Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seasonal Changes In The Coastal Garden

As we start our cooler weather in October on the north coast, changes in light, temperature, and blooming begin. When fall and winter arrive I am always grateful for the shrubs and vines that stay green and withstand most of the frosts and weather here.

With fall weather, the heathers sporting colorful leaves start deepening their hues from evergreens and yellows to oranges, reds and bronse, standing out more in the garden as the other flowers begin to fade. The late blooming heathers are a wonderful addition as the months grow colder since so many of them bloom from September to October and even November. The pink jasmine stays green all year long, flowering more during summer, yet, surprisingly has a small amount of white with pink tinged flowers blooming even during the coldest of winter months.

The lithodora ground cover remains green all year long after its blue flowers bloom in summer, as do my azaleas, rhododendron, and the cotoneaster plant, which features orange berries all year long. This gives the garden some color and leaf shape when the rose leaves look sparse, the Johnson's Blue geranium dies back, the garnet pestemon gives up its blooms, the kiwi vines and butterfly bushes are bare, and the other spring and summer plants go dormant.

The passionflower vines on the front yard fence have survived well through most winters here, surprisingly so. Our first year the vines were hit by a very cold winter, with heavy frost and temperatures below the low thirties. The passionflower vines on the fence died back and then quickly recovered in spring, as if the frost did nothing to them that year. Since then I've practiced a hard trim back in early spring, leaving the vines and leaves lush and full from summer over fall and winter, which seems to help protect the vines during colder weather.

The privet hedge is always green, not my favorite hedge but in winter it helps to see the green outline our front yard. Even the curly willow and drooping cherry tree that both drops its leaves by winter have beautiful bare, curled branches that are striking during the cold weather of winter. If only the passionflower vines on the trellis out front would stay leafed out during the colder months, but it seems my garden passionflower vines during winter are only full with green leaves when located against the front yard fence.

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