Plants and the Weather

A few months ago I was wandering through Berkeley Horticultural Nursery to see what was new. Berkeley Hort (as it is known to locals) is a favorite nursery in the Bay Area because of its wide variety of unique and hard-to-find plants. In the fruit tree section I spotted several varieties of tropical plants that I had never seen growing in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Can you really grow mangoes here?” I asked one of the nursery employees. His reply was, maybe if the conditions are just right you will get a little fruit in several years, but definitely don’t count on it. The thing is that the trees will probably sell (and I have to admit that I was a bit intrigued myself). The Bay area is an interesting place for gardeners because of its many climate zones and its mild climate. Some plants that may or may not make it, depending on where you live and what the weather is like in a particular year.

Berkeley’s climate seems closer to some of the milder areas of San Francisco than some of the other areas I have lived in the Bay Area. Often this means that the summers are cooler and foggier, but there is little to no frost in the winter. This winter has been much colder, and many of the borderline tropical plants don’t seem to be surviving the weather. I have seen many a shriveled datura and bird-of-paradise on my recent walks. One of the most interesting observations, though, has been the wrapping of plants in an attempt to protect them from the frost. In many other parts of the country, frost protection is a regular winter activity. There are specially designed covers for this that are made of synthetic fabrics and come in different sizes and shapes. Most of the covers I have seen on my walks have been improvised out of blankets and bedsheets, and some (such as cotton sheets) are less successful than others. I do feel slightly guilty for saying this, as I am somewhat deriving enjoyment out of others’ suffering, but it has been lots of fun for me as walker to run across the interesting color combinations and patterns created by the cobbled-together plant coverings.


1 Comment »

  1. amey said

    Yeah, that frost was a killer! I kept my baby meyer lemon tree safe with an old blanket… but our front yard suffered many other unfortunate casualties. Now I’m in a pruning quandry… not sure how much to cut back. Sigh!

    : )

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