Friday, August 13, 2010

This is summer? Our ridiculously cool weather and the pleasure of our gardens, part 10

"The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." ~ Often attributed to American writer Mark Twain

While much of the country east of the Mississippi River wilts in extreme heat and humidity, out west in the Bay Area, we're enjoying a very mild summer.  Since the Fourth of July, only once has San Francisco recorded a daytime high exceeding 70 degrees. Elsewhere, Bay Area temperatures have been well below average.  This is summer?

It must be summer in the City:
Morning fog over the
Golden Gate Bridge
On Wednesday, San Francisco endured a dismally cool and foggy day with a paltry high of 58.  Across the bay, it was 62 in Oakland, and equally dreary, too. Still, I guess, it beats the East Coast heat ~ even if it means dressing in layers and wearing jeans and hoodies. It's all in our attitude, right?

"It's been ridiculously cool this summer," KTVU-TV meteorologist Bill Martin said Thursday night, during one of his weather reports, which accurately describes this summer's climate throughout much of the Bay Area.

First Prize rose:
Cooler temperatures have
translated into fewer blooms.
Mind you, the Bay Area is made up of many microclimates, and the daily weather forecasts broadcast on our local TV stations and printed in the San Francisco Chronicle reflect this. On TV, the five-day or seven-day, long range forecasts means seeing temperatures in triplicate: one set of numbers for the coast (such as Stinson Beach and Pacifica), another set for the bay (San Francisco and Oakland), and a third set for inland (which is pretty much anywhere east of the Oakland/Berkeley hills). Typically, the coast is coolest, the bay a bit warmer, and inland is usually 10-15 degrees warmer than the coast, sometimes even hotter.  This summer, if you're willing to head east over the hills to the inland valleys, you'll find warmer temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s.

Summer of Love:
Queen Elizabeth roses
While the cooler, milder temperatures likely rule out a leisurely day at the beach ~ and make going for a neighborhood walk a brisk affair ~ they've been a welcome relief at home and in our gardens.  The string of unusual summer temperatures means not needing to run our rose drip as often as usual. Also, it's giving budding rose blooms an opportunity to blossom for longer periods before fading.  A few mornings of light drizzle earlier this week came as a surprise, too, making rose colors appear brighter.

Oranje crush: an orange rose
Cooler temperatures have translated into fewer blooms for some of our rose bushes, like our Pristine and First Prize. However, for our Orange and Queen Elizabeth rose bushes, it's been a liberating experience filled with pretty swatches of pink and orange.

Regardless of our lackluster summer weather, our rose bushes still provide us with plenty of beauty and enjoyment. Happiness is shared.

A postscript:  Despite the fog and chilly temperatures, we recently spent quality time in our front yard trimming back our camellia and rhododendron bushes, something we do annually.  This allows for new growth and gives each a bit of breathing room from each other's branches.  Also, we trimmed our side yard and back yard lavender bushes, both which we planted ourselves a few years ago, and readied the east side of our house for the return later this year of our calla lilies. Finally, we groomed our iris bed, cutting back old growth from earlier this year.  The irises will return next spring just in time for the start of baseball season.

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