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Are locations in California "frost-free"?


bubba

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Desmond Muirhead's book on Palm's reported that freezing temperatures had been recorded on the pier at Santa Catalina Island and accordingly no location in California could be considered "frost-free".The discussion on this board suggests that their are many micro-climates in California that are "frost-free".Where are the micro-climates in California that may be most suitable for the growing of coconut palms?

What you look for is what is looking

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Looking at the records, I don't think there's anywhere in California that won't freeze on a 100 year timescale, except maybe some exceptional locations on steep south facing slopes.  Every long term recording station has dropped to at least -2C (29F).  But, with global warming, there may be some locations that won't freeze in the next hundred years...

As SoCal Dave and I mentioned in another post, the main areas of borderline USDA zone 10B/11A are coastal San Diego and the low-elevation south facing slopes of the Santa Monica mountains (like El Sereno, south Pasadena, downtown LA, Silverlake, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc.).  Of all these locations, the eastern edge of the Santa Monica mountains (El Sereno, downtown LA) is the warmest in the summer since it's the furthest inland.  So, I would guess that's the best place to try Cocos.

Jack Sayers

East Los Angeles

growing cold tolerant palms halfway between the equator and the arctic circle...

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What bout keywest, have they ever seen a frost? The only guess would be clemente island. but maybe in calipatria? Next to the big fat lake(blanking on the name) on the south side?

Meteorologist and PhD student in Climate Science

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Lowest temperature recorded in Key West was 41 degrees fahrenheit.No frost. What is a Calipatria?

What you look for is what is looking

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(bubba @ Jul. 05 2006,17:22)

QUOTE
Lowest temperature recorded in Key West was 41 degrees fahrenheit.No frost. What is a Calipatria?

It's how a dyslexic spells "catapillar"

If global warming means I can grow Cocos Nucifera, then bring it on....

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Hey Bubba, I like the name. It would fit in well here in Florida. As a matter of fact I think it is our official state name. Anyway if your up for it, go find a book called simply enough, the National Garden Book. The first half of the book covers microclimates in California ad nauseum. Its printed by Sunset books, fittingly enough in Menlo Park Cali. This should give you a good fix on your querries. If your not up for a book go to weather.com. Look up your area by zip code and go to the averages and records area. This should fill you with microclimate joy. I was pitching this site to some others on another post. I cant say enough good things about it as far as obsessing about climate data.

  Regarding Cocos Nucifera in California. Don't hold your breath. They evolved in heat and they love year 'round heat. You guys get hot enough in the summer, but the winters are too cool. Anything below fifty five degrees and they stop growing. This may invite fungus attacks. There are probably others who can give you a better low down on coconuts lack of success in California. I am curious however if anyone out your way has tried Beccariophoenix Madagascariensis. It may be worth looking into. I have some of these growing here in Fla. And they look a lot like coconuts. Good luck. Has anyone in Caliornia tried Beccariophoenix?

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Beccariophoenix does great in so cal!!!

Dave Hughson

Carlsbad, Ca

1 mile from ocean

Zone 10b

Palm freaks are good peeps!!!!!

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I have a beccariophoenix growing in my backyard. It is extremely slow. No winter issues though, which is good. I have the one with no windows.

Coastal San Diego, California

Z10b

Dry summer subtropical/Mediterranean

warm summer/mild winter

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Bubba,

I think the term "never say never" would apply here.  There are areas in the So Cal Coast that haven't seen freezes for decades, but with a terrible year, it could happen.  And, the lack of a freeze does not guarantee a Coconut will grow.  There are a few surviving Coconuts here in So Cal, but the vast majority have died because they don't tolerate the thirties at all.  Best to pick an alternative species.  Even though Southern Florida can see a lower winter temp than So Cal during some years, they can grow Coconuts and we can't here.  This is because they only see really cold nights for a day or two, and then they're back to their blistering warmth.  We typically go down in temps slowly and come back up slowly.  They go down rapidly and bounce right back.

