Monday, January 25, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Oh Crap!

Sure feels good getting out in the garden!

I was out there this weekend for many hours, dodging the sprinkles and the showers when I could. If it was just sprinkling, I stayed out. 

I'm still cleaning up fall mess. I'm past the "big chunks" phase.

I would say, I'm halfway to getting the beds looking pretty decent. But it still feels a little too early. Also with everything soaked, it's a little hard to get some things cleaned up. I have to peel layers of compressed leaves off the top of the bark mulch by hand. It's a soggy mess.

I've been dragging around my big blue handled bucket, filling it with handfuls of leaves and what not. Trimming down plants here and there. Doing some selective pruning too. I'm trying to get a sense of what needs to be done this year. 

I found some good things while wondering the yard, but there are definitely a couple things I didn't need to know about.

The snowdrops are up, doing their duty to make me happy and make it feel like spring. 

My early peony is poking it's head out. I always love it's little pink clove scented blooms. 

Paeonia mascula (Balkan Peony)

Even the Mouse Tails are blooming, which seems really odd. The leaves are from the adjacent Daphne bholua that aborted some leaves after our last bad weather. 

Arisarum proboscideum (Mouse Plant)

The two big Daphne and Skimmia are both ready to explode into bloom. There are a crazy number of buds on the Daphne.
Daphne odora 'Zuiko Nishiki'

Skimmia japonica

Agave bracteosa 'Calamar'

A happy Agave and Chief Joseph is looking fine and yellow, but in a good way. 

Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph'

The fish are hungry and active. 

The Sarcoccaca is fragrant with lots of little seedling babies popping up. I'll have to pull them out, but I'll save the largest babies to give away or relocate. 

Sarcococca ruscifolia (Fragrant Sarcococca)
Trachycarpus wagnerianus (Dwarf Windmill Palm)

This palm was moved last fall and seems to be happy. It was hidden under a barberry before. 

On the bad side, my front gate is about to fall apart. Many of the boards are rotted and the nails are pulling out. 

One Osmanthus has gotten funny. Not quite sure what to do with it? The back side died out. It's been doing this for a while really. It's just more noticeable in winter. If I cut the front to match, I'll have a lollipop shrub.

Osmanthus delavayi (Delavay Osmanthus)

The Agave babies seem to have been injured by the cold spell we had. Some of the leaves have turned dark and squishy. The babies will be fine, it will just take them a while to make new leaves. 

Agave parryi var. parryi
The ugly is bad! I don't want to think about it...

There are big sections of my fence that need replaced. Another pole is completely rotted at the base. Many of the upright boards are rotted at the ground. I'm afraid of what having to replace this fence will cost and I can only imagine workers stomping all over my plants in the process.

My lawn looks like hell... Don't tell anyone, but I think I might have grubs! Huge areas are patchy and dead. I even have a lawn service, which makes me feel like I might be wasting my money when I see it like this. 

The rain or perhaps bugs have done a number on the lawn!

I guess I will take the ugly one step at a time. 

At least there are more good things than bad. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter Frogs?

Sunday was our first bad winter weather of the season.

The day started off pleasant enough. I was sipping my morning coffee on the sofa and watching the flurries start.

It wasn't much. It was "cute" snow.

The gods above were just tossing snow around like pizzeria Parmesan cheese out of the shaker.

Nothing to worry about really.

As I looked out the window at the cute little sleeping Redbud tree, I could hear my resident frogs croaking.

It's snowing and my frogs are croaking outside? They are Pseudacris regilla (Pacific Chorus Frogs) and they seem to stay around all year.

If my assistant Yvette had been home, she would have head tilted and then started running around barking at the air like a crazy pooch, wondering where the croaking was coming from. 

The ponds have been frozen for more than a week, after a weeks worth of weather in the 20s. So I was surprised they were awake and making noise.

In my mind, I'm sure the frogs were singing "Do you want to build a snowman?", just like Anna from Frozen.

Later on the snow turned to rain and the rain to ice. For once I didn't "plant" panic. I didn't cover a single plant in the yard.

I just crossed my fingers and let mother nature do her thing.

Mother Agave (Agave parryi var. parryi )

Poor Grevillea x 'Neil Bell' with frozen flower buds
Cercis canadensis 'Merlot' (Eastern Redbud)
Osmanthus x Fortunei 'San José' bent over
Shedteau Yvette's first snow scene
Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill Palm)
Pieris japonica 'Valley Valentine' (Lily of the Valley Shrub)