Mediterranean climate (was Fritillaria raddeana)

Michael Mace
Sat, 15 Sep 2012 11:27:12 PDT
Randy wrote:

>>Most of Iran falls in the typical "Mediterranean climate" type, which
extends very far inland in the eastern Mediterranean region than it does
elsewhere in the world. 

One of my favorite topics.  The concept of a "mediterranean" climate is easy
to understand (dry summers), but when you get into the details of its
official definition, things get confusing.  Even if an area has winter rain
and summer dryness, if it gets too little total rain per year, it may be
classified as "desert" rather than mediterranean.  And if it gets too cold
in winter, it may be classified as "continental" or "steppe."  The official
definition of mediterranean also allows a fair amount of summer rain (which
is why some "mediterranean" bulbs can naturalize in lawns and other places
that get watered in summer).

I won't get into the details, but you can drag yourself through the articles
on Wikipedia if you're having trouble getting to sleep some evening.

As a result of the classification weirdness, the places that grow some of
our favorite summer-dormant bulbs are not technically classified as
mediterranean.  Those areas include the Sierra Nevada mountains in
California (too cold), Nieuwodtville in South Africa (too dry), everything
north of about La Ligua in Chile (too dry), and as Randy mentioned, most of
Turkey and a huge chunk of Iran, the "stans" and other parts of the Mideast
(too cold and/or dry).

The lesson out of this is not to get too hung up on the official definition
of mediterranean.  It was written for climatology, not gardeners, and
definitely not for bulb growers.  And if someone tells you a bulb is
"mediterranean," don't assume you know how to grow it.  Ask for details on
how much winter cold and summer rain it expects.
San Jose, CA (min winter temp 20F / -6C, ~6 months of absolute drought in

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