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Tender Frost?

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Comment from Toni Fernandez


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This tree, when planted outdoors can cope with winter temperatures down to minus 10 Celsius, as I see every winter in my garden in Catalonia.

  • Views: 586
  • Replies: 6
  • Posted: Wed. 23rd February 2011 18:17

Re: Tender Frost?

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Toni,
I just love Acacia dealbata - I am currently living in Southern California and so enjoy seeing it in bloom in January (much different than gardening in the UK in January!). I understand what you mean about hardiness ratings being a bit confusing/contradictory when your plant does something different. To have a H4 hardiness rating, however, the plant must be able to handle minimum temps down to -15C. So, where you are, it doesn't seem to get that low. Also, is your garden sheltered or is the tree near a warm house wall or garden wall? These large structures that capture warmth can create a sheltered, warmer micorclimate in the garden. Finally, seed origin and root stock origin can also make a tree somewhat hardier than other trees within the same species.
Is is possible to post a photo of your A. dealbata?
Kathy C

  • Posted: Wed. 23rd February 2011 19:34

Re: Re: Tender Frost?

Reply from Toni Fernandez

Hi Kathy, I'll try and post a pic of my tree asap.

My garden is in fact an oak forest garden, and the acacia dealbata is in fact a naturalised specimen that the previous owner must have planted 50 years ago.

My tree is now about 25 years old, which is the last winter when the temperatures dropped to minus 20 Celsius and killed off all aerial growth and the tree has been growing unharmed for the last 25 years (temps do drop some winters to minus 15 Celsius). The tree grows on a sheltered south-facing slope, surrounded by oak tress. The house is just some 10 metres away, so this is in fact a kind of microclimate, I guess.

The garden is 250 metres above sea level, within a nature reserve surrounding the city of Barcelona, and we are just 10 km away from the Mediterranean Sea, in Catalonia.

My Acacia dealbata usually blooms around the first week in March (last winter, it was late March, and the tree was covered by snow for two weeks in March). This winter is being really mild, and the tree is in bloom as of early this week (6 weeks earlier than last year).

  • Posted: Thu. 24th February 2011 17:00

Re: Re: Re: Tender Frost?

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Toni,
Sounds idyllic! And also sounds like your tree is in the best place to stay protected during winter. Good the snow that was on it doesn't harm like frost does. Probably telling you something you already know, but snow actually can work to insulate plants from cold - it is the frost - the more sudden freezing that destroys cells. You definitely get colder than where I live, though I am in the foothills above Los Angeles, right next to a canyon. We, on occasion, see snow on the highest mountain peak, but that is about it. The Acacia dealbata I see is in a lovely garden in the valley and it usually blooms in January - they certainly love the climate here because it was smothered in blossoms. I've only been here two years after leaving London and I love finding out how plants behave here.
Looking forward to seeing the tree!
Kathy C

  • Posted: Thu. 24th February 2011 19:09

Re: Re: Re: Re: Tender Frost?

Reply from Toni Fernandez

Thanks Kathy, I must say the area is beautiful, much nicer than Birmingham, UK where we used to live!

I have always pictured Los Angeles area as being dead dry and hot: is that so? What is it like gardening under such conditions?

BTW, I have just uploaded a picture from my tree, so you can see it in relation to the house. Hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for your comments


Re: Re: Re: Re: Tender Frost? (27/02/2011)

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  • Posted: Sun. 27th February 2011 12:21

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tender Frost?

Reply from Kathy C

HI, Toni,
What a gorgeous setting! The tree is lovely!
LA area isn't as bone dry as one would think - it has a semi-arid climate and we do get rain from Nov - Mar - not much but it can be torrential. We are right at the foothills so tend to be a bit cooler than the valleys. Summers are dry (no rain last year for 4 months straight, I think). and hot but not unbearable since it is a 'dry' heat. As far as gardening here, many are still a bit old-school and using irrigation far too much. The tide is definitely shifting, though to xeriscaping, natives, etc. I actually removed a hydrangea that was in my garden when I arrived because it just needed more water than I could legally give it! Most people have irrigation systems and are only allowed to run them for 20-30 minutes, twice a week. Policing of this is stepping up, too. I've been steadily putting in things that can go on that much water or less. I've also been experimenting with groundcovers that are just starting to gain recognition (a lot of the same ones are used over and over right now). Should be fun to see what the plants do! I've also been using a lot of Beth Chatto's gravel garden ideas - love her work. I think the most interesting thing is seeing just how long plants flower/grow in this climate. Pelargoniums don't stop, nor do Euryops. And things that are semi-evergreen or deciduous in the UK are nearly evergreen here. I put an Echium in this past autumn and it has quadrupled its size! Can't wait to see it flower. Okay, now I'm rambling.....
Thanks for asking!
Kathy C

  • Posted: Mon. 28th February 2011 20:54

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tender Frost?

Reply from Toni Fernandez

Thanks Kathy for the info on irrigation laws in California, I didn't know they existed unless there was a drought or something. I am too interested in planting only what could naturally survive if no extra care was given. From what you say, the weather must be pretty mild in winter where you are. Over here, we also had a very mild winter, which is surprising when you think the amount of cold weather nearby areas have endured in the last few months (UK included).

Thanks again,


  • Posted: Mon. 7th March 2011 11:24