It’s time for me to do my promised monthly walk-through of our yard to look for a little beauty – do you remember the start of “Project Bloom” that we kicked off on Nov. 1st? Well OK, I’ll refresh your memory then – I thought it’d be a good idea -on the first day of each winter month- to take a little walk around the yard and to discover whatever little pieces of beauty I could find. I kinda like this idea because winter around here is wet and nasty, and I don’t really go outside very much – so I don’t even know if I’ll find any blooms. However, I won’t be overly surprised if I do. I think most folks who are not familiar with the Pacific Northwest, have an idea that it’s colder in the winter than it really is – we are actually in a tight little coastal zone of SW Oregon that has a zone 8b USDA designation (moderate climate). Our “once in a 100 year low” is 10 degrees F, but the lowest I’ve ever seen was 22F.
So, it’s a kinda fun project – come join me for my December 1st walk, and we’ll see what we can find.
Now remember, we’re looking for blooming plants, but since it’s my camera, I’m going to take shots of whatever I think is a little spot of beauty. And the main reason why I’m bending the rules a little here is that I’m not real sure that we’ll be finding many blooms out there! OK, let’s go.
Our opening pic (above) is a Calendula, a name which means, “the first of the month” – the Romans gave this ancient flower its name because it was always in bloom every month – quite appropriate for Project Bloom, don’t you think? I planted it some 5 years ago, and it has come up on its own each year since (it’s an annual). It likes cool weather, but is supposed to die off at the first frost – we’ve had at least 4-5 nights of frost but our Calendula lives on. If you’re really observant, you noticed that we didn’t have Calendula included last month – but we should have, ’cause it was blooming then too, but we missed it. Who wants to bet on January 1st?
The above flowers are Evergreen Mock Orange (Philadelphus, I don’t know the variety). I’ve noticed that most evergreen plants have erratic bloom schedules – they may have out of season blooms almost anytime. Just as last month, this plant has only a few blooms.
Here’s another repeat from last month, a Mallow. I think this is a good indicator that we’ve really not had any bad winter weather yet here – if we had, many of these kinds of flowers would surely have been gone for another year. As it is, this is the best looking bloom of a scant few still hanging on.
OK, are you ready for a mystery plant? No blooms, that’s for sure – any guess what it is? How about a cabbage that must have been especially attractive to the slugs – hundreds of them, it looks like. This is very strange because these cabbages are all looking like this one, and they sit between some lettuce and some Brussels sprouts, both of which have been hardly touched! I guess even slugs have their favorites.
And here’s a tiny lawn flower – just a weed, but it does meet our criteria. I had to get up real close to this one, and I think I may have moved a little – hey, they told me this was a point and shoot camera, and that’s what I do!
This is Candytuft (Iberis), and it’s a tough little perennial, that’s supposed to bloom in the spring – however, that’s just when it has the most flowers – it actually has blooms all summer long and into the fall – and beyond as we can see here. Actually, the plant itself looks at its worst in mid summer, when it gets very scraggly. Right now, it’s looking quite nice, and must be blooming because it’s happy.
This is my favorite native Oregon shrub, an Evergreen Huckleberry. This is a plant that I dug up in the woods (shuush – not supposed to do that!) and replanted in my yard. As are other evergreens right now, this one is a little confused – the true bloom time is mid spring.
OK – this one is not quite as amazing as it may appear – it’s an Encore autumn blooming Azalea, only it wasn’t bred for the Northwest – so each year, it gets confused when it doesn’t get all the water it wants in August, and therefore doesn’t start setting blooms until the rains come back in October – and so we see flowers in December! Never a lot either, but just enough to make an impact in December!
Another bonus beauty shot – true, no blooms, but sometimes leaves can be just as beautiful – and I think this one is. This is Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo – where it got its latter name, I have no idea, for it no more resembles bamboo than does a potato plant. I think maybe it’s called that because it can have a feathery look as do some bamboos – this particular variety of Nandina is Fire Power.
Amazingly, this is the last -I’m quite sure- of the potted Dahlias – all of his kin have long since shriveled and faded away to brown mush, or less! All but this one last brave flower of summer (and not a raving beauty at that). But there’s an even greater surprise!
My god – these are the hanging basket Dianthus, or Sweet William, and I swear they look better this month than they did last. How can that be? I wonder if they’ll be here next month?
This is broccoli Spigarello from the garden – it would probably have more blossoms on it, except for the fact that occasionally, I cut them off and eat them! God only knows just how much cold this baby can take -certainly quite a bit- but I suspect we’ll see him right on through to spring.
Another tiny lawn flower – with a simple beauty that only nature itself fully understands; certainly we don’t!
These are the fruit of the Japanese Skimmia – not a bloom perhaps, but no doubt a little beauty in the drabness of winter.
The blossom of the Rosemary plant – quite out of season, but quite welcome, just the same!
Where’s the bloom? Well, I guess we’d need a microscope for the job, but I’d bet we’d find some on this moss – for winter is a time of joy for the mosses. If you live in Oregon, you soon love moss – or maybe you hate it – me, I’m a moss lover!
This is the fruit of the Indian Summer Crabapple tree – they look pretty hanging on the bare branches each winter, but I have no idea why these tiny apples don’t appeal to our many winter birds – strange.
Now, I hope you’ll forgive me for including a shot of my most beloved yard resident (other than my wife of course, although she resides in the house), this is a Cryptomeria Japonica, elegans (I’m even in love with its name!) – its soft, frilly needles (of the cedar family) turn from green to a bronzy red in the winter, and so I think it qualifies as a Bloom Project candidate. In a few years, it will begin to create a unique pendulous look that is simply spectacular. In the meantime, it has a winter beauty of its own, don’t you agree?
That’s it for our December Project Bloom walk – did it surprise you? It sure surprised me! As I’ve admitted, there’s not much about Oregon winters that motivate folks to go out for long walks – although there are a few fools who I hear enjoy going down to the bluffs at the beach and watching the storms roll in from the Pacific – but I’m not one. No, for me, an Oregon winter is for staying inside cuddled next to a warm, glowing fire, reading a good book.
However, come January 1st, I shall venture forth once more to seek out the marvels of nature, and share them with you – stop back and see what we discover then. And in the meantime, cuddle up, keep warm, and enjoy the holidays.