Phil

Jungle Music Palms and Cycads, established 1977 and located in Encinitas, CA, 20 miles north of San Diego on the Coast.  Phone:  619 2914605 Link to Phil's Email phil.bergman@junglemusic.net Website: www.junglemusic.net Link to Jungle Music Palms and Cycads

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(Phil @ Jul. 07 2006,08:46)

QUOTE
Bubba,

I think the term "never say never" would apply here.  There are areas in the So Cal Coast that haven't seen freezes for decades, but with a terrible year, it could happen.  And, the lack of a freeze does not guarantee a Coconut will grow.  There are a few surviving Coconuts here in So Cal, but the vast majority have died because they don't tolerate the thirties at all.  Best to pick an alternative species.  Even though Southern Florida can see a lower winter temp than So Cal during some years, they can grow Coconuts and we can't here.  This is because they only see really cold nights for a day or two, and then they're back to their blistering warmth.  We typically go down in temps slowly and come back up slowly.  They go down rapidly and bounce right back.

Phil

That sounds like here in Brisbane. Cold but for only a few days and only for a short time, warms up quick. Rarely get into 30s farenheit though.

Funny you know , before I got onto this IPS message board I would have thought California would have coconut palms everywhere along the coast at least. It's nice to learn things here.

Happy Gardening

Cheers,

Wal

Queensland, Australia.

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I believe coconuts will be grown sucessfully in some of the Californian microclimates previously identified. I also believe the climate of the entire western portion of North America is growing warmer.

What you look for is what is looking

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(Phil @ Jul. 07 2006,08:46)

QUOTE
 Even though Southern Florida can see a lower winter temp than So Cal during some years, they can grow Coconuts and we can't here.  

It would be very rare that South Florida would see temperatures colder than So Cal, IMO since the average winter low is around 60F.  Miami's Jan low average 63F, So Cals are in the upper 40s or so.  It would have to be an absolute brutal cold snap for that to happen.

http://weather.yahoo.com/climo/USFL0316_f.html

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(syersj @ Jul. 07 2006,13:51)

QUOTE
It would be very rare that South Florida would see temperatures colder than So Cal, IMO since the average winter low is around 60F.  Miami's Jan low average 63F, So Cals are in the upper 40s or so.  It would have to be an absolute brutal cold snap for that to happen.

It's not that rare for South Florida to get colder than Southern California.  For the sake of quantifying the argument, here's the yearly low temperatures for 2000-2004 according to NOAA

LA downtown:      38 39 39 38 39

San Diego:            41 40 39 41 43

Miami Beach:       44 37 42 39 42

Key West:              53 45 46 46 50

The average lows over this period are

LA downtown:    38.6

San Diego:          40.8

Miami Beach:      40.8

Key West:             48.0

So, the average yearly low for San Diego and Miami were the same over that five year period, and Miami had a colder low temperatute than San Diego in 3 of the 5 years.

Jack Sayers

East Los Angeles

growing cold tolerant palms halfway between the equator and the arctic circle...

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(elHoagie @ Jul. 07 2006,14:33)

QUOTE
So, the average yearly low for San Diego and Miami were the same over that five year period, and Miami had a colder low temperatute than San Diego in 3 of the 5 years.

So where are the Coconuts?!?!?!

LOL.

Larry 

Palm Harbor, FL 10a / Ft Myers, FL 10b

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Guys, those average lows in above post are really the average coldest night, not the average lows.  It's a small but very significant distinction if you are a Coconut.  Some Coconuts will suffer chilling injury after a night or two in the mid 30's.  Certainly, they will suffer if night time temps are in the 30's and 40's for weeks on end.  Cocos is native to tropical climates where annual temperatures average 70F or higher .  SoCal and most of FL, are not tropical enough for them to thrive.  Though FL has escaped serious arctic intrusion for a few seasons and Coconuts and Royals are "creeping" into & up the penninsula, long-term, they really have been/are religated to coastal areas South of Tampa and Coco Beach/Vero Beach on the East Coast as well as the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee.  Yes, one has survived 3 winters in St Augustine, and there are some around Orlando, but those specimens are not long-term survivors.   Unless someone corrects me, I'm only aware of one stunted long-term Coconut in California.

