Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Consequences of a Changing Climate

blog1 Just a few weeks ago, these California Fan Palms in our backyard were snow covered, and still green.  Then the deep freeze hit.  More than 90 straight hours below freezing, with overnight lows around 0°F, and wind chills 15 - 20° below that.  Daytime highs struggled to make the 20’s.  A few days after the cold broke, I noticed that all the fronds had turned brittle and brown.  Then we had a day with brutal winds, and the crown of the tree just went over in a right angle to the trunk.  We don’t know if these palms are dead.  The experts say don’t trim or chop till Spring.. see if the plant can replenish itself from the roots.

We live in an area where the average January and February high temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s, and overnight we might hit 20° on a bad night.  The plants aren’t used to what we have and neither are the houses.  We lost our water for 48 hours, and have some not-quite-essential pipes to replace under the house.. (the pipe supplying the outside faucets, and also the refrigerator ice maker-  the horror! No cracked ice for Margaritas!).  There’s also a tiny leak in the well house, although I’m not sure it’s related to the cold.  It took me several days to realize the consistently crowded parking lot at the hardware store wasn’t because they were having a giant clearance sale.  They were selling PVC pipe. Thousands and thousands of feet of PVC pipe.

Besides our palms, our prickly pear cactus are drooping, and even the acacia, and Mexican elder look sickly.  The Ocotillo always looks dead in the winter, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.  The only thing that looks unscathed is the all the goddamn cholla!

Most disturbing of all, is the plight of the Ponderosa pines.  At Christmas, they were green and thriving, lit up with our holiday lights.  Now blog 2they are sad and brown.  I can’t believe that the cold did this.  They’re mountain trees fer chrissakes!  I think they’ve fallen victim to the lack of moisture.  We haven’t had any appreciable precipitation since Summer.  We had a blizzard at the end of January, but because it was so cold and dry, the snow seemed more to evaporate than melt.  There was no mud. 
I’ve been watering the pines and the fig tree, (which also looks in a bad way), but so far they remain golden brown, and stand out on our hill like a beacon. 

Rain is in the forecast for Sunday.  It may, and it may not, depending on the wildly varied forecasts from the different online weather services.  These plants have been in the yard since the house was placed here in 1997.  I’d hate to have to start over.

1 comment:

  1. your pines are firewood unfortunatly. IF they are ponderosa you need to replant w/ afghan pines( also known as mondel pines). no rain= deep slow watering needed.

    not sure how your palms will do but would have been better if they were the mexican variety that was sold at my old job.
    nursery's are going to have a busy spring if they can get plants and trees intime to resell! lots of dead plants around.