Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Flop

The unseasonable amount of rain we have been having is good for almost everything, except for weak stemmed perennials that should be staked. These mums are flopped for good now unless I get out and get some round supports and there is a good chance that isn't going to happen anytime soon. Oh well, they're still pretty!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Almost Missed These Firsts!

I've been quite busy lately. We're getting ready to attend our son's wedding in New York as well as coordinating a number of to-do projects around the houses. There have also been a few community projects demanding attention. Couple a busy schedule with a rainy month and I must admit I haven't spent much time in the garden. I finally had to add "take garden photos" to my list of things to do just so I would have some inspiration for my blog entries. It rained heavy in the early morning hours this morning, but the sun finally came out and the dogs and I headed out for some pictures. There were lots of things going on in the garden that I knew would be happening, but I was surprised to spot my first narcissus of the season! Can it be that time already? I guess so!

Then as I wondered on I spotted my first camellia of the season. I really do need to get 'out' more!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Even More Mums

Giving the fall garden another shot of easy color are these deep red chrysanthemums against this pretty gray artemisia, which is color itself all year round.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ligularia Blooms

I do love my various types of ligularia and often post pictures of the lovely foliage, which is why I grow them. I get questions about the blooms, which are quite sparse on most of them since I grow them in shady spots. I even cut off the blooms on many of them so all their energy goes into the foliage.

However right now my "leopard plant" ligularia is blooming away and since there is not much else going on in the area, I've left the blooms on to enjoy. So if you were wondering what ligularia blooms actually look like, here you go!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rice Flower Plant

There are some plants I grow to use as fillers, both in the garden and in cut arrangements. The rice flower shrub (ozothamnus) is one of those plants. It does well in both the sun and partial shade, although it tends to get a bit scraggly in shady areas and needs to be cut back to maintain a full look.

I have grown it for years and I like the way it looks light and airy in the garden beds when mixed with other plants.

The pink one has a tendency to fade in too much sun. It holds it's flowers for a long time and blooms almost all spring and summer in our area.

It also lasts a long time when cut and dries nicely too. The books say it has a pleasant fragrance although I must admit I've never noticed. Now I know someone is going to ask if this is the plant that rice comes from and the answer is no!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Weeping Cedars

I have a passion for weeping trees. They seem so romantic to me with their grace and subtle movement at the slightest breeze. I remember falling so in love with this one that is planted in my Laguna garden when it was at a nursery near where I worked. I think I must have lusted after it for a good six months before I could afford to buy it and cram it in my car, lug it down fifty steps and into the garden. That was about twelve years ago and the poor thing has not had an easy time surviving on the hillside where it resides. It is a bit top heavy and tends to want to lay down and so it is propped up precariously.

When we moved into the SJC house one of the first things I did was replace an over sized palm tree planted much too close to the house in this planter in the motor court with another weeping cedar. it is a fairly vertical tree so I thought it would be a good choice.

It turned out to be a happy combination because the tree has grown more in three years than my other one has in twelve I think. It is an interesting specimen that adds a lot of character to the house and I see it every time I come home. Not everybody sees the beauty in it's twisted shape and muted color, but it works for me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Crested Palm

I am not expert on palm trees although I am responsible for quite a few of them in at our SJC home, but I do know an anomaly when I see one! I don't know what type of palm this is, but it is definitely sporting a mutation known as a crest or fasciation. Basically what this means is the plant cells that normally grow up at the growing tip of the plant, start to grow sideways instead, creating a crest at the top of the plant. It is most often seen in succulents and cactus, but can happen in almost any plant that grows from the top. Scientists are not sure why this occurs, but suspect it may be the result of a virus or insect infestation. It doesn't really hurt the plant and this palm one seems very healthy. Just different!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Five Days of Rain

There is nothing like a good rain to clean off the spider webs, dust and dirt and show the garden at it's best. The greens seem a little more saturated and the colors of the fall flowers pop. There is new growth on the summer perennials that were cut back last month and everything is looking lush and sparkling in the Flying Rabbit Island planter bed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's Loving The Rain?

