Monday, December 22, 2014

Hidden December Blooming Scabiosa Flower

This afternoon I went out to harvest some kale from my front flower bed, and to my right I noticed a flash of light blue hidden in a clump of dried hyssop. I hadn't realized when I wrote my post yesterday that my scabiosa, better known as the pincushion flower, was still in bloom. So I need to add it to the list of things that bloom in Paso Robles in December. 

The hyssop itself had bloomed all the way into the end of July and then the flowers dried to the way you see them here. It's time to cut it back. I hope my gardener will cut it and all but the new growth on my oregano back when he comes tomorrow. 

I also need to cut the top dead spikes from my mullein plant, since the secondary shoots from it are still trying to bloom. The top photo below was taken last week, and I see I also need to add the gazanias to the list of what's blooming in December. It blooms almost year round. You can see the yellow gazanias near the wall in the second photo, which was taken today. The first one below shows the front flower bed from a distance. Here the mullein is just a silhouette, but you can see the long dead flower spikes on top. Those are what I need to have cut.

Here you see a close-up of the bottom part of the mullein that is trying to bloom again. Click to expand the photo. To the right of the mullein is a kale plant, and there is another one at the left toward the back. Right behind the first kale are the blooming gazanias. To the right of the mullein is some tricolor sage, not in bloom. It has never bloomed for me, but the leaf color contrasts with surrounding foliage. 

The other thing obvious if you expand this photo are the number of weeds and weedy grasses beginning to take over any bare ground. I had surgery just before all the rains and I am restricted from any gardening activities for another six weeks at least. I want to be getting those weeds out. It's killing me to just watch them keep the light and nutrients from seedlings struggling to emerge. I did have someone at least pull the tops off some of these grassy weeds today, but it only made a dent. I can hardly wait to get my hands in the dirt again and start doing what needs to be done before it's too late. 

Have you started your seasonal weeding yet? Those of us in California need to start dealing with the baby milk thistle and poison hemlock plants and other weeds I see starting to claim their ground. Click the link to see photos of the most common weeds on the central coast we need to deal with early. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?

Flowers Do Bloom in December

This month I've had a lot of time to roam my Riverbank tract neighborhood in Paso Robles to see what's blooming. It's good information to have when planning gardens. What you see to the left is a day lily I saw on my walk today, December 21. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
A Day Lily in December

A Timely Rain Gave the Flowers a Boost

Usually, winter is the time when there is very little color besides green in most gardens.  We have been fortunate to have more than average rainfall compared to last year during autumn, and we still have lots of clouds that seem to promise more rain. All that rain is turning our brown grass green again and giving our garden plants a much-needed drink. I photographed this sky yesterday, December 20. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?

I hope we get a lot more rain this season because all the plants love it. 

What's Blooming in My Own Garden

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Calendula Flower in December

I was expecting to see my calendula in bloom because calendulas add cheer to my garden when almost nothing else is blooming, and I wasn't disappointed. The rain has really helped them thrive. 

What surprised me was that a purple iris started to bloom. Maybe the rain woke it up. I had planted it a year ago but it didn't bloom in April like the other irises. It was a welcome sight. I wonder if it will bloom again on schedule in April or whether it just wanted to welcome me home from the hospital after my neck surgery this month. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Iris in December

My holly is also in bloom. The berries from the holly help carry the birds such as bluebirds, woodpeckers, and mockingbirds through this time of year. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Holly in December

What's Blooming in My Neighbor's Gardens?

When I don't limit myself to what I have in my own yard, there are many more options for color in December.  Both I and many of my neighbors grow roses and rosemary. Many rose varieties are still blooming. 

The yard below got rid of its lawn to conserve water and the attractive plants they have chosen to replace the lawn include both roses and rosemary. I think you will easily find the red roses in the center. Next to them on the right is a smaller white rose bush. The rosemary is on the slope to the left. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
My Neighbor's Xeriscaped Yard in December

I also grow rosemary. I started with a plant that was already there when I moved in, and then I easily rooted more in water within a couple of weeks. I used those to expand the drought-resistant shrubs in my own garden. Almost everyone in my neighborhood has rosemary. It not only has attractive tiny blue flowers, but it attracts bees and helps carry them through the winter. Read more about landscaping for the bees. 

The city of Paso Robles also uses a lot of rosemary in its landscaping. It's on the slopes in Larry Moore Park and in the parkway between Riverbank Lane and the Park. I show it below under a sweet gum tree that still has a few red leaves. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Sweet Gum Leaves and Rosemary

After I headed back home I passed some other homes that had flowers that surprised me by being in bloom in December. The poinsettia didn't surprise me. I would expect to see it now. But those sunflowers next to it stopped me short. On the left of the poinsettia, I believe we see a smaller sunflower variety. I'm not sure what the small white flowers were because I couldn't get close enough for a good look. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Poinsettias and Sunflowers in December

A couple of houses down were these blanket flowers brightening their yard. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Blanket Flowers in December

Notice the mallow plant in the lower left corner. It's an edible weed you can substitute for spinach. Learn how to use mallow.

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
I came across another plant blooming I couldn't identify. To the left, you see a closeup of the flower itself. It's very small. But this section is just part of a large clumping plant. I show you the entire plant below. If anyone can identify it, please comment so we can correct this information. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Mystery Plant in Bloom in December

Growing close to this plant is another I believe is a variety of lavender. Most of the lavender growing in our neighborhood has stopped blooming, but this variety is still going. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Lavender in Bloom in December

When I got home from this walk, I got the camera out again to capture my watermelon sage. It, too, is still in bloom. See it below. Many of my neighbors also have a red sage in bloom. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Wild Watermelon Sage in Bloom in December

Yesterday I took another walk and didn't get very far before I saw something else I didn't expect -- a blooming zonal geranium. These usually die when it gets cold, but it's not that cold yet this year. It certainly brightens up my neighbor's garden. It's in her new drought-resistant landscaping makeover. 

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Zonal Geraniums in Bloom in December

One of the other plants I'm seeing all over the neighborhood is society garlic. It blooms through most of the year and is drought tolerant. If you crush or cut the leaves, they have a faint onion or garlic smell, which is why most people don't use society garlic in cut flower arrangements. The Sunset Garden Book says the chopped leaves can be used as seasoning. See it below.

What Blooms in December in Paso Robles?
Society Garlic in December

I'm sure I haven't covered everything that blooms in December in this area, but there's enough here to add to your garden to see that it will have some Christmas color before next December rolls around. Many of these plants add color for months. 

What's blooming in your December garden?
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