Friday, December 18, 2015

In Decembers past…

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:

2014:

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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.


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Aeonium getting ready to flower

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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.

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Even the most familiar sights look mysterious in the fog

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An entire expanse of Agave desmettiana in front of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management

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Many of them were beginning to flower last December. They’re gone now, just like mine, replaced with small offsets.

2013:

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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…

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…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.

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Palo verde ‘Desert Museum’ at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum where it was discovered

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Saguaro skeleton against the epic blue sky of southern Arizona

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One of my favorite nurseries in Tucson: Bach’s Cactus Nursery

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The most perfect Agave victoria-reginae I’ve ever seen

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A circle of Mexican fence posts cactus (Pachycereus marginatus) at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson

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Soaptree yucca (Yucca elata)

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LEFT: Leafed-out ocotillo and saguaro   RIGHT: Desert view framed through window in utility storage area

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Golden barrels at Tucson Botanical Gardens

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Shrine in Nuestro Jardín community garden at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

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Agave americana and Paolo Soleri bell at Cosanti, his studio in Scottsdale

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Plants I shipped home from Tucson. Every single one is still alive.

2012:

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One of the things I look forward to the most in December is the annual ginkgo spectacle

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Fortunately, there are quite a few ginkgos in Davis, both on the campus of UC Davis (as the two above)…

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…and in town

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We had rain, but not much. The drought had already begun in 2013 although many people were still oblivious to it.

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A bowl of local fruit

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Fog on the green belt near our house

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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.

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Prickly pear fence along Interstate 680 in Cordelia Junction

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First frost, December 20, 2012

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Annual father and daughter trip to the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley

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Aloe pluridens

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Aloe polyphylla

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Aloe capitata var. quartziticola

2011:

 

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My favorite photo of 2011, taken at the UC Davis Arboretum

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Nocturne in the fog

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Black oaks in Mount Shasta

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Black oaks in Mount Shasta

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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.

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First fruit from a potted Queen of the Night cactus (Cereus hildmannianus susp.hildmannianus), long since rehomed

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Massive cover-up to protect against the first freeze of the season on December 5, 2011

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The Pointsettia-in-a-Can experiment that went nowhere

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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.

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Hard to believe the Bambusa oldhamii was once this small. It’s now 35 ft. tall!

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Yes, I know, the world belongs to squirrels

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December 2011 trip to the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley. The massive Agave americana ‘Mediopicta alba’ has flowered and died since then.

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Tour Deck overlooking the New World Desert

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Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antartica)

2010:

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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.

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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.

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Found like this on the green belt near our house

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I love the wan winter sun in the early evening

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Back in 2010 I had a lot of creeping wire vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris).

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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.

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One of five things in our yard I professed to love on December 11, 2010: Abutilon × hybridum ‘Souvenir de Bonn’

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More frost on December 17, 2010

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Rain on December 18, 2010

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A few stalwarts blooming in December

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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).

8 comments:

  1. Lovely, brings back nice memories!

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  2. I enjoyed see your photos from the past, Gerhard. Your garden may have changed over time but your photos have been consistently of top quality.

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    1. Thank you, Kris! I also realized just how many photos I've taken over the years. Yikes!

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  3. Thanks for sharing all the cool shots. I really enjoy them . I look forward to viewing your next year's photos. Merry Christmas and happy new year.

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    1. Thank you, Laura! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  4. What a great little trip through time,Gerhard! Have you already done your December Arizona trip? Did I miss it? I've been pretty spotty checking in lately.

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