  • Upvote 1

Land O Lakes FL, a suburb on the North Side of Tampa, FL

Summers are great, 90f/32c in the day & 70f/21c at night with plentiful rain & sun

Winters are subtropical with occasional frosts and freezes. Tropical cyclones happen.

We have a few Royal palms in the warm microclimates but Coconuts freeze.

I am a Kayaker, Hiker, Bicyclist, and amateur Photographer that loves the outdoors.  

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The California low temps sounds right.But its hard to beleive Miami Beach has winter AVERAGE lows of 40.Miami with the Gulf stream cannot be the same as S.C. with the Alaskan current.

Are you sure?...that other claim of 63 seems more appropiate. Where are the coconuts and the Oscar fish and Tarpon in S.C. is right.

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(elHoagie @ Jul. 07 2006,14:33)

QUOTE

(syersj @ Jul. 07 2006,13:51)

QUOTE
It would be very rare that South Florida would see temperatures colder than So Cal, IMO since the average winter low is around 60F.  Miami's Jan low average 63F, So Cals are in the upper 40s or so.  It would have to be an absolute brutal cold snap for that to happen.

It's not that rare for South Florida to get colder than Southern California.  For the sake of quantifying the argument, here's the yearly low temperatures for 2000-2004 according to NOAA

LA downtown:      38 39 39 38 39

San Diego:            41 40 39 41 43

Miami Beach:       44 37 42 39 42

Key West:              53 45 46 46 50

The average lows over this period are

LA downtown:    38.6

San Diego:          40.8

Miami Beach:      40.8

Key West:             48.0

So, the average yearly low for San Diego and Miami were the same over that five year period, and Miami had a colder low temperatute than San Diego in 3 of the 5 years.

Well, I guess technically you may be correct, but please remember that San Diego and the rest of Socal STAYS in the 40s/low 50s for long extended periods of time for lows, where S. FL dips down to these lows only very occasionally with the coldest of cold fronts.

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Adding to Phil's comments (which I agree with), and commenting on the stats supplied by ElHoagie (and as someone who has lived in both places - 7 years in S.FL and 10 years in the San Diego area): statistics are great and can be very useful, BUT you need to look beyond them. Despite the seemingly similar temps, there are more differences than there are similarities: 1) So FL is around 24-25 degrees N, SoCal around 32-33N or so. Everything else being equal, this means warmer days in general (in SoFL) and it also (as Phil mentioned) means that when the sun comes out, things will get warm MUCH faster (in SoFL), and 2) the Pacific Ocean next to SoCal is very cold while the Gulf Stream right next to SoFL is VERY warm. Ocean temps have a major impact on climate in general. (I should know, being from Sweden, which, without the Gulf Stream, would be like northern Canada - very frigid!). And finally, 3) winter in SoCal is typically cool and wet while winter in SoFl is typically warm and dry with just the occasional cold front (preceded by a day of rain). People in FL never talk about wind chill factor, but when those Canadian cold fronts hit, it gets bitterly cold for a day or two. Other than that the winter in SoFL is as close to perfect as it gets, for people and for palms. My guess is that soil temp is also considerably warmer, at ANY given time of the year, in SoFL compared to SoCal and this is going to have a major impact on palm growth.

  • Upvote 1

Leilani Estates, 25 mls/40 km south of Hilo, Big Island of Hawai'i. Elevation 880 ft/270 m. Average rainfall 140 inches/3550 mm

 

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Not to beat this dead horse again, but in addition, although the annual low of Miami and San Diego may be similar (around 40 degrees).  If you randomly took 100 winter days in S. FL and 100 winter days in S Cal, the low would be higher in S. FL probably 95-98 times out of 100 or so.  That is what I meant by it is rare that S FL gets colder than So Cal.

