Bulbs for Mediterranean Gardens--TOW

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Mon, 17 Mar 2003 15:29:09 PST
>Dear All,
>The topic for the next two weeks is Bulbs for Mediterranean Gardens. 
>I hope everyone who lives in a Mediterranean climate will tell us a 
>little about their specific microclimate and then the geophytes that 
>do really well, blooming reliably each year, that can be planted in 
>the ground and left.
>California's Mediterranean climate is divided into three subdivisions:
>Csa. Climate with hot summers, the highest monthly temperature 
>averaging over 72 degress F. (22 degrees C.) that includes what we 
>can the Valley (Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno) and Los Angeles
>Csb. Climate with moderate to warm summers, the highest monthly 
>temperature averaging below 72 degrees F. (22 degrees C.) and 
>including Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and Long Beach
>Csc. Coastal areas that have cool summers with frequent fogs like 
>San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Eureka
>We have members from all three of these subdivisions and we have 
>people from western Australia and other areas of Australia with this 
>climate and people from the Mediterranean basin. Rachel is out 
>collecting so we won't hear from her. So please tell us what works 
>for you and give others ideas of new things to try in their gardens.
>Although my rainfall is a higher than the criteria listed, otherwise 
>I fit and since I live on the first ridge, just a couple of miles 
>away close to sea level, the 15 year rainfall averages are within 
>the norm and 20 inches (7.8cm.) lower than my rainfall. So later in 
>the week when I catch my breath I will share about what grows 
>happily for me with little attention in the ground.
>Jerry mentioned when I announced this topic that some of the areas 
>of the Pacific Northwest had a Mediterranean climate. Much of the 
>Pacific Northwest is much colder in winter and some of it wetter and 
>there are areas I believe that do get rain in summer. But if you 
>live in Washington, Oregon, or BC and didn't tell us about what 
>grows for you when we discussed Bulbs for the Pacific Northwest and 
>your microclimate has a Medit pattern feel free to share. The same 
>goes for anyone else who feels their garden fits the pattern.

This is true. I did some further research after I sent out that plot 
that Mary Sue put on the wiki, and discovered that there is a region 
surrounding the Puget Sound/Strait of Georgia that is in the rain 
shadow of the Olympic Peninsula/Vancouver Island mountains, that 
exhibits the classic U-shape when you plot the monthly rainfall 
averages over the entire year. A number of towns up there get less 
than 0.5 inches of rain in July. In fact it is surprising that even 
the total annual rainfall, average, isn't all that high in a region 
roughly bounded by Seattle in the south and Vancouver (BC) and 
Nanaimo in the north and Port Angeles to the west. If you get much 
outside of this roughly triangular area surrounding and close to the 
water (of the Sound or the Strait) in any direction, the annual 
rainfall rapidly rises to amounts that are very stereotypical of the 
Pacific Northwest (70 inches and above). Even the wettest areas in 
this triangle don't get more than about 40 inches of rain total 
during the entire year and only get at most 1 inch of rain during the 
month of July. And the areas right along the coast tend to be USDA 
zone 9a (which I think is the coldest zone where you can reasonably 
expect mediterranean bulbs to grow well since they do most of their 
growing in the wintertime when the rains happen.

Some examples of the total annual rainfall (in inches):
Nanaimo - 43
Vancouver (BC) - 43
Seattle (airport) - 38
Blaine - 40
Bellingham - 34
Anacortes - 25
Victoria (BC) - 27
Port Angeles - 24
Port Townsend - 18

(This last is surprising because in comparison, downtown Los Angeles 
gets 15 inches a year, UCLA on the west side of L.A. gets 18, while 
some of the inland southern Calif. valleys actually get more than Pt. 
Townsend: the Pasadena area (where the famous Huntington Gardens are) 
gets 19 inches for example.)

--Lee Poulsen

>Mary Sue
>PBS List Administrator and TOW Coordinator
>Mary Sue Ittner
>California's North Coast
>Wet mild winters with occasional frost
>Dry mild summers

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