2015-04-10

What can we say about Los Angeles area rainfall this winter?

I've received 8.35" of rain in my back yard this year.  Since I have a few years worth of data on rainfall in my back yard, and decades of data from the nearby Los Angeles area, I feel that I can draw a few conclusions.

1. Rain barrels still suck.  I've said this before and here's a short synopsis of why with the caveats.  This last winter we had 17 storms come through that dropped measurable precipitation.  That's 17 opportunities to catch rain water.  The typical home rain water harvesting setup involves 50 to 100 gallons of storage.  So that's perhaps 1700 gallons of rain water you could have saved and used after the storm has passed.  Go figure out how much that actually saved in money versus the cost of the installation.  I've done that already for you, and it's not worth it.  Wouldn't you like to use that water during the summer on your vegetables?  Don't bother, you can't realistically save 50 to 100 gallons for that long.

Caveats: When storage is abundant (several times the amount of rain that your roof sheds in one storm) then it might make sense.  There are under-house bladders and cisterns that seem to meet that criterion.  When storm frequency is greater then it might make sense.  When storm season is longer it might make sense. If you have occasional summer storms then it might make sense.  The climatic conditions aren't likely to change enough in California even in the face of  global climate change.  Really, don't bother with a mere barrel or two.

2. Rain water retention still makes sense.  When you are storing the rain in the ground (eliminating run off using swales, or rain gardens, or permeable hardscape, or however you do it) then it's easy to store large amounts and you don't have to fuss with infrastructure costs or maintenance other than your garden.

3. This winter was typical for Los Angeles.  Everyone's crying drought, but the native plants living locally got a normal amount of rain.  Do you think this is surprising?  The most frequent amount of rainfall that the greater Los Angeles area gets is 8-10 inches per year.  Over the past decades of rainfall data that I've analyzed, we received 8-10 inches of rain in 16 of them.  For comparison, we received 6-8 inches of rain in 8 years, and 10-12 inches of rain in 9 years.  Folks, the LA area is RIGHT ON TARGET for the rain we received this year.  It's dry here, but for our native plants THIS WAS A NORMAL YEAR.  Let's not try to make Los Angeles a subtropical paradise by importing water and concentrate instead on showcasing our California paradise.

0.1" rain; season total 8.35"

0.1" of rain fell on the night of the 7th in my back yard which brought the season total to 8.35".  Since I think that this is the last rain for the year, I'll list all the storms.



Date    Amount    Total
           (inches)    2013-14
8-Sep      0.1    0.10
31-Oct    0.37    0.47
1-Nov     0.17    0.64
13-Nov    0.05    0.69
30-Nov    0.03    0.72
3-Dec      2.47    3.19
12-Dec    0.92    4.11
16-Dec    1.01    5.12
31-Dec    0.1    5.22
11-Jan     1.51    6.73
26-Jan     0.3    7.03
30-Jan     0.04    7.07
23-Feb    0.3    7.37
28-Feb    0.09    7.46
1-Mar     0.2    7.66
2-Mar      0.59    8.25
7-Apr      0.1    8.35


I certainly don't claim to have a perfect record, but I'm pretty good about recording each storm.


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California Native Plant Week and the long game

California Native Plant Week (CNPW) is upon us, but it always seems like it's late to me.  In northern California where winter seems to hang on a bit longer, I think the timing might be more apropos, but for me in the Los Angeles area it's always seemed like the garden has hit its peak several weeks ago.

Not that CNPW isn't a good idea.  As a state-wide acknowledgement of the richness of our natural environment, it's an excellent advertising tool.  Still, pity the naive Joan Q Public who admires a native plant in bloom during CNPW then tries to plant it in the following week in mid-April.  She is near certainly doomed to failure for a multitude of reasons. 

Mostly, Joan may not fully realize the long game that one plays as a native plant gardener:

April, year 1: It's CNPW.  First lay eyes on a plant you admire.  Plant your selection in your garden  Ah, satisfaction!  You ought to be enjoying that plant soon, right?
June, year 1: Plant dies more often than not and dissatisfaction ensues.  If not, then it doesn't grow much in summer anyway so you might as well have waited until Oct-Nov.
Oct-Nov, year 1: Replant, if you are dedicated or a glutton for punishment.  If you are patient and haven't lost the inspiration since April, then plant for the first time.
April, year 2: It's CNPW, but your plant has only just settled in after a nice winter, and it's not an abundant bloomer after only 6 months in the ground.  Don't rip it out in disappointment.  Wait some more.
June, year 2: Plant has to make it through the summer.  You are careful and it does.  Hurray!
November, year 2: Plant establishes and grows due to winter rainfall.  Ahhhh.  Almost done.
April, year 3: Plant blooms.  Double Hurray!  You are done after only 3 years.

