Slapped upside the head by winter on the first day of spring…

The last 10 days or so has brought California’s Central Valley a little much needed rain. Even more important has been a small improvement in the mountain snow pack from which our summer water availability is determined. With all due deference to those gardeners on the east coast huddled in their homes as another nor’easter bears down and even our SoCal compatriots for whom even a small downpour may mean mudslides on ground denuded by last year’s wild fires–we still get a little excited by a little rain, even this one which, despite the cold nights, seems almost tropical.

slapped 7

slapped 8
A good drink for the new Ila side bed–even a small rain tends to back up the storm drains!

slapped 2

This morning’s downpour affirmed that our grading of this newly lawn free area in the front garden has allowed the water to soak in without too much run off. The brick serve as a temporary visual reminder of a casual path from the near the front door to a future Little Free Library.

slapped 3

This is the second underground drainage pipe we have found in this yard which was brought to the street and terminated in an upward facing drain without coring the curb to let the water flow out! We had the one on the Ila side cored only a few weeks ago and just made yet another call to our concrete drilling friend for this one. Seems as though bad things comes in threes and so I fully expect one more to appear before all is said and done.

slapped 6

Only a few new things have found a place in this bed so far–several of which have been in my ‘holding area’ since my fall 2017 nursery rounds. Much of what we left from the original border which wrapped the lawn is well established enough to withstand some drought. I am focusing on unthirsty plantings for the new additions. While the area has automatic sprinklers the hope is that we will be able to both reduce the number of heads and the amount of run time significantly. Top left is Ozothamnus diosmifolius ‘Dark Pink’–common name dark pink rice flower–selected specifically as a contrast in form to the bank of indian hawthorn in the background. To its right is Phlomis purpurea–purple Jerusalem sage. The bottom photo is Salvia mellifera ‘Wild Bill’ which is purported to develop a gold variegation along the edges of mature leaves when it is grown in full sun. This is one of the newest of the black sages introduced by Monterey Bay Nursery  and is a sport of Salvia mellifera ‘Calamity Jane’.  All three of these will require minimal watering once established but can tolerate varying levels of irrigation with good drainage. Fingers crossed, full steam ahead on this bed once it dries out a little!

Bits and pieces, buds and blooms…

The garden in early spring is more individual threads than the marvelous tapestry it will become in the coming weeks. Little bits and pieces of awakening life give me just a glimpse of this year’s promise.

bits and pieces 4

The pointy, burgundy starts of this year’s Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ push confidently out of the moist shade bed. Even in my shadiest area this woodland perennial dies back well before I get the benefit of its signature yellow autumn color. Notice that the slugs have all ready had their way with these babies.

The very first of the blooms on a Spirea cantoniensis ‘Flore-Pleno’, commonly called double bridal wreath spirea, added to the secret garden area last fall.

Redbuds have burst into bloom all over the city and mine is no exception!

bits and pieces 10

Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’ is always one of the earliest blues in the shade area and like its neighbor, Solomon’s seal, I lavish it with early spring attention even though I know its fate is to be a pretty crispy specimen by mid summer.

Fruit trees, both ornamental and edible, are at their most splendid in early spring.

New to my growing collection of vines is Clematis x cartmanii ‘Blaaval’, also know as the avalanche evergreen clematis. I purchased two of these in 2 gallon cans on a nursery shopping trip last fall. They overwintered in their proposed home but are still unplanted, awaiting their 6 foot tuteur climbing structures. This one simply could not wait until its change of address cards were mailed out and burst into bloom yesterday after a few weeks of these massed creamy bell shaped buds–its partner is not far behind.

The tilling and turning is finally completed on the new front bed. Next up is to establish a casual path (stone?) through it to allow me to access the large area from multiple vantage points for planting and maintenance. Find your gardening gloves and sharpen up your tools–your garden is calling!