Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Let It Rain

Photo: fir0002
As I write, it is raining again in Encinitas. This is welcome news. It appears we are on our way to at least a "normal" rainfall year of about 10" or perhaps even a little better, thus alleviating the effects of the drought for this year. It also means we should have good flowers in the Spring. Some of my plants have immediately responded by putting out leaf sprouts - and I mean immediately. Below is a Giant Coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea) before the rain and about 24 hours after it started.

This plant from the Channel Islands and Pt. Mugu area looks completely lifeless in the drought of summer, but it is merely leafless, not lifeless. As soon as the rain got to its roots, its stored energy in the stem started pushing out leaves from the top. The Halloween rain probably primed it for action, and this storm set it in motion. Another islands plant that is very happy with this rain is Munzothamnus blairii (Blair's Wire Lettuce) which is found on San Clemente Island and a weird, disjunct population on the mainland in Alameda County. Both the Leptosyne and Munzothamnus are members of the Aster family, though one would never know it by looking at them. It is only by examination of the flowers that the family resemblance becomes evident.

In my last post I showed Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) sprouting up. Now the Thread-leaf Brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia) is following suit. This species is listed as Endangered by the State and Threatened by the Federal government because it occurs in a very limited distribution in coastal southern California in precisely the places where people want to build houses. It is often said to be a vernal pool species, but I have also seen it extensively in grasslands in Carlsbad. Although it is a listed species, you can obtain the bulbs legally from Telos Rare Bulbs: (

Some of my plants don't want to get too wet. This is especially true of the Baja cacti. They have a tendency to rot if they get too wet, and I have lost a number of them that way. So I covered them before this storm. They will still get plenty of water from underground. They just won't get too much water directly on them.

Dudleyas are also picky like that. They don't want to have water standing in the center of the rosette. The vast majority of wild Dudleyas are found on slopes, and in the garden they should be planted on a slope or at an angle to the ground so water can drain off of them. It doesn't have to be a lot of slope, just enough so the center of the rosette can drain.

I used to not have any rain barrels. I just let the water run into the soil, and I have a few decorative pieces at the bottom of some of the downspouts.

Recently I got an email from a local nursery called Barrels and Branches ( telling me that I could get a rain barrel for $75 and I could get a $75 rebate from SoCalWaterSmart ( I went to Barrels and Branches and bought the rain barrel. I don't have a rain gutter in the location where I decided to put it. I just let the water run into the opening at the top of the barrel. I got a totally full barrel out of this storm.

Some insects had their own reactions to the weather. This butterfly, possibly an Orange Sulfur male, found himself a spot to hang out on the trunk of the oak tree. Not a bad spot to stay out of the rain.

I picked up a pot and underneath it was this Jerusalem Cricket. It didn't like being disturbed so I covered it up again. These things are harmless but they look positively evil.

Let's hear it for winter in So Cal.

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