by Peter Bowyer
Garden Form & Composition
The day length is rapidly increasing, the day-night temperature fluctuation is minimal, plants and their animal pests are beginning to wake up and grow. February and early March are still in the high point of our traditional five month cool and rainy season, such as it is relative to other climes. It’s late Winter in this Mediterranean climate on the central coast of California, horticulturally speaking.  
There are just a few weeks left to finish dormant season pruning deciduous plants, for stressful pruning of pines while the boring beetles still sleep, and to get the decisive early upper hand on sucking or rasping-lapping insect pest populations. It’s the last and best days for root pruning & repotting container plants, prior to the initiation of fragile new root growth. It’s also the last opportunity, should the soil drain between rains, for new plantings to establish significant roots prior to the 7-month dry season (better accomplished with late autumn planting). Once vegetative growth begins in mid-March, we’ll pivot from deciduous woody plants to more durable broad-leaf evergreens for a month to avoid damage to the more tender new deciduous foliage.

Due to a similar climate and flora, the pacific west coast’s widespread contact with Japan, and immigration from Japan, we have a lot of plants originating there and countless gardens striving to bring some of the scenic charm or the land and gardens of Japan over here. Palmatum Maples and Chinese Wisterias are popular deciduous specimen plants regardless of any or no overall garden theme. 


*Peter Bowyer is owner of Garden Form & Composition in Oakland, California. He is also on the NAJGA Board and is a member of the Oakland-Fukuoka Sister City Association.
Above: Photo by Peter Thomas Bowyer.