• Winter check on the Sierra Foothill garden

    by  • February 8, 2011 • Garden, Plant Profiles, Winter

    What I am really doing in the garden

    Daffodils, only thing left in beds formerly full of Mexican primrose

    Sunny January weather is lasting into February, and although chilly, by mid morning, it’s possible to putter in the garden with the sun to warm me.  After a few weeks gone, a walk around the garden reveals welcome progress, and that there is a lot of work to be done. My heart lifts as I see daffodils showing their grey green shoots from under the winter leaves. One pops out of an old hollow log piece set in the entry way. 

    First wild violet, Viola papilionacea

    Violets are blooming now, too and tiny cabbage-like sprouts of the gold sedum are showing through dried sticks of last summer’s growth.

    Gold Sedum, Sedum kamtschaticum ‘Golden Carpet’

    Gold Sedum, Sedum kamtschaticum ‘Golden Carpet’ pops up

    The chives have sent up the first slender strands of green in my herb basket outside the kitchen door. 

    The dill planted itself next to the original pot. Nice!

    A huge feathery bouquet of dill has volunteered from seeds fallen out of the last year’s pot.

    Checking on the meadow
    A satisfying check today on my meadow planted Nov 9th,  shows 2 inch seedlings of California poppies, two kinds each of clarkia and lupine, and a wildflower seedling ID post is in the works.  It will help when it comes to weeding, the next project. Which are weeds and which are seedlings?  I have dug up and tossed out tons of Hooker’s Evening Primrose in the past, simply because, from the seedling, I thought it was a weed. Shoot! I take photos of weed seedlings and wildflower seedlings to sort out later.   
    Meadow Planting      and      1st Update

    Winter Blooms

    Winter Blooming Bergenia, Bergenia crassifolia

    Winter Blooming Bergenia, Bergenia crassifolia

    The Winter Blooming Bergenia is blooming to my surprise and I pause, stripping off the under-leaves that had turned blackish brown and crisp. Mental note to look into getting a skinny little rake, but for now my gloved hands are the best tool.

    Bergenia, all trimmed up and purty.

    Throw the clippings in the path to rake up later. Other bloomers are rosemary, a very few creeping phlox flowers and the violets. Buds are swelling on the pear, redbud and Bridal Veil Spirea.

    Mess and clutter
    Electric cords to put away, woodpile to neaten up, … car towels to put away, dead foliage still sticking up from the flower beds…still need to be trimmed up and I do, working my way around the front beds with my favorite scissor-like clippers and stop to give them a spray of WD-40 to get them springing back again. 

    Front beds were once infested with Mexican primrose, by my own hand

    Front beds were once infested with Mexican primrose, by my own hand, and now will sit fallow until I'm sure it's all gone.

    I put the last of the pine straw in the front beds, improving them immensly which got a major overhaul to get rid of the Mexican primrose that became invasive there. Only a few sprouts of that are still seen thank goodness. I vowed not to replant the plants I took out until the unwelcome primrose is gone, gone, gone.


    Helichrysum petiolare 'Moe's Silver’

    Helichrysum petiolare 'Moe's Silver’ with Shasta daisy under the oak.

    I notice how nice the grey Helichrysum looks under the oak tree by the bench. Moe’s Silver, it’s called, found at a nursery in Fresno. It, like my other Helichrysum ‘Icicles,’ is proving to perform four seasons of the year! They are from the strawflower family, actually Asteraceae, and each kind has long lasting flowers.  ‘Moe’s Silver’ has pinkie width yellow flowers; ‘Icicles’ has button sized round yellow flowers and are deer resistant.

    Snow in Summer, Cerastium tomentosum

    Snow in Summer, Cerastium tomentosum

    The Snow in Summer, Cerastium tomentosum , is filling out this year after two or three years, and spills down the dry rocky stream bed. This grey-green, low grower, seen at a museum garden long ago, has since been ‘on my list’ and has not disappointed, blooming with starry white flowers every June.. It spreads itself around nicely, too.

    Ghost Plant, Graptopetalum paraguayense

    'Mother of the Garden' with Ghost Plant, Graptopetalum paraguayense

    The tree trimmer put my planter in the bushes, I see, usually hanging from the oak trunk. ‘Mother of the Garden,’ with ghost plant in it, an echeveria-like succulent, called Graptopetalum paraguayense. Haven’t worked out the pronunciation on that one yet. I hang Mother back up.

    Tip: When the whole garden needs doing, do one section at a time, so as not to overdo and not get overwhelmed. And be careful of stickery oak leaves down the back of your jeans…they may get in your panties,…but, yes.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.