The Slope on Thursday Is it the first week in December?

Again this week the weather has been weird.  Monday was not cold and there was some sun during the day but as soon as it was dark, the heavens opened with thunder, heavy rain and both sheet and forked lightening.  This was followed on Tuesday by the perfect day, very warm, very possibly 20°C, sun and no wind all day.  That evening I turned the heating off, it had only been on a few days as it was.  Then came Wednesday!  I was woken by the sound of the wind blowing, howling, it was throwing our very heavy outside chairs to the ground.  A lot more leaves have come down whether they were ready or not.  Plus there was more rain until about 4pm when the sun came out, so I rushed to take some photographs as the forecast for today  was much the same as yesterday , but in fact it has been grey, mild and as I write now at 4pm is foggy in the distance.

I have managed to plant all the onion sets this week and almost all of the remaining bulbs, just a very few Alliums and some Freesias remain so I’m feeling happy that I have completed some necessary tasks.

The usual view, in January I will cut back the Perovskia it is early but there are so many new shoots already I am prepared to take the risk.

The usual view, in January I will cut back the Perovskia it is early but there are so many new shoots already I am prepared to take the risk.

All very green looking across at the forms and textures

All very green looking across at the forms and textures

Rain soaked foliage of Seneccio

Rain soaked foliage of Seneccio

No, this isn't a monochrome image but shows how a top leaf has dried and is back to its silvery colour

This images shows how a top leaf has dried and is back to its silvery colour

Seneccio cineraria now named Jacobaea maritima shows really clearly what happens to plants whose silver leaf colour is caused by fine hairs covering the surface – when soaked by the rain the leaf is as green as any other photosynthesising leaves.  The hairs act as a protection from the sun.  The images were taken within seconds of each other.

Looking at the slope today where I planted some thyme, I’d removed from where the new tree has been planted, I saw that there were literally thousands of tiny seedlings of Eschscholzia californica.  Some will surely die during winter and some I will weed out later but at present it is hard to see the soil for the new flush of green.

I missed posting my Long View at the beginning of the week, so here it is now.

The long view, I am getting used to the new shape of the path from this angle and it is definitely better at eye level.

The long view, I am getting used to the new shape of the path from this angle and it is definitely better at eye level.

The edge of the Large island

The edge of the Large island

The Melia azedarach has lost all its leaves now revealing a huge quantity of berries.

The vegetable and cuttings bed have been cleared and onion sets planted.  Garlic is already a few centimetres above the soil

The vegetable and cuttings bed have been cleared and onion sets planted. Garlic is already a few centimetres above the soil

You may just be able to see the peas and broad beans that are also growing.

Can you see the new Arbutus? I already love the way it is changing the view.



45 thoughts on “The Slope on Thursday Is it the first week in December?

  1. That is interesting about the Seneccio. I used to have one a long time ago, but had never really noticed its leaves changing when wet. Of course that was before blogging days – I am much more observant these days!

    • I think we are all more observant now we blog! But all silver leaves do behave in this way. If you cut a leaf and bring it indoors and put it in water you can see exactly how it works.

  2. You’ve had quite strong-willed weather lately. I will make note of the name Jacobaea maritima. Thought it looked familiar but couldn’t quite place it by either name. I first learned it by the common name, Dusty miller. Have a great day Christina.

  3. Your December view could be any month but December, its so lush and leafy. We had a beautiful day Wednesday, chilly damp today and down to 0 Friday morning, then up to 5 and sun all day Saturday. But it certainly does not look as green as your view.

    • As I said to Sarah “The landscape in general is green in winter here and then brown in summer. All of the silver leaved plants are more green in lower light or when wet so that makes it all appear more green too.” That and the light are what make winters feel better here; it isn’t the temperatures because they can be as cold as the UK.

  4. It certainly doesn’t look like December! You have such a lovely view even in the darkest months of the year. The shape of the garden and island bed is much clearer at this time of year too. I have trimmed my Perovskia down to about 30 cm and will cut it down properly in spring, when the frosts are over and the new shoots are visible.

    • I think I will do the same with most of my Perovskia this year, I usually leave it standing until spring. These views from the top window certainly help understand the layout of the garden.

  5. Your garden is still very green but, as Cathy said, it’s easier to see the structure at this time of year. All looking very good. I never thought about plants with silver leaves turning green in the wet… I really should look more closely in future!

    • The landscape in general is green in winter here and then brown in summer. All of the silver leaved plants are more green in lower light or when wet so that makes it all appear more green too.

  6. It looks as though you got a good-sized Arbutus! The Arbutus unedo I planted at my old house grew quickly and also made a great impact (on what was, unlike yours, a tiny garden). I was surprised to hear that even the Senecio cineraria has been reclassified – I generally prefer the Latin names but, given how subject to change those seem to be of late, maybe I’ll revert to common names. We call this one dusty miller.

    • I needed the tree to make an impact immediately; trees and shrubs are relatively cheap but perennials are expensive. I bought a dwarf myrtle for €5 which must have taken 6 years to grow to that size but a medium sized Hemerocallis costs €8 or €9! given that the Hemerocallis need dividing every couple of years I find the pricing comprehensible. The idea of Latin names is that gardens from all over the world know which plant is being described (eg we don’t use the name Dusty Miller) but with all the new Latin names I think many people won’t know so rather defeats the object!

    • Lots of foliage has gone but some things are hanging on to their leaves. I do have a lot of Mediterranean plants that tend to be ever-green (or silver) because they close down in summer. Cistus for example loose lots of their leaves in mid-summer.