At this point the reasonably patient Joan Q Public may ask, "Why plant a Toyon when a Cotoneaster will fill in so much more quickly?"

2015-04-08

Squirrel deterrent

But they will hop right over the screen....Oh.





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2015-04-04

Friendship Park II

What's not to like?


Brazilian pepper, wall to wall Euphorbia terracina, and mustard forests.

Aside from that it's a nice view.

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2015-04-03

Friendship Park

Here's an interesting sign.


With all that mustard, one wonders how they define restoration.

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2015-03-20

From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow....

...and grow, and grow, and grow.  I'm sure it was cute when it was smaller.  As a gangly pre-teen, it's not even reached close to its final height. At least it's not planted beneath power lines. 

Don't do this.

2015-03-10

Visit to Oak Canyon Nature Center

Oak Canyon Nature Center is surrounded by 58 acres of park in Anaheim Hills. Park grounds and trails are open sunrise to sunset, seven days a week
Oak Canyon Nature Center

The John J. Collier Interpretive Center is open Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00am-4:00pm
Parking lot gates and restrooms locked at 5:00pm
Oak Canyon Nature Center
This looked like Stachys
More of the Stachys look-alike.
A Juli.
Marah or Chaparral cucumber was all over.
This guy was on a mustard plant. Half-hearted online searching says it will grow into a white-lined Spinx Moth.
 Hyles lineata (Fabricius, 1775) WHITE-LINED SPHINX ???
BLUE DICKS! (Dichelostemma capitatum)
BLUE DICKS! (Dichelostemma capitatum)
LOTS!
BLUE DICKS! (Dichelostemma capitatum)
AND LOTS!
BLUE DICKS! (Dichelostemma capitatum)

2015-03-06

Cool and science pioneerish, again!

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On the LLP web site there there are 59 H. glacialis (Glacial Lady Beetle) reported but only a few with the extensa epithet, so I suspect they are somewhat rare.  Nonetheless, I found one the other day.  Googling around, I thought it was interesting that someone named Mulsant named this subspecies in 1850. 

2015-03-05

Bloom time!

Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird Sage).  I think it's just the species.  As I noted in a previous post, gardeners will identify subspecies or selections willy-nilly.  "Powerline" is one such named selection.
Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird Sage)
Stachys ajudgoides (Hedge Nettle).  No minty smell.  No nettlely stingers.  Just a low growing green filler.
Stachys ajudgoides (Hedge Nettle)
 Ribes aureum gracillimum (Golden Currant).  I eat the currants if the birds don't get them first.

Ribes aureum gracillimum (Golden Currant)
 Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud).  One of three in my yard.  It's the only one that has the characteristic red buds right now.  I kinda think the others won't get any this year.  My previous experience says that it takes a few years to get these blooms and the older the tree the more of them there are.  This is the first year for this tree.
 Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud)

2015-03-03

Eschscholzia californica maritima

The maritima subspecies of California poppy is not even really recognized by many official publications. Apparently it's had its ins and outs with the botanists. The argument goes that at some point you have to make a choice to be inclusive at higher levels of nomenclature and not open yourself up finer and finer levels of distinction within subspecies that one could spend several lifetimes untangling.

Gardeners on the other hand, can afford to have those levels of distinction.

Rain 0.59"; season total 8.25"

We had another 0.29" yesterday and then more overnight for a total of 0.59".  The overnight rain was torrential at times and woke me up at its loudest.

3/3/2015 0.59"


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2015-03-02

0.29" rain; season total 7.66"

We had a storm come through that looked like was going to leave us with just trace rain.  Then during the day on the 1st we picked up nearly a tenth of an inch, followed overnight by another two tenths.  More rain is supposed to be on the way today.

3/1/2015    28-Feb    0.09    7.46
3/2/2015    1-Mar    0.2    7.66