San Francisco Botanical GardenSan Francisco Botanical Garden


From the Director
February, 2007

Dear Friends,

Now that balmier weather has arrived, at least for now, I thought it a good idea to stroll through the Botanical Garden with Don Mahoney to see what the frost had wrought during the recent cold snap. It seems that, with very few exceptions, there were minimal terminal losses to plants in the Garden itself and in the nursery. This was due in large part to the heroic efforts of staff and volunteers who moved plants to safety or covered them with acres of frost cloth. Even so, the vast majority of plants were not especially protected.

January 2007 frost January 2007 frost

Most of the damage we do have appears cosmetic. Some plants look pretty bedraggled, and this sort of damage is not only plant specific but also location specific. Cupheas are blooming beautifully in some locations and look completely blasted in others. Likewise Iochromas and Bolivian fuchsias suffered differing fates at different locations. Most of the salvias look pretty good, and many are blooming their heads off! Meso-American Cloud Forest Garden plants with big leaves like Bartlettina sordida took it pretty hard, but the wonderful bronze-leaved Saurauia mardensis and the Telanthophora (giant groundsel, a weed really, but a favorite of mine) are ready to bloom. Two huge, pendant heads of golden Bomarea are magnificent right now!January 2007 frost

Fingers crossed, but Don tells me that over the last 30 or so years the killing frosts have all been in December, so the worst may be over for this winter. Now we all have to water, because with the wind and no real rain for quite some time, the plants are dry. And, as we advised in our last blast email, keeping all plants except succulents a little wet will help get them through the next cold snap.

Dodged the bullet? We think so. Now we only hope that your gardens have fared no worse. Remember, delay pruning for some time yet and keep most of your plants moist. I predict a glorious Spring after the rigors of this unusually cold California winter. Meanwhile, enjoy your own gardens on these warmer days and join the crowd in the Botanical Garden who are doing just that!

Warm winter regards,


Michael McKechnie
Executive Director, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society


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