Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Scrappy Place

I'm not sure every gardener has a place like this in their garden. It is a spot where everything that doesn't have a home elsewhere gets stuck. In this case it is over the septic tanks that I found out the hard way need immediate access occasionally. All of these random plants have been propagated from others in the yard and were in need of a home. This is a walkway by the pool equipment and is usually just passed right by, but still an opportunity in the sunlight to do something interesting. We'll see how it develops.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The White Azaleas

I have never been a big fan of azaleas. Not sure why. Maybe they are so overused for shady areas that I overlook them as an option for my own garden (although I will use impatiens all day long - go figure). There were a number of them on the property in SJC when we moved here and I gave many of them away and transplanted the rest. I must say over the years I have grown rather fond of these white ones that grow with little care in the deep shade in the Moonlight Garden. They do add sparkle this time of year when the days can be dreary. I just wish they were self cleaning because the blooms hang on way past their prime. Can't have everything I guess!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Peeking Through

I love spontaneous moments like this in the garden where a persistent Knockout Rose 'Rainbow' weaves its way through an aggressive helichrysum that is dominating the bed. A soft and pretty backdrop for a bright little rose!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunrunner or Sunsprite?

I have always thought this was a 'Sunrunner' rose that I planted, but I'm starting to think it may be 'Sunsprite.' 'Sunrunner' is a low mounding ground cover type rose with five petals that I grow in my Laguna garden. I wanted it in my SJC garden but I must have bought the wrong one because this one is a small floribunda with many petaled blooms. Still a nice rose though!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


My European birch tree is an indulgence in our neck of the woods. It requires regular water to look good (I have a few in my Laguna garden that I put in way before I understood anything about plant requirements and they show it!). This is my little garden outside the front door in SJC and it is filled with plants that need more water than the typical drought tolerant selections that populate the rest of the property. I get to see the leaves change on this graceful weeping tree in the late fall and look forward to the buds of new growth in the spring. It sways with the slightest breeze. I can plant all kinds of flowers at the base and not worry about it being over watered and prone to disease. It is a romantic tree in a bit of a fantasy garden, just a tiny one, and it is my indulgence!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Basal Growth

I think that correct pruning methods is one of the most difficult concepts for new gardeners to understand. When to prune, how to prune, what to prune is enough to fill books. In our area now is the time to cut back many scraggly perennials that tend to get woody in the center and lose their compact shapes. There are some that can be cut back to the ground with no consequences, but I think the easiest rule of thumb to remember is to look for basal growth and cut back to just above that growth. Basal growth are the new shoots that start showing up at the base of shrubs like this Margarete daisy. It is a good sign that the plant is ready to put out new life and by cutting back the long floppy branches it allows the fresh young shoots to take over resulting in a compact shrub that will bloom profusely in the spring. It may be difficult to cut off those remaining blooms, but it will be worth it in the long run!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Such Sweetness

This time of year it is hard to find a shrub in bloom with sweeter flowers than abutilon. In my gardens it blooms during the cooler months, from the fall to summer, but maybe because it gets more water from the rain during those months. It will survive on moderate water, but likes regular water.

I have it growing in both light shade and sun and it does well either way. It can get a bit scraggly, so keeping it pruned will maintain a full appearance. The foliage is shaped like maple leaves which lends itself to the nickname, 'Flowering Maple'. And if the delicate little hanging flowers weren't enough to make you love it, the hummingbirds are crazy about it too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Too Tall

In Southern California the roses do not naturally go dormant. The sprawling ones will continue to grow until they take over the entire yard if allowed to do so. The upright ones will grow into small trees with blooms like this one that is at least six feet tall on what is normally a medium sized floribunda rose, 'Easter Basket'. Next month they will be corralled in and cut back to about three feet tall with three or four stems and all the remaining leaves stripped off to prepare them for their spring debut, at the size I prefer where you do not get a kink in your neck from trying to admire the blooms!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Late Fall Surprises

I must admit that most of my garden observations this time of year are quick glimpses I catch while getting the mail or carrying things in from the car. It is so cold that it is too tempting to stay in bed in the morning and it gets dark so early in the evening that my prime garden times are limited. I did however catch sight of these pretty pink hibiscus blooming along the side fence during what seems like an unlikely time of year for theses tropical beauties to make an appearance. Maybe the cold has forced them into a last ditch effort to reproduce before the frost does them in! Although they look more like summer and a bit out of place at this time of year, they are always welcome!