Friday, December 6, 2013

Chicago Blues

Nope, not talking about Muddy Waters or any number of great Chicago bluesmen but just how freakin' cold it's been here in the Bay Area the last few days. Colder than Chicago in fact. That and the howling winds last week were quite a one-two punch. Our Ace nursery ran out of paper green trimmings bags after the windstorm and Wednesday we ran out of insulated blankets and Cloud Cover. What's next, hail? Locusts? These extreme weather events are a reminder that Mother Nature can be unpredictable. That said, I'll take our climate over Chicago's any day.
These weather events have perhaps taken our eye off the ball as far as our gardens are concerned. They may have had to brave inclement weather but they soldier on. And that is a reminder that plants are driven beings. Forget the Post Office, our sturdy plants plod forward through rain and snow and floods (okay, maybe not floods). Plants are on a mission to complete their appointed rounds -- in this case flowering, being pollinated, setting seed. They simply won't take the suggestion to cool their heels for a couple of months and then resume. We humans should all be so tough.
The new arrival in my garden is a young Ponytail Palm, well actually three of them in one bowl. Beaucarnea recurvata isn't a palm at all and surprisingly is a member of the Asparagus family. Whatever the case, they're cool plants and I've included a copy of mine below. I've also added a few other photos taken today. Hope you're discovering little treasures in your own garden these days.

Beaucarnea recurvata. Here's the aforementioned Ponytail Palm. Apart from the cool foliage, people like them because of the gnarly caudex. Now I have to find a place for it!

Stock may be common but I loved the color of this one. I've added it to my collection of winter fragrance plants along the main walkway. It joins a Daphne and an Edgeworthia plus a Cuban Oregano plectranthus, a lemon verbena and a Yerba Buena. They will soon be joined by fragrant freesias and hyacinths.

My Staghorn fern survived being unceremoniously dumped on the ground by the wind and is back in the Brugmansia tree, spreading its "antlers."

With a bit of protection my Begonia Irene Nuss survived the frost. I love the brilliant coppery-red new growth, shown here. Next to B. Escargot, my favorite begonia.

Camellia Black Magic. Okay, the breeder got carried away with the name but this unique camellia with the waxy, dark red flowers is a knockout.

The only thing left standing from the garden I inherited, this rose isn't just pretty but one of the most intensely fragrant roses I've ever smelled. Wish I knew which variety it is.

My Lepechinia hastata waited longer to bloom this year, not starting until end of October but it's still going strong. A real knockout.

Though I didn't manage to quite get this shot in perfect focus, I wanted to capture the short-lived blooming on my Mahonia lomariifolia. It's now stuffed in the back of my driveway but somehow it's adapted to the move and is blooming its heart out. Plus now I'm safe from its sharp spiny leaves.

You know your luck is holding when even the grower of a plant is surprised at how well your specimen is doing. That's the case with the lovely Eriophyllum lanatum. Though it has pretty yellow flowers, I planted it for the soft silvery foliage. It's not supposed to like cold weather but mine seems happy.

Well, there's a story behind my Felicia amelloides variegata. The pot it was in (the one pictured here) didn't provide adequate drainage and the felicia toughed it out before giving up the ghost. So I brought home a new one, gave it tons of drainage and a different blue pot and it's happy (and flowering).

Is it spring and nobody informed us? Most of my camellias are in bloom, way ahead of schedule. Here's the first flower on my curiously named C. Little Babe variegated. Due to the variegation, each flower is slightly different. Which I like.

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