Sunset 23 vs. Sunset 24
In our visit to Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar, I enjoyed seeing plants truly happy in Sunset 24, plants that are typically slightly or significantly miserable in my own Sunset 23. The more moderate temperatures and steadier, higher humidity of 24 makes a huge difference for certain plants. The amazing ornamental Kales look superb for several months in 24, in my 23 it would take an unusually long period of cool non-offshore-flow weather in fall and winter to get the same result, a weather condition I've never experienced. Just a brief heat wave and spell of Santa Ana winds turns these weirdly beautiful plants into something that looks like the spinach that's been left in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator for too long.
Yes, they are ridiculous, but beautifully so:
Breynia nivosa aka Breynia disticha is quickly pathetic in 23; it's a little too cold for it, insufficiently humid, and the Santa Anas ruin it. In 24 it's a wow. In 23, we try, and try, and try again. It's the lucky gardener that manages to succeed--for a while--until the next hot wind storm.
Breynia with an espalliered Bronze Loquat (Eriobotryta deflexa, perfect against a white wall:
I've never seen one this spectacular in 23:
Delphiniums are hopeless except as modest annuals in 24 just as much as in 23, but in 24 they may last into late July, while in 23 they're toast by mid-June.
Pentas hybrids live and grow fairly well in 23, but in 24 their flowers are fatter, and foliage is more plentiful and uniformly green, without the browning and drooping that is typical in 23:
The differences do not seem all that great: a few degrees in temperature, a slight increase in humidity. But if you spend long days outside gardening in 23, a visit to 24 can be startling. In 24 you can smell the sea, you can bear direct sun (if there is any) on a July afternoon, and the increased humidity is apparent in the feel of your skin. Foliage is not sunburnt, or so brown-tipped, and is softer and plumper. If a mere gardener can feel it, it is even more apparent to a plant.
But without the heat of 23, roses do not always open, and fruit does not always ripen. I love the gentle plumpness of 24, but 23 offers a wider range of possibilities, if not the summer comfort.