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.

Tomato as perennial, and other mysteries

Mid December, and not much rain. I’ve been looking around the garden, and thinking things like should weed and time to prune, but then the sun goes on shining and I lounge instead.

Maybe that’s the theme for this week’s Six on Saturday garden report: plants doing their own thing, with cheerful disregard for expectations. In that spirit, here are my Six:

The Chadwick cherry tomatoes I planted back in March are still going – in fact, I ate tomatoes on my hamburger two nights ago courtesy of this plant. I know tomatoes are supposed to die off in winter, but the Chadwick was the earliest starting, latest continuing, sturdiest, and most productive of all the varieties I tried this year. I’m pretty tempted to see if it wants to over-winter and produce next spring.

The alyssum under the roses is taking off in a lovely way. I’m hoping it keeps going, and out-competes the bindweed.

Speaking of roses, I just love this color.

And returning to the vegetable garden, this broccoli is a monster, in a good way. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the plant is almost three feet tall. I ate one entire plant of it (a smaller one) a couple of weeks ago, after a gopher severed the roots, but recently there have been no new gopher holes in the vegetable beds, and thus far this plant and the ones next to it are still standing (thank you local cat, fierce and mighty gopher-hunter). I’m looking forward to the flowering broccoli head growing bigger, and meanwhile snacking on a few leaves every so often.

Recent harvest bounty included green tomatoes (yes, Chadwicks); cilantro and parsley, which I can now tell apart by looking at the leaves – a personal victory; carrots; and a few first peas.

And finally, like so many of us, I’m looking forward to the new year, literal and metaphorical alike. I planted some flower seeds. Pink and buttercream poppies, please sprout!

(I’m also realizing this might be one of my more cheerful-sounding posts recently. Happy holidays, everybody! There’s nothing like a change of pace, even if this year it’s a shift in mindset as much as anything else.)

And with that, that’s all for my six this week! Head over to the Propagator’s blog for more gardening Sixes, and glimpses into what other gardeners are gardening, near and far.

Six-on-Saturday garden report: early December

The rain hasn’t really begun, and the roses are still blooming.

I turned the watering system off, then on again when I realized that November’s barely-there rain-slash-mist wasn’t going to become a trend. There are leaks in the system that still need fixing, but that’s for tomorrow.

Today, I’m grateful for the cat that left a dead gopher on the path – a gopher that I assume was responsible for these holes:

which used to be not so much holes, as dill plants. You can see a few fronds of a remaining dill plant in the upper part of the photo. I am hoping there was only one gopher.

It’s very definitely fall. The leaves are golden, and the apples and pomegranates are in the last days of ripe.

The backlit sphere near the middle is a pomegranate. I was trying to capture the light’s late-fall angled slant.

The flowering sage plant continues to be ridiculous. It’s taller and more aggressive than the baby citrus tree behind it – we have to keep cutting the sage plant back so it doesn’t entirely overwhelm the poor kumquat. We keep saying we should remove the sage, because it doesn’t remotely fit in the space or make any sense at all with anything planted near it (a maple tree, two citrus trees, a yellow daisy, two agapanthus, some kind of weird low ball-shaped shrub – admittedly, those things don’t make sense relative to each other either, and the tall ones are all entirely in front of the short ones; this is what happens when a bunch of plants get planted right before selling a house to two poor saps who’ve never had a proper garden and thus don’t realize the difference between mature and just-got-it-from-Home-Depot landscaping – but oh well, we’re learning) – but it blooms year round and the hummingbirds love it, so so far it stays.

Note the very excellent bee also enjoying the sage.

The lavatera maritima which I planted in place of a hibiscus which did not thrive, is thriving:

I love these colors so much. Also, I realized recently, I love pretty much all mallow plants.

And at least to my eye, there are few things more hot-sun gorgeous than a bougainvillea in front of a cream stuccoed wall – even if the weather isn’t actually hot, but just looks as if it might be.

Happy Saturday! I was glad to be out in the garden today. Good weather to you, whatever version of weather that might mean. And if not in the garden, then good dreaming & planning for gardening days to come.

For other gardeners’ posts in the #SixOnSaturday series, complete with lovely or interesting seasonal photos, click through here!