Thursday, January 31, 2013

At Least I'll Have Sweet Peas

I am feeling a bit frustrated that the garden in SJC is looking so desolate and bare this year, although it is still January and I shouldn't expect much I guess. Many of my lovely lavender plants probably should have been replaced last year.  They really only look good for three or four years at the most around here and then they start getting scraggly and woody. Years ago I used to start dozens of cuttings in the fall to replace the ones that were on their way out, but I am too far behind with that to make a difference this year. Many of the shrubs and tree have grown significantly, shading out other plants that previously were show stoppers, leaving them stretching and weak. The rabbits have been getting very bold, venturing way into the gardens to munch down entire beds of plants instead of being satisfied on the few areas of grass that are left. The one thing I have been good about following through on the last few years is getting my sweet peas in the ground in the winter months. I pick up small seedlings and stick them in the ground around some bare wire obelisks I have in the garden, to be rewarded in a couple months with loads of those sweet smelling blooms, perfect for handfuls of cut bouquets. I do wish that I would follow through on getting some of the prettier hybrids, but at least I get some of them going! It is still very cold and damp, making it not very enticing to work in the garden. Roses being cut back and fertilized are the main task this month and I should just be more patient and enjoy being cozy in the house!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little Bit of Pretty

I couldn't resist picking up a couple of these early delphiniums at the nursery the other day. I've put them in pots right outside my front door so they greet me when I come home, and more importantly, draw my eyes away from the sad and dormant garden a couple feet away. Even the nurseries are kind of bare, but I keep going back every few days to get a boost of inspiration and hope that spring is right around the corner. Okay, maybe spring is a couple months away, but it should be a good one with all this rain we are having!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unhappy Tropicals

 This was what my banana trees looked like a couple weeks ago when I wrote about the drop in temperatures that would surely have an impact on these pretty tropical plants.

After a couple weeks of colder-than-normal weather this is what they look like. It has warmed up since and they will start growing in another month or so. They will bounce back by summer and fill in with lovely new leaves. Maybe we'll even get some blooms and fruit this year! But in the meantime, it is not easy to see them suffer!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pretty Little Things

These pretty little narcissus that my friend shared with me a couple years ago are blooming. I almost missed them because for some reason I put them in a terrible, out-of-the-way spot! Sometimes I just don't know what I was thinking! I plan on waiting until they are almost dormant and then transplanting them to a prominent spot by my front door where I will enjoy them next year. I need all the beauty I can get this time of year in the garden!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Little Dreaming

 Last evening we had a family dinner to celebrate the birthdays of our two daughters that take place this month. It was a rare time when they both happened to be in town this time of year and I took a few minutes to wonder around the gardens looking for some flowers for the table.

 Sadly, the only actual flower that seemed significant enough to grace the dinner table was a single white camellia. I was a bit disappointed and vowed to  do a better job of fertilizing my winter-blooming plants for a better show next year.

 Later, while searching my photographs for a picture of the girls, I was enchanted by all the lovely flowers of summers gone by. Just looking at the pictures gave me joy and reminded me that soon it will be spring.

 Last year my shoulder was causing me constant pain and I really did not have the heart to do much in the garden, and it shows. I was a bit worried that the passion I have always felt had fizzled away.

 As my shoulder is healing I am getting more and more restless to get busy in the garden. I have been to the nurseries a number of times already this week and I will be busy sprucing the containers up for a big event at our home in a couple weeks.

 Meanwhile I am just happy to reminisce about seasons past 
and enjoy looking forward to spring!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beware the Frost

We are having ourselves a real winter here, with night time temperatures dipping into the 30's. Unusual for our climate. We were over in Phoenix for a few days this week and they too are getting a cold streak and there were lots of houses with sheets spread out over their shrubs, to protect them from the frost. Because we don't deal with frost too often, I am not even sure of what I should try to protect. I know the bananas are tropical and will not look good after the cold winter does a number on those large leaves, but they will bounce back quickly. I am not so sure about some of the succulents, but I guess we will find out because I have no intentions of cover the entire garden with sheets!  I do know one thing about frost damage from writing a monthly column for the UCCE OC Master Gardeners. That is to wait until all chance of frost is past to trim off the damaged foliage. It will be black and shriveled, but it will protect the plant from future damage if you leave it on until the warmer weather prevails. Let's just hope it doesn't snow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Beauty of Structure

It is easy to be discouraged when you are a gardener at this time of year. Although those pictures of gardens from back east, covered in snow are beautiful, I am just glad that it is a bit warmer here, but it still is cold and damp outside. There is very little color in the garden, except for all the beautiful shades of green. I am just thankful that the foundation plants have all become established so that when most of the beautiful roses, iris and flowering perennials are resting, the garden still looks like a nice place to spend time - thanks to good structure. The trees are getting quite large, more like trees than overgrown shrubs, and there is a lot of planting to do this spring to accommodate the growing shade, but I am fine with that. I am actually more interested in the ambiance of my garden than any actual plant. A romantic, shady, aromatic space will always make me happy. I am off to the nursery today, but my focus is on replacing some tired houseplants that are looking a bit neglected after many years in the house. With all the holiday decorations put away, I am ready for a little bit of spring in the house, even though it is still very much winter outside!