Saturday, December 29, 2018

The El Nino Winter

It is so COLD.  Yes, I know, it’s probably colder where you are, but we’re cold.  Back before the house, we used to talk about owning a house, and invariably the question would arise – what would we do all day?  Hah!  Double HAH HAH HAH!  The house provides endless opportunities for entertainment.

After the rain moved out, we had a few nice warm days.  So we thought we’d get started on the staining project.  Here is Jim, scraping the wood, making a nice surface for staining.


Here am I, filling the holes left by the screws that previously held the gutters to the wood.  Note the two handed grip on the tube of wood filler.  After it reaches about half empty, it’s a pain to get it out of the tube.  It seemed like such a good form factor, but now we think maybe not so much.


We had planned to continue with the staining project, but the weather turned on us and it got cold and windy, to the point that neither of us wanted to be outside standing on the ladder.
More wind, bashing the Queen Palm.


Our favorite bougainvillea, inching towards world domination.


The night before last it went down to 32.  Last night it was colder.  Even though we covered all of the bougainvillea, two of them have a fair amount of frost damage.  We are very unhappy about this.
So, today we spent the afternoon applying additional plant protection.  The rest of the post will be extremely boring, but if I don’t write down what we did, we won’t remember next year.

This is the new lemon tree.  Next year he will probably need taller supports to keep the flannel off of his branches.  Note the glow at the bottom, that’s a string of Christmas tree lights.  The yellow flannel was used here for the sides and the top.


Here we have the Pygmy Date Palm in her warming hut, created from the peach and white flannel sewn together, topped with the grey and white flannel.  This required a lot of binder clips and clothes pins.


The Mexican Bird of Paradise is wearing a sea foam green top piece of flannel and white and peach flannel sides.  Binder clips and clothes pins were required to hold the structure together.


The bougainvillea by the downspout is covered in a long narrow piece of burlap along with an 80 inch by 80 piece of burlap.  Both burlaps are from Home Depot.


The new purple bougainvillea.  This year a two yard piece of bleached muslin was enough.  Next year, more may be required.


The bougainvillea on the way to world domination.  That covering is an ancient flowered sheet, and a sheet from Target that I cut down for the mattress in the 5th wheel.  Good thing they’re still with us.


The next door bougainvillea is covered with two 80 by 80 inch burlaps and a short piece of the 36 inch wide burlap.  This is really suboptimal.


The bougainvillea by the driveway got the worst frost damage.  Last night all we had was the fitted flowered sheet to go on top.  Clearly it was not enough.  There is now flannel, the sheet and an 80 by 80 inch burlap.  Hopefully there will be no more damage.


I used to quilt, primarily crib quilts made out of flannel.  We can see where all of my flannel has ended up, as well as my furniture covers for the summer.  Nights are supposed to by cold for the next five days, so I think we’re not going to uncover during the day.  It takes about two hours to get the fabric in place along with the binder clips and clothes pins.  We need to spend some time in thrift stores buying old sheets.  Sheets are easier to work with than burlap.

There you go, everything you ever wanted to know about frost protection in the Old Pueblo.


  1. Oh my goodness...makes me glad I live in a place where freezing in the winter is normal, I don't need to cover my native plants!

    This winter is reminding me of the winter of 2012/2013 when it snowed on us in Tucson!

  2. I was laughing shortly in, but felt a lot of sympathy by the end. What a lot of work and ingenuity to get those fellows protected!

  3. The plant attire makes me laugh. My former husband was a tropical plant fanatic. Lots of banana trees and a variety of rare palms, all which had to be dug up and transported into the "greenhouse" (our garage) in winter. Is it a wonder I am no longer married? LOL!

    When it comes to the beautiful bougainvillea, however, world domination is a good thing.

  4. And that would explain why there are no plants in our yard.

  5. Oh dear, such an awful lot of work! It's chilly here some nights as well...gets all the way down into the low 70s. LOL! Our HUGE bougainvillea lost part of its top during the first (intense) Norte in early November but has bounced back since and is the envy of the neighborhood. Can't take any credit, since we're in an Airbnb, but we can enjoy it all the same. Hope your freezing nights will be behind you very soon. You're making me a bit glad we didn't settle in Tucson. It's beautiful but still a bit too cold for us in winter.