Friday, December 31, 2010

Endings and Beginnings

The last abutilon of 2010
 The end of a year always brings thoughts of endings, yet beginnings are all around. Here is a look at some of each in my Davis garden as December 31, 2010 puts an finish to another year.

 As the nandina berries reach their reddest, and just before I decide they need to be removed now that they they have served the purpose of providing holiday color, a new spray of blooms appears on an adjacent plant.

 Likewise, the metallic blue berries of Viburnum tinus 'Spring Bouquet' remain although it has already begun blooming. 

What promises to be the first strawberry of 2011 is just beginning to have a little pink blush while my new Rosa The Fairy shows off its first blossoms of the new year.
Rosa The Fairy
Cyclamen and narcissus foliage
The cyclamen will continue to bloom into January and then rest until next fall, meanwhile narcissus foliage emerges nearby.

Colchicum foliage

The foliage of colchicums given to me at the Buffa10 garden blogger gathering by my friend Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening begins to emerge also.
The beginning of the end of my beloved plum tree
The last shot is the future firewood cut from my plum tree as I begin to remove it. It is the end of that particular plum tree. But all gardeners know that while it is sad to see the death of a prized plant, it is through one plant's demise that we are granted space for a new beginning. And with that thought I'm looking forward to what 2011 the garden and my life.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

GBBD December 2010

The holidays are quickly approaching but that doesn't stop Garden Blogger Bloom Day!  Carol at May Dreams Gardens has, for almost three years, been inviting garden bloggers to join her in listing the blooms they have in their garden on the 15th of each month. Visit her to find links to Bloom Day posts from around the world!

This time of year the pressure is on for those of us living in climates where we can still find blooms so here goes.

 Let's start with what gardeners in colder climates might be AMAZED to see...Hemerocallis Teatime blooming just in time for December Bloom Day!  I must, however,  tell the truth and admit I'm amazed as well. It seems every year I have some confused plant blooming out of turn. Today, it's Teatime's turn to shine. Joining in is this sweet foxglove that just won't quit. 

Some plants are what I call constants...they bloom a big chunk of the year, stopping only for a short while if things get especially cold or hot.  Constants blooming today include:

Rosa Demitasse
Rosa Flower Girl
Abutilon Pink Parasol
Unnamed pink abutilon
Dwarf Carnation Evermore     
Sweet allysum
Solanum jasminoides
Lavandula pinnata buchii
Chrysanthemum frutescens

Everything here is soaking wet from the welcome rains we've been having and leaves have been falling big-time so some blooms have to work to be seen.. like the sweet allysum.

Other plants blooming today that perform for a long period, but not quite enough to qualify as a constant, include:

Rosa Berries and Cream
Scabiosa Butterfly Blue
Salvia Mulberry Jam
Salvia Dancing Dolls
Wax begonias
Salvia greggii
Plumbago auriculata

And plants that bloom for shorter periods that are blooming today include:
Camellia Sasanqua Kanjiro

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Farewell to the Plum Tree

One of my very favorite things about my garden is being able to pick something and eat it standing right there. One of my very favorite things to pick and eat standing in my garden is a plum. One of the oldest plants (second oldest only to the wisteria) is my Santa Rosa plum tree. One of my favorite garden ceremonies is the Ceremony of the First Plum. One of my least favorite things to think about right now is that I need to take my plum tree out. It has been declining in the past few years, producing less and not growing as vigorously as in years past. This summer I noticed a big of the larger branches was dead and was playing host to carpenter bees. Now the tree has sap seeping from many of the branches and I have had to make the difficult decision to remove the tree.
I want to do it soon so that I can replace it with a bareroot tree or possibly two this winter. I need to have a Santa Rosa...I love them too much to not have one. But I believe if I prune the trees according to Dave Wilson's system that he calls Backyard Orchard Culture I should be able to have  at least two if not three fruit trees. As every gardener knows, the compensation for losing a plant is being able to buy a plant. Or two. See, that almost makes me not sad.
I will need to be careful when taking the tree down.  Carpenter bees overwinter as adults in their wood tunnels and emerge in the spring. So the question is, what will happen when I take the tree down? Males are unable to sting so I'm not worried about them; it would be the females that scare me. In any case, I will proceed with caution and plan to store the wood in the side yard. That way they can remain in the limbs until spring if they like, at which time they will need to find new homes. And in a year or two I will get one last bit of enjoyment from my tree when I have a fire some cold winter night. Maybe I will think up a special Plum Tree Fire Ceremony involving a jar of jam made from the plums of that tree...I should probably set one aside now.  I hope to be looking out the window at some new fruit trees when I have that fire.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Garden Blogger Bloom Day November 2010

