I can’t remember a December when work has been so busy; I’ve barely had time to go outside. The weather has been nice enough, with just a few nights near or a tad below freezing, and the occasional rain shower to keep things hydrated. I continue to keep my fingers crossed for a mild winter with enough rain (and snow in the mountains) to make a dent in the huge water deficit that has accrued because of the drought.
I like to keep track of how the garden—and the world around me—develops year over year, so here’s a look back at what was going on in December in the last five years since I started this blog:
This photo might give you the impression that it rained a lot in December 2014. Far from it. December was very dry. But the few times it did rain, it came down so hard that the storm drains couldn’t keep up.
Aeonium getting ready to flower
The Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ by the front door was just starting to flower. Now it’s gone, and I have dozens of offsets waiting for a home.
Even the most familiar sights look mysterious in the fog
An entire expanse of Agave desmettiana in front of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management
Many of them were beginning to flower last December. They’re gone now, just like mine, replaced with small offsets.
2014 was the first winter I didn’t cover anything except for my Agave attentuata ‘Boutin Blue’. Things were different in December 2013. I covered a lot of plants just before I left…
…on my Arizona trip. I spent six days in Phoenix and Tucson. I didn’t know it then, but t was the beginning of what has now become a tradition: a December solo trip to Arizona.
Palo verde ‘Desert Museum’ at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum where it was discovered
Saguaro skeleton against the epic blue sky of southern Arizona
One of my favorite nurseries in Tucson: Bach’s Cactus Nursery
The most perfect Agave victoria-reginae I’ve ever seen
A circle of Mexican fence posts cactus (Pachycereus marginatus) at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson
Soaptree yucca (Yucca elata)
LEFT: Leafed-out ocotillo and saguaro RIGHT: Desert view framed through window in utility storage area
Golden barrels at Tucson Botanical Gardens
Shrine in Nuestro Jardín community garden at the Tucson Botanical Gardens
Agave americana and Paolo Soleri bell at Cosanti, his studio in Scottsdale
Plants I shipped home from Tucson. Every single one is still alive.
One of the things I look forward to the most in December is the annual ginkgo spectacle
Fortunately, there are quite a few ginkgos in Davis, both on the campus of UC Davis (as the two above)…
…and in town
We had rain, but not much. The drought had already begun in 2013 although many people were still oblivious to it.
A bowl of local fruit
Fog on the green belt near our house
Houseguests for the winter. The hardy tapioca (Manihot grahamii) in the upper left (the tall stick with a few dangly leaves on top) is now a small tree in the front yard.
Prickly pear fence along Interstate 680 in Cordelia Junction
First frost, December 20, 2012
Annual father and daughter trip to the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley
Aloe capitata var. quartziticola
My favorite photo of 2011, taken at the UC Davis Arboretum
Yucca gloriosa in the front yard just before it was removed on December 3, 2011
and replaced with a Yucca rigida. Even then I was constantly tinkering.
First fruit from a potted Queen of the Night cactus (Cereus hildmannianus susp.hildmannianus), long since rehomed
Massive cover-up to protect against the first freeze of the season on December 5, 2011
The Pointsettia-in-a-Can experiment that went nowhere
Grasses dominating the strip outside the front yard fence. Things are very different now. The Stipa gigantea is where one our ‘Desert Museum’ palo verdes now lives.
Hard to believe the Bambusa oldhamii was once this small. It’s now 35 ft. tall!
Yes, I know, the world belongs to squirrels
December 2011 trip to the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley. The massive Agave americana ‘Mediopicta alba’ has flowered and died since then.
Tour Deck overlooking the New World Desert
Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antartica)
The original name of my blog was Bamboo and More. Later it became Bamboo, Succulents and More, and then finally just Succulents and More. In December 2010, I was still very much focused on bamboo. We installed two 6-ft. stock tanks in the backyard and filled them with running bamboo.
These were three running bamboos I had just gotten from a fellow bamboo collector. I’m happy to say all three are still alive. Phyllostachys nigra ‘Hale’ is still in a large container in the backyard (although looking a bit tattered), and the other two, Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ and Phyllostachys bambusoides, are in my mother-in-law’s backyard in Mount Shasta.
Found like this on the green belt near our house
I love the wan winter sun in the early evening
Back in 2010 I had a lot of creeping wire vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris).
Now the Muehlenbeckia axillaris is all gone; I don’t know why (sounds like a country song). I need to get more because in spite of its invasive tendencies, I love the look.
One of five things in our yard I professed to love on December 11, 2010: Abutilon × hybridum ‘Souvenir de Bonn’
More frost on December 17, 2010
Rain on December 18, 2010
A few stalwarts blooming in December
My 2010 holiday card was all about bamboo. I still love bamboo and would grow a lot more of it if I lived in a place with enough precipitation (and if I had the room for it).