Friday, December 21, 2012


A shelf full of bulbs in the fridge, as the rain falls outside. Soil becomes mud. One can only hope a full week with no rain and a weekend day at the end of it is on the horizon. The Dutch Iris bulbs need no they are in the garage--sprouting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Winter..

 Gardeners are prone to exclaim the current years weather as the craziest ever seem, ominously strange, the most unique in decades..etc. I am no exception to this attribute. Every year brings new challenges , new first frost/last frost dates, new rainfall totals, new wind events and for those who live outside of the mild bubble of my zone 9 climate, snow accumulations, ice storms, and actual frozen ground.
 This fall might actually qualify as a real deviation.

 2 frosts in October. Caryopoteris 'Summer Sorbet' shed it's finery, now in November it is growing it's spring foliage.

Verbena bonariensis views it's winter nap with disdain.

 Daylilies die back, grow new folige, send up scapes.

I often have the odd rose blooming in November, but Sun Flare  is favoring me with a full mid-summer blast.

Plectranthus shrugged off the frost and keeps blooming.

 Wendys Wish is usually a few sticks with blobs of black leaves by now.

 Verbascum ? C'mon , what does this mean for my spring display ??

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BloomDay November 2012

If only every Bloomday were on a weekend . I came home from the office for lunch today and rushed around taking some pretty uninspiring photos of those who still soldier on.

 Lobelia laxiflora -I love this plant though I've done it no favors in my choice of location. It can be thug-ish in frost free areas , but it dies back far enough here in winter to restrain it's enthusiasm.

Though we have had a few frosty mornings, Wendys Wish is still pumping out the blooms . I loose this plant every year and have to replant, but I think I've finally found a spot where it can give it's all til the bitter end.

I love these Sanvitalia procumbens, and though they are allegedly an annual they have persisted here for several years. They bloom all summer and make a great edging.

 I planted this Salvia for it's foliage , as it is such a late bloomer I figured it would bite the dust before I saw a flower. It's common as hell here and it's name escapes me at the moment.

Penstemon 'Raven' ...what a great plant this is .. no flopping , lots of blooming.

 The roses continue to send out flowers , though they are beat up by rain and frost. This is 'Golden Celebration'..

Thanks as always to Carol , our hostess !

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pop Goes the Greenhouse.

 When daytime temps were in the mid-80's only a few days ago, a frost event can sneak up on even the most organized gardener. Which I am not, incidentally. It was noticeably chilly when I left my office yesterday, and after viewing the forecast from the National Weather Service, (the only forecast I have any confidence in ) I spent an hour scurrying around moving succulents and begonias into the garage and the house, and putting container fuchsias under the eaves. This morning the roofs were frosty and the bird bath was an avian skating rink. Strangely, the Dahlias were unmolested .A light frost then, but a frost none the less, and action was required. Time to haul out the greenhouse !

 It spends the summer folded up into disc and stuffed into it's case .

It comes out of said case significantly easier than it goes in.

The first step is the pop-up..stand back !

One of the critters shows an interest, always on the lookout for a new napping spot.

The next step involves getting inside and putting in the roof support pole. One tries to perform this activity when the neighbors are not looking out their kitchen windows. Lucy Ricardo comes to mind.

Successful installation of both the roof pole and one of the pairs of side poles is complete. 

Voila !

Two or three of these seedling mats provide my heating system , only to be plugged in when overnight temps are predicted to drop into the 30's or 20's. Still longing for a 'real' greenhouse though..this will have to do for the present.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Over at My House

A review of the blogging year thus far indicates that I have rarely posted about my own garden in 2012. This seems logical to me, as I started out the spring removing several mature shrubs (or more accurately I hired out the removal ) and while I enjoyed my garden this summer it seemed somewhat barren, with little worth sharing.

 It's enervating to start over in a garden; there's nothing that has as much promise for a gardener as a nice patch of emptiness. My spring demolition was only the beginning, I have since removed several dayliles, 4 rosebushes, a very mature 'dwarf' muhgo pine, and a couple miles worth of Geranium sanguineum. Attempts are ongoing to hoik Pennisetum 'Bunny Tails' but I fear this may have to be penciled on to  the expanding 'hired-hand' list. In addition, I have tree issues that need to be addressed -these invariably strain the budget , but less so than having an old deteriorating tree fall on the roof.

 No frost yet , so all is a bit blowsy as it waits for the inevitable.  These chairs sit on a concrete patio that once was the pad for a gazebo.

This was a 'dig area' last weekend, the foreground was a sea of sanguineum, and a 15 year old Graham Thomas rose was in front of the birdbath. G. 'Johnsons Blue' is to the left of the birdbath--I have a sentimental attachment to this plant -it really should go but I can't bring myself to apply the shovel.

This Stipa gigantea is one of my favorite grasses, it spent the summer with an artichoke, Verbena bonariensis, and a Cotinus that I coppice every winter and seems to display increasingly octopus like tendencies in summer.

The Euphobias are volunteers, the guy on the right is on the hit list --the only plant I have ever known to completely engulf and emasculate a PeeGee Hydrangea.  Note the pathetic Pee Gee  flowers sticking out on the bottom.

 The Salvia 'Mystic Spires' here is at the end of it's run. This is a great plant but I want shorter stuff here..pondering my options.

Another angle of the area in photo 2. I will be moving this birdbath and will install a fountain here in it's place, since this bed has electrical access near by. The Rudbeckia will be moved too- it was a volunteer and is flush against the concrete of the walkway. Hope it survives the move, it has easily been blooming for 6 months.

