The rains combined with the warm daytimes have caused certain plants in my garden to think it's a sort of quasi-spring. Strangely, I saw my first snowdrops this morning, with their first flowers! The garden has its own mind and so we tend to it and enjoy!
A few words about the joys of conifers. I was slow to appreciate them, having grown up in B.C. surrounded by (literally) a million Douglas firs. Boring. And my garden doesn't lend itself to planting trees, with no single large area. I've introduced some Japanese maples but they're a manageable size. It wasn't until I visited the Oregon Botanical Garden and saw their collection of dwarf conifers, mostly from Japan and China, that the light bulb went off. And lo and behold there are quite a few dwarf conifers readily available in the trade, especially those in the Chamaecyparis and Cryptomeria genera. I finally took the plunge three years ago and planted my own little dwarf conifer bed. A part of me still feels like I'm 'cheating,' having created a little 'forest' in a 6' x 10' space. And because they grow exceedingly slowly, you can place the species pretty close together. I've included a photo here of one of my favorites in this area, the Chamaecyparis 'Barry's Silver.' So, for those of you who don't happen to own half an acre, there's still a way to enjoy the varied charms of conifers!
And now the photos ...
Although it's not completely open, I was thrilled to find that my Ladyslipper orchid (Paphiopedilum) has put forward a new bloom. As everyone knows, getting orchids to re-bloom outside of a greenhouse is tricky. The rain beading on top gives an element of freshness to the flower.
I have better shots of my Lachenalia viridiflora in my files but this is a "live" shot of the first few flowers to emerge. There's nothing quite like this aquamarine blue.
Cooler weather and the rains have done the trick for my Oxalis penduncularis. It has the unique habit of making these large 'balls' of leaves, with flowers springing out from these globes. Ain't Nature grand?
Lachenalia aloides 'Orange.' Though these are again the very first flowers and somewhat obscured, I still decided to give readers a peek at its lovely colors. BTW, Lachenalias are one of the easiest South African bulbs to grow, as long as you can give them a dry summer period. Ironically, they make good dry garden denizens, our natural dry summers and winter rains being ideal for them.
Furry flower buds on my Magnolia 'Butterflies.' Not colorful or traditionally showy but to me they're beautiful, being a "promise" of spring flowers to come.
But if it's color you want, how about the vivid red flowers of Monardella micrantha, set against the rich blues of the ceramic pot in back. This is a type of Coyote mint, also a CA native, but a low growing spreading type. The flowers are unusually large given how small the plant is.And of course the tubular flowers are a favorite of local hummingbirds.
Here's my world famous Luculia pinceana. Okay, not world famous, but those of you that have this shrub in your garden raise your hand. Nobody? There you go. It's a mystery to me why this pretty, tough and intensely fragrant shrub isn't widely available. One of the sweetest smelling flowers you'll ever smell.
My Cotinus 'Royal Purple' has done something odd this fall. First the leaves turned red, as is commonly the case. But now many of them have followed that up by turning a golden-orange. Odd but lovely.
Here's my latest succulent, the rubbery Kalanchoe bryophyllum. I wanted to keep it simple with this bowl so just surrounded it with a lovely, purple viola.
This Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is making one last push to flower. They have some of the most dramatic gold anthered red stamens.
Although the light somewhat bleached out this shot, I wanted to share a shot of my Camellia reticulata 'Frank Hauser.' One of the showiest of all retics, which is saying something since reticulatas are the queens of the camellia world.The flowers are often quite large, with some featuring wavy, fluted petals (like this variety).
Here's a curving swoop of one of my Salvia discolor branches. Note the silvery-lime bracts and the dark as midnight flowers. That, the white undersides to the leaves and the white sticky stems make this possibly the most unique salvia around. And it's vigorous.
Just simple leaves on my Euphorbia atropurpurea but I liked the way the beaded water glistened on the bluish leaves.
Another shot of my ever evolving Kalanchoe sexangularis. It's now a rich coppery color, nicely offset by the bluish Echeveria.
Here's the aforementioned Chamaecyparis lawsonii 'Barry's Silver.' This 'false cypress' has kept its silvery caste and is holding court in the very center of my dwarf conifer bed. One nice option with a bed such as this is the ability to vary textures, colors and forms of the various conifers, all within a very limited space.
Another guy that seemingly can't wait for spring is my Chamelaucium 'Purple Pride.' It's not only already budding up well in advance of its usual spring blooming but if you look closely one flower has already opened. It's one of the stars of my Australian natives bed.
Just a common Pelargonium but 'Raspberry Twizzle' is such a cool name (and accurate description) that I had to include a photo.