Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The year closes

 Hard to believe it's December already, though I'm sure to many - myself included - this last two months (leading up to the election and afterwards) seemed to take FOREVER. That aside, here are more photos from my winter garden.

It's a bit in the shade but here's my Aloe Delta Lights. Beyond its whiteness, it has stiff corrugated 'leaves' that I like.

Ozothamnus has always seemed like a made up word, like something out of a Dr. Suess book. Say it really fast 10 times and try not to laugh. That said, I love this pint-sized O. coralloides.

Correa species Orange (how this plant was tagged). It's been a prolific bloomer this year.

Tweedia caerulea. One last flower show from this milkweed. Bluer than blue.

After giving this Echinacea Sombrero Yellow a haircut one month ago, I wasn't sure what to expect. But it's bounced back, with this flower and more on the way.

Mixed dwarf conifer bowl. This is one of 4 such bowls, with most of the inhabitants being False Cypress, Juniper and Japanese cedar species.

Abutilon 'Tiger Eye.' This variety of flowering maple is highlighted by its pronounced veining.

Speaking of dwarf conifers, here are two lovely blue varieties.

If we humans could only concentrate as intently as our feline companions when a bird has their attention. Fortunately, no capture this time (or almost ever).

Helichrysum 'Silver Ball.' This guy is still small but it will acquire more of a presence once it fills out.

I was very excited to see my Orostachys fimbriata bloom in its first year. That's it with the tiny towers filled with white flowers.

This variegated Billbergia is lovely even when not in bloom. It's very similar to my B. Santa Barbara Sunset and may even be closely related.

Speaking of bromeliads, here's one part of my collection.

It doesn't get much more orange than the flowers on my Begonia Nonstop Orange!

My lovely Begonia acetosa has vivid red undersides on its leaves.

This Japanese Lace fern may have been the favorite fern I added this year.

Microlepia strigosa fern. One of my faves.

Though this photo doesn't do justice to the color of my Luculia pinceana, this photo shows it in bud form and with open flowers. Intensely fragrant!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Unique Thanksgiving

 As we all deal with the pandemic each in our own way, there is no doubt this will be a Thanksgiving to remember. I won't even attempt to put words to it as its effect is so individualized. I can only say for myself - "Thank goodness for my garden!" It is the one enduring constant in my life, a pleasure that also helps to keep me grounded and a reminder that Nature is Nature, even beyond our human foolishnesses.

That said, here are some recent photos from my garden. They cover the spectrum of its delights - some flowers, some foliage, some succulents, some bromeliads, some dry garden plants. Enjoy!

An updated look at my walkway bed. It is relatively dormant now, though there still are a few Agastache in bloom, plus two Monardellas, my Black lotus and two varieties of oxalis. But this bulb-filled bed has already sent up shoots for Freesia, Ipheion and Dutch iris.

My Mandevilla Apricot continues to bloom. In its third year now, the flowers are finally showing a true color.

One of my favorite Mimulus varieties, this M. Sunset offers lovely peach tones.

This may be a hard plant to ID so will say up front that it's a Strobilanthes anisophyllus.Its calling card is its dark, almost black, foliage.

Mina lobata. This flowering annual vine had a good year and as you can see, its flowers change from red to orange to yellow to white.

These are probably the last flowers on my Lepechinia bella. Such a pretty blue.

Many people are familiar with Beauty berry bushes. They are of winter interest, producing purple berries that last for months. Here's the white version - Callicarpa japonica leucocarpa.

I kept waiting for my redder-than-red Ruellia elegans to produce a bevy of flowers but alas, they've been coming out only one or two at a time.

Now well established, my Duranta repens Gold Mound is 10' high. It holds onto that lovely gold color year round.

Fall through early spring is the time for Cyclamen. Here are two varieties.

Aechmea fulgens is one of the easiest bromeliads to grow and also one of the most dependable bloomers. Here's the beginning of a flower spike, with the orange buds (bracts) eventually opening to tiny flowers. This species also features dramatic maroon-colored backsides to the leaves.

After two years of not blooming, suddenly my Luculia pinceana has produced a great many buds. Here is one cluster, about to open to pale pink flowers that are heavily perfumed.

Chamelaucium x verticordia. It's still young and growing but this cross will eventually produce small pink flowers with deeper pink centers. I like it as much for the wispy foliage.

