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 The road to optimism is paved with gratitude.  Today is a holiday dedicated to gratitude. Gratitude for the garden, For simple pleasures, like just baking a loaf of bread,  For loved ones most of all! Happy Thanksgiving, with optimistic hope 2021 is much better than 2020.

Autumn Foliage, Southern California Version


Leucadendron 'Ebony'  displaying Southern California's version of autumn foliage

It has finally cooled off enough to garden again here in Southern California.  I've been pulling out victims of two months of terrible heat--the Leucadendron in the above photo, as well as the Grevillea 'Royal Fanfare' which looked happy in spring but did not survive the heat.  Two choice plants.  Ouch. 

Some of the Pittosporums also suffered--one of the P. tenuifolium 'Wrinkled Blue's had several branches die.  I spent yesterday cutting them out.

There, the center-left one.  Looks a bit better now.  There's still a few dead bits that need to come out.  

The four 'Tasman Ruffles' P. tenuifolium to the right look very bad, much worse than in the photo.  The long drought of 2011-2016 damaged them and they lost their health and beauty.  They should be lusciously dense, not scraggly.  Remove and replace with new copies?  Replace with something else?  Cut back hard, to see if they can grow back with renewed health?  More thought required. 

Just lately, lightbulb moment: the various variations of P. tenuifolium have a virtue I never before considered:  they are dense enough in habit to work as a screen, but not so dense that the various local rodents take refuge in them.  The drawback unfortunately is that extreme heat, or a long drought, is very hard on them.

 The hawk that had rabbit dinner was back again, just looking around.   

Get those squirrels!

Gardening right now is chopping off damaged stuff, or what needs to be trimmed back for winter.  I moved some Salvia nemerosa 'Blue Hill' from a too-shady place to more sun.  'Blue Hill' has been a great plant;  I've split the originals and moved them around over the years and the plants or their surviving parts are at least fifteen years old.  They go semi-dormant in winter, looking...not great, but not dreadful, either.  In spring, summer, and early fall they bloom, I trim them back, and they'll repeat bloom several times.  The rabbits don't like them; bees do. 

'Blue Hill' Salvia is a great edging plant:

This is the one I moved, per the sign: 

The Iochroma 'Purple Queen' has gotten really tall.  I let it in order to have it shade two windows during the summer, to keep the house a little cooler.  It needs chopping back before the Santa Ana winds arrive.  Which is tomorrow.  The winds may chop it short before I do. 

A few small branches removed from the bottom of the Oak.  Now the trunk is visible.  The large Agave ovatifolia, once engulfed, is almost visible--a few more branches need to come off. 

Autumn foliage, SoCal style:   A Codiaeum: 


 The Alstroemerias took a summer nap, and now, wake.  The silver Dichondra, meanwhile, is preparing for a winter's nap. 

Dorycnium hirstutus engulfed Agave 'Ivory Curls' this summer.  Can you spot the Agave? 

The fuzzy wave about to flow over Aloe 'Congolensis'
Agave 'Blue Flame' looking more blue and less bleached as daylight hours wane. 

Aloe suprafoliata flowers emerging, foliage growing again.
Alternathera foliage about to decline.  It loves the heat of summer.
As the seasons turned, leaves of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' display the same colors as Leucadendron 'Pom Pom'. 
A tapestry of distant greens photo-bombed by the flower stem of Agave stricta
Ah, finally the toasted brown of autumn in a Clematis moving towards dormancy. 
Summer's really over.  Hooray!

UPdate:  Summer's over, so "Traditional" fire season has begun.  

We could see it from our house this morning: 

It's close, but we're out of the path of far.

The next door neighbors had their trees trimmed yesterday--great timing, and another new homeowner a few houses away had a truly massive number of palms and Eucalyptus taken out of their property.  Makes us feel a little safer. 
Later in the day...

The firefighters have been incredible.  They knocked this area of fire down quickly.  Unfortunately two of these very brave people have been badly injured and are in the hospital. 


  1. Lovely Autumn shots !

  2. I've been thinking of your since I heard about the fire early this morning. I understand it's exploded in size and there's an evacuation order in place. I hope you're well outside of the evacuation area. Our sky is already a dingy brown but I haven't actually smelled the smoke yet.

    Despite your losses to the hideous heatwaves ('Ebony' - ouch!), your garden looks good. I loved that Leucadendron-Graptoveria combination. My own Dorycnium is similarly sneaky about rolling over everything in its path. It is a pretty groundcover, though.

    1. Thanks, Kris. We got a voluntary evac notice, but we're not in the mandatory area at this time. It's been a crazy day. Not much smoke smell here. Crazy wild powerful winds howling, ripped the patio doors open at one point, piles of snapped off plant material all over. The wind has really calmed down now @ 5pm. The Fire Authority announced they have night capability for the tanker planes and will be operating if the wind is not too strong. That's a really good thing.

      The Dorycnium is so lovely, I can't really fault it. I will give them more space in future, well, I hope I will! My beautiful 'Ebony', owwwwww!

  3. Where are you in relation to the new OC fires? Out of the path, I hope

    1. We could see the flames from the Silverado Fire at one point, but the winds were not in our direction. The winds are slightly out of direction also from the Blue Ridge fire, though if they shifted a bit and the fire had blown down Fremont Canyon, that is a big threat. That's what happened with the Canyon II fire back in...17? 18? that nearly got our neighborhood, but did not thanks to the firefighters.

  4. Oh, that fire is really close to you. The fires in California are awful and have been going for such a long time.
    I’m surprised your Grevillea didn’t make it through the summer as they are such hardy plants, and survive great temps and neglect (sometimes) in our part of the world.
    I very much like your blue salvia. The smaller ones seem to stay more compact and neat and I like the way they seed themselves around the garden. I shall keep a lookout for ‘Blue Hills’. Janes Mudgee Garden.

    1. The other Grevilleas are just fine--40c, no problem. The 'Royal Fanfare' with its more substantial foliage I've lost twice--does that type come from a more mild part of Australia? Drainage is not a problem here at all. Very sharp. Did it dry out too much?

    2. I’m not really familiar with G. Royal Fanfare but in my last garden I had Royal Mantle which is similar, I think. It was a rambunctious plant and I had to cut it back frequently. It had no trouble during drought or flood.

  5. Your garden looks amazing what with all it has to deal with, drought, heat, wind. You are a brave smart gardener. I wish you well and hope that those fires stay away.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. The firefighters are awesome. We are very lucky.

  6. I can't even imagine having fires that close. I'm so glad you aren't in the path of that one. Your garden looks amazing in spite of the drought, but I'm sure you're so, so tired of it. I hope you'll get some needed rain soon. How fabulous, though, to have a hawk in the garden. I'm always pleased when that happens here, too.

  7. Hope the firefighters have recovered meanwhile. Such challenging work!

    1. Still in the hospital at last report. We all hope they are getting the very best care possible.


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