 Some of the succulents are hardy here, the rest spend the winter inside or in the pop-up greenhouse.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Visiting Digging Dog

 I always try to make it out to the coast to attend the annual fall sale at Digging Dog Nursery in Albion-it's just as much about an escape to the coast as it is about buying plants. October is typically an ideal time to visit the Mendocino County coast..dry and sunny unlike the often cold, miserable, and foggy weather in summertime.  I lucked out in a big way on the weather  and spent a pleasant  3 days driving around taking photos, walking state park trails , and nursery crawling.

 At Digging Dog, the west facing borders show off the grasses .

 The vegetable garden area is a work in progress , and here the hornbeam pillars punctuate. The evolution of this section of the gardens has been fascinating to observe over the last few years. I wish I had taken more photos year !

 A lone hornbeam pillar across the drainage pond.

Grasses and seedheads are left to create fall interest . This garden (and any garden I have had the opportunity to see that was designed by Gary Ratway) is a splendid example of what beauty autumn provides here in NorCal. See another of Gary's gardens here, and here.

 A little non-gardening diversion, the walking trail at Mendocino headlands.

I took the scenic route adds another hour or two to the drive , but on a sunny October day with no obligations why not ?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Stroll Through the Pygmy Forest

 It has been a few years since I took the Pygmy Forest trail at one of our coastal California State Parks, and decided to do so on my long weekend trip; the trailhead was close to my cottage and I had a flexible schedule. 

 When approaching the Mendocino County Coast from the east some of the roads will take you through a belt of transitional forest-here the trees and other vegetation are noticeably smaller, the soil is thin  and grey, and there are no Redwoods. Within this belt is the Pygmy forest, where 100 year old Cypress trees that would soar 3 or 4 stories skyward along the coast highway are hardly recognizable as the same tree.
 The area is considered environmentally sensitive, thus the trail is boardwalk built above ground level.

 This is Pinus contorta bolanderi , the Bolander Pine, which is found only in the Pygmy Forest. They are quite small, most seemed to be in the 5' range, but are mature trees which bear cones.

  With no significant rainfall since May,the lichens and mosses are not at their peak.

 This is Manzanita nummilaria 'Fort Bragg Manzanita' which like the Bolander Pine is restricted to the soils of the Pygmy Forest. It's a very low ground hugging shrub, similar to M. uva-ursi.

  Our native Huckleberry is seen in many different environments; in the acidic soils  of the Pygmy forest they appear to do just fine.

 Spring is the best time to visit here, the native Rhododendrons that are 20 feet tall in other environments are at eye level here , and the mosses and lichens are at their best.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Fall Dilema

 One would think that after 20 plus years in the same garden , the fall regimen would be, if not carved in stone, at least proceeduraly consistant. And yet , every single year as mid-Sept comes around I stare at the gardens indeciseively, as if I'd never considered or performed a 'fall clean-up.'
 There are plenty of overgrown, bloomed out and floppy plants here but I've come to appreciate seed heads and brown stuff more than I ever did in the past , and find it harder to bring myself to start wantonly chopping and slashing away. So here is the balance: No frost for another month , maybe two, so the tender stuff still prevails, yet I still need to find space for all the cool plants bought at the fall sales , also leaving room to dig holes for the bulbs before it starts to rain every other day and the garden turns into a gigantic water feature.Still have several mature shrubs that I want to remove --mature enough to require (yet unscheduled) hired hands . Grasses must remain unmolested. I must predict the first frost so I can have the pop-up greenhouse ready to go for the Echeverias , fuchsias, kalanchoes .Can't put them in ahead of time as they will burn up in our early fall daytime temps. Birch tree has to go, but I'll enjoy the fall foliage first. Hate my entry garden, but the Birch has to go before I can fix it.Dug up Clematis armandii today, to be replaced with Passifora edulis. Passiflora will have too much shade until the Birch tree goes. Passiflora edulis will have to be watered every 5 minutes until the Birch tree goes. I have my pansies for winter, but it's too damn hot to plant them and I have to hide them in the garage. I have Clematis tangutica but I have to move Betty Corning which is in it's spot. It's too damn hot to dig up and move Betty Corning, and I can't plant C. tangutica til I finish painting the arbor where it will live. It's too damn hot to paint the arbor.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bloomday September 2012

 I'm bringing up the rear this bloomday, as most of it was spent in airports, airplanes and cars, followed by watering everything that was a-droop while I was out of town. It seems like just about everything is either in bloom or just on it's way out, these are just a small sampling.

Caryopteris 'incana' is one of my favorite new plants this year, with its dark purple flowers and clean green foliage . I particularly like the round flower buds on this one. I love my 'Summer Sorbet' , but the flowers are super showy on this variety.

I can't seem to bring myself to cut these Artichoke flowers down yet.

  'Wendys Wish' is one of many Salvias in bloom in my garden now. I keep hoping it will survive the winter here--most sources list it for zone 9, but it has yet to overwinter for me.

Salvia ugilinosa

Rooguchi was featured in May Bloomday, still a few more flowers to go !

I was surprised to see new flower spikes on Erygium 'Jade Frost', after deadheading the spring bloom.

Penstemon 'Raven' ..a non-flopper..thumbs up !

As always, many thanks to Carol at May Dreams for hosting this monthly bloom-a-thon ..