Before The First Santa Ana Wind Hits...

Not complaining about Hemerocallis flowers in mid-October
 
The first Santa Ana winds of the season are just hitting now, at noon.  They were predicted to start at sunrise this morning--that they were late is perfectly okay.  We may have our electricity shut off because of the winds, and might have to do without until the power company decides to turn the electricity back on.  

The disastrous fires of 2017 and 2018 have created an elaborate dance between California's legislature, and for-profit large utilities to  protect the state's large for-profit electric utilities from financial harm due to poorly maintained equipment having cause several huge wild fires that killed dozens of people, thousands of wild animals, and destroyed thousands of homes.  The utilities want customers to pay the bills, not investors.  Quelle surprise! 

The utilities announced plans to shut down power to hundreds of thousands of customers every time it gets dry and windy.  Are they doing this to pressure the state into giving them more, more and more of what they want?   Interesting question.

Garden-wise, wind forecasts spur the usual pre-wind gardening actions:  snuggling many potted plants down low among shrubs in the ground, so the pots don't smash when the wind blows them off shelves, tables, or pedestals,  closing patio umbrellas and laying them down so they don't break anything as the wind knocks them over,  soaking vulnerable plants so they survive the potentially lethal combination of 8% humidity and hot wind, getting plants into the ground where they have a better chance of survival than in quickly desiccated potting soil. 

Some of this got accomplished this morning before the wind arrived.  Unfortunately, the asphalt machines were going strong and the noise was deafening. 
You don't want to hear this:
 Or this:
Right before wind was forcast, I bought a couple more white flowered Gaura in 4" pots, despite the original white-flowered "dwarf" Gaura being decidedly not dwarf.  The not-dwarf Gaura turned out to be semi-dwarfable by trimming it back after each round of flowering, the method that has proven so good for lavender plants:
The Gaura got cut back after its first round of bloom, and like Lavender plants, it looks far better given this treatment:  fuller, denser, with more flowers.  
 The new little Gaura 'Snow Fountain' went here.  It will be a white/black/red splash;  white Gaura, black-foliaged Lagerstroemia (with red flowers), red Pentas,  red Sprekelia formosissima.
It felt as though one tuft of vertical foliage stuck in the flat flat Dymondia ground cover would add interest, so the daylily clump went there.
Then a deep soak of everything, because wind was on the way.  Quick work because I wanted to save my hearing.  The noise from the asphalt dump truck, the asphalt spreader, the asphalt roller, and the two bobcats moving stuff around, was deafening.  

Before escaping some of the noise by retreating into the house, a moments pause to enjoying the red-leafed Alternathera. 
I've enjoyed the Alternathera so much lately it motivated me to root some additional plants.  A cutting roots quickly (10 days) in a small bottle of water.  These newly rooted, newly potted plants will have to come indoors while the wind blows.  They have roots, but being so new, are vulnerable.
One more quick garden glance--the new plants in the area that held a whole lot of Iris are looking good--hopefully they are strong enough to withstand a couple of days of hot wind and 8% humidity. 
They are about to find out.  The power might be out for a couple of days, too.  We can sit in the dark and listen to the wind howl. 

Comments

  1. We are heading towards day 3 of our planned power outage here. I am fortunate to be in the small chunk of Napa Valley that did not loose power, nor did my office so I was still able to work. Traffic has been a mess (many signals out) but on the plus side we made it through the red flag event with no fires and this evening the wind has stopped.Lots of complaining especially from people who live in areas with buried power lines . I hope all goes well for you in your neck of the woods.

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    1. I was thinking of you when I saw the PG&E shutdown included a lot of Napa County. Lucky you did not loose power! Traffic mess--people don't seem to remember how to handle an intersection when the power is out. Not good!

      Our peak gust in this immediate area was only 33MPH, so they didn't shut us off. SCE sent a bucket truck through just a few days ago that hacked off the tops of the palm trees that are right next to the power lines a few houses down. They did a terrible job, unfortunately not quite enough to kill those miserable things. Let's keep hoping it won't be a bad fire season for California.

