The garden, late January, 2021 (!)

Here it is already, late January, the last Saturday in the month. Over the past several weeks I’ve thought about and not written half a dozen blog posts: on the new year, on the end of 2020, on the US presidential inauguration, on poetry, on books I’m reading, on the garden, on working, on planning for unknown outcomes. I took three and a half weeks off over the holidays, and felt fortunate that if there was going to be a drought, it coincided with my time off and I could go hiking. I went back to work (virtually) mid-month, and last week, finally – finally! – it began to rain. Rain is good news, as California is way below where we ideally would be for this season’s water.

So. Given the rain, this week I’ve only done a little bit in the garden – but here are six things nonetheless!

1. Narcissus in the front yard. They smell wonderful. I planted them a couple of years ago, and they have proved resilient to drought, rainstorms, digging up the yard because there was an issue with the drain, and neglect. Narcissus are wonderful.

Slightly odd lighting because I took this after dark, but they really are lovely!

2. The ceanothus (California native lilac) planted just over a year ago is sprouting new baby leaves, and a few flowers are just barely beginning to purple up.

3. Late last summer I planted mustard as a cover crop in one of the vegetable beds. It’s well past time to cut it down & dig it in, but so far I haven’t. Also, the edge of the path is beginning to fail. It’s edged with incredibly splintery thin wood trim; I’m thinking stone whenever it actually becomes top of the list to fix.

4. In the realm of edibles, the broccoli have gone full-on to flowering. I’d never seen broccoli flower before I planted it this year – it’s so pretty. The stems become inedibly tough once they start to flower, but as can be seen in this photo, the bees completely love it.

5. The mandarins are ripe, and beginning to fall. Right now we have these, navel oranges, and Persian lemons all in abundance – more citrus than I can use. I’m juicing it by the bowlful, and enjoying it that way. Last year I learned that there’s no upside to leaving citrus on the tree, as there is with apples; they don’t get sweeter, they just dry out.

6. The monster rosebush is starting to set new leaves. I spent the afternoon pruning it – fourteen feet tall, I think, before I started, and this is the second go-round this season. Fourteen feet is a lot for a rosebush, definitely taller than I wanted it to be, and it was threatening to reach twenty this summer if I didn’t do something. So. Pruned it has been! I think this is the first year I’ve actually finished pruning this rose, rather than just getting tired & giving up. Victory!

And so ends (or almost) January. I’m so glad it’s finally raining! Best wishes to everyone reading this – I hope you’re finding brightness in your day.

And for more garden updates from a variety of places, visit The Propagator’s blog, where other gardeners post their updates from their gardens too.

8 thoughts on “The garden, late January, 2021 (!)

  1. Good to have you back even if it leads to a jealousy of your ability to grow oranges and the likes. I have an Irish friend living in California and I annually curse him and his list of winter vegetables – which are the same as our summer vegetables! It’s a case of faraway hills etc, I know but we all look at those faraway hills when the view out my window now is dull, grey, sodden in heavy sleety rain. Today I dream of California and mandarins on trees!

    Stay safe, healthy and well – and fix the edging to the path before you break your neck!

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    • Thanks Paddy! It’s nice to be back. Faraway hills indeed – I always admire how lush other gardens are in summer, right when around here the soil is so dry & hard that digging a hole involves a crowbar or a pickaxe! Stay safe too. One of these days I do intend to get to that path….

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  2. Nice post Heather! I’ve got citrus too, except mine has been imported from Sicily by the crate by my Italian neighbour, how lucky you are to be growing your own – like Paddy, I am somewhat envious. I do like to see veg in flower, they are often very pretty, as you broccoli is. Oh and I think we’ve both got the same Narcissus, is yours Paperwhite? Mine is indoors and smells incredibe.

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  3. We used to come to California for the AT & T at Pebble Beach every year in late January/early February. My husband to watch the golf; me to see green leaves and flowers to get me through the rest of the winter! It’s snowing here, which we need, but I sure miss seeing the flowers and picking citrus off the trees at the rental house!

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    • Oh that’s neat! I grew up near there. Years ago, shortly after college, I spent a year or so in Indiana, and I remember how beautiful it was. Haven’t been back in ages, but it’s a good memory – I enjoy your photos of snow too!

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  4. I seem to remember wishing for rain here in about May last year. It seems like it’s hardly stopped since. It’s a seductive thought that if it gets just a little warmer we could grow citrus here, some lemons will just about survive now in the right spot. In reality, I want for it never to become possible but am afraid that it soon will be, with all that implies.

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    • Cornwall, right? I visited Cornwall once, years ago – it was beautiful! I remember there was much discussion about how it was warmer than surrounding areas, so maybe a lemon could manage without things getting too much warmer overall? It’s a bit unnerving, though, even here, and the Napa & Sonoma vineyards are supposedly trying out grape varieties that will do better in heat. Hopefully not too much more….

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