Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The pleasure of our winter gardens, El Niño edition

Our calla lilies are the stars of our winter gardens.

One of the simple pleasures of homeownership in northern California is being able to maintain a garden year-round, including wintertime.

Occasionally, daytime temperatures climb into the low-to-mid 60s, mixing cloudy with sunny skies. With apologies to my dear friends back east and in the Midwest, who've put up with more than their share of sub-freezing temperatures and snowy blizzards, we do get spoiled this time of year by our moderate climate.

Here, however, we've been waiting what seems like an eternity for a good El Niño season to arrive. Having endured a long drought the past couple of years -- last January we had zilch for rain -- since the beginning of 2016, we've received several quality inches of much-needed precipitation. Maybe, it's been too much of a good thing.

The green grass covering our modest-sized yard has grown so tall that it's beginning to resemble the rough of a British links golf course. Not exactly pristine. Hopefully, one of these days, once it dries out, I'll have a chance to mow and edge the lawn and pull some weeds. The upside to all of our much-needed rain -- yes, there is an upside -- is our winter flowers are having quite the season to remember.

In taking stock of what all of January's rain has meant to our garden, consider this: our camellia bush, which has consistently bloomed since November, still has many pink and white camellias; ditto for our azaleas, which have enjoyed a tremendous rebirth. Our fuchsias are experiencing consistent growth thanks to the abundance of this month's rain, and a few of our rose bushes are still producing blooms.

Finally, the first of our calla lilies, which grow on the usually shady east side of our house, have arrived on schedule. One of them has begun to open its spathe (the part of the lily that is white and shaped like the bell of a trumpet) while a couple of others are about a week or so away from blooming. By spring, we should have a couple dozen fully-bloomed calla lilies.

Each of our plants and flowers has its own growth cycle during the year. Luckily, nature is our ally and there's always something in bloom.

Photos: By Michael Dickens ©2016.

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