Winter interest in our garden

Winter is my least favorite time of year. Mostly because I hate the cold, and it’s been cold this week. Thanks to an arctic front pushing down from Alaska, our nighttime lows have been right around freezing. This photo, taken yesterday morning, captures it all:


Winter morning in Davis, CA

The tropical foliage plants in our garden hate the cold, too:


Musa × ‘Dwarf Cavendish’

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Canna indica and Musella lasiocarpa

But looking a little deeper, there are actually quite a few pockets of interest all over the front and backyard.

This prickly pear (Opuntia macrocentra) has turned noticeably more purple.


Opuntia macrocentra

And this hybrid aloe (Aloe ‘KG-14’)…


Aloe ’KG-14’

…is getting ready to bloom.


Aloe ’KG-14’

Echium ‘Mr Happy’ is hanging in there although it’s been covered with frost more than once this week.


Echium ‘Mr Happy’

For foliage interest, my beloved variegated farfugium always comes through, even in the dead of winter.


Farfugium japonicum ‘Argenteum’

And I even found a few brilliantly colored leaves on our ‘Red Dragon’ Japanese maple.


Acer palmatum ’Red Dragon’

One of my favorite plants in the winter is this ‘Glacier Blue’ spurge. Its foliage brightens up one of the succulent beds in our backyard. In another 6 weeks it’ll sport delicate yellow flowers.


Agave chiapensis and Echeveria characias ‘Glacier Blue’


Echeveria characias ‘Glacier Blue’


Echeveria characias ‘Glacier Blue’

Speaking of flowers, what is this little violet doing blooming now? Crazy!


Viola odorata

The one and only hellebore in our garden is getting closer to blooming. I tend to ignore it for most of the year but in the winter I keep going back to it.


Helleborus argutifolius ‘Janet Starnes’

The first grevillea I planted in our garden wants to bloom badly. If it weren’t for the cold nights, it might already be in flower. I can’t wait to see what promises to be a spectacular inflorescence.


Grevillea ‘Superb’

Walking over to the vegetable beds, the first thing you see is this cardoon. I flowered profusely this year and when I cut it down I noticed new basal growth. It’s grown vigorously since early fall.


Cynara cardunculus

While most of our winter vegetables appear to be stuck in limbo, this parsley is like a green beacon. The colder it gets, the more neon its coloration seems to become.


Petroselinum crispum

But the best thing about winter—I’m trying hard to look at the bright side—are our Washington navel oranges. They are very close to being ripe.

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Washington navel orange and Cordyline australis


Washington navel orange

What winter interest do you have in your garden?


  1. It's great to see some of your plants looking good at this time of the year, which also reminds me of spring in here too as some of them can only go out here once spring has arrived. Interest in the garden is very important, usually they are the backbones but little gems are just as essential.

  2. That 'Glacier Blue' is just *glowing*! Oh, and stop showing the ripe oranges on the tree. Too jealous!

    The main winter interest in my garden is the bamboo. Lots of green!

  3. Citrus in the winter garden, what a paradise you live in! I feel a little spoiled by the winter interest in my garden, right now mainly the Grevillea. Hopefully our upcoming cold streak will leave them unharmed.


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