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My Garden Diary

March and April 2006

Copyright © 2006 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.

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. So here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?

April-May 2004
June-July 2004
August-October 2004
November-December 2004
January-February 2005
March-April 2005
May-June 2005
July-August 2005
September-October 2005
November-December 2005
January-February 2006

Entries 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.

Dates refer to other entries in the same year (but perhaps a different page) as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
30 April

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 52-78
Humidity: 60%
Wind: 0-10

Rain —
Season: 13.05
Days since last: 14

Wrapped copper wire around the large pot containing my dwarf navel orange and the two smaller pots containing the newly planted sage and basil. I used a fine (25 gauge) wire, wound around each pot four times. This is supposed to keep snails and slugs from climbing into the pots. While snails really destroy citrus, sage, and basil, they don't seem to bother my other herbs. The smaller pots were easy, but I needed Evelyn to help me with the orange. I'll do the lemon in a few days. The kumquat already has copper wire stapled around its redwood tub (8 Jun 05).

The Tree has reached a circumference of 9' 1" at chest height! I can even see it from about three blocks away, almost twice the height of my two-story house.

28 April

Cloudy, gray, and cool

Temp: 48-65
Humidity: 80%
Wind: 0-6

Rain —
Season: 13.05
Days since last: 12

Gave the Liquidambar tree in front an acid treatment: sulfur, iron sulfate, and gypsum. This tree often shows severe chlorosis by mid-summer, which reduces the fall color. The acid should prevent this or at least reduce its impact.

Fed the dwarf citrus some of the left-over acid mix plus ammonium sulfate. I even gave the lemon a very small amount although it has not yet leafed-out since it was repotted (17 Mar). I also gave this mix to the gardenia and tea tree.

Fed the Pittosporum tobira closest to the Liquidambar with ammonium sulfate. The other two are doing very well, but this one has no vigor.

Gave a pinch of ammonium sulfate to each of the potted herbs.

Severely pinched back the Shasta daisies (Chrysanthemum maximum) to make them bushy and sturdy, so that the flowers won't flop over.

Fed the camellias, each with a double handful of commercial camellia and azalea food. But I did not feed the C. sasanqua in the rose bed because I'm not sure what in that bed will survive the repair of My Hill. Also, I did not feed the azaleas, which are all still in bloom.

Started to replace the red penstemon in the east bed (which are now three years old) with the three cuttings I took late last year (21 Dec 05). While all three cuttings were still quite green and alive, I discovered that two of them had no roots. I discarded those two. Then I used the rooted cutting to replace one of the plants in the ground. I cut back the other two existing plants so that, like the Shasta daisies, their flower stalks will be more upright. I took new cuttings from the trimmings. I already have rooted cuttings of the pink penstemon; but those will go in the rose bed, where I am avoiding any new planting until after My Hill is repaired.

21 April

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 50-71
Humidity: 43%
Wind: 1-8

Rain —
Season: 13.05
Week: 0.16

Stirred the compost pile and added some of the shredded material left when I had The Tree trimmed.

Potted the three herbs I bought earlier this week. Later, I bought some copper wire to wind around the pots to keep the snails away.

Finished pruning the Artemisia.

18 April

Clear with some thin, high clouds; sunny (sometimes hazy), and warm

Temp: 49-76
Humidity: 24%
Wind: 4-15

Rain —
Season: 13.05
Week: 0.31

Bought basil (Ocimum basilicum), dill (Anethum graveolens), and sage (Salvia officinalis) for the potted herb garden in back. The nurseryman I consulted said that the sage keeps failing from a lack of water, that the foliage shields the pot and prevents the sprinklers from wetting the potting mix.

When I bought the herbs, I also bought a 12-inch cylindrical pot. When she retired, Evelyn received a gift chrysanthemum (C. morifolium) in full bloom. It finally stopped blooming. Today, I repotted it from a small plastic pot into this larger pot. The pot will remain on the patio until My Hill is repaired. Then, I will move it onto the small circular patio between the east and rose beds. (I still have to pot the herbs.)

Hung shade cloth over the greenhouse window. The morning sun is somewhat intense these days.

16 April

Mostly clear, sunny (sometimes hazy), and cool

Temp: 45-62
Humidity: 71%
Wind: 0-16

Rain —
Season: 13.05
Week: 0.35

Had my trees trimmed last Friday. Although the tree service did a very good job, they were somewhat careless. Today, I had to trim broken branches from my rosemary (R. officinalis) in front. My 'Brandy' rose is now merely a stump. The Rhaphiolepis indica near the sidewalk also has some breakage; but they need a more thorough renovation, which will wait until they finish blooming. There was also some minor breakage on the dwarf lemon and artichoke in back.

The red-flowering gum in back was removed as planned (26 Mar). The tree service left me a trash barrel full of shredded trimmings from The Tree. I plan to dig much of that into the soil where I will replant a new red-flowering gum. The rest might go into my compost pile.

Trimmed two more Artemisia 'Powis Castle'. One more to go.

Backed out the screws that mount the bracket of my wind chimes onto the side of The Tree.

Tested the sprinklers in the back. Often, when I have work done there, one or more heads are broken or at least require adjustment. This time, however, they were all okay.

27 March

Mostly cloudy, some hazy sun, cool

Temp: 47-65
Humidity: 72%
Wind: 3-10

Rain —
Season: 8.53
Days since last: 7

Pulled and mowed weeds in the parkway in front. I also cleared weeds from the brick panel around the utility junctions on the far side of the driveway.

