Even here in the balmy climes of the Bay Area, the end of the year is a time when many parts of the garden are at rest. I spend more time weeding, mulching and pruning/deadheading than actually planting. Spring is just a twinkle in our eyes but the garden still has beauty to offer us this team of year. There are winter blooming shrubs such as Camellias, all manner of succulents (many of which show their best leaf color in the colder months), early bulbs such as Dutch iris, Freesia, Sparaxis, Ixia and Lachenalia sending up shoots, whetting our appetite. And there is some winter color to be had in pansies, cyclamen, primroses, nemesias and snapdragons.
So here are a few photos of my late December garden. I'd take photos of all my bulbs that are up but, well, I'm afraid they would make for boring photos. That's why if you buy bulbs in packages you can haul them out, look at the glossy photos and kind of envision the real thing on its way. Sometimes anticipation is half the pleasure.
A little winter color, with a pot of Nemesia, some colorful pansies and the golden ground cover - Veronica repens.
My Calluna 'Firefly' just keeps getting a darker and more striking red as the winter progresses. This heather is one tough plant but is finally ready to go in a larger pot.
Though Phlomis lanata is usually a summer and fall bloomer, it's in full bloom right now. As I've mentioned, a lot of my garden denizens are either early or late in their flowering.
"The Wooly bush that ate Oakland!" Not an actual newspaper headline but my Adenanthos sericeus is now about 20' tall. It's only supposed to get 6-8' in height but, well, happy, happy, happy.
Another shot of my suddenly happy Melianthus pectinatus. This dwarf African honey bush only gets 4-6' tall and wide and the flowers are much smaller. The smaller size made it a good choice for a median strip. And it still possesses that wonderful peanut butter fragrance.
Is it a bird ... a plane ... no, it's Crassula muscosa, otherwise known as the Watch chain plant. This vigorous succulent scrambles and then scrambles some more.
Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue.' I love the variegated Euphorbias and especially this grayish-blue and white one.
Speaking of less common Euphorbias, this E. atropurpurea isn't always easy to find. I love its brick red flowers and the glaucous leaves.
One last shot of my Dicentra scandens. This yellow-flowering Bleeding Heart is a vigorous climber and after being hacked back to the ground in late June has already rebounded, grown six feet tall and is blooming again.
I was after a bit of drama here, showing this Camellia reticulata 'Bill Woodruff' flower against the darkened background. One of the showier reticulata flowers.
What is this you might ask? It's a Haemanthus albiflos seed fruit. Haemanthus, better known as Blood lily, produces these seed capsules at the tips of flowering branches, after the flowers are done of course.
Pelargonium crispum 'Variegated Golden Lemon.' In this shot it almost looks as if the branches are golden columns of flames, reaching up to the sky. One of the most intensely fragrant plants you'll ever grow.
Finally, a shot of my Magnolia 'Butterflies.' I know, it's bare, but the flower buds are already getting fatter and this coming February promises to be its best blooming season ever.