Weather that drives you to the nozzle

Source: NOAA. Click on the map to be taken to the Climate Prediction Center.

With rainfall across Los Angeles less than half the putative average for this time of year, and forecasts making discouraging noises about the prospects for a “March miracle,” it’s time for dry gardeners to water.

As odd as it sounds to be prescribing irrigation after light rains blew through and before summer heat, for lack of meaningful precipitation, late winter is the time to charge unnaturally dry ground. The soil is still porous, so there should be no run-off. Shorter and cooler days check evaporation and native and Mediterranean gardens are growing now, so they need a drink before they slip into summer dormancy in May.

But use caution. This is by no means a recommendation for a return to lawn-style frequent and light watering. It’s not about pushing a lot of new growth. It’s a

A day in the Mojave

A trip to the Mojave revealed two exquisite gardens near Joshua Tree, California

Ceanothus blues

Source: 'Ceanothus' by David Fross and Dieter Wilken, 2006, Timber Press

Rhapsodies about ceanothus tend to come in blue. Ceanothus flowers aren’t any blue, they’re blue sky blue. No, George Gershwin blue. Deep space should have such a blue. The one-upsmanship is understandable. These plants do for blue what roses do for red and pink, though there’s always a know-it-all in the house willing to pipe up that in the case of the ceanothuses ‘Ray Hartman,’ ‘Dark Star,’ ‘Centennial’ and ‘Yankee Point,’ from bud to seed their blossoms can also seem to start mauve, turn lavender, then blue, then Jimi Hendrix purple. Some ceanothuses in the mountains such as Ceanothus cuneatus or ‘Snow Flurry’ aren’t blue at all, but white.

Sunflower epilogue

Sunflowers are a glorious and effective conversion crop from lawn to native garden, however pruning them is a job worth mention.

Mr Garcetti, tear out this lawn

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial calling for the end of the Occupy LA encampment around City Hall. Among the reasons given were, “They’re killing the lawn in one of downtown’s rare green spaces, which will have to be replaced at taxpayer expense, and they may be damaging City Hall’s majestic fig trees.”

As one of the paper’s garden writers, I beg to differ. Having been to Occupy LA on Thursday, I can see that the encampment is, indeed, acting as human sheet mulch, a powerful technique for removing lawn. Yet once it’s killed, why replace it? Killing the lawn in a water-strapped region is one of the most beneficial things that any citizen can do. The water utility run by the Council inside City Hall has been paying rebates for home owners to do just that for several years now. That Occupy LA is smothering lawn for

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