Monday, December 3, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas???

How is it that the typical weather of the northern Europe and the USA's midwest and northeast became the icon for Christmas? "Let it snow" (repeat twice more). I guess it's similar to the hypothesis that if our country had been settled by Juan de Anza coming out of Mexico, people in the forests of New Hampshire would be trying to grow Saguaro cactus, instead of us trying to grow lawns. The aesthetic traveled along with settlement patterns.

So the winter holidays come with the ubiquitous snow and conifer trees and holly berries, while out here in So. Cal. it still looks like a floral paradise. I've been spending some time looking at a lot of garden blogs this week, having joined up with Green Thumb Sunday (see my December 2 post). Part of the requirement of being a member is to click over and say "howdy" to some of the other bloggers. And wouldn't you know it, many of them have said "ta ta for now" to their little Edens as they have gradually receded under a blanket of snow.

As I was walking in the late morning clear sunshine at Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden on Sunday, I was mentally composing this blog post along the lines of "we've still got flowers and you don't." Not very nice to rub it in like that. Then I received a comment last night from another blogger who thanked me for allowing them to vicariously enjoy some floral color when the view outside their window was nothing but bare trees and white.

So, in the spirit of sharing the wealth (rather than flaunting it) I give you my December gallery of images from Alice. Enjoy.

Well, since the season is often about berries (Holly, Cran, Dingle, etc.) this image kinda combines traditional and subtropical. Pyracantha gives us the saturated red and the fruits of the Butia (Pindo Palm) drop us on the other side of the equator.

Speaking of South America, this white variety of Floss Silk Tree (Chorisia) paired up with an Asian variety of Magnolia (M. soulangeana) makes a great geographic irony, but they sure look great together.

Here's a close-up of the white flowering variety of Chorisia filling the skyline along Santa Barbara St. right now. Its pink cousin has peaked, so now it's this guy's turn. Love the shiny fruits.

That same Magnolia viewed from up close sort of makes me want to take a big bite out of it. I'm thinking that with this saturated color it should either taste like cotton candy or fresh strawberries.

Not to cause visual whiplash or anything, here's a complete switch in terms of climate preferences. This translucent, but succulent Kalanchoe carnea 'Modoc' (named for the local street, I'm told) had just the right light to make it look like a wax model.

Staying with the Mediterranean climate plants, this yellow Aloe, from southern Africa, is a reliable winter bloomer, but somehow, it just doesn't shout 'Ho, ho, ho' like a spruce tree might.

Now we're getting closer to traditional Christmas colors. Aloe arborescens is my harbinger of the holiday season.

Might as well keep on with the aloes. This one, Aloe bainesii, becomes a tree and shows off these luscious coral colored blooms up high.

It's hard to beat the Princess Flower (Tibouchina urvilleana) for pure, saturated color.

If you can handle a bit more subtropical color, this Hong Kong Orchid Tree should turn a few heads. Even when it's not blooming, the kidney-shaped leaves create an unusual texture in a planting composition.

But this was my favorite shot of the day (already posted for Green Thumbs Sunday). Fall color in the background and screaming golden yellow of Mexican Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii) catching the sun.

I hope that if you're reading this while snow falls outside your window, this brings you a bit of warmth.


Curtis said...

Snow is not falling here but it is cold. Thanks for taking us through those lovely photo's. I already feel warmer. :)

Garden Wise Guy said...

Curtis: I'll have to let Al Gore know that if we would all just look at beautiful garden pictures, we can turn down the thermostat and reduce our carbon footprint! I'm all for it.

Correy said...

In Northern NSW and QLD Australia we are meant to have scorching summers around Christmas however last year and this year they have been unusually cool we also had one of the coldest winters on record this year (bad for fruit trees)

Figure this one out?

Lovely pictures by the way. My favourite is the bluey purple flower.

Nickie said...

Snow is falling here...thanks for the warmth!

Pam/Digging said...

Pam @ Digging says:

It's nice and warm and flowery here in Austin too. But I still enjoyed your photos. ;-)

Garden Wise Guy said...

Pam: thanks for popping in. So do you every get a little bit of a guilty conscience when Austin is experiencing "Chamber of Commerce" weather and everyone else is trying to remember where their car is parked under the snow bank?

Pam/Digging said...

Pam @ Digging says:

No, I don't. Because I know that come summer I'll be sweltering and hiding indoors with the A/C while northern gardeners are out puttering in their gardens. What goes around comes around. Except, apparently, in glorious Santa Barbara.

Dan said...

In the last few weeks I have been taking pictures of different color variations of the Floss Silk Tree flower. If you are interested I´ve just posted them to my tree-species blog.

Wicked Gardener said...

It is still warm down here in Florida too, but I still jealous of the pretty flowers. I haven't cordinated my plantings and everything is pretty much dormant right now. These photos are a treat for me too!

Julie said...

Beautiful color!!! Enjoy reading your blog and all of your photos too! Thanks!