Well here we are in the middle of December, just a couple of weeks away from Christmas, and there are still flowers blooming in the garden!
I had been lamenting with my dad on the phone that the garden was past it's best and was looking ratty. But when I went out and had a look around, I was surprised to see how much was actually blooming.
While the drifts of orange Profusion zinnia that once filled most of the island beds are now dead and brown, there are still a surprising number of flowers in evidence.
The Salvia Evolution that I started from seed in the spring was a real winner this year, and is still going. Interestingly, I planted red and white, but only the red came up. The pink and white Vinca is still with us too, while the Cosmos and Cleome have long gone to seed.
This dense patch is a favorite hangout of the local sparrows, who hide in there for hours, scratching around for seeds. And, of course, the hummingbirds enjoyed the tubular red flowers.
Another bird favorite is the purple Fountain Grass. In spring many of the plumes showed evidence that they were providing nice cozy nest linings, and the birds seem to like poking around in it for bugs as well.
The other island bed got overrun with Bermuda grass this year, as it seems to every year. With the two major surgeries I had this year, along with instructions not to do any bending, I wasn't able to keep up with it. Even though it's overrun with grass, there are still some flowers hanging on, such as the pink Vinca and yellow Lantana in the photo above.
I've also still got quite a lot of milkweed, which is good because one of our neighbors put out a call in our neighborhood Facebook group last week that she needed some milkweed to feed the Monarch larvae that her grandsons had in their terrarium. I was able to take her some cuttings (and while I was snipping, I found a couple of caterpillars that I brought in and set up in my Big Cube cage as we were expecting a freeze. As you can see, some of the milkweed is even still blooming and, a bonus at this time of year, it's not covered in aphids!
We've had some strange weather recently. We've had at least one frost where I thought I might have lost some plants, but surprisingly, they survived. We also had a couple of nights with temps below freezing, but no frost. The plants made it through that too.
That *may* have been our winter for the year, yesterday the temperature with back in the 70's!
And finally, the Bottlebrush bush is looking quite festive with it's bright red "brushes". These seem to be a favorite of bees. I wouldn't have expected that but, back in the summer, it was always covered in happy bees. The Savannah holly is looking festive too, with its bright green leaves and red berries. There was enough that I was able to take some trimmings to add to our Christmas decorations on the mantelpiece.
I've got one final surgery scheduled for tomorrow. Luckily this is a minor procedure to insert a coil into the last aneurysm. I'll be in hospital overnight and then back home for a few days' rest.
In case I don't get around to blogging again before Christmas, let me take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and the best of the Holiday Season.
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.