In the garden: Stay frosty

While I was gone for a fair chunk of November, I did get to spend some time at home, and the vast majority of that time, especially at night, can be summed up in one word: Frosty. Frost was so heavy on the ground that it lingered long into the day in some places, as evidenced by this shot I took at Jughandle while I was there with friends on Sunday. It may have been noon, but this sand was frozen solid.

Anyone want to guess what this is? (Hint: It’s unusual for California.)

A photo posted by s.e. smith (@sesmithwrites) on

The month was ideal for persimmons, which dig the cold weather (these are slowly ripening to perfection so I can turn them into jam).

I think hostilities in the #PersimmonProblems debate just escalated. #persimmons A photo posted by s.e. smith (@sesmithwrites) on

Not so much for plants, many of which are looking the worse for wear despite the rain that’s bringing a distinctive note of green to my yard — it’s a little surreal, because bits and pieces of dead grass are sticking up but everything else is starting to flush green. And, of course, the cursed brambles are exploding right and left, as they do at any opportunity in the form of rain or extra nutrients. Thankfully, next month my mobility will be greatly improved and I’ll be able to do things like digging out balls of blackberry roots as long as I don’t overdo it.

While it was a bad month for plants, it was a great month for one of my favourite things: Lichen. Like this lovely growth on my California buckeye, which harbours a whole microcosm of various little lichens (not, as popular belief has it, fungi, but a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and algae). While lichen gets a bad rep (particularly Usnia, the stuff people mistake for Spanish moss), it’s actually not generally bad for trees and shrubs. If it’s present in large quantities and looks like it’s choking a tree, the tree was already dead when the lichen got there.

Lichen the look of this.

A photo posted by s.e. smith (@sesmithwrites) on

Mushrooms also had a blast, speaking of fungi.

Here we’ve got what you call your MBM — medium brown mushroom. Don’t confuse it with an LBM. A photo posted by s.e. smith (@sesmithwrites) on


A photo posted by s.e. smith (@sesmithwrites) on

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is nearly over. With huge rainfall forecast this winter, it could be an exciting few months for me and the garden alike.