Sunday potpourri: of fog, daphne, bamboo, and banksia

It’s not unusual for us to have foggy nights and mornings, but this year the fog has been extreme. Right now the sun is out, but it’s been a rare sight in the past few weeks.

I must admit, though, that I love what the fog does: It makes even familiar sights look mysterious, even unsettling, and it muffles all sound so the world is shrouded in a peculiar stillness.


Trees across the street—morning


Trees across the street—night


Our own Bradford pear tree and Asian lemon bamboo


Asian lemon bamboo and redwood trees across the street


Bambusa oldhamii and redwood trees across the street


Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’


Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ flower stalk


Straight of out a film noir


Our street

Yesterday daughter #1 and I drove to Berkeley, and the fog extended past Vallejo


…to the Carquinez Bridge. Usually the situation is reversed: It’s sunny east of Vallejo (our side) and you hit a wall of fog right as you descend past the Hunter Hill Rest Area on Interstate 80. It’s been a weird winter.



The Daphne odora ‘Maeijima’ I bought my wife for Valentine’s Day and subsequently planted against the backyard fence has thrived in its new home. It’s covered with flower buds, which should open very soon if the sun stays out long enough. I love how pronounced the creamy leaf edge has become. I wonder if it’s because it gets a fair amount of morning sun, especially in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky?





Years ago I planted what I thought was a clumping bamboo named Fargesia robusta in the backyard. Over time it became clear that the label had been wrong. Most likely it was Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’, a very popular and much more compact clumper.

‘Rufa’ ‘was fine as long as it was protected by the Pittosporum tobira hedge on the other side of the fence, which was a good 10 ft. tall. However, we removed that hedge in March 2013 to create the front yard desert garden bed. After that, ‘Rufa’ suffered from the additional sun exposure and the fact that I had drastically reduced the amount of irrigation.

The time had come for it to go.


In its place is now a bird’s nest banksia (Banksia baxterii), a shrub from Western Australia that has both unusual leaves and unusual flowers (see images here). My only fear is that it might get too big for this space, but judicious pruning should be sufficient to keep it in check.


The Guanyin head and the Japanese granite lantern look a bit out of place now, but if you can have fusion cooking, you can surely have a fusion planting/yard art theme!



Another recent bamboo project, this time in the front yard, was of the maintenance variety. I spent a few of hours removing dozens of new culms from this Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’.

Here is the before image:




And after:


“After” may not look so different at first glance, but believe me, I did a lot of work in there. The clump is now much less congested and looks much better.


  1. That Maejima is stunning! The bamboo does look visibly tidier and we can relate how much can it entail to have them looking neat. And very atmospheric photos, looks like the clouds have descended there.

    1. I'm so glad I got that 'Maejima' last year. The variegation is so much more pronounced now. This will turn into a stunning shrub over time.

      Yes, it is a bit like living in the clouds. I'm not used to that.

  2. I was just commenting on Ricki's blog (sprig to twig) about our fog. It's been thick here too and the air has been so heavy and moist.

    Jealous and excited about your banksia and I could almost smell the daphne!

    1. This fog is so weird since January has been bone dry except for one day of drizzle.

      I knew you'd like the banksia. Keeping my fingers crossed it will be happy there.

  3. Bamboo--lots of work, eh? It does look better in the "after".

    1. It seems like a lot of work, but then, I do this kind of maintenance only once a year. So it's no worse than pruning shrubs or woody perennials.

  4. I love fog! One of my favorite kinds of weather. That Daphne is gorgeous and I second Loree's jealousy/excitement about your banksia!

    1. I look at this Banksia baxterii as an experiment. I want it to thrive, but I'm not entirely sure that we have the right climate for it. Time will tell!

      More fog today, but not as dense as what you saw in the photos above.

  5. It's funny how different the weather can be at the 2 ends of our state. It's been very dry here, thanks to the Santa Ana winds, with much less fog even along the coast below us. I find I miss it so your fog-shrouded views hit the spot.

    1. Fog isn't uncommon here in the winter, but not for weeks at a time. Especially when it's so dry. Strange indeed. I'm beginning to wish for Southern California weather. I want my aloes to bloom. They need sun, not fog.

  6. Love your fog shots, hate to see you removing another bamboo but understand why. ('Rufa' is the only clumper that I can grow here, so strange to see somebody remove it.)


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