What’s happening in the garden

Magnolia campbellii ‘Late Pink’ at San Francisco Botanical Garden, February 2022

Magnolias are in their 2-3 weeks of peak bloom right now. We went to the San Francisco Botanical Garden last weekend knowing we’d catch a great display. The Garden’s 200 magnolia trees (the most significant conservation collection in the US) are spread throughout the garden, and they’ve created a Magnolia Map to help you find them. Featured trees are highlighted throughout the Garden with small, bright pink signage so you can easily lookup details about their species.

In our own garden, we’re seeing buds on some of our laurel, we’ve got a meyer lemon that’s trying really, REALLY hard to survive the squirrels, the salvia is blooming, so is the acacia, the silk tassel is tasseling, and our yarrow, cut back not that long ago, is starting to send up new green shoots. The yarrow is a sensitive topic, because we discovered the hard way that it can be a skin irritant for some people, so it might be coming out soon. Still investigating, though, because it doesn’t show up in PollenLibrary as an allergen, although I think this database might be limited to airborne allergens. (There’s another allergy database, AllergenOnline, that includes some discussion of other types of allergens, including some contact allergens, but it’s fairly limited.) ANYWAY, if the yarrow has to come out, I’ll hope to replace it with something else that has dye potential. And in any case, I’ll be reading Sloat Garden Center’s Monthly Calendar for advice on what we should be doing to tend the garden this month.

Everything is also extraordinarily dry, and many plants are already dropping seeds. Gone are the winters of turning off irrigation. “Extraordinary” really is the perfect word for California’s dry winters, because it’s not surprising at this point, but it’s still shocking and extreme — it’s an extreme AND typical state. SO, go smell the flowers! While you can. And hold that sweet breath for a few beats to give the climate a damn break.

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