Friday, October 30, 2009

As Simple As A Windowsill...

When days start getting shorter, and nights start getting colder,

I start to look for ways to keep the summer garden close.

Like cuttings from the courtyard, in simple green glass vases,

Gathered before winter comes, to lead the way to spring.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

California Fallishness

We had a gorgeous California fall weekend; warm and sunny, blue skies. Great gardening weather, but while I managed some drive-by weeding and tidied a bit, I was a lazy gardener (again!) I get so distracted by the colors, the shapes, and the light, the way plants change, like the Dodonea donning its glossy, maroon winter costume.
~Click any photo to enlarge~

Or how this stone plaque is now so nicely framed by the Boston Ivy; it used to just hang on a bare fence.

I notice how the plants in the courtyard are now flowing into each other, and how the Honeysuckle is on its way to being a venerable old vine, twisting around the post.

I'm still putting my new camera through its paces, and have learned a few things; I love how I can capture so much of the garden in one simple frame.

Nandina 'Firepower' is lovely in the afternoon light. The Isotoma groundcover is perking up after the recent rains.

Fuchsia thymifolia is a lovely little shrub, I've had this in a pot for several years. Yes, those flowers are extremely tiny!

I'm not a big fan of boxwood, except for this variegated variety. I love how it glows, in its tidy way, where I dot it through the garden.

Begonia richmondiensis is SUCH a sucker for a close-up; please click on this one to see the larger version, but only if you love a shot of iridescent pink on a Monday!

The only thing cooler than Manihot leaves are Manihot leaves on a bamboo-dappled October afternoon.

Moonlight Yellow Nasturtiums are one of those plants that you will always find in my garden. I give it some suggestions, but it really decides where it wants to be...

Like in the middle of the carpet roses!

Fig leaves! That's it, just Fig leaves!

Another Nandina shot; I love the subtle, curling contours of the leaves as well as the color.

The cats attended my photo shoot, so with no (sensible) hummingbirds around, they will have to do! Zen enjoys lurking in the grasses; she thinks she can't be seen.

And Haku enjoys snoozing in the grasses; he doesn't care much whether he's seen or not!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Color and New Beginnings

Fall is a strange season in California. On the one hand we have the shorter days and the cooler temps; but in my Zone 9 garden hard frosts are rare, so winter to us looks a lot like spring in other places.
~Click any photo to enlarge~

We do have lovely fall color, but since many of our wooded areas are largely evergreen (oak and redwood) some of our best fiery foliage is found in our street and garden trees, like Liquidambar, Crape Myrtle, Ginkgo and this Chinese Pistache; one of my favorite fall performers.

Not only does the Pistache have gorgeous leaves and a long season of color, but it also has these terrific multi-colored berries.

In our mild climate, fall/winter color can be found in many places.
This Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' has been green all summer, and is just starting to launch its winter bracts. By January each will be a couple of feet taller and topped with a golden, star-like flower. The winter replacement for my Rudbeckias!

The fresh, new growth of Euphorbias, like this 'Helena's Blush,' is particularly lovely right now.

Grevillea 'Coastal Gem' is another winter bloomer; I often compare it to prostrate rosemary, and use it similarly.

Still marveling at the lush, spring-like growth (and even a few flowers) from my Cerinthe major. Mild temps and some early season rainstorms are encouraging it I think!

This is the best my coral 'Flower Carpet' roses have looked all season. I'm realizing that not having a lot of overhead rain is actually a blessing in terms of foliage health and flower quality.

OK, the jury is still out on Aeoniums in the garden; I think I like them better in pots. This healthy fellow grew from one slender rosette planted in April.

This Diascia has been the Energizer Bunny of the garden this year; planted as instant color from 4" pots in April, it has not flagged since; in fact the cooler temps and extra water have given it a boost.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Ball' is a gorgeous little shrub that looks sheared but isn't; the glossy foliage and black stems look great all year round in a neat mound less than 3' tall.

