Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter in Southern California Through The Eyes of a Gardenista

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." 
~Edith Sitwell

It is a crisp 49 degrees tonight. While the Flowering Bradford Pear Tree may be  best known for being covered in white flowers in springtime, it is in the winter when her leaves blaze bright that I love her best. 

Beloved by builders for being inexpensive, city planners for their symmetry and homeowners for making sure even trash day has curb appeal 

I love them for the free mulch. So far none of the neighbors has complained when my broom and I sweep away what the wind has whipped to the ground. My gardener is a amused that what most of his customers want hauled away I covet like they are loose diamonds laying about. 

If you purchase a tree, be sure to cough up a couple extra dollars for a named variety. 

These trees are not so sturdy as they appear. The generics tend to either send limbs crashing fall over at age 20 years. Mine came down with no prior warning while I was on a break from gardening beneath it back when Senator Bob Huff was a City Councilman. He was good at looking in at his constituents to see if there was anything he could either help with or learn from. Raised on a farm, I think he secretly wished the chain saw was packed in the car trunk when he left for church earlier that day. 

Flowering Bradford Pears are beautiful specimens- just be aware they are like many beautiful women- maintenance expenses do not decrease with time. 

Take heed when a limb looks heavy- put the tree trimmer on auto dial with instructions to thin the canopy so the trunk is not as the mast of a great sailing vessel. It is the wind  into densely woven branches and leaves which rips majestic trees to the ground like they are mere paper cups on a picnic. 

Do not park beneath a mature flowering pear- unless you want to gamble on needing a new car.

If any fruit tree has a brain, it is the Meyer Lemon. It politely ripens just a few fruit at a time. For her politeness, she is rewarded with drinks of OMRI Fish Rich organic plant and garden fertilizer.  Great stuff. With little pooches,   I worry about most fish-ilzers attracting the local carnivores. But the gentle 2-2-2 formulation is very low odor. Get some. Your plants will thank you.

This is the mother of all African Blue Basil in my garden. Mostly ignored in an over-exposed side-yard pot, her trunk is thick enough to qualify as a limb.  If my fellow gardenista Glenda Bona can remember what year we drove to Solvang for the day-  this was my hardware store souvenir. I do believe the purple spires have been calling in the bees since before the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. 

 *Today's quote was found on the Quote Garden. Uplifting readers since 1998


  1. Lydia, you'd be surprised what fish fertilizers don't attract! I use the very smelly fish emulsion, but the smell is gone within a day while the good results linger :-)

    I know it's silly, but in my Southern California mind, January is practically spring.

  2. Hi Nikki- God bless you for checking in so quickly. Your garden is truly spoiled- can't wait to see the results unfold this season.
    This may be because we back up to open space- we have an ongoing issue with wildlife intrusion. I used to use full on fish- until the local critters decided it was worth re-digging my newest treasures. A couple years of that and I had surrendered until the manufacturer sent a sample- now I'm hooked -as are the citrus trees!

  3. Those Bradford pear trees are gorgeous.

    And your African basil is positively amazing. So you're saying that that particular plant is nearly 20 years old? Mine has never lasted more than a summer. What's your secret?

  4. Hi Joan- You've got me about the luck with that African Blue Basil. Maybe it's God's way of making up for my being the only person ever born who can bring home a perfectly fine African violet and turn it into compost in less than 30 days.

  5. Those trees are stunning!!!
    This COLD SNAP, (hahaha) is really C-O-L-D!!! They say it could be freezing tonight in some areas....!

    Always lovely to see what's happening in your garden, my dear.

  6. Good morning Naomi. The last 2 nights have been cold- fortunately not nearly so bad as projected.

  7. Hi Lydia,

    So nice to meet you!

    I always marvel at the way California and Crete have so much in common! From the flowers to the fruit trees, the vineyards and the mountains, the geological features are breathtakingly beautiful.

    Love your front entrance!

    Your newest follower,



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