The weather has cooled and it is decidedly fall. Day time temperatures stay in the 70s or less and one night actually dipped just below 40 to all of 39. The begonia richmondensis and 4 other new tender begonias have been brought inside to continue blooming there for the time being. Many plants are actually happier and blooming better now...Rosa Flower Girl, for one, blooms almost all year but is prettiest in my opinion when the weather is cooler. Colors that bleach out in the heat of summer stay fresh and crisp when we reach fall.
Above, Rosa Berries and Cream is just about to open...a day or two late for Garden Blogger Bloom Day.
Scabiosa Butterfly Blue is starting a new round of blooms as well.

Other blooms this 15th day of November, 2010 include:

Wax begonias

Lavandula pinnata buchii
Salvia greggii
Bat-faced cuphea
Dwarf Salvia Indigo Spires
Salvia Dancing Dolls
Rosa Flawless
Solanum jasminoides
Plumbago auriculata
Camellia Sasanqua Kanjiro
 Viburnum Spring Bouquet
Dwarf Carnation Evermore
dietesAbutilon Pink Parasol
unknown pink abutilon
and one last foxglove

Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see who is participating in this month's Garden Blogger Bloom Day!
Here's a late-breaking update...Berries and Cream decided to open after all once the day warmed up!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Three Blooms for Thursday

Every Thursday Cindy at My Corner of Katy invites us to , as she says, "Pick 3 pictures of plants from your garden ... tell us about 3 books you've read that you want to share ... rant about 3 things that bug the heck out of you ... show us 3 pieces of garden art or 3 photos of egregious crimes against gardening ... you choose what your three will be.  Just have fun, be creative and leave me a comment when your post is up!" 
Here are three blooms as my contribution. Above is Rosa Flawless, a mini-flora rose grown on its own rootstock on a compact plant. I got this free at a rose sale this summer and have it in a pot. Pastel pink and fragrant it is beginning to make me less scared of trying to grow any but climbing roses. I'm not particularly fond of most rose bushes but I find I'm making an exception here. This bloom, by the way, is a much deeper pink than the ones I've seen so far, courtesy of the cooler weather.
Lavandula pinnata buchii blooms just about all year...I love it! The fact that it lives next to my Meyer lemon and often gets to share the piazza lights that keep the lemon happy on the coldest winter nights certainly contributes to its length of bloom time.
My mom always had blooming jade plants in her Southern California garden in the winter. I'm wondering if this is the first time one of mine has actually bloomed! I've been afraid to move it for fear I would interfere with the blooms that have been developing, but it will soon move to a more protected spot for the winter, where all the other succulents have already migrated.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Last (sniff) Tomato

All good things must come to an end, or so I've been told. Today was a day for planting winter vegetables...fava beans, three kinds of peas, baby greens and spinach. Seeds for swiss chard, radishes, beets and carrots had already been planted and with rain predicted for tomorrow I wanted to plant everything else on the list. As it headed past noon I thought I would have a lunch break before moving on to a bit of leaf raking and weeding. I remembered noticing that the last tomato plant still growing, a Nyagous, had an almost ripe tomato the other day and when I looked I decided it was the day for The Last Tomato of 2010. Lucky for me I had made some pesto yesterday and also happened upon some difficult to find burrata cheese at the market. This happy combination sounded like lunch to me! As I enjoyed this last tomato I recalled my friend Carol's Ritual of the First Tomato. I decided the last one deserved recognition, too, as we now head into the long dark days of no fresh homegrown tomatoes. At least I can take comfort in the fact that this was not the last strawberry...there is one more just beginning to ripen!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Three at Flora Grubb Gardens

I recently made my first visit to Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. What a fun place! The sales staff was ever so helpful, asking if we were finding what we needed but allowing us space to wander mesmerized. Northern California is fortunate enough to have many excellent nurseries and this is certainly one of those that deserve to be on your Must See list.

