Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice 2011

Today is winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and besides that this is the longest night of the year it is also the official beginning of winter. I am always in a happy mood on winter solstice no matter what the weather is like, because I know from now on the days are getting longer. But on this day in particular there can be no complains about the weather here in Southern California. At 1:00 pm it was sunny, only slightly windy, and the temperature were 68 F/20 C. Typical California dream weather you might say. But we are getting chilly at night (at least for our circumstances). The lowest temperatures are expected to be 34 F/1 C tonight.

So how is our garden doing on winter solstice? I went out with the camera early in the morning and then again briefly around noon and took some shots to share with you.

I am starting my tour in the backyard looking to the left side of the garden. This is the bed in which I grow only acid loving plants like hydrangeas, gardenias, and camellias. My two 'Nuccio's Gem' camellias want to start blooming early this year, but unfortunately they are having trouble to open their buds. I have no real idea why, except that I am thinking they might have simply outgrown their containers. For now I will try to water them more to see if this helps.

Here is a close-up of one of the camellia buds trying to open.

The 'Queen Anne Palm' - group with 'Georgetown Tea' planted in the middle. To the right in the container an 'Iceberg' rose is growing and then you see 'Zephirine Drouhin'. 'Georgetown Tea' is not blooming through the winter as I had hoped. I guess the rose is getting too little light in the location where I have put her. I am still happy that she is filling out this spot nicely. Looking at this picture I think this area would really benefit, if I would plant something light flowering like impatiens, or cyclamen at Georgetown Tea's feet. Hmm...

From the left to the right: 'Iceberg' in the container, 'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard'. There are a few blooms on 'Pierre de Ronsard' and 'Zephirine Drouhin' was surprising me with...

... a few blooms, too! What a welcome sight! I was complaining that this rose didn't rebloom in autumn, now she tries to please me in winter! We had already some decent autumn rains and I am wondering if this has helped.


Looking further to the right the 'White Bed' comes into sight. The 'Iceberg' roses are still blooming and I love how the 'Dusty Miller' growing under the cycad has filled out the space.

In the backyard also lives 'Moonstone', which I recently transplanted into a bigger container. It is squeezing out just one bloom, but what a great one. This rose is so beautiful when flowering, but it is suffering from rust badly right now, sigh...

Looking to the right side of the backyard you see this bed containing my second 'Pierre de Ronsard' rose (on the left of this photo), which is not blooming at all but at least the leaves are relatively healthy. That cannot be said of 'Baronne Prevost' which is growing to the right side of 'Pierre de Ronsard'. This rose is looking plain ugly and is suffering from powdery mildew big time. 


See this beauty instead? This is 'White Meidiland'. I just love the blooms of this rose and her leaves are relatively healthy. 

Before we leave the backyard, please have a brief glance at my cymbidium orchids. The first one (it is a little hard to see, but there are two containers with orchids standing in a row behind each other) is a dark red flowering variety and it is full of flower stalks. I think, I counted twelve and I can't wait for them to open.

Moving on to see the front yard. We slightly enlarged the banana-shaped bed since I have shown it on my blog the last time and I planted two white verbenas to the right and left side, which you hardly can see, but I hope they will stand out more in spring when they have some blooms. I also added four penstemons to this area. The alstromeria in the middle of the bed has filled in nicely and is even trying to bloom at this time of the year. I am really happy that this bed is not "a plain rose bed" anymore, as it has been in earlier times.

This photo shows the entrance of our front yard to the opposite of the banana-shaped bed. I am very pleased with the blue container and its plantings placed on the column. It just gives the area a nice color splash. The rose in bloom is 'Marie Pavie'. It has been a great rose here so far. Strong, wafting fragrance, a good bloomer with completely clean leaves.

Close-up of the cheerful blue lobelia blooming in a container seen in the photo above. 

My other alstroemeria has produced one blooming stalk, too. Her colors are much more saturated then the one in the banana-shaped bed. I actually like them both a lot.

On the left side of the walkway to our front door 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' seems to pretend it is spring instead the beginning of winter. This rose is such a good bloomer, but it was badly plagued by powdery mildew in the last few weeks. I am so glad that we got some rain lately, which took care of the powdery mildew problem somewhat.

This is 'Sweet Chariot' growing in a container in a very protected corner close by our front door. He also seems to assume it is spring. I am so curious to see if all the tiny buds really will open. Notice how clean his leaves are?

