Climate change and the California native garden

Giant Coreopsis
Mon, 20 Jul 2015 16:41:03 PDT
This past week traditionally summer-dry Southern California has experienced torrential monsoon rain, emanating from a tropical storm that normally would stay well south of us.  We quickly got a 1/3” of precipitation at our house, and the rain came with cumulus clouds, thunder, lightning and now humidity.  This all may not sound like much to you but for us, and to our native plants, it’s highly unusual.…
I have a decent collection of summer-dry native bulbs (calochorti, themids, alliums, lilies …) planted in naturalistic rock/rubble gardens.  Almost nothing is in pots, so there was no easy way to shelter them from the rain.  The planting mix is lean and fast draining, so I suspect the moisture will have penetrated to the levels of some of the bulbs.  It’s hard to say how many bulbs will have dived down below the moisture level – the bulbs should be from 8’ – 24” below grade depending on the species and the depth of the planting bed.
I hope these conditions don’t effectively steam my summer-dry bulbs into moldy little balls of mush, but without digging them all up (and there are too many) I guess there’s no way to know until I see or don’t see them emerge in December.  Fingers crossed.  It’ll be unfortunate if climate change means our native bulbs can no longer be grown naturally here in their native range.

Chris Elwell
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