  7. We’ve had some lovely weather here recently. Dry, relatively mild with some stunning sunsets – I must try and get some photographs of one. The garden doesn’t look wintery yet, more like autumn still, with leaves on my acer and herbaceous perennials yet to die back. Latin names changing all the time are such a pain as I need to make sure the plant names in the book are as up to date as possible but also include the appropriate common names so the books can go to America. i just wish they’d make up their minds and stick to names people know. 😉

    • Yes, I do agree about the Latin names, it seems we are losing the reason why they were used originally. Not just as a scientific description but so that everybody would know what any plant was just from its name – that is becoming untrue now as something seems to change almost every month and will only get worse as plants are named from their genetic make-up rather than appearance. Perhaps it is time to stop changing names and perhaps just add a third component to show that the name doesn’t fully describe the plant any more. I always thought the system was great so that even gardeners who didn’t speak the same language could at least communicate but now some of us are 2 or 3 names behind on a particular plant which isn’t helping anyone; we’re almost back to having a mass of just common names.

      • I so agree. I never realised it was such a minefield until last year and the edit of the book. Just going through it all over again. 😦 Seems pointless and self-defeating to include the new latin name if no one has ever heard of it. Some plants have so many synonyms now it’s got so confusing.

        • Maybe this is something we should both post about, that way we’d extend the argument and hear other points of view. As you saw, Kris in LA is considering returning to just using common names which would be worse for us all than retaining the Latin names we have and just accepting that the name isn’t always a true reflection of the plant family. It is time for a review.

          • Yes, that would be an interesting post. I probably won’t be able to write mine until the week of the 15th. Finding it hard to keep up with it at the moment and I’ve promised to write about somewhere for next week’s post. But definitely would be interested in joining in. 🙂

            • OK, I’ll write mine for that week too; I’ve suggested to Chloris at The Blooming Garden that she writes one too as she referred to our comments in her comment to me.

  8. I like the before the rain and after of the “grey” leaves, I think it is easy to forget they are grey because of their protective down covering. Your arbutus has a lovely shape. I planted mine in a bad place and it has not prospered. I really should find a place for another they are such lovely trees. Amelia

  9. Your views are looking very lovely seen from the grey skies and frozen mud of Chicago. That’s very interesting about the foliage that is silver only by virtue of the tiny hairs. Plants are ingenious, aren’t they?

    • Yes, hairs are a wonderful adaptation. Especially as it means that if there is lots of rain and therefore not so much sunshine they can still photosynthesise successfully.

  10. The long views are gorgeous, almost spring-like! Your weather seems as changeable as ours. We had very hard freezes a couple weeks ago, then today I was out in my shirt sleeves.

    • Our wet year has gone on and on but with some lovely days mixed in. We do need some really cold weather this winter to control some of the harmful insects and to let the plants know that it is winter and they shouldn’t be growing yet!

  11. I recently bought an Arbutus, an impulse buy as it was reduced to £9.99. Who could resist? I used to have an enormous one in my last garden which was a delight all year round.
    I agree with you and Wellywoman about the confusing name changes, but even so we have to try and keep up. Have you noticed how different the American common names for so many plants are ? If we didn’ t have the Latin names we wouldn’ t know what they were talking about. And we need a common language with European gardeners too.

    • Arbutus are wonderful as shrubs or trees, I may even add some smaller ones to the slope as they are wonderful for the bees at this time of year. The problem with all the name changes is that we don’t ALL know what plant we’re talking about any more. Certainly here in Italy where there is less interest in general they don’t keep up with the changes in names that’s why I think we (they) need to think why the two name system was created and it was so that everyone would be using the same same and we aren’t any more. I think that Wellywoman and I will post about this during week commencing 15th, why don’t you post too; it would be great to get a real debate going.

  12. Christina I like the long view of your garden, I don’t think I’ve read one of your long view posts for a while and can see the changes, I like the small tree next to the tall narrow conifer, sorry I am not good at remembering the names of plants and I am still trying to learn names of plants, living with wet I’ve noticed how some silver leaf plants are more green here, apparently those small hairs also help protect from salt winds which is why many have ‘maritima’ in the name, Frances

  13. Christina, your garden is so lush, I just have to ask you about irrigation. Do you have everything on a drip system? Do you have any sections of the garden that are native and do not require summer watering? Have you found any non-native plants that do well for you with little or no irrigation? Since many parts of my garden are still in the planning stage, any info you could share would be of great help.

    Here in Spain, we love our arbutus – it’s even on the flag of the city of Madrid! Mine is still quite small, though, and growing very sloooowly.

    • I realise that I need to do an update post so that the many new followers of My Hesperides Garden can understand the philosophy behind it. Basically only a small part of the garden is irrigated, the rest depends on rain!

      • That is what I also hope to achieve, although right now larger parts of my garden are receiving summer irrigation until they are established. My major problem is no shade, although I am slowly working on that. Would love to see that post, if you have the time!

        • It will be in January, I have several posts I’d like to write about the development of the garden. My garden didn’t have any shade either when I began, it doesn’t have enough even now.

  14. Christina, I feel foolish about asking you about winter annuals in my last comment, I see you have all the promise of a winter garden already growing along in your beds!
    Your long view makes me appreciate just how much you’ve done in only a few years. What a comforting and enclosing space you’ve created; such a difference from the windswept, exposed property you began with.

    • Thanks for this Frank, I really like your description of comforting and enclosing. I have tried to enclose the garden against the wind but to keep open some views to link with the countryside around.

  15. Christina I love the views of your garden in late fall/winter as the foliage shines. Especially the gray-green foliage. And I love the idea you have peas growing. My garlic grew a couple of inches above ground before the frozen air hit. And I think with each few days of above freezing weather it continues to grow.

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