Garden Update: Frosty and Dry

Days of unseasonal frost have left my garden looking desolate. I raced past the dying tomato plant on my way to dump kitchen scraps.  I upended them into the compost bin, then raced back inside for warmth.

frozen tomato plant

Tomatoes last stand

Still no rain in sight, other than one brief storm last month. The days are cold and dry.

The leaves have been off the Pistache since mid-November, but the maple is just now turning color. It’s nice that they set color at different times. It gives us a chance to enjoy each one.

japanese maple

View from my living room window

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Somewhat comically, I won’t need to refrigerate my bulbs this year.  Generally speaking, California isn’t cold enough so we have to tease the bulbs with a six-week chill.  They’re getting plenty of cold in the garage and should be ready to go soon. I’m not ready, but they are.

The hyacinth bulbs are popping up, happy with the autumn chill.  When they finally bloom, the smell is potent and intoxicating.  I can’t wait.  It evokes a happy childhood memory, so I look forward to breathing that in each year.

hyacinth

hyacinth

I’m off to the craft store to buy some ribbon for the finishing touches on a gift. One last seasonal trip to the post office tomorrow.

What’s happening in your corner of the world? I’m behind on my reading, but look forward to catching up with all your lovely comments, and blogs, soon.

 

Tulips: Waving Farewell

Our tulips put on a lovely show for weeks. Thanks to all of you for encouraging me to give them a second chance. Years ago I planted a big batch of tulips from Costco and not a single one came up. My friend, Bob, thinks the squirrels made off with them instead.

One of the cool things about keeping a gardening blog is the log. With over a year of blogging, I can refer back to planting schedules, what worked, what didn’t and all the wonderful comments you post.  It takes a village to plant an awesome garden.  I love that.

Here’s what I’ll be referring to this fall when I buy and chill garden bulbs:

Angelique tulip

Tulip Angelique

Angéliqué

Planted: 15
Survived: 4
Thrived: 2

I might try again, but in a different location.  They’re stunning, but just didn’t take off.

Tulip 'Attila'

Tulip ‘Attila’

Attila

Planted 15
Survived: 12
Thrived: 12

These will definitely be back next year.

Tulip Passionale

three tulips

Tulip ‘Passionale’

Passionale

Planted 5
Survived: 5
Thrived: 5

Also a winner, the Passionale tulips were the first up and the longest-lasting.

The not so dirty dozen

The not so dirty dozen

I thought I would feel wistful as the tulips faded, but signs of spring are in abundance everywhere. Farewell, garden beauties. Till next year.

Are you seeing signs of spring, too?

Garden Bulbs: Putting on a Show

Today, I was ready! I’ve been enjoying these beautiful tulips putting on a show and wanted to share them with you. I kept missing the chance to grab a picture of their buttery centers. The tulips start to ‘disrobe’ around mid-day, usually when I’m gone. They’re wrapped up snugly first thing in the morning and again by dusk. Aren’t they something?

Tulip opens up

Tulip opens up

three tulips

Trio of Beauties

Petite and purple crocus broke ground this week, blooming with sporty stripes and tailored leaves to match They’re small put powerful, and once established, appear year after year. I planted crocus in several pots and as a border under the Acer and around the steps. Next year I’ll be far more adventurous, planting in greater volume. They’re magnificent!

Purple crocus

Purple Crocus with Lemony Centers

This lovely should burst on the scene tomorrow, just in time for Blooming Thursday. (No pressure, little flower.)

Tomorrow's promise

Tomorrow’s promise

I’ll close with this luscious number. I don’t remember planting it and don’t know what it is. Suggestions welcome.

DSC_0006

(Almost) Blooming Thursday: Tulips!

Tulips Break Ground

Tulips Break Ground

Did you hear me squeal with delight?

Tulips are popping up all over the garden. They won’t flower for a little while, but the fact that they’ve survived this long (shh…don’t tip off the squirrels) is amazing.