These banana trees in our SJC backyard are quite happy with the unusually wet weather we've been having lately. Although they will tolerate drier conditions, being tropical, they thrive in the wet, mild weather. The deep soaking they are getting from a week of rain will leach out the salt accumulation from the soil which will be good for them. They stop growing if the temperatures go over 80 degrees or under 55 degrees, so they are suited quite well to our climate that has temperatures in that range most of the time. Our trees in the Laguna garden gave us bunches of fruit every year and I'm looking forward to these little ones eventually producing too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Still a Few Blooms

Although they are getting few and far between, we still have a few roses blooming in the rain. This is one of my favorites that does well in both my gardens, 'Sentimental'. I'm hoping it will bloom through the holidays because I think it would make a nice flower for Christmas arrangements because it reminds me of peppermint candy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Brighten Gray Days

To say the weather here has been gray the past few rainy days is an understatement! It has been the kind of days that require the lights to be on inside all day long. That's why I am so glad that the first thing you see when you step outside the front door is this very brightly colored garden. The chartreuse, purple and green color scheme is lively all summer long, but especially appreciated when those bright greenish-yellow mums bloom in the fall. The purple comes from the last of the tall ageratum and the reblooming 'Frequent Violet' iris. The pale green shrub on the right is helichrysum and the bursts of chartreuse grasses near the front are Japanese ribbon grass. Although it is not really a 'fall' color inspired garden this time of year, I am just happy to have any color at all to brighten these gray days!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On Days Like This

It has been quite the day for weather here in Southern California! We have had rare thunder and lightening storms all day with lots of rain. I can't even remember the last time we had storms like this, it has been that long. We need the rain and I am not complaining. Our many trees with their deep roots will be happy for a long time to come. The salts that accumulate in the soil from the alkaline tap water will be flushed out and the natural balance will be restored. On days like this it is a nice to enjoy the garden - from inside!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Falling Grape Leaves

This is the first year that the grape vines have actually grown enough to create a tunnel effect in the Moonlight Garden in SJC. They create a shady drive through over the "tricycle track" that surrounds the yard. In the fall grape vines lose their beautiful leaves and go dormant. It will be interesting to see how the mood changes in this part of the garden, although there are a number of other vines mixed in on these trellises that do not lose their leaves so we'll see how much sun hits the trail in another month or so when all the grape leaves are gone. We did get some grape clusters this year, but as usual, the birds got them before we did!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sterling Silver Dahlia

My white dahlias were a bit of a disappointment this first year. The foliage was molted and sparse and the stems were weak. The flowers, however, were beautiful! All the energy must have gone into the blooms. I am worried that the Moonlight Garden doesn't get enough sun for some of these summer flowers to flourish. Even though I use lots of compost and mulch as a top dressing, I also know that I didn't spend enough time amending the soil out there and it is still pretty weak after years of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used by the previous owners. I will give them a good dose of organic fertilizer and we'll wait and see what next year brings.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nice To Be Home

After being away for nine days it was nice to come home to the fall weather! Cool and damp is much more inspiring for putting out the pumpkins and doing the fall planting than the warm weather we were experiencing when we left. A quick walk around the garden in the mist this morning made me happy I have so many different kinds of chrysanthemums in the garden. Most of them are just left over from indoor floral displays using potted plants in years past that were planted after the flowers were spent with low expectations. Although some of them bloom earlier in the year, most of them are just coming into their own while the rest of the garden flowers take a break. More than enough for cut arrangements to enjoy this time of year!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Taking off for a few days. Ready to jump into fall planting when I return!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Colors, Shades and Hues

If you are only relying on flowers for the main source of color in your garden, you are missing out on an important element in nature that comes from foliage. Green is the most prominent color in most gardens (the exception would be dry or desert gardens that rely on hardscape color as a background) and yet so many gardeners seem to forget that it is actually on the color wheel! There are at least a dozen different shades of green and as many textures in this corner of the Moonlight Garden in SJC at this time of year. Since I have been a bit negligent in getting in my fall annuals that I use to add a pop to areas like this I am grateful that it remains interesting as it is on a regular basis.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Mystery Dalhia

I am still getting some new blooms from the dahlias I planted in the spring, but I'll be darned if I can figure out which one this is from my invoices and notes. It is in a prime viewing location in the back yard in SJC, where I can enjoy it while sitting in my rocking chair in the evening, so even if I don't know what to call it, I can still admire it on a daily basis!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Right On Time

My mums seem to bloom any time they feel like it, although we tend to think of them as one of the dependable fall flowers. Finally I am getting blooms on these perennials at the time I expect and look forward to them, October! There are a number of them scattered throughout the gardens and they all have buds waiting to open. Now let's hope they can hang on for at least seven weeks so they will adorn the gardens at Thanksgiving! Am I wanting too much?