Monday, December 21, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

I keep getting nominated for the Honest Scrap award, and although I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to know any more than what I already reveal on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, I shall try to dredge up some scraps for you!

10 Honest Scraps about Me…

1. I live and work alone. My 'work' days are long, but since they are filled with a tasty mix of landscape design, publicity for the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, and adventures in photography, gardening and writing, it's not really work. It's just my life. I have a lovely office, but I spend most of my time on the red loveseat in my living room. (Kind of the indoor equivalent of the Red Umbrella!)

2. I love movies, especially ones with great soundtracks. I watch favorite movies over and over, mostly for company. That said, I almost never 'watch' much of a movie, since I am usually working on my laptop. Needless to say, I don't often watch movies with subtitles.

3. I eat very poorly, and strangely. I am fortunate to have people in my life who like to cook for me!

4. I was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder.

5. I cry when I get hit in the head, even if it doesn't hurt. Luckily, this doesn't happen much.

6. I walk on my tiptoes when my feet are bare and the floor is cold.

7. I hate the taste of cilantro. I think it ruins anything it touches, and that if it is featured prominently in a restaurant dish, it should be listed on the menu. In case I forget to ask.

8. My idea of a luxury is to stay in my robe all day on a rainy day, writing, puttering around the house, or reorganizing something. The ultimate measure of this luxury is not having to change again to go back to bed. Bonus points if someone feeds me.

9. I have no interest in sports, with the possible exception of car races, especially Indy and Formula One. Only on TV though...I don't like the noise at the track.

10. I went to school in England my junior year of college. I still drink my tea with milk, but will never understand Marmite. English chocolate is the best.

Now, who can I tag? (don't worry, nothing bad will happen if you don't play!!)

The Garden of Words

The Germinatrix

Garden Wise Guy

A Verdant Life

Poppy and Sage

Gossip in the Garden

Trees and Shrubs

Monday, December 14, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2009

The winter rains have come to San Jose, and the twenty-something temps last week were definitely noticed in the garden. Winter blooming trees like my favorite Arbutus 'Marina' can handle it, in fact the flowers have gotten noticeably deeper in color. Nice.
~click any photo to enlarge~

Thought I'd lost the lovely, sparkly plumes of Miscanthus 'Morning Light' in the rain, but in THIS morning's light they were looking just fine!

Whoa, did you know that Green Senecio has these adorable purple blooms in winter? And looking so great after a freeze? What a winner!

Can you believe this Rudbeckia??? Still blooming after six months? That's how long 'Indian Summer' has been at it. The finches love the dried seedheads, so how can I cut them back?

California gardens can usually manage to squeeze out a rose of one kind or another every month of the year. My coral carpet roses still have quite a few of these simple swirls.

When the sun emerged after our cold snap, these pink carpet roses went from bud to blooms in a day. I love their heart-shaped petals. I'm letting them climb the lilac (just a little bit, okay?)

A pristine Hybrid Tea (I think this is a John F. Kennedy) in December is a little more rare. Maybe a garden NEEDS a little shock of cold sometimes to stimulate it!

Diascia blooms look like happy babies to me. Happy orange angel babies. Really.

Everyone has probably had just about enough of my precocious Cerinthe, who shrugged off the frost no problem (as cool-weather annuals will do, only usually they do it in MARCH).

We're at about 8 months of bloom for the Lantana, however this is one of the few survivors; he snuggled up against the house just a few feet away from his shriveled brethren. I'll trim lightly, but with Ms. Mantis' egg case in there somewhere, I need to be careful (or she'll come back from the dead and kick my ....)

The Crassula by the front door also emerged unscathed, except for some red cheeks! He's getting ready to do his winter-bloom thing too.

Poor Mona, half of her a blackened mess, the other half fresh as spring. Perhaps she knew I wanted her to hang on for one more Bloom Day?

My hybrid Fuchsia is out for the count, but little Fuchsia thymifolia is saying yes, she really WOULD like another.

And then there's Sweet Alyssum, one of those ubiquitous little plants that will follow in my wake for years to come. Just let her do what she wants and everybody's happy, right?

Preview of coming attractions: The catkins on my Corylus avellana contorta (Contorted Hazelnut) are starting to emerge. We'll check back with him in January...

Thanks, as always, to Carol from May Dreams Gardens for being the heart of Garden Bloggers' Bloom day. Visit her site for links to Bloom Day posts from all over the world.

"We can have flowers nearly every month of the year."
Elizabeth Lawrence

Monday, December 7, 2009

After The Rain, Before The Freeze.

I went prowling in the garden today, to see what last night's heavy rain and cold temperatures had wrought. We haven't had a good rain in several weeks, so it was nice to see everything washed off, even nicer when the sun broke through the clouds and lit up this Euphorbia...

Every time I look at this Yucca variegata I know I need to move it. Pretty as it is, those sharp points next to the path leading to the front door are not friendly, and probably not good feng shui either. I wish I could transplant with my eyes...