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  2. I was wondering if your area had the electric shut off. What a shocker. I hope you are safe and your house/garden is sound with this being done. The dreaded winds will certainly be an impact. All of your precautions should save the day...or days. When your project is finally finished your home will be so spiffy. Worth all of this annoyance. I might try one of those gauras next spring. I have to start thinking about plants that hold up to some dry weather.

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    1. The power company announced that they might, but our top gust only reached 33MPH so they didn't . I think their line is 50MPH.

      The Gaura are said to reseed quite a lot, though it is so dry here, I haven't gotten that. Cutting them back after each wave of bloom probably helps reduce seedlings. The 'Snow Fountain' cultivar is said to be a little more hardy than the others.

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  3. I love the reblooming daylilies! My 'Plum Perfect' has produced yet another flower spike too with lots of buds. I'm so impressed with that plant I ordered 2 more plus 2 more of a white variety from the seller before it shuts down operation for the year. I'd anticipated your street work was a one day event but I gather that's not the case - I hope they'll be out of your hair (or rather your hearing) soon! The wind arrived here late yesterday but our humidity is already down to 13%. I heard from a friend in the Valley that there are fires out that way already. I haven't turned on the news yet...

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    1. 'Plum Perfect' sounds like a good one. The street guys started on Monday; I thought they were done yesterday but they "forgot" a small triangular area down at the end of the street--so they are at it again this morning, but it is farther way.

      More fires. Most of a mobile home park in Calimesa burned yesterday because a trash truck guy discovered his load was on fire so he dumped it, causing the mobile homes to catch fire. Boy is he in trouble!

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  4. What a very odd predicament the private utilities continually put us in. I'll say no more. I think you wrote once there's a backup generator for the koi, right? Love how the gaura is performing for you!

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    1. No, no generator for the koi. Solar/battery power storage --still working on that.

      Gaura way way better after the cut-back. Very happy about how good that worked.

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  5. I hear ya. Or rather I can't hear you or anything. There is what you call a bucket truck outside humming along full blast while it devours ash tree branches. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to cut down a perfectly nice tree, but now I know from reading your post. It's the power company clearing the lines. I wonder if they will leave it half cut on one side?

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    1. I need to get a photo of how they hacked the palm trees. It's pretty funny/sad. The guys obviously didn't give a shirt.

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  6. Uh-oh. Just looked out the kitchen window. Big brown smoke looming up to the northwest. From my fire lookout days, I know this a brush fire. Online it is called the Saddleridge Fire in San Fernando Valley. It is wind-driven. One death, 4,700 acres, 0% containment. Los Angeles police said 25,000 residences were under mandatory evacuations, impacting about 100,000 people.

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    1. Yeah, that one looks scary, and the traffic snarl is a nighmare. Another one started this afternoon in El Sereno area of east LA. ... :(

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  7. Your gaura and lavender are both so beautiful; your trimming was obviously the best thing to do. I have heard about the fires and power outages in California. I have a son in the Bay area, and he just escaped the power outage. I hope you and your garden are well and not ill affected. What a nightmare that could be!

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    1. Thank you! We were all okay in this neighborhood. Other places had tragedy and disaster. The wind direction and speed--we never know who is going to have it bad, and who will be spared.

      Glad your son in the Bay area had good luck, too.

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  8. So sorry about the fires.

    We are back to loadshedding, but on a schedule so a (shifting) few hours each day. And some lovely days like today with power all day. Usually Cape Town can rely on Steenbras hydroelectricity to tide us over Stage 1. But next week Steenbras has scheduled maintenance - then life will get more interesting. We have to make sure our electric car is adequately charged.

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    1. Oh, Diana, your situation is more difficult, with power shortage added to water scarcity. I have nothing to complain about in contrast and am rightly humbled, and grateful for the "reality check", as we call it here. Best wishes.

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