The perplexities of explaining gardening in our Meditterranean climate

Plumbago
September around here means at least another full month of summer temps (we hit 95F/35C yesterday) so the garden is still blooming away and putting on a lovely show. Even though I don't normally share so many photos in one post, I couldn't settle on featuring just one of the many types of flowers that are showing off in the garden. So think of this as a "photo bouquet" of sorts.

"Our Lady of Guadalupe" rose
Trying to explain living in a Mediterranean climate to someone who hasn't ever lived in one for a full year is kind of difficult. Have you ever read Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes? All the plants she describes in this memoir are plants that thrive here. The seasons are much the same too (although our winters are a bit milder). The best way I've been able to describe it is that our spring starts about 2 months earlier than you'd expect and autumn comes about 2 months later than in other gardens in the northern hemisphere. Our climate isn't tropical, but it isn't the typical "four season" climate either. See... I said it was difficult to explain.

"Janice Kellogg" rose
The light is changing so we know that autumn is officially only a few weeks away. However, we know that our garden won't look autumnal until late October or even November. Many trees won't display their fall leaves until then unless we get some chilly nights.

Alstroemeria
The good thing about living in this climate is that we have an extra long growing season for veggies. It's so long, in fact, that many veggie gardeners put in a crop in March or April to be harvested in mid-summer. Then another crop is put in around July for an October or pre-Thanksgiving harvest. With indeterminate crops like some tomato varieties, in past years I've been harvesting tomatoes all the way up to the morning of Thanksgiving the third week in November. It's pretty cool.

Four O'Clock

Lest you think this is all too good to be true, there are downsides to this climate. Trust me... there are.

One downside is we can't expect any rain throughout the summer. The rain stops sometime in May and doesn't typically come back until October or November. It means that our rolling hills are a pale golden color all summer and green during the winter and spring. It's the exact opposite of someplace in the midwest of North America.

Another downside is that we can't grow certain vegetables in the summer garden because the temps are too intensely hot. Veggies like lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, spinach, kale and some onions don't do well. So those crops get planted sometime in the autumn or winter and are grown as winter crops. When everyone else is enjoying fresh lettuce for summer salads we are dreaming of our winter salads. Yeah... it's kind of weird.


Strawberry blossom

After over a decade of learning the rhythms of this climate, I think I'm finally used to what to expect and what not to expect. It still doesn't prevent me from feeling a yearning ache inside when garden bloggers in other climates are posting gorgeous autumn leaves. Autumn is a favorite season for both Hubby and me. It's hard to have to wait a whole 2 months for our climate to catch up. Especially when all we want to do is surround ourselves with the rich tones of the autumnal palette, snuggle up in warmer clothes and enjoy evenings with kitties curled up on our laps.

Gerbera daisy

One really good upside to living in this climate is that once October rolls around, it will still be temperate enough to start working on large garden projects. Hubby and I are looking forward to working on a long-planned pergola in the unfinished portion of the back garden.

In the meantime, I'm still hunkered down inside with the A/C on daydreaming of autumn.

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3 comments:

Carolynn Anctil said...

Wow, good for you for figuring that complex growing season out. What a treat to be able to enjoy flowers and vegetables for so much longer than most, every year. I'm afraid I may have a very short growing season where I'm headed next.

Joanie said...

I love your photo bouquet! Beautiful photos... miss you.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

That does sound tricky, but I must admit that having two crops is wonderful.

Our spring is two months behind, and our fall is earlier then the coast...sigh.

But apparently we get pretty leaves in Autumn.

Well, that makes up for everything doesn't it? Snort.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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