Last fall I planted three varieties, purchased at a local garden center. They are all sourced from Van Zyverden.

I planted:

  • 15 Tulip ‘Angélique
  • 15 Tulip ‘Attila‘; and
  • 5 Tulip ‘Passionale

In other words, the potential for 35 stunning acts of nature. Guess what? I counted over twenty, ground-breaking bulbs! The last time I planted tulips, nothing came up. Zip. Zero. Nada. I’m really liking these odds.

tulip bulbs break ground

Tulips all Around!

While I had my nose to the earth, I noticed several more bulbs breaking through: Crocus, Narcissus and a few others, to-be-determined when they bloom.

Oh happy day!  What’s ‘cooking’ in your garden this Thursday?

spring bulbs collage

Assorted Spring Bulbs Break Ground

Tulip Bulbs

Tulip Bulbs

 

Gravel Mulch Muchas Gracias

pansies

Pansies

Last fall I planted purple pansies along the deck, then interspersed bulbs in between. What beautiful planters we would have come spring.

Then the squirrels dug them up. One by one, over a couple of days, they unearthed the hidden gems. Normally I add a layer of organic mulch, but in my never-ending quest to discourage snacking squirrels, I covered at least half of the pots with rough pea-gravel. I used what I had on hand, left over from a summer project.

It was a good, though unintended experiment.Those rascally squirrels dug up all the bulbs in the soft mulch pots, but left the ones under gravel untouched.

I bought more bulbs, a lot more gravel, and replanted with help from the eager day-care kiddos next door.  It worked!

Emerging bulbs

Emerging bulbs

At least half a dozen bulbs broke ground this week.  I see tiny shoots pushing up between the pansies. Muchas gracias, gravel mulch

Gardening Nirvana and gravel mulch, 1.  Squirrels, 7,364.  It’s amazing what you can get away with when you’re so darn cute.

Hyacinth: Can you Smell It?

Purple Hyacinth

Purple Hyacinth

When I was a teenager, our mom gave each of us a hyacinth bulb one year for Christmas. As I recall, it came with a glass that allowed the bulb to sit suspended, with the roots growing into the cup of water below. Having the chance to grow one indoors was magical. With just one to focus on, I could see the changes day by day.  The scent was intoxicating.  It’s been a favorite ever since.

Several years ago I bought a half a dozen hyacinth bulbs at our local Costco.  They’ve moved from place to place over the years, but just when I think they’re spent, a few come back.  Three of them popped up on the back patio last week. They’ve been nibbled here and there, but they’re pretty just the same.  The scent carries me back, as they often do, to our small apartment growing up: powerful, fragrant and at times bittersweet.

Hyacinth in Bloom

Hyacinth in Bloom

Hyacinth Leaves

Hyacinth Leaves

Hyacinth Closeup

Hyacinth Closeup

The Big Chill: Out of the Crisper and into the Soil

Three's a Charm

Three’s a Charm

When you live in a warm climate like California, it helps to employ a bit of trickery with the tulips.  So when I bought three bags of tulip bulbs back in October, the first step was a cool dark rest in the crisper drawer of our fridge.  Keeping bulbs in the frigid dark, prompts their DNA into thinking they’ve been through an early chill.

Today I planted about a dozen bulbs along the rock wall near the garden fence, convinced that the racing squirrels overhead were just waiting to dig them up for lunch. I tamped the soil firmly and with determination, hoping they’ll stay planted through early spring.  I buried the rest of the bulbs in a variety of pots, and in a few random locations around the garden.

Ready to Plant Tulip Bulbs

Ready to Plant Tulip Bulbs

Squirrel in the Pittosporum

Squirrel in the Pittosporum

Squirrel in the Pine

Squirrel in the Pine

Figuring I could hedge my bets (or chance of survival) by interspersing the bulbs in heavily planted pots, I tucked them deep into the corners and under the canopy of existing plants. I hope they survive the onslaught of the squirrels. They’ll be a magnificent if they do.

Tulip Bulbs

Tulip Bulbs