Gardener’s Log – December 2022
They say that every year appears to go by faster, but that has not been the case this year, thanks to the increasing pain in my leg. This has reduced my ability to make progress, especially over the past couple of months, but I remain hopeful that this will be resolved in the New Year. It has also been a year of unexpected surprises from the weather. No longer can we claim to be a marginal zone 10 garden, not even a 9B. In fact, we were book-ended by bad weather – cold early which killed a lot of plants, and a major storm in the past few days that left the whole region without power for a day, and for us – almost two days. Thankfully, it appears that no significant damage was done by the wind and rain that came with that.
Having said that, some major changes did happen over the course of the year, making it a very productive year. The new growing benches out front have made life a lot easier and are full to overflowing. Much less bending, plants not attempting to root into the ground, and making it a lot easier to get organized for watering and feeding. I also sold plants for the first time this year on ebay – all of my excess Protea venusta plants (it bloomed for the first time this year), many Grevillea, and a few other plants that I had excess of. I should have many more this spring to put up.
Progress through the year
In the main part of the garden, progress happened in three main areas. The new Winter garden, the Mediterranean garden and progress on the Fairy garden. Also made a start clearing out a lot of the Holodiscus from what will be the Native area of the garden. While the Holodiscus are natives, I don’t need the whole area filled with them and it will make room for native Vine Maples, native Rhododendron, Mahonia and others. I also have a batch of Trilliums going for ground cover.
I am not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed about the number of plants that have been purchased over the course of this year. A total of 341 new plant entries have been made in the catalog. If it is any consolation, it is a few less than last year that came in at 375. Many of those are bulbs, with a lot more reticulata Iris being included this year, after they brought so much joy last year. There has also been a concentration of plants that can take a little more shade. Dry, shade, sharp drainage is a difficult set of requirements, and then you add on top deer resistant. A lot of the plants are experiments to see how well they do.
What’s in Bloom
Winter is time when many of the South African and Australian bloom, although it is still early for most. Crowea ‘Poorinda Ecstasy’ has started early this year and started putting out the first blooms early in the month.
Many of the Correa’s have started to put out a few blooms and that will intensify through winter. Correa glabra ‘Marian’s Marvel’ is one with slightly more pastel colors than some of the others.
Grevillea lanigera ‘Coastal Gem’ has really come into its own this year. It has spread nicely and has been holding its buds for a couple of months now.
But there are other more Northern Hemisphere plants that are also blooming. Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’ is the first of the Hellebore’s to bloom for us. I gave it a good hair cut a month or so ago meaning that the blossoms are really visible this year. It will soon put on new leaf growth.
Outstanding New Plants for 2022
There have been three plants that I acquired this year that have really blown me away. Two were from UC Santa Cruz arboretum (Norries) and the third from Half Moon Bay Nursery. They were all acquired in July and were blooming at that time. What is amazing is that all three of them are still blooming! The number of blossoms has changed, and the Ceratopetalum cheats a little bit because it is the bracts that are the most colorful and they last much longer than the actual flowers. But it is still putting out a few and with that, it keeps coloring up the leaves.
Leptospermum scoparium ‘Snow White’
Ceratopetalum gummiferum ‘Fairley’s Coral’
For weather this month I am cheating a bit. First, we had another sensor go out on our array, meaning we had no record of rainfall during the last week of the month. A new array is on its way. Also, during the large storm at the end of the month, we were without power for most of two days, whereas Netarts, just a mile down the road, was out for a much shorter space of time. I have thus “borrowed” the data from them.
The average temperature for the month was 1 degree warmer than last year. The high was 59.4 and low of 27.7, compared to 55.9 and 29.1 last year. Last year’s winds were 29.8 and gust of 51.4. This year, thanks to the late storm winds clocked in at 70, gusting to 85.7. No wonder the entire county was without power.
January and February were quite delightful months with lots of sun and low rainfall. March, April and May made up for that. Then we went into a long dry summer that extended into October. The final two months were somewhat average apart from the big storm in the last week of December. That was the worst since we have lived here. In total we had 105″ of rain this year, that was highly concentrated into 6 months. That is a little bit above last year at 98″.