Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's Time to Commit

The first leucojum aestivum is blooming! There will be more to come but the first is always exciting. It means the year has rolled over and we are starting anew. I have been anticipating this January with some trepidation because I have been considering a huge commitment, promise, challenge. After growing this garden for over 33 years it is time to take a step back, stop shoehorning plants into any empty (or semi-empty) space and really make some decisions.

Camellia Jordan's Pride is blooming too, another sign of the new year. There is no getting around it. The time has come to commit and be done with it. 

Layia platyglossa, Tidy Tips, is starting to bloom too. This is a new California wildflower I got from Annie's Annuals and Perennials.  Nurseries are just so much fun and there are always so many tempting plants. My garden is the result of many occasions where I could not stick to the plan/list and something new or many somethings new came home with me and needed to be wedged in to any available spot. 

Bulbs, including these Narcissus Avalanche, are also erupting in the garden...pretty much everywhere. There was once a plan to keep bulbs close to the rock edging so that I could use the center of the beds for other things. Another good intention gone in the heat of bulb buying frenzies.

So what is the commitment? The promise? The challenge? I am going to try to make it through 2014 without buying any new plants. Exceptions will include vegetable starts. And possibly a few annuals if I really really need a fix. I am going to be editing out what needs to go, moving things that need to be in better spots. Dividing perennials that have overgrown their spaces. I am studying Rebecca Sweet's book "Refresh Your Garden Design With Color, Texture and Form" among other things. 
I have some ideas for building a few garden structures I've been wanting. I want to clean up and clear out things I will never use. 

Why this year? This is an idea I have considered attempting for some time. Last year I decided the time had come and 2014 would be the year. The fact that California, among other states, is suffering from a serious long term drought is a more concrete reason to choose this year. Maybe by next year we will have had a miracle winter that actually includes rain and new plants will stand a better chance. I have moved to a more drought tolerant plant palette over the years and this will be a good time to refine that element. I am not getting any younger and making plant choices that don't require intensive care will help me be able to spend more time doing what I enjoy in the garden and less time on routine maintenance. 

So, challenge accepted. I will buy no plants in 2014 except those vegetable starts (and possibly annuals  in a mental health emergency). I don't think it will be that is already almost the end of January and I have done fine so far! Although it may be a bit more difficult to control myself in a month or two. Only 11 more months to go!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Garden Blogger Bloom Day January 2014

Happy New Year! And welcome to Garden Blogger Bloom Day, a gathering of garden bloggers who share what is blooming in their gardens on the fifteenth of each month. Garden Blogger Bloom Day has been hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens for seven years and is a wonderful place to see what is going on in other gardens. After viewing my floral offerings for January click on that link and check out blooms elsewhere!

The cyclamen is beginning to bloom in the front garden. These are plants that have been bought in the past as Christmas decor and then tucked into the garden. They never again bloom in time for Christmas, usually appearing about mid January.

The Breath of Heaven, Coleonema pulchellum, is blooming in the Secret Garden. The tiny blooms have more pink to them than appears here.

This sweet succulent is blooming in a pot on the front porch. I believe it is Aloe albiflora but would appreciate any corrections if anyone knows it is something else. The plant you see in the background is NOT the plant producing these blooms.

The fava beans are beginning to bloom in earnest...

...while the peas are just beginning to flower.

This yellow argyranthemum blooms pretty much year round with only a short break in the very hottest months.

There are a few Dianthus caryophyllus blooms. It is a bit early but after a cold spell lasting a couple of weeks we decided we wouldn't really do winter this year so I guess they decided to go ahead and start blooming.

This lone lavender bloom was found on a plant in a pot tucked up near some brick and fence which no doubt has helped moderate the temperature and allow the blooming to continue.

The banksia rose is also showing off with a few early blooms.

Rosa Flower Girl has a few blooms up high in the arbor, backed by the mistletoe in the ornamental pear tree. Sigh. 

That is about it for January blooms here in my Central California garden. There are lots of bulbs coming up, the camellias have swollen buds, and nigella and poppy seedlings are appearing. It only gets better after this!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I Wonder How This Happened?

For the first time ever I have a poinsettia that not only survived long enough to make it through the holidays but that also spent the summer outside. Yes, this is a Christmas 2012 poinsettia. And now this is happening! I would love to divulge my secrets for finally succeeding in not killing my holiday poinsettias (I actually am not a huge fan of them since they seem too needy. I prefer cyclamen and Christmas cactus.) but the only secret I can share is don't have it die.  Then at some point finally realize that now that it is April it is nice out and you might as well let it have some outside air. And lastly, when freezing temperatures threaten in December try to remember that you should probably bring it back inside since it is unbelievably still alive. In a few weeks notice the stems getting redder and then one day you too can take a photo like this!