Saturday, March 22, 2008

2008 Spring in Washington

I guess dogs long for warm days as much as we do. My wife and I are both horticulturists and both avid gardeners, indoors and out; our choice of this house 20-odd years ago was due in no small part to all the south-facing glass in the living room. We get essentially sun all day in the winter when it is low in the sky. As summer approaches and the arc of the sun moves higher in the sky, it rises above the overhang so no rays reach inside. Perfect! Jingles is looking out at the beginning of spring following the mildest winter in my memory. I surely don't know all the factors that go into determining the severity of a winter, but this year a lot of things that I associate with late January or February didn't happen: Japanese boxwoods and many cryptomeria didn't discolor; the Opuntia at the entrance to Fern Valley didn't melt out; My Acanthus mollis retained a green rosette all winter, in fact many rosettes that usually brown off towards the end of winter are still fairly large and green. The low temperature for the winter at my house was 16F. Following up this mild winter though, spring seems to be starting out slowly; the 15 day forecast has many lows in the high 30's and no highs in the 70s. Thats good. Every year it seems that winter goes straight to summer. It looks like we will have at least some spring this year!

Clearly the southern exposure allows us to grow way too many indoor plants. About half of the plants you see in this picture are orchids and the balance is an assortment including some exciting specimens I am amassing to take south next month: a couple of proteas (there is no phosphorus in that sand and we'll see about the humidity); some cool monocots including, from a California nursery, Australian Native Plant Nursery, Xanthorrhoea x preissii ; two Puya from Annie's Annuals; and more monocots from Yucca Do Nursery including a nice Dasylirion and Agave stricts, my favorite globular yucca. If you look closely in middle of the large window next to the glaucous succulent, you can see the Magnolia champaca from the Philadelphia Flower Show. I think I will grow that on for another year in a 12" pot. Then it will go to Zone 9A.