Friday, January 9, 2015

The Year Round Garden

A year round garden may not be practical for many parts of the country but here on the West coast our winter weather is tempered by the Pacific ocean. That allows those so motivated to garden year round, though there are days, even weeks, where only hardy souls will be out tending to their garden. Here in Oakland, which has one of the most ideal climates of the non-tropical regions, it is indeed not only possible to be out in the garden in January but at times entirely pleasant. Such was the case today and even though the clouds are out the temps are very mild.
Of course the milder temps in winter can confuse certain plants, making them think spring is on the way. I've heard of people who "talk" to their plants. Unfortunately, I'm not sure my plants would listen if I told them "No, no, this isn't really spring. Stay in the ground!"
That's okay. They know the drill by now and are used to the highs and lows. In fact, I wish I handled my own ups and downs as well as my plants do.
Here are a few more photos of my 'winter' garden, most taken today and a few from my archives.

Agapetes serpens. There are some plants that are more unique than others (though uniqueness like beauty is in the eye of the beholder) and this evergreen shrub is one of them. First you have the flowers hanging underneath the branches. Which is similar to many heathers. But add in the papery feel of the flowers and you have a plant that's unlike just about anything else.

Abelia 'Kaleidoscope.' After a slow start my variegated Abelia is looking good. It still has yet to produce much in the way of flowers but since I wanted it primarily for the foliage then that's quite fine by me. 

Daphne odora marginata. It may be the most common Daphne but that doesn't mean it isn't pretty. And like many shrubs, the unopened flower buds are sometimes as pretty as the open flowers. That's certainly true for many daphnes. Incidentally, the genus name is from the Greek myth. Daphne was a lovely maiden and was pursued by the God Apollo, whose advances she spurned. When Apollo was about to capture her, Daphne's father Peneus turned her into a plant to save her. Apollo was still so smitten he then set out to tend to his special plant, to see that she prospered. Apollo as a faithful gardener? In this case, yes.

Justicia fulvicoma.This sweet little 'Plume flower' isn't as showy as some of its species mates but it has its own subtle charms.

Here the aptly named Campanula 'Blue Waterfall' is doing just that, spilling over this low bowl. It's a perfect compliment to the taller Justicia brandegeeana above it. 

I take so many photos of individual plants -- it's the nature of my garden -- that I have to remember to take a few "group" photos. I can almost imagine my saying to the plants "All right, Lepechinia, can you move a little closer in so I can get you in the photo." That is indeed the "Salvia-type plant gone wild" in the upper left. The charming and unique Cunonia (Butterknife tree) is in the middle. And snaking upwards on the right is my variegated mint bush (Prostanthera). "Can't we all just get along?" In this case the answer is yes.

This may not look like a Sweet olive but it is indeed an Osmanthus. In this case O. heterophyllus 'Goshiki.' Yes, it does have serrated leaves and yes it's incredibly slow to flower. Hmm, maybe the other Sweet olives kicked it out of the family!

Echeveria species plus Ornithogalum umbellatum. This Echeveria is proof positive that these guys can be just as happy in the ground as in pots. In fact, mine only began to prosper once I did relocate it to the ground. The vertical shoots sort of in the middle of the Echeveria is the Ornithogalum (Star of Bethlehem). It's a late winter blooming bulb, producing sweet little white flowers.

I have come around to feeling that Dianthus are one of the great little common plants in the trade. They're tough, prolific, adaptable, come in a variety of flower colors but also types of foliage. I happen to like the ones with a bluish foliage as is the case here. The bright red flower really pops against that foliage. 

Though this shot isn't in perfect focus, I include it as much to give an example of what I talked about in the lead-in discussion. Filipendula ulmaria is a deciduous shrub and mine did indeed lose its foliage in early December. But by the end of December it was already putting out new growth, obviously confused by our recent warm weather. I guess we'll see what happens next.

I planted this Fuchsia 'Rose Quartet' late so it's just now starting to produce flowers (another plant that's not paying attention to the calendar). I like the simplicity of the rose pink petals and the white sepals. 

To paraphrase Wayne's World "Plectranthus rule!" Indeed, many a gardener has fallen in love with these tough, pretty and versatile plants. Here's the low growing, spreading P. 'Troy's Gold.'

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens). Though not as fragrant as say honeysuckles, it has the prettiest flared yellow flowers and enough fragrance to be enjoyable. Mine seems to bloom whenever the mood suits it. 

Phylica plumosa. I just love this South African native. It has the fuzziest and softest plumes, so soft you wish you could make a feather duster out of it. It turns out to be tougher than its reputation and has even been happy in a pot for me.

I call this my O.R. (not to be confused with an O.G.), standing for my Original Rhodie. I planted it so long ago that I no longer know its variety name. It's almost always the first of my rhodies to bloom, though it usually 'previews' its spring show with a few January blooms.

Ferraria ferrariola. Mine has yet to bloom (though it will in ~ a month) but here's a photo from the web that shows why I'm so stoked. Just breathtakingly beautiful and weird.

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