Occasional Daily Weather Report; Thomas Fire’s impact on gardens and plant nurseries

Stepping out the back door this morning, my skin instantaneously felt the difference. Running to check the hygrometer on the front porch, that immediate sense of all-encompassing hydration was confirmed. The needle registered over 90 per cent humidity. The pergola eaves were dripping with morning dew, and the big, gulping lungfuls of air I ravenously inhaled were rich with moisture for the first time in the weeks since the second largest wildfire in California’s history broke out. Trivial annoyances, like this bad case of chronically chapped lips, will heal quickly. Healing a broken heart? I can’t imagine where you’d begin. The general news coverage and live, interactive fire maps, while terrific, have understandably lacked specificity. For example, along with all the human and animal lives in danger, I’ve also been worried about the fate of plant nurseries and gardens on those maps. This is where Instagram has come to the rescue. San Marcos Growers posted this message and photo on Instagram a couple days ago:

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Kniphophia ‘Christmas Cheer’ blooming with plumes of smoke from the Thomas Fire in the background. The nursery remains undamaged and OPEN !” San Marcos Growers 12/18/17

This message was posted this week by Lotusland:

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Not everyone has been so fortunate. Australian Native Plants Nursery lost nursery structures and offices to the fire.

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The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, which I visited in October, seems to be okay, judging by this Instagram post today.

No word yet on the fate of the Taft Garden, at least that I can find. Winds are expected to pick up again later today. Stay safe!

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10 Responses to Occasional Daily Weather Report; Thomas Fire’s impact on gardens and plant nurseries

  1. Kris P says:

    I was pleased by the jump in humidity this morning too. It’s currently reading 83% here but I understand that the wind warning goes into effect again this evening. I’d received work about ANPN but it’s good to hear that Lotusland, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and San Marcos Growers are okay. I hope Seaside Gardens is too – there’s nothing on their website to the contrary but I heard they were in the evacuation area at one point. The fire and its impacts on Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties is heart-breaking, as are the equine losses attributed to the earlier fires.

    A light drizzle just started here. Are you getting it too?

  2. ks says:

    I’ve spent more time on Cal Fires website in the last few months than I have in years. I’m very attached to SB and environs. I have a planned road trip down that way in March and it seemed so horrible to imagine some of my usual haunts gone. Even with the good containment news the damn Santa Anas are so unpredictable -what Socal really needs is rain, or at least a bit of dense fog.

  3. Jane Strong says:

    Denise, I plotted the cross streets for Taft Ojai Gardens, de la Garrigue and Baldwin Road SR 150, on the fire map, and the gardens are in the fire free zone that is surrounded by fire. Maybe they have evacuated? I can no longer find the Ventura Co. evacuation zones, only those in Santa Barbara Co.

  4. Max says:

    That’s terrible news about Australian Native Plants. I had been trying to find out about their status for the last week to no avail, until I read your post. I hope they are able to rebuild, but what a loss.
    Thank you for the update and glad to hear that the moisture has returned.

  5. I’ve heard (if I’m remembering correctly it came from Jo, of Australian Native Plants) that the Taft was spared. Sadly one of the structures that burned on Jo’s property was their house, so not just nursery buildings. I hadn’t heard about San Marco’s – thanks for that!

  6. Denise says:

    @Kris, possibly because they’re so close to the coast, I assumed Seaside wasn’t in any danger and didn’t know they were in an evac area. Yes, I got drizzled on about 6 p.m., when I was taking my mom to see Darkest Hour. This morning is dry again tho…
    @Kathy, if you’re coming this spring contact Jeff Chemnick at Aloes in Wonderland to make an appt to see his garden. Definitely worth a visit. I’d love to meet up with you!
    @Jane, thanks for the info!
    @Max, it does appear that some of the Aus Nursery’s container plants have been spared, so there’s some material to rebuild with, but I think there was a great loss of seeds, etc.
    @Loree, that’s great news if the Taft was spared. What a nightmare for Jo.

  7. I’ve only been to that Santa Barbara area a few times, but I completely see why one would be willing to take those wildfire risks to live there – garden or other benefits. (or a number of places I know near CA chaparral) So sorry for the losses among the few happy exceptions that were spared.

  8. Gerhard Bock says:

    So much heartbreak in spite of many lives and properties spared. I follow Jo on Facebook, and it was terrifyingly tense until we found out what happened. She did lose most of her seeds and books, but it seems the nursery is largely intact. I’m hoping she’ll be able to rebuild her stock from that.

  9. Ross says:

    Horrible news about these fires. We’ve been kept updated about the scale of it here in Oz and it’s something that is sadly all too familiar to many Australians. Most of us in the peri urban fringe have learnt to accept the reality of bushfire as a constant presence in our lives, but nothing prepares you for the utter sense of loss and devastation that follows. What irks me the most is the almost fatalistic attitude that some (often municipal bodies) show with a complete disregard for any kind of fuel management. This only puts the innocents and firefighters in danger. Keep an eye on those horrible invasive eucalypts people. Up to 8% volatile oil, send flaming shards of bark miles in front, are allelopathic and mostly downright ugly. Hoping it’ll all be soon over and you cop a good cool drenching.

  10. hb says:

    Terrible news for the Australian Plant nursery. Lucky that rare plants @ Lotus Land survived!

    @Ross, not only Eucalypts. Washingtonias are giant Tiki torches that spray embers. Santa Barbara has strict rules on what can be planted, but they are an exception. People here are so excited to get a “free” palm or Euc sprouting from seed and do not realize the true cost.

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