, encroaching onto the raised bed for the dwarf tangelo (Citrus reticulata ×' paradisi), and growing several inches out onto the patio.

Fastened aluminum flashing around the trunk of the 'MacBeth' loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) in the circular bed. The fruit is beginning to ripen, and I want to discourage squirrels from climbing the tree and stealing my fruit. I also hung compact discs from some of the branches. With even the slightest breeze, they will turn and flash sunlight to discourage birds. The fruit should be fully ripe by the end of this month. I will then move the aluminum and discs to the peach tree for the same purposes.

Continued trimming the edges of the path between the lawn and rose bed (30 Apr).

Weather data are from the Cheeseboro (CHE) weather station, about 2 miles ENE of my house.

The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the previous night.

Winter chill is the cumulative hours of temperatures at or below 45°F from 1 November through 31 March. It is reported during that period and through April.

The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)

Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before the end of the day). I also indicate peak wind gusts parenthetically when they are significantly high.

Rain is in inches. Rain-year is the cumulative amount of rainfall from 1 October until 30 September of the following year (our "rain-year"). Week is the cumulative amount of measurable rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no measurable rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.

Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter. Also, a day that would normally be characterized as "mild" might instead be "warm" if the immediately previous days were quite cold. Finally, such characterization reflects when I was actually outside and gardening and ignores changes that occur while I am inside.

The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:

Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
See also My Climate.
March-April 2020
January-February 2020
November-December 2019
September-October 2019
July-August 2019
May-June 2019
March-April 2019
January-February 2019
November-December 2018
September-October 2018
July-August 2018
May-June 2018
March-April 2018
January-February 2018
November-December 2017
September-October 2017
July-August 2017
May-June 2017
March-April 2017
January-February 2017
November-December 2016
September-October 2016
July-August 2016
May-June 2016
March-April 2016
January-February 2016
November-December 2015
September-October 2015
July-August 2015
May-June 2015
March-April 2015
January-February 2015

Diary entries for 2004 through 2014


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