Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring preview

I know the weather has been crazy, and there hasn't been nearly enough sun for human and flora alike, but the mild weather and the rain has really encouraged bulbs and early spring perennials. My own garden has decided to charge ahead, the calendar be damned. My thalictrums are already producing new foliage, as are the columbines. Two of my three arisaemas are up, much to my delight. Hello Jack! My first tulips are in bloom, the myriad daffodils aren't far behind, as are the freesias and sparaxis. On the winter end, my verticordia is finally producing it's delicate pink flowers while the summer loving, irrepressible halimiocistus Merrist Wood Cream has flowers open with tons more in bud. With all this rain, my alstromeria have gone crazy with new foliage. In a front yard bed, framed by a low stone wall, my cascading lithodora is producing its first gentian blue flowers, while next to it the likewise sprawling sphaeralcea munroana, given a severe pruning two months ago, has responded with new leaves and the first of many-to-come tiny rose-colored mallow flowers. It seems like everything else is budding up or has the first of its new growth, as evidenced by a half a dozen clematis varieties showing new leaves. Even my cheerful dicentra scandens is putting out new maidenhair fern-like leaves, in anticipation of canary yellow flowers to follow. Now if we could get a week's worth of uninterrupted sunny days to get out there and enjoy it all ...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are We There Yet?

With a few mild days and the rains encouraging new growth in our gardens, a lot of us are getting that urge to hurry up spring so we can get new plants in our gardens and welcome back 'old friends.' I grew up in British Columbia and when I call family in January and say I've just come in from my garden, I can "see them" shaking their heads. But gardening 12 months a year also means there's always something to attend to, temptation to plant new plants, bulbs coming up early and self seeding annuals such as California poppies, borage, gilia and love-in-a-mist already popping up. I love it but then again keeping up can become a challenge.
Keep an eye out for an article I'm doing for the SF Chronicle on creating the best fertile soil for your garden. As I note there, the three most important factors in creating a successful garden are: soil, soil and soil. Now is the time to amend your beds with compost, soil amendments such as chicken manure, worm castings or mushroom compost.
Here are a few recent photos from my garden:
Upper line -- Fuchsia in hanging basket; Lotus berthelotii
Second line -- Hebe 'James Stirling; Silver leaf cyclamen
Third line -- Blue fescue relative; Camellia 'Frank Hauser'
Fourth line -- Ranunculus; Lachenalia tricolor
Bottom line -- Leucospermum 'Veldfire'; 'Spoon' Osteospermum
01 09 10