The garden has many subtle lovelinesses in the fall, like the feathery blooms of Miscanthus 'Morning Light'

Speaking of 'Morning Light' here's another one; a variegated variety of Westringia fruticosa (Coast Rosemary.) This forms a wonderful rounded shrub ~4'x4' and has a white rosemary-like flower.

Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmunds' (Serpentine Manzanita) is one of my favorites; in time it forms an open shrub of great character with smooth, mahogany red branches. In late winter it is covered with pinkish lily-of-the-valley flowers that are very popular with hummingbirds; the fall berries appear to be tasty as well!

These Senecio vitalis were also small sprigs in the spring; love how their colors echo those of the Stachys 'Primrose Heron' in the background.

The other thing that makes California winters look like spring are the plants the re-emerge at the first sign of cool weather. My artichokes were looking pretty sorry a few weeks ago, but now they are sprouting with vigor (this is a winter crop, especially near the coast.)

And with the rains come the weeds...or are they? These are the seedlings of the California Poppies that will be, um, covering the garden in early spring (I let a few original plants go to seed, that's all it takes!)

And of course, no post from my garden would be complete without a hummingbird shot! This little fellow was bathing in the sheeting water on the side of the water feature while the bigger birds splashed above. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2009

I love the light in fall, low and golden. October is a soft transition in Northern California, when just about anything can happen (like spring-blooming Cerinthe major doing a repeat performance).

Any significant frosts are months away, and I'm still picking tomatoes and peppers. Hopefully these bright blooms & fruits will cheer up my fellow bloggers who have already tucked their gardens in for the winter. Enjoy!   ~Click any photo to enlarge~

Loropetalum chinense 'Plum Delight' is putting out its new foliage along with its fringy flowers.

Rudbeckia 'Indian Summer' has been blooming since June; what a winner!

I think that I shall never see an orange as orange as a pomegranate flower; I never realized that the dwarf variety blooms just as the standard kind is ripening.

Limonium perezii might keep going through winter if it's mild; but a hard frost will melt it.

My Echeverias have quadrupled in size and will just continue to multiply...

Right up there with the Rudbeckia for favorite new plant of the year: Stachys 'Primrose Heron.' Just look at the texture on those leaves! The 'pinked' edges are killer!

This little dwarf Crassula may not survive the winter (or the attentions of the woolly thyme) but that cherry red color has been a lovely little accent all summer (this is only a couple of inches tall)

Still my vote for hardest working and easiest to care for combo in the garden: Lantana and 'Fragrant Frosty' scented geranium. They'll keep it up for at least another couple of months.

The Fuchsia is slowing down, but will retain a few blooms until Thanksgiving.

Lots of action in the vegetable garden; Marjoram flowers mix with Sage and Thyme.

Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) doesn't even start blooming until October; it's nice to have something fresh (and, evidently, tasty!)

Rosemary 'Majorca Pink' is a nice upright variety (~4 feet tall) with unusual pinkish blooms.

Almost too beautiful to pick! I have a gorgeous crop of pomegranates this year; wonder what I should do with them?

Lucky shot of the month! I was waiting patiently for the bee to lift off the Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' and had a surprise guest!

Another favorite new plant this year, Begonia fuschioides, which has been quietly blooming just like this in a shady corner of my courtyard since April.

Another nice plant friendship; Begonia richmondiensis and Coleus play nicely together.

Nicotiana sylvestris (aka 'The Monster') has been quite the overachiever this year, topping eight feet easily and producing enough seed for a monster invasion. The evening garden would not be complete without its lovely, lily-like scent.

And lastly, my happy and forgiving Plectranthus has put out its second flush of bloom (after a drive-by pinching!)

Thanks for joining me in my October garden, and also to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for her ongoing support of this lovely tradition. I suspect that we mild-climate gardeners are relied upon to keep things blooming through the winter; will do my best!