Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ferns, Ferns, Ferns

One part of our gardens happy with all this rain we're getting is the fern family. Ferns thrive in the rain, though many of them can handle drier conditions and some will naturally go deciduous this time of year. Inspired by my increasing interest in this far ranging world of ferns, I recently wrote a feature article for the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times on the amazing variety of ferns that do well in our Bay Area. As a bonus, photographs were taken at Tom Nelson & Randy Bolin's noteworthy garden, a stop on many of the best East Bay garden tours. Check the story out at Not So Finicky Ferns. This is an excellent time to plant ferns, as well as perennials and early annuals.
For me, January & February is bulb season. As well as the regular iris, tulips, freesias, crocus, snowbells and daffodils, I have a number of South African bulbs popping up (sparaxis, moraea, homoglads, ferraria) and my SAF lachenalia are already in bloom. The other showstopper this month is the abundant bloomer hardenbergia. It's covered in tiny vivid purple pea-like flowers.
We may be getting all manner of weird winter weather but with the days getting longer and the temperatures mild, it seems like spring is just around the corner.

Fern photos: Upper left: Pteris cretica var. albolineata
Upper right: Australian tree fern (closeup of frond)
Lower left: Bird's Nest fern
Lower right: Blechnum 'Silver Lady'

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

One of the interesting things about gardening is that it doesn't really pay attention to calendars. Our gardens respond to the weather much more so than the date on the calendar. Rains bring on new growth; cold inhibits it. Warm weather fools certain plants, including bulbs, into thinking that spring is arriving early when it hasn't. Still, there's no mistaking it's winter, even in our milder coast climate. Most leaves on deciduous trees have dropped. Coleus plants have finally given up the ghost even while certain plants soldier on. And it seems that certain annuals and perennials just can't wait for it to be spring. I have a gilia capitata about to bloom, having gotten it in early, and my two phacelias are progressing towards flowering. Winter shrubs like leucospermums and camellias are budding up in preparation for a January show. Lots of South African bulbs are up and already several of my lachenalias are in bloom, including the otherworldly L. viridiflora. All encouraging signs, as the days gradually begin to lengthen, that spring isn't as far off as it might seem.
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