- Author: Bud Veliquette
In a couple of days, we will be moving back to Sonoma County, so this will be my final blog for the Solano Program. We will miss being in this nearly frost-free climate of zone 17, but we are happy to be back in a forested rural area. Our home in Occidental is in Sunset’s zone 15, where winter temperatures can dip into the upper 20’s during a cold snap. The New Sunset Western Garden Book shows a detailed climate zone map of the entire Bay Area (pages 32,33), including the inland Delta areas. Aside from the milder zone 17, Solano County includes a big chunk of zone 15, 14, and 9, which is near Vacaville.
One way to beat the frost is to plant the most sensitive plants, like Lantana (Lantana camera) with some other more frost hardy plant, like California lilac (Ceonothus spp.) (see photo), seen cascading over a retaining wall in my neighborhood. The evergreen foliage protects most of the sensitive parts of the Lantana as an unexpected symbiosis.
Bougies to Go
For those of you like me who can’t stand to go without a Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis), my solution to zone 15 living is to pot them, which makes them portable and easily placed in a protected place during a frost alert. (see photos)
Break out the Frost Covers
And yes, I’ve found that you can have avocados (Persea americana) in zone 15. But you do have to keep the frost covers handy during the coldest months. We have two at our Occidental condo, and I got the hardiest ones I could find: ‘Mexicola’, which is very cold hardy to 20 degrees F. The Meyer lemon (Citrus x meyeri) is also a favorite of mine. It’s best to get early ripening varieties in frost prone areas, because fruit is damaged at several degrees below freezing. However, frost covers can raise the temperature by 6 degrees, which often is just enough to protect the fruit.
Late Blooming Apricots
I had given up on trying to grow apricots (Prunus armeniaca) in zone 15, but recently I found two late blooming varieties: ‘Harcot’, and ‘Harglow’. The latter is also disease resistant. So, I’ll be putting one or two dwarfs in, in another month or two.
Enjoy this beautiful fall weather.
- Author: Janet Snyder
My poor garden is so confused! It is November, correct? I was outside, in shorts and sandals, watering my thirsty plants in the heat this week. So many of the trees have not turned color and started to drop leaves yet. I'm usually doing some pretty heavy raking of leaves by now. I'm wondering if and when fall will arrive here in California.
In spite of the unusual weather, I did do some random fall chores outside. I went ahead and took out the tomato plants, picked the pumpkins and discarded the vines in anticipation of the possible upcoming frost next weekend. The morning glories have continued to bloom every day, although not as profusely. Even so, I pulled down the vines and tossed them in the compost bin. Various perennials were in need of deadheading, so I took care of that. What leaves are falling were raked up, as I don't want to encourage the various fungus and bugs that love their habitat to take over (I have enough trouble keeping rust and black spot at bay as it is on my roses!). I mowed the grass, hoping that if we do have a frost, it'll be the last time I have to mow until springtime.
Turning to my patio, the outdoor furniture is now all under cover from the rains. The summer annuals in the pots were still looking pretty, but I'm ready for winter annuals. So…I pulled out the salvia, petunias, and begonias, cleaned the pots, added fresh soil, and put in some beautiful pansies and cyclamen. With the freshly picked pumpkins next to the pots, it looks much more like fall on the patio.
I hope fall arrives soon!
- Author: Jennifer Baumbach
Last night I was complaining to the husband about how cold it was in the house. I cranked up the heater, but it just didn't seem to do the trick. I hauled out a down blanket and put it on the bed. It didn't dawn on me until I opened the garage door this morning that Jack Frost had visited Dixon. The evidence was on all the roofs in my court-a light dusting of frost. I know this was a pretty isolated event, as I had queried a few Master Gardener friends from Fairfield. They said they didn't have any frost this morning.
Just a note to all you blog readers, protect your valuable plants or get them indoors. Watching the weather on the evening news might help. I would hate to see you lose that favorite plant due to a sneaky frost.