Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Four Seasons of California


Vitis 'Roger's Red', a selection of a grape native to central California used as an ornamental

Unlike the northeastern and midwestern parts of the country, California does not have obvious seasonal changes, except in the mountainous areas. In general, a Mediterranean type of climate prevails with long, hot, dry summers and winter rains. Four seasons or periods can be identified with California except the deserts and mountains.

The Germination Period. The first period occurs in late fall, just after the first soaking rains initiate the greening of California landscapes. The usually dry and dusty areas take on a new fresh look as grasses, perennial and broad-leaved weeds germinate.

The Cool Rainy Season. The second period is the time of maximum cold and wetness, occurring usually during January and February. The winter rains pack down the fallen leaves and litter and soak the soil.

'Anna' apple blossoms with fall color leaf and Cecile Brunner rose in background; do they think it is the spring season?

The Spring Season. A third period coincides with the calendar spring. When March 20 arrives, the herbaceous plants in the valleys and foothills are almost full grown and some are beginning to flower. During most years, this is a period of dwindling rainfall and by mid-year most annual plants have reached maturity.

We are here >>>

The Late Summer Season. By the first of July, most of the native wildflowers have completed their life cycle as have the annual grasses. Weedy plant species having a prolonged or later flowering period dominate the landscape. No rain falls.

Excerpted and slightly edited from Natural History of Vacant Lots (California Natural History Guides)
by Matthew F. Vessel and Herbert H. Wong.

The skies today at 5 pm at 34 degrees north latitude at the end of the Late Summer Season

Today: High temp today was 86 and tonight's predicted low is 49; humidity ranged from 5 to 12%; calm wind which is fortunate as a fire weather warning was posted earlier.  Weather forecast from NWS LOX.

West toward Mt. Lee, 1,640 feet (500 m) in the Hollywood Hills, part of the Santa Monica Mountains, the pink range in the middle background, with aloe and cape honeysuckle in the foreground

North toward Mt. Disappointment, 5,963 feet (1,818 m), part of the San Gabriel Mountains, about 12 miles away; the colorful street trees in the foreground are sweet gum, Liquidambar styraciflua.

Another view north with persimmon in the foreground and the sun still on the peaks

Northeast toward (near) Mount San Antonio, commonly known as Mount Baldy, at 10,068 feet (3,069 m), the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, and the highest point in Los Angeles County.

East. Mist beginning to form. It comes up the river and spreads out over the valley. Seen as the blue-gray line under the pink in the photo above.

East or west; home is best
with 'Pink Perfection' camellias beginning their bloom cycle and yellow lantana ending theirs

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In Praise of Family, a Free Sunday and Shrubbery

 Welcoming  A New Agave 

Family visited today bringing this huge, beautiful Agave attenuata to fill a blank, ugly spot. The intention is for it to be the focal point in the line of sight from the front gate. I still need to work on the ground cover. The bottom close-up photo is in soft focus because I liked how the blue showed up.

The Lights on the Shrubs

My favorite part of the Christmas / Winter Solstice season is the lights. Family put up lights today on the rounded mounds of shrubs I had pruned in readiness for this purpose during the past two weeks, plus an extra piece of funkiness on the persimmon tree. I won't plug them for at least two weeks, but this is a preview for all of us.

Pale Pink Sunset at 5 pm

This is my favorite time of evening when the sun has just set and the hills and trees are black silhouettes against the western sky. I used the camera setting "sunset" which introduced the yellow color which I did not see with the naked eye.

Unfortunately, the heat is back. 81 degrees Fahrenheit today with 84 predicted for Thanksgiving Day.

However: NWS LOX  Forecast


I am thankful for FAMILY  &  FLOWERS  &  FOLIAGE.

This post is linked to Mosaic Monday.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Marooned in the Garden

Maroon is a dark brownish red color which takes its name from the French word marron, or chestnut. The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as "a brownish crimson or claret color." In the RGB model used to create colors on computer screens and televisions, maroon is created by turning down the brightness of pure red by half. --Wikipedia


Soft Maroon Leaves

Succulent Maroon Leaves

Parallel Veined Maroon Leaves

New Zealand flax, fountain grass, Johnson grass (a weed)

Maroon Stems

Maroon Buds and Flowers

Maple-leaved hibiscus, laurustinus, and fountain grass

A Rock Marooned

Crassula 'Blue Waves' and Santa Rosa basalt

Chestnut photo from LaFeverChestnuts.  All others mine.

This post is linked to Foliage Follow-up and Mosaic Monday.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Remember

I'm sitting here listening to aeroplanes flying low. They are five vintage World War 2 fighter planes criss-crossing the valley in missing man formation.

I remember the quietness of the skies and no planes flying after 9/11/01.

I remember the noisiness of the sky totally filled with all sorts of planes on VJ Day in 1945.

I remember. And I am thankful for survival.

My poppies come in four colors ... white, pink, light orange and dark orange. These are Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule). Corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas), the red ones of Flanders, don't grow here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Scarborough Fair

For me, Simon and Garfunkel “own” this song which Paul Simon first recorded in the 1960s.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

It's one of those melodies that repeats and repeats in my head. I can't get it out.

It's a traditional ballad from Great Britain. During the late Middle Ages the seaside town of Scarborough, in Yorkshire, was an important venue for tradesmen from all over England. It was host to a huge 45-day trading event, starting August 15.

In medieval times, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues. Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage.

I don't know how true all this is. Versions on the Internet conflict, but it doesn't matter to me, it's still a favorite song of mine.

Parsley, as all umbellifers, does best in the winter here. A new transplant as it is a biennial.

Sage, 'Berggarten', a survivor of several years; in fact, the only survivor of the species Salvia officinalis, not at its best at the moment, but still useful for the stuffing. Can't even get the beautiful tricolor and purple forms to start new growth, they just sulk and soon die.

Rosemary from a basket of fresh Thanksgiving herbs bought at the local market several years ago, thrives.

 Thyme, it actually lasted through the summer this year! This one is the lemon variety.

This post is linked to Mosaic Monday.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”

With quotes by Elizabeth Lawrence

Elizabeth Lawrence is regarded as a preeminent figure in the South’s horticultural history. Her passion was to garden and to write about gardening which is what she knew best. In 1942, she published A Southern Garden. It was written that, “... at long last, there is a book on Southern gardening by a Southern writer that is a ‘must’ for every garden lover of the South.”  The book was reprinted several times and has been hailed as a classic.
More about Elizabeth Lawrence.

Out of the five crape myrtles I have, only one held its leaves and took on color.

“ … a knowledge of plant material for the South could not be got in the library, most of the literature of horticulture being for a different climate, and that I would have to grow the plants in my garden and learn about them for myself.”

So true, especially here in southern California. I can remember well when all gardening advice reminded us to first add lime to the soil. For those away from my home, our soil is mostly alkaline, not acid, because it is so dry. It contains almost no organic matter, but lots of minerals.

'Fuyu' persimmon turning color. What a beautiful complement the orange is to the blue, blue sky. No photo editing, it's the real thing.

“Any garden demands as much of its maker as he has to give. But I do not need to tell you, if you are a gardener, that no other undertaking will give as great a return for the amount of effort put into it.”

Brilliance and texture in the shade, what more could I ask of a plant?

“There is a place in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”

This post was inspired by the leaves turning yellow on the pluot OVERNIGHT. Didn't know how long they would last on the tree.