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Ok i see.Your saying Jack that Miami had one night of 37 in 03 and etc,...and the total of those types of night over five years is lower than S.C.

That helps to show the moderation in S.C...but San Francisco over five years is near Miami Beach or S.C..  in lowest of lows.Thats temps, not people.

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(syersj @ Jul. 07 2006,15:42)

QUOTE
Not to beat this dead horse again, but in addition, although the annual low of Miami and San Diego may be similar (around 40 degrees).  If you randomly took 100 winter days in S. FL and 100 winter days in S Cal, the low would be higher in S. FL probably 95-98 times out of 100 or so.  That is what I meant by it is rare that S FL gets colder than So Cal.

And this is also where (as I noted in another thread) that Heating Degree Days become very useful to better understand a climate.

Larry 

Palm Harbor, FL 10a / Ft Myers, FL 10b

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I think ave lows are the ave low for the year. Which is just an ave of the lowest temperature reached. Reading climate reports one has to be carefull what they are ave etc...

The mean daily min temp. for Miami and SD over 30 years or so are listed below

                           Nov   Dec   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr

 San Deigo           53      48    48    50     52     55

 Miami                  66       61    59    60     64     67

These are the ave night time lows...all the night are included... not just the one coldest night.

You can look at the cooling degree days to see how much heat a climate may have....

                           Nov      Dec      Jan      Feb     Mar       Apr

San Deigo             19         7          9         10       9          23

Miami                    264       168     156      149    221      306

Miami has alot more winter heat than SD

Phoenix Area, Arizona USA

Low Desert...... Zone 9b

Jan ave 66 high and 40 low

July ave 105 high and 80 low

About 4 to 8 frost a year...ave yearly min temp about 27F

About 8 inches of rain a year.

Low Desert

Phoenix.gif

Cool Mtn climate at 7,000'

Parks.gif

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I understand that Miami has a MUCH different climate than San Diego.  I thought syersj was talking about the yearly low temperatures in SoCal being much colder than the yearly low temperatures in Miami in his original post.  Now I understand that he was referring to daily low temperatures.  I thought I made it pretty clear in my post that I was giving the yearly low temperatures for each location...

Jack Sayers

East Los Angeles

growing cold tolerant palms halfway between the equator and the arctic circle...

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(elHoagie @ Jul. 07 2006,20:03)

QUOTE
I understand that Miami has a MUCH different climate than San Diego.  I thought syersj was talking about the yearly low temperatures in SoCal being much colder than the yearly low temperatures in Miami in his original post.  Now I understand that he was referring to daily low temperatures.  I thought I made it pretty clear in my post that I was giving the yearly low temperatures for each location...

elHoagie, no problem, you were correct that Miami can get cold on a one time annual low, but on avg. they are much warmer.

Not being from SoCal, wouldn't inland San Diego be more likely grow cocos due to the desert heat and much higher temps.  I know just a few miles away from the coast makes a difference.  Or do they drop off too much at night being away from the coast.  I seem to remember someone posting that they were growing cocos in inland desert areas of socal in another thread.

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Seems like this thread should be in the Weather/Climate forum!?

Jim, re inland SoCal, generally speaking when you get further inland, the extremes are greater - it's colder on the coldest winter nights and it's warmer on the warmest summer days. The heat obviously is fine for most of the palms, it's the cold winter nights that's the problem. Which is why you can forget about growing coconuts inland! Also, inland humidity during the summer (because of more days with sunshine) tend to be lower than close to the coast, and this can also be a problem for some palms. I would be very much interested in hearing about anyone successfully growing coconuts inland in SoCal - and inland would have to be at least 7-8 miles from the coast to get away from the marine influence, and it doesn't count if you just planted the palm last month.....

Leilani Estates, 25 mls/40 km south of Hilo, Big Island of Hawai'i. Elevation 880 ft/270 m. Average rainfall 140 inches/3550 mm

 

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For some reason, I seem to remember someone posting a while back that they were growing cocos in Palm Springs or somewhere like that, and they had made it a couple years.

