Thursday, December 22, 2011

This is Winter

For some reason the hibiscus, which are tropical plants , always seem to be blooming in December regardless of the chilly temperatures. Like a bright beam of sunlight on an overcast day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hello Narcissus

Looking a bit ragged from the rain, the narcissus are the first bulbs in the SJC garden to wake up and greet us just in time for the winter solstice. A welcome sight in the quite garden this time of year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Grace of Camellias

The other day I was racing around trying to get a dozen things done when I opened the gate to the Laguna house and was taken aback by the beautiful white camellias blooming just inside the gate. I was stopped in my tracks by the beautiful symmetry and perfection of each petal. I did not have my camera with me so you will have to just appreciate this picture from one in my SJC garden which is a bit different. They are such beautiful shrubs that show their charm in the bleak middle of winter. It is easy to see why Coco Chanel was inspired to use the white camellia as her trademark.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

That Time of Year

Once again I have fallen behind in my blogging duties, but as I tell others when encouraging them to create a blog, it is a form of self expression and you should not feel any pressure to adhere to any schedules other than what you feel like doing. I would rather be thinking about the garden most of the time, but this time of year I am more than happy to concentrate on family obligations. As time goes on our family and traditions get bigger and bigger and command more of my time around the holidays, but like a garden during the busy time of year, it is a happy hindrance. It was nice to get out and walk around the gardens this morning, a few days before the first day of winter, to shoot some pictures and take note of dozens of things needing my attention, but the garden is patient and I have presents to wrap and shopping to do so it will just have to wait.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Growing Pains

I do love licorice plant (helichrysum). I love the soft shades of green of the various hybrids. I love the sweet little leaves that are soft and fuzzy. I love its easy nature and drought tolerance ways, its resistance to bugs and disease. About the only thing that bothers me about this charming perennial is that it has a tendency to take over and grow huge when left alone. A couple years ago this helichrysum was a sweet little ground hugging shrubby perennial that mixed and mingled around the feet of my little ram. It was planted in with a group of pink blooming shrubs and perennials and the color was a lovely combination. But as it will, it grew and grew and pruning eventually turned it into a huge ball that has completely enveloped my sweet pink Knock Out rose that grows next to the thug. My poor ram looks like it is hiding from some unknown culprit. What will I do? Cutting this plant back will leave an unsightly tangle of deadwood that will only end up filling back in and I will soon be in the same boat. I think the best thing to do it just start over with a smaller version, watch it carefully to keep it in check, and move this big guy back to a spot that needs a quick filler - away from any unassuming neighboring plants. Excuse me while I add that to my list of things to do!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Garden Activities

Over the Thanksgiving weekend we plan fun activities, many of which take place outside, weather permitting. This year we had a self-defense class taught on the front lawn in the Moonlight Garden. It's nice to see the lawn put to good use softening the landings of kids throwing each other to the ground!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Big Fall Cutback

May is a particularly pretty time of year for this garden bed in my perennial garden in SJC. It is lush and full with a variety of colors and textures.

During summer this bed (shot from a different angle) goes into more a more monotone color palate, but is still brimming with color and interest.

Everything needs a rest and fall is the time for this bed to be cut back and mulched with compost for winter. Allowing air to reach the center of the bed helps eliminate fungal disease during the wet season and gives munching bugs less of a place to hang out for the winter. Good thing we have the holiday decorations to keep our minds off the bleakness of the garden beds this time of year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Temptation

It does take a lot of discipline to keep a garden theme on track. The first garden bed in my Laguna garden that went in many years ago was a blue and white garden (with green of course) and I loved it just like I love the color combination in my home. I was pretty adamant about keeping it true to theme for many years, until the rest of the garden just got so demanding that adjusting the ph in the soil to keep the hydrangeas blue finally went by the wayside and it became the blue and white and pinkish purple garden. As self seeders crept in it has definitely lost the blue and white predominance. As far as the Moonlight Garden in SJC goes, with all the white flowers only, I have been much more disciplined, although color creep (as I call it) does take place when white versions of plants revert to their parent color and the weather turns white blooms to shades of pink, or self seeders relocate from nearby garden beds of color I am diligent about yanking out the color culprits. But this week I was contemplating the holiday decorations and thought about how jolly it would be to add some red to this white display. Hmmm....