I've had hit-and-miss success with passifloras but this one, P. Oaklandii, has been a roaring success. It now has completely smothered the top of my backyard apple tree. Which I don't mind as I don't harvest the tasteless crabby fruit.

I finally have a photo that shows the true color of this Dianthus variety's flowers. Sort of a salmon pink.

It's late but my Tweedia is producing its last clutch of robin's egg blue flowers.

Though Magnolias are of course grown for their flowers some, including this M. Butterflies, show off very colorful fall foliage right before the leaves drop.

One of the more decorative Justicias, this J. 'Fruit Salad' has bright chartreuse bracts and contrasting red flowers. It took awhile - so long I wasn't certain it would bloom - but it has been blooming nonstop since late September.

Speaking of robin's egg blue flowers, my Salvia bullulata Pale Form has scads of them this fall. Though they are possibly the smallest flowers on any salvia, they make up for it with that exquisite color.

Sometimes giving a plant a 'haircut' (cutting it back almost to the ground) can trigger the plant to start over and even rebloom in the same year. That's been true for this Echinacea Yellow Sombrero.

A large offshoot of my Aechmea fulgens snapped off so I've moved it over to the sunny crevice of this fir tree. So far so good.

To my great surprise (and delight) my newly planted Agave tricolor has already produced two offshoots. Normally Agaves are slow growers and thus slow to pup.

Though no flowers in this photo, I took it to show the clumps of Babiana leaves that are already up. One of the earliest South African bulbs to appear and then bloom, it's distinguished by its pleated leaves.

Salvia regla Huntington. This late blooming sage has especially long tubular flowers. It also features textured leaves which exude a strong woodsy scent.

Eriogonum crocatum. One of the silveriest of all the CA buckwheats, this guy has formed a neat mound along our walkway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Winter prep

Though we're still having some warmish days, it's time to bite the bullet and admit that winter is around the corner. That means some easy winter prep for your garden. The first step is to add bark to many of your beds, to both provide a cushion of warmth during the coldest nights and to help retain moisture. Now may also be the time to do some judicious pruning. That would include certain deciduous shrubs like Hydrangeas and Viburnums. Be careful though not to prune Camellias or Rhododendrons this time of year as they are already setting flower buds for late winter blooming. Lastly, don't forget to water your plants even in the colder months, as water actually helps to insulate roots (as long as you don't over water).

One last comment - we are heading into the prime birding season so keep an eye out for new visitors such as robins, warblers, mockingbirds, woodpeckers and Cedar waxwings.

That said, here are this week's garden photos.

Banksia ericifolia. If you look closely, you can see the formation of its first flower cone.

Thunbergia gregorii. This all orange flower is different than the T. alata hybrids that have the dark center. Flowers don't get more orange than this one!

Speaking of orange, Streptosolen, better known as Marmalade bush, gets tons of orange and peach flowers much beloved by hummingbirds.

Stephania rotundifolia. The caudex on this new for 2020 plant doubled in size its first year!

Winter is the season for the 'good' oxalis. Here's a pretty shamrock type with brilliant white flowers.

My Black lotus bush (Lotus jacobeus) blooms nearly year round. From a distance, the flowers appear almost black. Up close they're more of a chocolate color.

A milkweed is a milkweed is a milkweed. At least when it comes to attracting monarch butterflies to lay their eggs on. This is an Asclepias cancellata, sometimes known as Wild Cotton milkweed.

Neoregelia Green Apple x Olens cv Vulcan. One of my favorite bromeliads.

Vriesea guttata. This arrived as just green but is gradually adding the brown spotting that I was hoping for.

Although it's a bit late, my Begonia Nonstop Orange is beginning to flower.

Sometimes for Begonias, it's all about the leaf color or shape. That's true for my B. 'Angel Glow'.

Polystichum variety fern. This evergreen fern has an arching, sprawling habit but has stayed low.

Another of the 'it's the foliage' begonias, my B. Autumn Ember is one lovely plant.

Another begonia! I'm sensing a theme here! This angelwing type is B. 'Fannie Moser.' Lovely!

Neoregelia Predatress x Touchdown. Lovely year round color on this Neo.

Here's proof just how much you can pack into a median strip!!

Good things DO come in small packages with this dwarf pomegranate. It stays small but still flowers and produces fruit.

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