Narcissus 'February Gold'
Thu, 22 Mar 2007 09:56:33 PDT
On 22 Mar 07, at 11:04, Jim McKenney wrote:

> Obviously there is a lot more to winter than low temperatures. A
> friend who gardens in nearby zone 6 -  on a site which slopes into the
> south east - regularly reports earlier bloom for some plants than I
> observe in my own garden.

Here in Victoria, it's well known (among gardeners) that flowering 
seasons can differ by as much as two weeks over quite small 
distances. Some of you may be familiar with the old saw "If you don't 
like the weather, just wait five minutes." Around here, there's an 
extra clause: "or walk over a block or two."

Victoria is a fairly hilly town, and being on a peninsula, the 
saltchuck is rarely far away. As a result there is enormous variation 
in microclimate. You can see this in real time at

This is based on a network of automated weather stations at local 
schools and similar places.

If you look at these weather maps frequently you will often see quite 
sharp variations in what's happening. The school closest to me, 
Campusview Elementary, often differs significantly from the site just 
NE of it at the Ian Stewart Complex, even though the distance is 
probably no more than 1000'. Campusview school is in a shallow 
depression at the north foot of Mt. Tolmie, a 400' eminence, with 
many trees adjacent, while the Ian Stewart Complex is on a slight 
rise and is just far enough further north and away from trees to be 
substantially warmer a great deal of the time.

Unfortunately, the Victoria weather network doesn't have closely 
enough spaced stations to capture the full detail of the variation in 
microclimate, but it does show some of the variation.

And as I drive around the city at this time of year, it's quite 
striking how certain indicator plants flower much earlier in some 
locations than in others. Flowering quinces are a good indicator at 
this time of year; later on California poppies, widely naturalized, 
will do the job. I've often thought it would be an interesting 
research project to plot the onset of spring via the flowering of 
such plants.

So it may be that it's not so much there being "more to winter than 
low temperatures" as it is there being more to the onset of spring.

That Jim McKenney's friend has a SE facing garden leads to the 
surmise that the friend's garden gets more winter insolation and thus 
experiences soil warming earlier.

Bulbs in fl ower as I write: Trillium ovatum x rivale; Anemone 
appenina & various cultivars of A. blanda; A. caucasicum gone over. 
Narcissus eystettensis, N. Dove Wings', N. 'Louis Armstrong', N. 'Rip 
van Winkle'; Cyclamen pseudibericum, C. repandum; C. coum mostly 
going over. Muscari 'Blueboy' and a host of self-sown seedlings of 
same just coming into flower. Tecophliaea cyanocrocus leichtlinii 
still putting on a good show in its pot. Some erythroniums just 
starting, some in full throat, others completely over.  

Eranthis completely gone over; Convallaria showing only tight growth 
buds. N. 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' long gone.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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