Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2003
Regional Report

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My darling nepenthes live in a $60 carnivore condo, complete with reptile heater for warmth.

Enjoying the Down Time in the Garden

Having the time to spend alone in the garden on a winter day is a treasure, so long as my feet are warm. Winter gardening is more puttering than hard work. The big pruning chores are a few weeks in the future, and watering this time of year isn't an issue. There are are lots of little things that need to be done: rake up the storm debris, cultivate the soil around the pansies, pick the dead leaves off the miniature roses, get the fuchsias ready for bed, dig the begonias before the weather gets really cold and the tubers get mushy, tip the standing water out of the saucers under the container plants, and comb the ferns. I really need to prune the ficus, which has gotten out of hand and is covering the address on the building, but I don't want to encourage it to grow right now, so it will have to keep its bushy look a bit longer, at least until the days start getting longer.

Even the indoor plants are resting now. I have cut back on watering and there will be no fertilizing to do until March. I am kept busy with the mist bottle; humidity keeps the insects at bay, and my darling nepenthes seem to thrive on moisture.

Thank goodness I don't have to worry about little robbers stealing my plants this time of year. It seems that thieves are not hardy souls, like gardeners. I can safely move the fly traps and pitcher plants downstairs so they can enjoy a chilly sleep for the rest of the winter.

Plants Come and Go
I gave one of my precious nepenthes to Ricky, my good gardening friend, for Christmas. Letting favorite plants go is like adopting out your pet -- you must be sure they are going to the very best of homes. Ricky has a dilapidated old greenhouse where he starts bedding plants from seed. If anybody needs the helping jaws of a carnivorous plant, it's Ricky. It was sad to say goodbye though....

In spite of the cold, new plants keep arriving at my doorstep. This week a giant shefflera magically appeared with no indication of where it might have come from. It's a grand looking plant, 5 feet tall and in good shape. I was worried at first because my orphans usually arrive infested with something or other, and the shefflera was pushed up against my collection of abandoned Nolina recurvata (pony tail palm), another of my passions. Although hardy, the Nolina are susceptible to scale and mealy bug, but the shefflera was clean, thank goodness.

As I wander through my collection of plants in my office, on the landing, and in the atrium downstairs I lovingly refer to as my garden, I think of all the time and money I spend fiddling with these green, living beings. Do they know me? Do they anticipate, or appreciate, the care I lavish on them? The newest nepenthe is living in a cookie jar with an electric reptile heater placed under it to provide the necessary warmth. My plants certainly give me a great deal of pleasure, I hope I return the favor in kind.

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