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Re: Mediterranean Oregon?

  • Subject: Re: Mediterranean Oregon?
  • From: "Sean A. O'Hara" sean@gimcw.org
  • Date: Mon, 15 May 2006 11:48:51 -0700

At 07:08 PM 5/13/2006, Paul Russo wrote:
Last summer while vacationing in Eugene Oregon, I noticed many varieties of Mediterranean plants...tall palm trees and agaves etc. I was quite suprised. The summer climate felt very Mediterranean-sunny, dry. I stopped by the U. of Oregon library and did alittle research and discovered that western Oregon is considered a Northern Mediterranean climate zone, about the same latitude as Genoa Italy. Palm trees in Oregon? Yes, all over the place, in Portland too. Several Mediterranean palm species thrive in Seattle and Vancouver BC as well. When I told my friends back in New Jersey, I got sceptical looks, I don't think they believed me.
Well, a few species of palm grow in Southern NJ too...

Paul Russo
Hi Paul -

Technically, according to most climatologists, the mediterranean region does indeed extend into Oregon from Northern California. The California Floristic Province, which basically represents the mediterranean climate region on the west coast, extends into North of California into Oregon and South into Baja California. The Rogue River of Southern Oregon definitely has a very 'California look' with many of the plants typical of the Province.

Portland, at the Northern edge of Oregon, while often seen as very similar to a mediterranean climate, is generally not classified as such. There are many proponents of 'reclassifying' this area, notably Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery and Landscape Design (www.cistus.com), but even he bills his business as "your home for zonal denial". The recent observations of global warming worldwide may be responsible inspiring this type of thinking. There are a variety of 'mediterranean like' places in the world - Vancouver Island in British Columbia (farther North still), being in the rain shadow of the Olympic Peninsula, creating relatively drier summers than adjacent areas, is one of these places.

Regarding Portland being the same latitude as Genoa, Italy - latitude alone does not achieve the mediterranean climate effect. Genoa is a port on the warm Mediterranean Sea, which increases the winter and summer temperatures of the landmasses that border its shores. The Riviera, French and Italian, are also backed by the Alps, which hold the cold northern effect back. This area is the most extreme latitude (close to the poles) of all the mediterranean climate world regions because of these factors. In fact, the warm temperature of the Mediterranean Sea that is responsible for the mediterranean climate effect extending so far east (all other mediterranean regions lie along the oceans that define them).

Other similar regions can certainly learn from techniques we find useful in the mediterranean climate, and even within the technically accurate definition of the region there are numerous microclimates which have their unique idiosyncrasies. We all need to evaluate the site in which we are creating a garden and use what approaches make the most sense for our situation.

I hope this helps answer your query.
Seán O.

h o r t u l u s _ a p t u s - - - - - 'a garden suited to its purpose'
Seán A. O'Hara --- sean(at)gimcw.org --- www.hortulusaptus.com
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