2011.12.31 End of Month View – December

A very happy new year to all garden bloggers.  I would like to thank so many of you for allowing me to visit your gardens, even if only virtually.  I have enjoyed walking around gardens in all parts of the world, experiencing spring (and every season) twice a year thanks to gardens in the southern hemisphere.  I have relished reading about woodland gardens, shady gardens, and tropical gardens; admiring plants I can’t possibly think of growing myself.

I have been fascinated by all the incredible wildlife that visits your gardens from humming birds that I have never even actually seen to friendly robins.

I didn’t want to write a long review of the year, I’m sure you are all far too busy at this time of year to want to read about my plans for the garden in 2012 so I thought I would just give you the images that I’ve like enough to use as my screensavers; Sometimes I’m lazy and I don’t change it every month or I like the image so much I don’t want to change it.

February, tiny violas found under the olives

I love the winter sunsets - February

Frosted leaves, yes we do get frosts in Italy!

Tulips- my favourite flower?

more tulips

Tulips with Euphorbia

I kept this as my screensaver for ages, I was so pleased with it

Early May

Of course Nature does mass planting best

Mid-May the garden is full of flowers

I wish you could smell these

Lavender and Perovskia

A bee enjoying the Hamerocallis

The view from my kitchen window, early July

Late August and light is the protagonist in the garden

September sunset

Early October, subtle colour and texture

Early November and there's still a lot of colour

December 11th last screen saver of the year

So there you have it, My Hesperides Garden in 2011. I know that 2012 may be a difficult year for many of us in many different ways but I hope that for gardeners and bloggers everywhere it will be happy and full of all the plants and flowers you would like.

Thank you for all your comments and help with identifying plants and I look forward to reading about your gardens and the plants and wildlife they contain in 2012.  Christina

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GBFD December

There is no pretending any more – it is winter.  The trees are bare; it is now the structure and the foliage of evergreen and ever-silver plants that are the mainstay of the garden.

For checking if you have good form and texture in the garden you can’t beat looking at you photographs in black and white.  This is not my idea, books recommend trying this and Janet at Plantaliscious often uses this method to learn about her garden. In this way you aren’t distracted by coloured flowers.  If you think your garden looks attractive in black and white I’m sure it looks amazing in colour.

Here’s a few examples, why don’t you try a few too and link into Garden Bloggers Foliage Day to share your findings.  Thanks so much for joining in this month but if you are too busy preparing for the Christmas festivities why not try it for January.

The left side border

I’m surprised at just how good this border looks in December in black and white.  Here it is in colour:

I almost prefer it in black and white, which I think is interesting.

Skeletal branches of the trees contrast with the mass of clipped lavender and grasses give lightness and movement

In colour its like this

The Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ sings out even without colour

Looking up the bank, the groundcover foliage plants are making quite an impact

Sometimes it is the foliage that is beautiful or interesting when viewed close-to, as in this Euphorbia which seems almost to be deformed but I remember that some were like this last year and they still grew normally.

Euphorbia

This morning I awoke to a ground-frost, so just to prove that Italy is cold in winter here are some icy shots to finish.

Foliage is even more silvery with frost

Rather elegant black grass edged in frost

Please leave a comment with your link, thank you. Christina

December GBBD, there are still roses

I am finding it impossible to believe that it is time for December GBBD.  As you will see from the slideshow of what’s flowering today in My Hesperides Garden, the range of blooms would lead you to believe that is was late May.  So Carol at Maydreams who hosts this great meme would be happy in my garden today.  Please visit her to see what’s blooming around the world today; don’t forget it’s nearly midsummer in the southern hemisphere, so forget the winter blues and visit these summer gardens.

Rosa Clair Matin has been flowering profusely since May

Almost all the roses have some blooms, they had more before the rain on Monday but hey, it’s December.  Other plants I wouldn’t expect to see blooming now (would I really expect anything?) is Lavender, the Philadelphus, and the orange Abutilon – this seems to have more flowers than at any time during this year.

Philadelphus

Papery Abutilon adding some unseasonal orange to the garden

Looking back at last December, there were quite a lot of roses then too and one Lavender plant had flowers, but a different variety than the one flowering now.  But I also posted images of frost covered foliage in early December 2010 and we haven’t had any yet this year although snow is forecast for next Monday!  With this in mind I moved the pots of lemons, limes and oranges into the greenhouse which suddenly feels very small (what will I do when the citrus all grow?).  I picked the limes before moving them, they are losing their green colour, I think they are over ripe; I’m surprised there are 18 limes, I’m going to juice them freezing some juice for Thai recipes and I may drink the rest, I like lime juice.

I should have taken the photographs yesterday as it was a calm sunny day, but I like to be honest and take the photos on the day I’m actually writing the post and today was cloudy, dull and worse for the photographs it was very windy.  I apologise now that some images are not focused as well as they should be.  Please click on the image below to see everything that is blooming today.

View towards the circular bed

Despite the numerous flowers in the garden to be really honest what I’m enjoying most is the structure of the garden and the foliage; don’t forget to join me on 22nd December for GBFD (Garden Bloggers Foliage Day) – forget the presents, forget the Mince pies and the shopping, get out into the garden and see what foliage is performing for you.

If you’re new to GBFD you can hopefully be inspired to write a post yourself by viewing last month’s post here.

Seed-heads in the December Garden

I think the moment has arrived to show you some of the seed-heads and berries that are providing interest in the garden.  I was away from the garden last week and when I returned, even though there were still a lot of plants flowering it was unmistakably now winter.  Yes the sun has been shining and it still isn’t that cold but of many trees are now bare of leaves displaying their bark, skeletal branches or fruits.

I took the photos yesterday when it was cloudy and we had showers so the light is very different from all images I’ve shown in the last few weeks.  We are fast approaching the shortest day so at least I feel winter won’t be too long and after the celebrations to come the days will slowly be getting longer again and we can look forward to a new growing season.

Seedheads are now the strongest feature in the small island bed

The silhouette of bare branches provides a stark backdrop to the garden

It’s always good to look closely; I found this very strange insect on this Achillea seedhead; it looks like some kind of stick insect which I have found many times in the garden.

Twisted seed pods of Asclepias tuberosa have lost their seeds to the wind, but I already have some germinated seeds from earlier pods.

Crab apples give some bright colour to the upper drive border

As do Nadino berries to the large island bed

rosehips contrast with the leaves of MiscanthusGarlic chives

Papery garlic chives again hopefully dropping their seeds to extend the clump

I love the complex form of white Phlomis

Phlomis fruticosa

Delicate PerovskiaDelicate Perovskia is more beautiful in close-up than when seen as a mass of ghostly stems.

Drumstick Allium (this is part of the Allium stream shown earlier in the year)

Sedum, Pennisetum villosa, Verbena bonariensis, grasses and sheep adding to the view

Contrasting grasses – Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ and a smaller Miscanthus

Still looking attractive on this dull December day