Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Pictures!

Thanks to J, I have now mastered rotating, and so can put up pictures in a format that does not require that you turn your head sideways to see it properly. I must admit that I could have figured it out myself, as it involves a right-click on the picture, scrolling down to "rotate clockwise" and a double-click. Magic happens, and the picture is rotated! My eldest Japanese maple, a laceleaf, is pictured at the left. I've had it for four years, so it's not the tiny stick I purchased. It's a bigger stick--with leaves!

Here is one of my many geraniums (not the plants commonly called geraniums, which are actually pelargoniums, but true geraniums, or cranesbill). I had great success with these in Oakland--they bloomed for months and kept their leaves through the winter--but have more trouble with them here. Their bloom period is shorter here, and they don't like the colder winters and look half-dead in January. I avert my eyes then, and they come back in the spring. A couple of them, however, will not survive here, no matter what I do. Geranium incanum allegedly likes heat. Ha! I've killed two of them and refuse to try again.

I have several azaleas. This is my L.L. Bobbink, one of my favorites. It has large flowers and its flushed purple petals fade to white as they age. I have several of the Rutherfordias, azaleas that were originally developed for greenhouses, but survive outdoors in moderate climates. Unlike most azaleas, these can't survive hard freezes. Their flowers resemble those of many rhododendrons, so I have some small consolation, as I can't grow rhododendrons here at all.

The best aspect of my patio is that it's not a blank square. It's actually two patios, connected by a curved path. Many gardeners spend time and money to achieve the element of surprise

that I get without having to do a lick of work. This picture looks from the shady side of the patio (outside the living room) and gives a glimpse of the sunny patio next to the bedroom. Because this side gets almost no sun, I grow the few plants that can survive both shade and the intense heat of Sacramento summers. That means that I grow lots of ferns. But I've also found that Labrador violets and hellebores do well here too. As with any rental, though, there are plantings I have to look past. The grapefruit tree at the right is entirely too close to the house, and the junipers on the left are more than moderately unhappy. As you get to the sunny patio, you will see the three Italian cypress that were planted (probably in the 1960s) for a purpose I have yet to determine. But I also have a wonderful old oak tree that shades the sunny patio in the afternoon.

The sun shining through this Japanese maple is the first thing I see when I wake up. It's red and gold and green, all at the same time, and it glows. Next to the maple is the pink jasmine that I threaten to get rid of every year. While the front is green and lush, the back, which I can see through the window, looks quite dead. But it blooms and the scent of jasmine on the breeze convinces me not to kill it, at least not yet.

At this time of year, we leave the living room and bedroom doors open all day. The cats love it. Emma and Dash have mastered chasing one another in one door and out the other, but have also determined that they should begin their naps in the dirt and then, on impulse, remove themselves to continue their naps on the bed.

And finally, cistus to the left and dicentra (bleeding heart) below. I'll do a serious post tomorrow. Promise.

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