Fed the roses in front with an acidic mix: peat moss, ammonium sulfate, soil sulfur, iron sulfate, Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), zinc sulfate, and gypsum (calcium sulfate). I also included superphosphate and a little compost. I gave the miniature roses on the patio in back a light feeding of ammonium sulfate.

For years, I tried to grow dichondra (D. micrantha) as my lawn, in both back and front. Now that I have abandoned that effort, the dichondra in my parkway is doing better than the cinquefoil (Potentilla neumanniana) that I planted there.

26 March

Mostly cloudy, some hazy sun, cool to mild

Temp: 45-74
Humidity: 36%
Wind: 0-9

Rain —
Season: 8.53
Week: 0.22

The tree service is coming the end of next week. While the owner was here to give me an estimate, he told me that my red-flowering gum (Eucalyptus ficifolia) was dying from oak root fungus. It will have to be removed.

All the work today was in back. I only waited one week, not two, to begin pruning the more tender plants in my garden (19 Mar). While we have had some significant frost, I see far less damage than last year.

Thinned the Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) in the teardrop bed. Also trimmed some of the Cuphea hyssopifolia in that same bed. I have to be careful with the latter. If it's trimmed too much, it dies.

Groomed the Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' at the north end of the east bed. There was some die-back, likely the result of last summer's heat.

Cut back two of the six Artemisia 'Powis Castle', all of which now have new shoots. I'll do two others in a few days. One other will need only a slight trim. The sixth was planted a year ago (10 Jun 05) from cuttings and is still quite compact.

No sign of asparagus, either established plants or seedlings. After harvesting the same planting for about 30 years, last year's rain apparently caused all the asparagus to rot.

19 March

Mostly cloudy, some bright sun, and cold

Temp: 38-60
Humidity: 70%
Wind: 3-15

Rain —
Season: 8.31
Week: 0.08

Made more potting mix and finished filling in around the root ball of my dwarf lemon (17 Mar).

Flower buds are already forming on the dwarf orange tree, so I fed it and the kumquat. The lemon won't be fed for about a month while its traumatized roots recover.

It's time to do spring pruning on my subtropicals, but more frost is likely. I don't want to expose the tender new shoots that are lurking under the mature top growth, so I'll wait about another two weeks. Frost is unlikely after the beginning of April.

17 March

Cloudy, dark, drizzle, and cold (occasional weak sun)

Temp: 43-55
Humidity: 100%
Wind: 2-16

Rain —
Season: 8.31
Week: 0.33

Repotted my dwarf lemon tree. I severely pruned the top so that the ability of injured roots to support the demand for moisture would not be exceeded. Then I broke away the redwood tub. Using a pruning saw, I shaved about 1-2 inches of soil from the sides of the root ball, tapering the result to make the bottom more narrow than the top. After tipping the root ball on its side, I shaved about 3 inches from the bottom.

I covered the drain hole in the new terra cotta pot with a small, upside-down flower pot and filled the larger pot with enough potting mix (10 Feb) to cover the small pot 1-2 inches. After my son helped me to lift the tree into the large pot, I packed potting mix along the sides of the root ball. I'll have to make more mix; there wasn't enough to complete the task.

12 March

Cloudy, dark, drizzle with rain, and cold

Temp: 34-50
Humidity: 98%
Wind: 1-12

Rain —
Season: 8.23
Week: 0.37

Cold! (At least for this native of southern California.) Yesterday, we even had sleet or hail. We have been having frost almost every night, which is not really unknown here but — especially after the mid-February heat wave — unusual.

The Cordyline in the greenhouse window in our breakfast room grew too tall. It was hitting the shelf above it. Today, I cut it to a stump about 3 inches tall. This should sprout several new shoots. In case that fails, I also put up two cuttings from the top growth. In the process, I removed several mealybugs (despite my use of a fertilizer with systemic insecticide).

5 March

Thin clouds, hazy sun, and cool

Temp: 44-67
Humidity: 55%
Wind: 0-4

Rain —
Season: 7.86
Week: 2.64

In early February, the weather was hot and dry. I thought the rainy season would be a failure and that plants needing a winter chill would be disappointed. Since then, we have had over 3 inches of additional rain and many nights of frost. By this time last year, however, we had over 30 inches of rain, more than four times the amount that has fallen this season. (Since the rainy season runs from November through March, we don't measure annual rainfall. Instead, we measure seasonal rainfall. For a 12-month period, we often take October through the following September.)

When Evelyn retired last week, our son's fiancé Christi sent her a potted miniature rose. Today, I went to plant it with the other miniature roses in the large bowl on the patio, to replace the 'Shy Girl' in the center that died. I discovered that there were about six plants in the pot. I put one in the bowl and returned the others to their original pot as reserves in case the one in the bowl dies.

Since rain is certain for tomorrow, I fed the back lawn and the east and west beds. I also fed the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) and shrubs in front. I used an off-brand lawn food.

Weather data are from the Cheesebro (CHE) weather station, a little less than 1.2 miles ENE of my house.

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

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 then end of the day).

Rain is in inches. Rain amounts are omitted after 60 consecutive days elapse without any measurable amount.
Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall since the start of the current rainy season, which began on 20 Sep 2005 with the first measurable rain, until noon on the indicated date.
Week is the cumulative amount of rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no 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.

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)
January-February 2006
November-December 2005
September-October 2005
July-August 2005
May-June 2005
March-April 2005
January-February 2005
November-December 2004
August-October 2004
June-July 2004
April-May 2004

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