My last wreath of the year! This one is made from Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), a California native shrub/small tree. Toyon is a great addition to the garden. Once established, it needs no supplemental irrigation; is evergreen, even in those hot summer months; has lovely tiny white flowers which bees love; and either red or orange berries to celebrate December holidays (and keep the birds happy in cold weather). What’s not to love? I took cuttings from several bushes at a local open space park for this wreath. Because it’s such a hardy plant, this wreath will look as good at the end of the month as it does now.
This monthly wreath project was super fun for me and I am working on something for 2019 that will follow the same spirit. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, if you want to see all the wreaths from this past year, I’ve made a little photo display below.
Several things have been keeping me from writing here lately. One is simply that it is the end of the school term, and all my writing skills and brain power have been used to finish term papers. (Ok, I’m still not finished, but will be by the end of the weekend.) We did visit that local dairy I mentioned last post - they make primarily cheese and it was fun to visit and taste, but I was overwhelmed by what it takes to keep a large operation like this one running (450 dairy cows). I wasn’t entirely on board with some of their practices, but recognize that some things need to be ditched in the name of efficiency. I guess, more than anything, it made me want to have a small dairy herd for my own use; for milk, butter, cream, and cheese. That isn’t possible here of course, and so some compromises have to be made. I’m still wrestling with that one so haven’t felt compelled to write about it just yet.
I’m also feeling completely knocked down by the scary news in the recent climate reports, but they do present a LOT of new opportunities and challenges for those of us that want to make a difference. I am trying to figure out my place in all that. I find myself wanting to write more and more about these issues, but this space began as a place to share gardening ideas on smaller urban/suburban plots, and I recognize that many of my readers are here for that, and that only. So I am struggling with where to take this space in the future. Your comments appreciated.
Meanwhile, we’re enjoying frequent, steady rains which make the winter garden pop with good things to eat. I’ve picked our olives and have started the leaching process, and in a couple of weeks will begin the brining process. I’ve started the annual leaf-haul to both the chicken coop and the walkways. As our trees lose leaves I can start to better calculate what needs pruning and shaping, which is a major winter project. We pick greens daily for salads and sautés, and I eat fresh peas every time I walk through the garden. Winter citrus is starting to come in from the neighbors, and Adam made the first batch of lemon bars yesterday. We crave hearty meals, which I’m happy to cook this time of year. I’m re-reading ‘My Antonia’ by Willa Cather and am struck by how much those Nebraska pioneers had to eat in order to stay warm (descriptions of daily pie baking, yum!), and though we don’t work nearly as hard, something in our DNA tells us to fill up the bellies!
I’d love to hear what’s happening in your own gardens, and what you’re cooking and eating. I’m off to work on those term papers some more, at least until the sun shines - and then it’ll be back to work outdoors.
Below is the slideshow - just click to work your way through it.
January - Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Toyon
February - Acacia
March - Rosemary
April - Western Redbud
May - Love-in-a-Mist
June - Fennel
July - Wild Cherry Plum
August - California Pepper, Salvia clevlandii
September - Germander, Monarda
October - California Bay Laurel
November - Olive
December - Toyon