Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Iceman Cometh

Wherever you live in the Bay Area, it was pretty damn cold the last few nights. My plants survived the near freeze, hope yours did as well. We're rewarded today, Thursday, with blue skies and pleasant if still nippy weather. This is a good time to be reworking your beds, weeding, pruning and amending. For those of us with primarily perennial beds, it's time to add nutrition from the top down. I'll be adding a fertile soil conditioner on top of certain beds and letting it seep in with the upcoming rains.
Though December and January are the slowest months in my garden, as far as flowers go, there were a few things worth photographing. Here they are, top to bottom:

Edgeworthia buds. As you may know, this intensely fragrant deciduous shrub produces early clusters of flower buds that then pop open in late winter to offer tiny yellow flowers with the sweetest fragrance.
Viola. Couldn't resist capturing the beauty of this little viola.
Alpinia Zerumbet. Backlit, this ginger's leaves offer a distinctive beauty.
Arctotis. Like red? This guy's got it in spades. This African daisy loves the winter sun.
Echeveria flowers. Who doesn't love Echeverias? This one has unusually dark flowers.
Helleborus Wayne Rodderick. I sometimes think that Lenten Roses look even prettier in bud form.
Juniperus 'Blue Star.' I'm about to plant a dwarf conifer bed and this small, spreading juniper will be one of the featured attractions.
Banksia ericifolia. Just the lovely new growth so far but I'm looking forward to the eventual orange flower cones. My journey 'Down Under' continues ...
Aloe rupestris. A rescue that has flourished. Hasn't acquired its winter red tones but lovely nonetheless.
Mother fern. Shot at work but I couldn't resist adding the lacy green foliage to this entry.
Pieris. Likewise shot at work, this P. 'Flaming Silver' has to be the loveliest of all the pieris varieties. The flowers have yet to open but it still has an undeniable charm.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Spring December

Only in California, on the coast that is, can we have the beautiful mild & sunny day we were treated with today. Following the 4" of rain we received it sent local gardens into a frenzy (alas, also the weeds). Winter shrubs such as camellias suddenly began to burst and annual winter color flourished. It's easy to take this all in stride, until you look at the weather in the Midwest and elsewhere. The sunny day inspired me to get out my camera and take photos. This week I'll start with the photos then put their IDs and descriptions afterwards.

Top to bottom the photos are:
Camellia Silver Waves. Huge pure white petals with prominent stamen. The oldest of my group of camellias and thus quite the show each winter.
Camellia Buttermint. The flowers are small but this dwarf camellia blooms its heart out and it has a creamy yellow center.
Japanese maple + birdhouse. A nice late fall scene. The birdhouse is yet to be occupied but I'm hoping someone will use it this spring.
Impatiens congolense. Still one of the oddest plants in my garden (and I have a few). They're said to resemble macaw beaks but I think they look like little red & yellow candies.
Succulent bowl. I've really done nothing in the year since I planted this bowl. It's taken care of itself and keeps looking better and better.
Echinacea. I keep photographing them cause the colors keep changing - this one more orange than pink - and because this is my first time of having any real luck with them.
Eryngium planum 'Jade Frost.' Fabulous foliage and very soon spiky purple flowers. My plant of the month!
Phylica plumosa. Hardly anyone grows this fabulous S. African shrub anymore and that's a mystery to me.It has the downiest foliage, which captured here in the sun, is luminescent.
Phylica plumosa, close up. I love digital cameras. I was able to focus so close that you can see the tiny beads of water on the hairs of the leaves.
King protea. I've posted photos of this guy before but it's so strange to see it blooming in December!
Leucospermum 'Veldfire.' To me the showiest of all pincushion varieties. Here it is just starting to bud up. The red-edged leaves are also a wonderful feature of this S. African shrub.
Babiana foliage. Here's a thick stand of the distinctively ribbed foliage of the baboon flower as it's called. And yes, in Africa baboons do eat these plants!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

An Upside to Rain

Those of us in the Bay Area are looking out our windows right now and seeing the wind and rain. Only the hard core "ducks" as I call those who come out in this weather, are shopping for plants or tending to their gardens in this weather. I'm not one of those. If it's raining or has just rained, I'm staying inside and pining for clear skies. That said, have you noticed that after a rain our gardens seem to positively glow? More so than if we watered the garden by hand. The rain doesn't just "clean" the air, a good thing in itself. No I believe that rain is a much healthier way for our gardens to receive moisture. Call it prana if you will or the fact that Mother Nature just does everything better. Of course when we get a lot of rain, like in these series of storms, the rain is soaking deeper into the ground than is usually the case when we hand water the garden. That means it gets to plants with deeper root systems.
So, that's my "silver lining," even for a sun lover like myself. And of course it means I don't have to water my large garden for awhile, a task that in the after work darkness is no fun.
So, let's raise a glass to the rain. Then let's all do our sun dance to bring the sun back into our winter days.
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