morning light on flowering hellebore, march 2010
While doing a little research on this plant, the hellebore, I was delighted to find out it has a long history dating all the way back to the Classical Greece and steeped in mythology! Owing to its hearty nature, able to not only withstand frost but even flower in winter, the plant was distributed widely by centurions and settlers alike throughout the Roman Empire. In fact, because of this ability to flower in winter the plant was believed to be a being of magic, possessing mystical powers and the ability to ward off evil energy, spirits, witches and dark magic spells. It was often planted near the door to one’s house, as a means of spiritual protection for the home.
may 2010, morning light on a beautiful fuzzy succulent, Echeveria harmsii!
I recently found some ‘before’ pictures of the backyard, taken before I started my garden project. I had no idea what I was doing when I started gardening. But, I looked at the space and saw what it could be, and started digging. Here’s a slideshow that shows the development of my first-ever flowerbed.
>> UPDATE, here’s a pic of the latest progress in my garden, as of June 2010
>> UPDATE, here’s a pic of the latest progress in my garden, as of 10 July 2010…brick hardscape installed
morning light in my garden,
San Francisco is a city for gardeners and given that we never experience a frost, we’re quite lucky to have a broad range of plants available to us for our gardens. In fact, varieties that people in other climates would consider a house plant, San Franciscans can plant to monumental effect outdoors, and succulents are a great example of that. Being planted in the ground allows the plant to grow in size and shape in a way that will surprise anyone who’s only seen them in small containers in the windowsill. . .
While I have a variety of plants in my garden, including vines, shrubs and perennial flowering plants, succulents have become my favorite garden denizens. There’s something about the way they invite you to watch them that makes them special and I’m hopelessly fascinated by them. As they grow they change a lot, in shape, proportion and size. They truly become different over time, evolving in a way that adjusts to the environment in which they are planted. In a way they, more than any other plant I’ve encountered, grow to become unique individuals.
Perhaps chief among the qualities I LOVE to observe is the way in which the succulents flower. Gorgeous and sculptural as they are even without flowers, something exciting happens when it’s time for them to bloom. Weeks in advance you’ll notice a very prominent stalk (the inflorescence) emerge from the plant, all the more striking when it erupts from a plant with radial symmetry, like the echeveria. I can’t describe how fun it is to watch the progress of the stem, pregnant with anticipation…how high will the stalk climb? what will the lone flower look like and when will it open?
The inflorescence first emerged from the center of my aloe in late February, and climbed through March when the flowers emerged. I’ve captured some pictures here that show the height it reached and the type of flower that the aloe creates. Even now in the month of May, the flowers look just as great as they did when they opened in March!
can’t get enough of that golden morning light. . .
Sempervivum “Lavender and Old Lace”
The garden sustained a massive spittle bug attack this year and I’m just barely keeping the snails at bay, too. While fun to photograph, the infestation of both wreaks havoc on the plants! While identifying and eliminating the snails is a relatively straightforward process, the spittle bugs rather caught me by surprise. You can identify them buy globs of soap-sud-like foam on the stems of your plants. The spittle bug actually lives inside the foam, and I have a picture of two of them here.
Spittle bugs don’t directly cause any noticeable harm to the plant but they do weaken it, and thus your plant becomes more susceptible to a host of other bad things. So, nip the problem in the bud when you see the first sign of foam! How? You actually have to prune the parts of the plant with the bubbles, followed by a strong spray from the hose on the plant and everything around it. If that doesn’t keep the bugs at bay, there are homemade and chemical solutions you can pour on the base of the plant but, I’m going to reserve those as a last resort.
how much has changed, the ivy (visible in the photo) has been cleared away, and the new flower beds are taking shape around the path built in its place. Digging is underway on a seating area just to the left of the area pictured here.
Through it all though, the Cala Lilies persist; they are such hearty plants. And they’re beauties. They are noble. Even through all the work I’ve been doing, developing the garden, these plants are ones I’ve left untouched. I love them. For me, the cala lily IS everything I love about Easter. On that Easter day in 2007, I needed a miracle. And on that day in 2007, the flower here finally opened, bathed in that gorgeous light…