 A carnival ride car is most appropriate...this nursery is like Disneyland for garden geeks!
 And what better use for a past-its-prime Edsel than as a slightly over-sized succulent dish garden?
An immense vertical garden...lush, lovely and perfect for that little spot that needs brightening.

This is my post for Three For Thursday...organized by Cindy at My Corner of Katy. You can join in too, or visit her blog to find links to others participants. She writes Pick 3 pictures of plants from your garden ... tell us about 3 books you've read that you want to share ... rant about 3 things that bug the heck out of you ... show us 3 pieces of garden art or 3 photos of egregious crimes against gardening ... you choose what your three will be.


Friday, October 15, 2010

GBBD October 2010

Begonia richmondensis, with its lovely foliage, has bloomed continuously for the several months that I've owned it. It can reportedly survive temperatures down to 25 degrees which would work most any winter here but I'm still debating where it should spend the coldest months. I might bring it in. Or it might just go under the patio cover with the potted succulents.
The plumbago that has been trained up into the arbor adds color to the Lady Banks rose foliage.
Abutilon Pink Parasol has reached a height of 8 feet and is joined by solanum jasminoides. The solanum has decided it likes where it lives and has threaded its way through the abutilon, privet and viburnum that live nearby. It will need a little controlling eventually but for now I'm enjoying the splashes of white it provides.
One of the miniature roses in the front door bed continues to put out blooms but for the most part the roses have not been as happy this year as is typical. I think they just haven't gotten enough heat.

The Cuphea llavea, more commonly known as bat-faced cuphea, is so cute I just had to have it.  It's a bit red for my tastes but I think I am losing some of my red aversion. Each year it blooms even more making it one of my favorites.
Lavandula pinnata buchii adds a nice touch of blue to the bed surrounding one of the banksia arbor posts and has long flower stems that move gently in the breeze. It blooms almost year round since it lives next to the potted meyer lemon and therefore benefits from the patio lights I hang for warmth in the winter.

 This sweet aloe is blooming in one of the hanging potted succulent pots in the side yard. I love the delicate blooms juxtaposed with the starkness of the aloe plant itself.

Other plants blooming in Davis today include:
Wax begonias
Salvia May Night
Salvis Blue Hills
Salvia greggii
Salvia Dancing Dolls
Salvia Victoria Blue
Society garlic
Rosa Flower Girl
Geranium Rozanne
Pink pandorea
Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see who is participating in this month's Garden Blogger Bloom Day!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

10 For 10/10/10

Here is a list, in no particular order, of things that make me happy I'm a gardener. 

#1. A nuthatch  that has come to least for a few weeks.
#2. Gardening with my favorite helper who always says "Come on Nonna! Let's garden!"
 #3. Colchicums shared by my friend Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening...look closely to see the checkered pattern!

 #4. My first fig...of 12 this year. I'm looking forward to the years to come when I can share, maybe with the neighbor in #10.

 #5. Buffa10 fallout. After being dazzled in Buffalo I had to try to approximate some of the ideas that impressed me.

 #6. Not really a gratuitous garden helper shot! This is her "touching, tasting, smelling garden" that we planted this summer. Herbs, scented geraniums, and several flowering perennials invite her to explore.

#7.  The first plum of 2010.

 The wisteria in its spring finery.

Buds on the plum tree letting me know spring is on its way. 

Orange harvest from my neighbor's tree...he is generous enough to share!

Family, friends, food, wildlife, the chance to meet other gardeners and see gardens in far off just makes me happy!