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Well. I guess coconut is the holy grail for most palm growers including sealing wax (sorry I don't remember their latin names well). I have never been to california but my wife has...she loves it out there. That being said, I thought cocos grew out there. Just how cold is it? The winter lows are totally acceptable according to the stats. Really, it is a bunch of poop that cocos grow around here (tampa area) considering that there are yearly freezes and frosts. There is a stand of large cocos in Brandon Fl of all places quite inland at a garden nursery. They receive yearly foliar damage, but they persist. I have seen trunking cocos here in the homeland here in Ruskin FL for whatever reason they make it. But hey, I don't know if they are long term aroud here. I know they are quite long term from the barrier islands south starting in pinellas county south.

Now for the sealing wax, I don't think I have actually ever seen one in person!

Parrish, FL

Zone 9B

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(ruskinPalms @ Jul. 08 2006,00:42)

QUOTE
Well. I guess coconut is the holy grail for most palm growers including sealing wax (sorry I don't remember their latin names well). I have never been to california but my wife has...she loves it out there. That being said, I thought cocos grew out there. Just how cold is it? The winter lows are totally acceptable according to the stats. Really, it is a bunch of poop that cocos grow around here (tampa area) considering that there are yearly freezes and frosts. There is a stand of large cocos in Brandon Fl of all places quite inland at a garden nursery. They receive yearly foliar damage, but they persist. I have seen trunking cocos here in the homeland here in Ruskin FL for whatever reason they make it. But hey, I don't know if they are long term aroud here. I know they are quite long term from the barrier islands south starting in pinellas county south.

Now for the sealing wax, I don't think I have actually ever seen one in person!

Bill, see the above posts which explain well the problem with Coconuts in California.....stays cold longer.  We need a "heating degree days" thread, or maybe I've missed one here that Larry mentions above.

To see a Crytostachys renda, you need to get to Fairchild -- they're in the conservatory there.  In fact, no matter what you want to see, you need to get to Fairchild!

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Miami and So-Cal are apples and oranges.

Miami is one giant alfresco greenhouse.  High heat and humidity.  So-cal lacks the humiidty, most of the time.  For us palmoids, that's the critical difference for most tropical (or temperate) palm species.

dave

Let's keep our forum fun and friendly.

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In florida, you have temps that go up and down by a lot. Here in cali it might be 40 at nigth and it may reach 50-60 in the day but in florida you might have the same thing? If its raining here when its that cold we have trouble with a number of palms. Tell me if you have rain when its 50 for a long time in south florida?

Meteorologist and PhD student in Climate Science

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(Palmy @ Jul. 08 2006,19:00)

QUOTE
In florida, you have temps that go up and down by a lot. Here in cali it might be 40 at nigth and it may reach 50-60 in the day but in florida you might have the same thing? If its raining here when its that cold we have trouble with a number of palms. Tell me if you have rain when its 50 for a long time in south florida?

A 50 degree day in South FL would be very rare since the avg daytime winter highs are in the mid 70s to 80F.  So that would be a day 25-30F below average.  Could happen, but the bounce back to 75 degrees would be fairly quick.

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Usually, the way the winter cold front behaves around here (Orlando) is like this:

1. Arctic front gets forecasted.

2. Palmaholics freak out.

3. Cloudiness and light drizzle. This is the warm part of the cold front. Plenty of time to rush palms into garage.

4. Rather cool night with diminishing rain.

5. Next day: Sunny and dry. High around 50ºF.

6. Nighttime low near or below freezing.

7. Next day: Temps bouncing back to mid 60s to mid 70s.

8. Dry until the next cold front arrives. Damage assessment, tears, etc.

This is in general but depending on the time of the year and severity of the front we may have two freezing nights in a row or none at all. Only for about a week in January we don't go above 70ºF at all.

I have seen warmups such as from 25ºF in the morning to 65ºF the same afternoon. The lowest temp while raining is around 45ºF to 50ºF but very rare and lasts only a couple of hours. Lower than that and there could be snow in FL. Winter is the driest season and our sandy soils help drain whatever rain we get in the wintertime.

