Gardening in Southern California regularly surprises me. I grew up in Oregon and after leaving there at age 17 and moving around the world a few times (literally), I ended up back there in my hometown of Portland for 12 years. During those years, I grew a vegetable garden. I planted all my favorite flowers--hydrangeas, roses, lavender, cosmos--and learned how to pull up the tomato plants after the first frost killed them, how to protect the roses from the 15 degree cold snaps that Portland would occasionally endure.
Then I moved to Southern California.
This is the place where my potted tomato plants winter over from year to year. These little cherry tomatoes are on a bush that is finishing up its third year in the pot. Look! Do you see the six little green tomatoes? And the yellow blossoms? What is happening here? It's NOVEMBER, it's THANKSGIVING.
The camellias in my grandma's Oregon garden and later on in my garden bloomed in early spring. Here in Camarillo, my camellias (all nine bushes) are blooming in NOVEMBER.
This David Austen rose is named Mayflower. It smells wonderful and its old fashioned petals open up and curl a little and then they quickly wilt and drop off leaving a sweet memory on the steps by my front porch. Its mommy was Mary Rose and I think its daddy was Gertrude Jekyll. I had a potted Mary Rose on my south facing porch in Oregon. It died one coldish winter. The Gertrude Jekyll rose that I planted in memory of my mother whose name was Gertrude grew near the mailbox by my driveway. I dutifully cut back its bare branches every February.
It's NOVEMBER and my Mayflower rose is blooming its little heart out.
The seasons are all mixed up down here. Is it the influence of nearby Hollywood where no one or nothing is allowed to grow old in the land of eternal youth?
No, it's just the weather, the California Mediterranean climate that brings us poinsettia trees perenially growing larger and larger, flowering out with those big, floppy red blooms most of the year, not those wimpy little Christmas house plants that bloom once and then never bloom again and you throw them in your compost bin in February. Zone 23 in the Sunset Western Garden Book.
This morning, the temperature was 51 degrees and it was foggy when I left for work, and I was freezing. Shivering, I drove the six miles to school wearing a long sleeved shirt and a sweater. I layed a sweatshirt over my legs, and I pulled on my gloves because the steering wheel was cold. Now the sun is out and it's in the low 60s.
It may be Thanksgiving week, but it's not an Oregon November.