My ongoing problems with the dying oleanders continue. Here are two shots of the Gravel Garden and you can see the loss of foliage that is exposing our neighbor's yard where the oleanders used to thrive. We've planted some Carolina Cherries (prunus caroliniana) that should fill in fairly quickly once they take off, but it may take a while for them to get established. There are some white hydrangeas in the bed that I had hopes of growing large and billowy, due to illusions of grandeur that I get from reading Deborah Silver's amazing blog, Dirt Simple. I have to come back to reality and realize that this is not Detroit, but Southern California and although this was once a wet, soggy area (thus my dream of hydrangea heaven) it was most likely due to a broken sprinkler pipe that has been fixed, making this area as dry as the rest of the yard. I will be looking for a new inspirational shrub to plant here.
I know ornamental pears trees (Pyrus calleryana) are very common trees in our area. Some might even call them pedestrian. They are considered an invasive species in some southern states. In the wrong situation I am sure the petals that drop all over the ground may be a nuisance.
But every year about this time I am in awe of their beautiful white blossoms. I don't think I ever noticed them much until we moved to SJC where there are a number of them in our area. Oddly enough, I was at the Laguna house the other day and noticed for the first time a particularly lovely one at the house across the street that I am sure was there for many years, but I never paid it much attention. I put this one in the Moonlight Garden a couple years ago and it has never done much at all. This is the first year it has actually bloomed out, much to my delight! what a lovely addition to this part of the yard. It seems to come into bloom right at the time of year I need a little pre-spring pick-me-up. It is just lovely and I am so happy to see it coming into its own!
Blue is the most prevalent color in my gardens. (It took me a while to learn that gardeners call purple - blue.) Whenever I am designing a new bed, I always seem to start out with blue shades and then add colors to that base. So I wasn't too surprised to see the shrubs that are in bloom right now are mostly blue. And I love every one of them!
There are so many projects that need to be started in my SJC gardens. A year of neglect has resulted in many design travesties that are driving me crazy! Today the temperatures should be in the high 70's, perfect for pretending it's a spring day and getting busy. However there is a storm coming down from Alaska expected to hit on Tuesday, meaning rain and cold temperatures will be the norm for a while longer. But an inspirational trip to the nurseries to see what is showing up this week may be in order! I've put a few primrose in near the front door to keep me happy until it is spring for real!
I have grown hellebores in my gardens for many years. They are one of those plants that separate the gardener from the landscaper in my opinion. They are sweet little perennials that grow close to the ground in filtered shade and bloom in the winter for a number of weeks. The average visitor to the garden would probably walk right past them and never notice their nodding flowers that seem to be too shy to look up. I could never imagine a professional landscaper putting them in someone's yard and telling them that they won't look like much most of the year, but sometime in the winter months, look under the leaves for some blooms. Only a true gardener would understand that thrill of those sweet little flowers. I had heard that they readily reseed and will spread throughout a shady area, but it has never happened for me, maybe because I do get the new hybrids like these two here, since the species variety are typically a muddy green color and not too exciting (if you can call these exciting at all). These pretties are blooming this week in my SJC gardens which is appropriate because lent started this week and the are sometimes called Lenten Roses, although they are no relation to roses. Another reason they are favorites of mine; they last for weeks and weeks when cut. A small bouquet of them in a pretty little vase can brighten my bedside table long enough to get me through to spring, when all the landscapers' darlings start to put on their show!
We are more than a little spoiled here in Southern California and we readily admit it. While the east coast is blanketed in many feet of snow, we are complaining about our rather cold temperatures this week as if we lived in Hawaii and it was a blizzard! It was 37 degrees this morning when I headed out at 6:45. Very cold for us. The day time temperatures often don't break 60. We're not used to being exposed to the cold, damp weather this long. We complain all day long.
Peach Tree Blossom
But there are signs that spring is on its way. This weekend the temperatures are supposed to get into the high 70's. But more importantly, the garden is showing signs of new life.
We planted hundreds of spring bulbs that are barely breaking ground, but some of the old established ones are starting to bloom. Anna apple trees, small but eager are in full bloom. The first blossom on a peach tree broke open today. It won't be long now, thank goodness!
Much of the Moonlight Garden is quiet this time of year, but the white azaleas are shining. These were on the property when we bought it, but in a bad spot in my opinion. Unfortunately after they bloom the wilted blossoms do not drop off, but remain on the bush like old, brown hankies. They are difficult to clean off neatly so it is best in my opinion to plant them in the background like I have them here. Before they were right by the front door and a rather unsightly distraction for a few weeks until the spent blooms eventually rotted away or the entire bush was cut back. Now they are under some trees away from the walk way on the side of the pool house. they definitely attract your eye while they are in bloom, but go unnoticed while they shed their spend blossoms. Perfect!