I understand that the killer of coconuts in South Cal is that soils are very humid and cold in the wintertime thus allowing for root rot to happen, or am I wrong? Has anyone tried taking that out of the equation, ie. growing one in a pot, outside, sheltered from rain, maybe against a south facing wall, to see what happens?

  • Upvote 1

Frank

 

Zone 9b pine flatlands

humid/hot summers; dry/cool winters

with yearly freezes

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Bubba, you have a copy of Desmond Muirhead's paperback, Palms?  Wonderful!  I still very much enjoy looking through it.

Do you happen to know when it was published?  NOwhere can I find a pub date in it but I've had it about as long as I have McCurrach's Palms of the World (early 60s).

If all Syagrus romanzoffiana looked as good as the one pictured (b&w on p. 45 in Santa Barbara) they'd NEVER be called "weeds!"

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(syersj @ Jul. 08 2006,23:32)

QUOTE
I thought Orlando averaged about 1 freeze every 2-3 years or so.

On average, I would say 1-2 freezes a year. There are years that (officially) we have no freezes at all but others make up for that with more than 2 freezes. The official reading is buried within the downtown concrete microclimate of the Orlando executive airport.

Here's a comparison using a very useful tool by weather.com between San Diego, CA and Orlando, FL. Worth giving a try:

On average Orlando, FL is warmer than San Diego, CA by 13°F.

The highest temperature, 111°F in San Diego, CA, was recorded in 1963.

San Diego, CA on average is cooler than Orlando, FL by 4°F.

Orlando, FL recorded the lowest temperature of 19°F in 1985.

Orlando, FL averages more precipitation than San Diego, CA by 37.6in.

One unexpected detail, though, is that our average winter rainfall (about 2.3") is still higher than in San Diego which tops at about 2.2" in January, according to the bar graphs from weather.com. I thought our winters were drier.

Frank

 

Zone 9b pine flatlands

humid/hot summers; dry/cool winters

with yearly freezes

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(Robert Lee Riffle @ Jul. 09 2006,05:01)

QUOTE
Bubba, you have a copy of Desmond Muirhead's paperback, Palms?  Wonderful!  I still very much enjoy looking through it.

Do you happen to know when it was published?  NOwhere can I find a pub date in it but I've had it about as long as I have McCurrach's Palms of the World (early 60s).

RLR,

It was published in 1961

I own a copy with the bookmark of Clare Booth Luce,a remarkable woman who had a house in Honolulu in the late sixties.

Charles Wychgel

Algarve/Portugal

Sunset zone 24

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Charles--

Fascinating!  She also lived, I believe, for a while in AZ (Phoenix?) and that may be where she got it since the publisher is (was) there.

1961 seems now like another time (long, long ago) and place (in a galaxy far, far away), n'est-ce pas?

--bob

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(Robert Lee Riffle @ Jul. 09 2006,21:39)

QUOTE
1961 seems now like another time (long, long ago) and place (in a galaxy far, far away), n'est-ce pas?

aah...but I was so much older then....

I'm younger than that now.....

Charles Wychgel

Algarve/Portugal

Sunset zone 24

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Here's a picture of the Cocos nucifera growing in Newport Beach, CA. It is just off of a main highway and accross the street from the Newport Harbor. BTW, The Palms Society of Southern California adopted this palm - not sure what exactly that means but it we have discussed it in a few of our board meetings. This picture was taken in March of 2005 and uploaded in April 2005. There isn't a lick of winter burn on the famed tree. It grows next to a south facing brick/stucco wall, at the base of a short cliff. This baby has got everything going its way! :cool:

Pic #1 of the famed California C. nucifera

Pic #2 - opposite angle

John Mendoza

Landscape Designer, Owner

Tropical Vibe Nursery and Landscape

www.tropicalvibe.com

949.340.5444

-Full Landscape design and installation

-Wide variety of palms and tropicals, centrally located in Orange County

-Complete line of garden care products available everyday

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