Summer heat finally arrived–in September. Two hours north, Los Angeles hit 113 degrees on Monday, a degree hotter than Death Valley. At least one San Diego County town hit 109 on Monday, though down here near the coast it didn’t get much more than the low 90s. Still, really hot by what we’re used to.

Now that it’s turned hot I feel like as punishment I need to write on the chalkboard two hundred times:

I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer…

It was so hot that the contents of the snack bottle of vitamin Cs (aka chocolate chips) were turning into chocolate goo. John’s emergency response to stick them in the fridge averted disaster.

Over the weekend, knowing it was going to be a stretch of hot weather ahead, I tried to give a serious soak to the plants most susceptible to drying out. Anything in a pot got a good drink–a lesson I learned in August when we had two surprise days of hot summer summer weather. In August this Ceanothus lleucodermis that I’d carefully propagated from seed didn’t survive the hot spell to be planted this fall.

In addition to the potted plants, a small group that was new in August got an extra watering out of the weekly cycle. And the remaining zones of water-intensive plants and bogs got the extra soak.

Some plants didn’t seem to be bothered by the heat or dryness. This native bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) has been one of the most reliable garden plants, expanding and blooming like crazy in a spot where it has shaded roots. Another bladderpod in a more exposed location subsists on a similar amount of water, though it’s just one third the size of this plant.

The non-native Solanum pyracanthum is another plant that gets by with close to zero added water in a semi-sheltered spot near the first bladderpod. It has a much longer bloom season than my native nightshades, and it has the added bonus of a row of decorative orange spikes that decorate the center of each leaf.

A potted Stapelia gigantea also seemed to enjoy the hot weather. You can tell by the burned stems that this plant probably doesn’t get enough moisture. Still, it survives and blooms.

In my last post I mentioned a different stapelia species that stinks like carrion and is pollinated by flies. This S. gigantea has the same charming trait. The fifty pound potfull of stinky plant lives outside the window to my studio workstation. Like most people in the neighborhood we don’t bother with air conditioning, so working in my studio has been an…interesting olfactory experience. At least the stink is only really bad when you get close to the flower.

With heat often comes fire. Two recent evenings had extra-fiery sunsets. What looks like colorful sun-lit clouds in this photo is actually smoke from a 500-plus acre fire in Mexico that made it over the border. Fortunately the fire got extinguished and didn’t develop into another of the monster conflagrations we’ve experienced twice in the last seven years.

The rest of the West Coast seems to be sharing this same heatwave. The worst seems over, but there are probably more warm days ahead. So stay cool as possible–and remember to hydrate.

12 thoughts on “hydrate!”

  1. I know what you mean about the not complaining part. We’re not quite as hot as you down south or inland, but it did get to 82 on Saturday, which melted most of us who are used to a moderate 60 after more than a month of drippy, wet fog here in Monterey.

  2. Ah yes, it has been on the hot side indeed. Nothing like the June days 2 years ago when we hit 115 and everyone disappeared into the library, movie theatre, or a restaurant. But plenty warm. Almost 100 here. I’m just glad I haven’t put in the plants yet, but truth be told, I probably need a pickax to make the holes… So wait and water is the order of the day.

  3. Hydrate has been the magic word of the summer for us. We have discovered G-2 sport drinks and if not for them, I think we would have had heat exhaustion for sure with a record breaking hot summer. I will try not to complain of a cold winter….

  4. Yup with 104 degrees for 4 days in a row even with daily watering some of my propagated plants in pots got hit pretty bad – I thought they were in a shady enough spot. They weren’t. Thank goodness today it’s cooled off a good deal.

  5. I guess we had a mini heat wave as well…followed by 48 hours of rain. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be in the 50’s. I was never one to watch the weather, but these days…

  6. We didn’t notice our jar of choc chips soon enough and popped them in the fridge too late. Last night I was chipping at the solid mass with a knife to dislodge some morsels. Can’t believe your blog induced me to reveal that…The copper tree, Euphorbia cotinifolia, which always holds onto its leaves the longest of our deciduous trees, dropped them in response to the heat. And my brug dropped its unopened flower buds. Other than that, nothing outright died. Pretty amazing, considering. I had deep-watered a couple days ahead.

  7. I need some help just as you i have been a long time gardener and i live in NY its getting cold plants arr dying but i have this beautiful Datura i would like to bring inside, what do you think. Will it make it I have East facing windows and the air is not dry. please help, thanks


    1. Brian, I’d definitely try bringing the datura indoors to keep it from freezing. The east window should be enough to get it through the winter, though it might not be enough to make it bloom. My local native datura almost goes dormant and hardly blooms with the onset of weather but comes back as soon as days warm up.

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