Our native Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) has the Best. Red. Berries. Ever. In simpler times, when I lived in the woods near the ocean, I would use them for wreaths; they ripen perfectly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and last a long time when cut.

Aren't Aeoniums the biggest divas? Can't you just imagine her as an opera singer in full aria? She's one of the plants I need to protect tonight; with snow on the hills this morning and a valley freeze predicted, she's one of the vulnerable ones. The diva shall soon be going undercover.

My burgeoning Meyer lemon will be fine; it's snuggled against the south-facing wall of my house. There might be some leaf burn, but the fruit should be good on the tree all winter. It's one of my favorite holiday decorations, sitting there all perky by the front door!

A single volunteer Sweet Pea, sprouted from the spot where last years vines lay after cutting; how nice to see a fresh new face!

The last of the red-hot Romas. I actually didn't use many of them this year; they were planted with the idea of cooking, and cooking didn't happen. Bet these green ones would make a great green tomato relish. Which brings up that no-cooking thing again...oh well!

The leaves of a Southern Highbush Blueberry, I think this one is Misty. If it doesn't get too cold they'll stay on the bush all winter; so pretty with the color of the house.

Must remember to bring this exposed succulent under cover tonight (yeah, yeah, and the table mat too). I have a tendency to leave the cake out in the rain, sometimes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pleasing Associations...

In the garden today I was noticing how certain plant combinations catch my eye. Like this 'Moonlight' Nasturtium that has climbed three feet to sit proudly atop this Rosemary. I planted a seed last spring, that's all. She took it from there!
~Click any photo to enlarge~

And these apple leaves glowing in the new poppy foliage.

Or the amusing juxtaposition of the microscopic flowers of Fuchsia thymifolia, and their more full-figured relative.

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' has entwined herself firmly into Nandina 'Firepower' near the bubbling water pot. I only introduced them, I swear! She took over all on her know the type.

The Begonia richmondiensis and Coleus are waning a bit, but doing a good job of propping each other up.

I love how the renegade Fig has cozied up to the Bambusa oldhamii. He's an escapee from the neighbor's yard, and has agreed that he will remain a shrub. This is one season's growth, not bad...

By late autumn, many plants who were planted a tidy distance apart have bridged the gap, like this orange Diascia who is now chummy with the Coleonema 'Sunset Gold.'

Or the Woolly Thyme that is now sliding right under the Yucca out for those sharp tips!

I notice other things, like how Aeonium 'Thundercloud' and Pittosporum 'Golf Ball' do such completely different things with purple and green...

And how Stipa arundinacea (OK, OK, dang, Anemanthele lessoniana, hate it when they change my friend's names!) glows in sharp contrast to Senecio vitalis.

Or how the foliage of California Poppies and Artichokes springs fresh in winter; I love their similar color and form, at different scales.

Grevillea 'Coastal Gem,' Purple Sage, and Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' settle in for a long, sunny winter on top of this south-facing wall; the perfect spot for a trio that likes things warm, lean, and well drained.

The Dwarf Pomegranate and Stachys 'Primrose Heron' are about the same size now, and kinda fighting over the arm rest. But Pom will continue on to small bonsai-d treehood, while Prim will maintain dominion at ground level. A lot of my garden started small; Pom was a tiny beast in a 4" pot last spring; he'll be fun to train.

Stipa tenuissima (OK, OK, Nassella tenuissima, sheesh), Salvia apiana, Limonium perezzii and Senecio vitalis win the low-water, easy-care combination award this year. Yes, Nassella is a prolific seeder, but a regular grooming with a wide-toothed comb helps to keep this tendency in check and the blades free to move in the wind.

Volunteer seedlings of Lavender Stoechas multiply each year in my park strip and are the opening act and sidekick for the spring bulbs planted there. With the fall rains, the Dutch Iris are already up.

These harmonious associations in my garden please me, like when I introduce people I like and they become friends. They confirm that
my instincts are good, but theirs are better; I can only control so much. Perhaps the most credit I can take is giving them opportunity to grow
as they will.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Nip of Frost

We had our first frosty morning last week; not a killer, but enough to whiten rooftops and leave its unmistakable mark on the landscape. The Boston Ivy on the back fence seemed to transform to scarlet overnight.

The variegated English Ivy took on some pinkish tones...

The Pomegranate leaves began to turn gold...

Some of the Nandina leaves started to curl and condense their colors...

The Dodonea is about as purple as it's going to get...

And the tropical Manihots have left the building.

I am not a winter person, and this time of year tends to fill me with cold foreboding. Even a charming string of hearts isn't a consolation when I think of the bony stem that will soon be all that remains. As winters go, ours are nothing to complain about, but that does not make my primeval reaction to the shorter days any less real.

So I'm thankful for things like the sweet faces of late roses that remind me of high summer.

And for the Chinese Pistache in front of my house. As I write, the mid-afternoon sun is making it glow with every vibrant shade of red, russet, orange and gold that I can imagine. And I feel warm again.