Just last month (gardenia essentials), I confidently predicted: "Narcissi and freesias will sprout before Thanksgiving; calla lilies will stand tall before Christmas." When I wrote that, of course, I still believed that Southern California's famous "fall rains" would come in early October and usher in the fring season I enjoy so much.
On November 28, 2010, I described the planting of our narcissus bed as well its sprouting in early October of that year. We were enjoying narcissus blossoms throughout November of 2011 too, but again the rains had come in October.
October 2012 is history, and it's time to admit that I remember many fall droughts and many years when there was no paperwhite narcissus until Christmas. This fall has brought one Santa Ana after another, and today's predicted high is 95.
But bulbs are powerhouses of stored energy. Last Thursday or Friday, I saw that the first narcissus of 2012 had sprouted and was standing almost four inches tall. It was high time to bring on the laundry water.* The narcissus bed will receive at least three gallons every couple of days, and I'm thinking that our Idaho daffodils (not naturalized here yet) deserve life support too.
Our resurgent clematis, thirsty dogbane, Texas sun-drops, and showy bromeliads have received the lion's share of this summer and fall's laundry water, but wizened jade trees and other sad succulents (calandrinia, bulbine, aeonium, etc.) are beginning to remind me of T.S. Eliot's "old man in a dry month."
"Use it or lose it," they say, and this is true of laundry water as well as rain water. If the gardens don't get it, the overloaded sewer system and storm drains will.
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* I haven't reclaimed much laundry water this year (see drops in the bucket, part 3 for the October 2010 inception of that laborious process). Ironically, I had simplified my method of siphoning water out of the washing machine but had not really taken advantage of this innovation.