This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
From a valuable scientific account of the climate of San Francisco by Dr. Gibbous, we extract the following, as giving more precise information than any usually obtained, and as calculated to explain the reason why the new evergreens from from California are not so hardy in the middle states as those from China and the Himmalays " The most striking peculiarity in the climate of San Francisco, is its uniform temperature. There are no extremes of heat or cold. There was only one day in the three summer months (the 18th of August, 1851) when the thermometer rose to 79°, (at Philadelphia it reaches this point 60 to 80 days in the year.) Only once in the year did the thermometer sink to the freezing point, and it was below 40° only on twenty mornings.
In the summer months there is scarcely any change of temperature in the night. It is in early morning, sometimes clear, sometimes cloudy, and always calm. A few hours after sunrise, the clouds break away, and the sun shines full cheerfully and brightly. Towards noon, or most frequently about one o'clock, the sea breeze sets in and the weather is completely changed. From 60° to 65° the mercury drops forthwith to near 60°, long before sunset, and remains almost motionless till next morn-ing. The sudden fluctuations of temperature incident to the climate of the Atlantic states, are unknown here. We have none of those angry outbreaks from the northwest, which change summer to winter in a few hours.
As regards the influence of the seasons on vegetation, the common order is reversed. The entire absence of rain in the summer months parches the soil and reduces it to the barrenness of a northern winter. The cold sea winds of the afternoons of the summer solstice, defy the vertical sun and call for flannels and overcoats. When the winds cease, as they do in September and October, comes a delightful Indian summer. In November or December the early rains fall, and the temperature being moderate, vegetation starts forth, and mid winter finds the earth clad in lively green and spangled with countless flowers. The spring opens with genial warmth, but just as the April sun begins to give promise of summer heat, its rays are shorn of their power by the winds and mists of the Pacific.
These remarks apply to only a small part of the state of California. Beyond the influence of the bay of San Francisco and its outlet, the sea winds are scarcely perceptible even near the ocean".
Among the interludes of gold hunting, lynch-law, burning towns, and speculations in the far away Eldorado of California, we get an occasional glimpse of its climate and soil, and its agricultural and horticultural resources. These indicate a more favorable character, as the inhabitants begin to get acquainted with them, than at first; and when the pursuits of the people once get settled, and the several divisions of labor work into their appropriate spheres, as they probably will in due time, California, in its fertile valleys, hills, and plains, may become a productive region in most of the useful grains and fruits with which we are acquainted. Its agriculture, if we are to believe the accounts of many of their farming achievements, is wonderfully remunerative - quite as much so as gold digging. A substantial agricultural interest must be planted there before California can become a wholesome state, either in morals or permanent prosperity. But in the excitable, adventurous emigration which constantly flows upon it from the older states, but a small portion can be expected to settle down into the quiet pursuit of agriculture, and it will probably be many years before a regular system of husbandry will be established sufficient to give stability to its productions, or to support a large population.
For many years, therefore, those who cultivate the soil with patience and industry, will reap large rewards for the capital and labor invested in agriculture.