December is an odd time in coastal southern California. We have autumn foliage on the trees, and our winter flowers are in bloom. It makes for an odd juxtaposition.
Our Liquid Amber (aka Sweet Gum) trees are in colorful splendor, even though the sky was cloudy and gray today.
Soon the leaves will fall. Then we rake them up and put them in plastic trash bags for later use in the compost bins. We compost 15-20 big bags of leaves a year, preventing them from going to the landfill. It is part of our green life-style.
Our yard flowers are hardly at peak bloom in December, but we do have quite a few of them scattered here and there. This is an Osteospermum, aka Freeway Daisy.
Gazania are a drought-tolerant flower that blooms year-round, peaking in the summer.
Due to the drought, our little pond in the front yard is dry. I keep water in the fountain at the upper right to provide water for the lizards and birds.
The lavender plant is coming into nice bloom now. I dried some blossoms once to make lavender sugar, but decided that I didn’t care much for the taste.
Mexican Sage provides a bit of nectar for hummingbirds.
Geraniums bloom year-round here.
Mother of Thousands blooms on 4 ft tall stalks. It self-sows like crazy, hence the name. We have a lot of these plants now. The hummingbirds like them.
These little flowers are in my hummingbird, bee and butterfly garden. They are called Brachyostoma, I think, a genus name.
Yarrow is native to California, a good plant for the pollinator garden.
Irises bloom mainly in March and November here, but mine are lingering into December this year.
This is my Garden of Perpetual Responsibility. It always needs weeding. I have artichokes, a Fuyu Persimmon tree and a semi-dwarf Gala Apple tree, as well as the pollinator garden. The boxes next to it have Redhead Radishes that I hope will bloom and go to seed so I can save the seeds. I also have strawberries in boxes, plus green onions in bowls.
Another crop of Amish Deer-tongue Lettuce has self-seeded and is up and growing. I can see that I will need to do some thinning soon. This is a very tasty lettuce.
The Garden Box of Joyous Anticipation needs to be replanted. The bell pepper yielded its last pepper this week. The basil has about one or two more batches of pesto left to be made. The arugula is too strong and bitter for us now, but is still good for the chickens. This has been a very productive component of my garden the past four months.
Our Bloodflower Milkweed has provided food for a LOT of Monarch butterflies and caterpillars. But in December, we have no caterpillars.
I can never remember the name of these pretty little orchids. They bloom year-round.
I grow Allysum as a ground cover. Beneficial insects such as Hover Flies like it.
Paperwhite Narcissus are definitely seasonal, and this is their season. They just pop up out of the ground and bloom year after year from December into March.
Jade is a drought-tolerant plant that blooms in December and January.
These marigolds were a surprise. When the marigolds in my veggie beds were spent at the end of summer, I just tossed the seed heads outside of the raised bed on the ground. Viola, I got more marigolds! In December!!! Crazy.
Nasturtiums self-seed in my yard. This is just about the first Nasturtium bloom of spring. They will bloom into June.
Is this the first rose of summer or the last rose of the fall? Who can tell?
Our rosemary bush blooms year-round. The bees love it.
Here are some flower buds on our dwarf Eureka Lemon tree. The Valencia Orange just finished blooming and has set fruit. The oranges are ripening on the Navel Orange. It will bloom later. The lime, it seems, is always blooming and producing fruit. Love that tree.
Here is a chicken update. Princess Aurora (on the far left) should start laying very soon as her comb and wattles seem grown and bright red now. Behind her, Chicken Little has finished her molt and her comb and wattles are red again. She may lay a few eggs this spring, but she is pretty old. Princess Aurora (the white Ameraucuna) is still a pullet, and not ready to lay yet, even though she is supposedly the same age as Aurora. Dino-peep, the Barred Rock on the right, has gone into molt and stopped laying.
Now that it is December and Dino-peep is molting, we are getting no eggs. We are now relying on eggs that we froze during the surplus of last May. I like to get 450 – 550 eggs a year, but this year we got a mere 290 eggs from three hens. Most of those were from Dino-peep. Poor Miss Hillary was eaten by an opossum in August, dropping us down to two hens, and that certainly affected egg production.
Here is hoping for a more productive 2017! With two young hens, that shouldn’t be a problem. I expect the new girls to lay 250-300 eggs each. Chicken Little is a senior citizen and I don’t expect more than a couple of dozen eggs from her. Who can tell with Dino-peep. She is a nasty bird, but a really good layer. She might be able to produce 150-200 eggs.
I hope that these cheerful flower pictures lifted the spirits of those of you who are snowed in until mid-March.