This nemesia was sulking not too long ago. I fertilized it and put out soil sulfur and it sprung back like crazy. I certainly could have more of this plant in my garden.

Because at lunch time the containers close to our kitchen door leading into the back yard were bathed in sun light I slipped out and took some more photos. Couldn't pass up this opportunity! Our small 'Meyer Lemon' tree is packed with lemons as you can see and we can start to harvest them again. They are so good, not too sweet not too sour just the right combination of both tastes.

I spoiled myself with planting some white pansies, which I truly love. Each time when I look out of the kitchen door into the back yard, I see this container (there are actually two of them flanking the kitchen door) and it brings a smile to my face.

Another one of my roses that seems to think it is already spring again: 'Old fashioned Girl', a Miniature rose.

This is it from here on winter solstice day. How was winter solstice in your garden?

Most likely this will be my last post before the Holidays so I don't want to miss wishing you Happy Holidays and if you celebrate Christmas Merry Christmas! May you have a joyful and peaceful time!

See you in the garden!



  1. Good morning Christina ~ Thank you for this delightful tour of your lovely garden areas filled with so many colorful blooms. I love seeing your palms growing with roses and other wonderful flowers.

    Have a lovely Christmas and a great 2012.


  2. Good morning christina,
    Seeing your pictures I getting a littbit jealours from this vieuws. Do the roses never stop flowering because of the high temperatures at your place or do they also have a time of rest without any flowers? Oh and than the orchids, lovely. I am also very pleased we had the shortest day of the year. I hope you have a wonderfull christmastime.
    gr. Marijke

  3. FlowerLady, thanks for commenting and your compliment regarding my garden! I am still amazed myself that I am growing roses together with palms here in San Diego :-). Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful year 2012!

    Marijke, thanks for your comment. Some roses are taking a natural break during the winter time here in Southern California (I guess, it all depends on the rose class), others seem just to go on and on and on. I think that our mild winters and relatively strong sun at this time of the year make that possible. Still we have to prune the roses to make them look good for next spring again, and painfully de-leaf them by hand, since the foliage gets ugly over the winter. So there is also a catch to having roses year round ;-). Hope you get to enjoy the Christmas time!


  4. Thank you for the beautiful tour in your sunny garden, Christina. You are a great gardener, I am learning a lot reading your blog.
    Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year !!!
    Greetings from Greece !

  5. I really enjoyed your tour! You have so many blooms - how wonderful to be able to go outside and see all that color! Your roses are looking wonderful. For them to be still blooming on the solstice is amazing to me. As for your camellia, I wouldn't worry about it. Although I don't know California seasons, japonicas generally bloom later than sasanquas. I do find that I am always about to give up on the blooms opening when they finally do! Have a very Merry Christmas, my friend.

  6. Dani, your compliments makes me blush, thank you so much! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2012, too!

    Holley, I am glad that you liked my little garden tour :-)! Thank you for your kind words about it. Are your roses not blooming anymore? Regarding the camellias, the buds open up the point in the close-up photo and then the camellia drops them. I have never had that happen. I really do think that something is wrong... Have a Merry Christmas, too, dear Holley!

  7. I can feel the warmth emanating from your photos, Christina.
    How wonderful to be able to grow orchids outside. Here they can only be grown indoors as a pot plant.
    A lovely series of photos. Merry Christmas Christina

  8. Your garden looks beautiful with so many blooms. My roses are half-way pruned already, so mine is full of mostly bare sticks :). Merry Christmas, and I hope your garden brings you much joy in the new year.

  9. Janet, thanks for your nice comment! I don't know if other types of orchids can be grown outside here easily, too. I think you need to increase the humidity with special misting systems and you definitively have to shade them, but cymbidium orchids are literally a piece of cake to grow in San Diego. Even I can do it and I killed many indoor orchids ;-)! Merry Christmas to you as well, Janet!

    Masha, thanks for commenting! Wow, you are already half way through with rose pruning?! I haven't even started, yet, yikes! Do you want to come down and help me a little? Merry Christmas to you, too, and happy gardening in 2012!


  10. Beautiful pictures and a very beautifully designed garden. Seems like you are a big fan of roses :-).

  11. KL, thanks for your nice words about my garden and photos. I guess you can call me rose nuts :-)!