january bloomday

The big aloe, Aloe arborescens, up close

Here goes… January bloomday, hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

The front garden, like the rest of my lot, mixes California natives with exotics from all over. Our local bladderpod in the foreground, yellow and perky and virtually ever-blooming, with a big clump of aloe that owns January.

Folks in colder climates may be drooling a bit, but there’s a price for year-round gardens: Year-round weeds! Since this is Bloomday, let me start off with a few weeds in bloom, doing their best to generate even more weeds. There are times when I think that it might be nice to live where you can forget about weeding for three months or more…

Weedy nightshade, right before I pulled it up
Weedy chammomile relative, Pineapple Weed
Pure yellow evil, from the big family that gives us sunflowers
Weedy grass

California native Corethrogyne (Lessingia) filaginifolia duking it out with weedy alyssum

But through the magic of photography, an artistic medium well suited to telling lies and half-truths, here are some blooms for the month. I could tell you there are no weeds around these blooming plants, but then I’d be lying. Big time.

From California, and the California floristic province:

Hummingbird sage, Salvia spathacea
A prostrate form of the local black sage, Salvia mellifera, picking up its flowering
Our local very fragrant nightshade, Solanum parishii
Winnifred Gilman sage, with a few scant flowers, not quite buying into the fact that spring is coming.
Tree Coreopsis or Giant Coreopsis, Coreopsis gigantea, still a ways to go before achieving tree status
San Diego Sunflower, Bahiopsis (Viguiera) lacinata, battling iceplant on the slope
One of almost a dozen monkeyflower seedlings. It is definitely partly Mimulus aurantiacus, but other species could be involved.
Verbena lilacina
A lone Coast Sunflower, Encelia californica, with way too many weeds back on the neglected slope garden
Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat, Eriogonum arborescens
Our local chaparral currant, Ribes indecorum, pleasant, not spectacular
Arctostaphylos manzanita Dr. Hurd
Astragalus nuttallii, from the California Central Coast

Okay, everyone, say awwwwww. Carpenteria california


From beyond California:

Your basic prostrate rosemary
The last of the bicolor narcissus. I didn't get the camera out while it was looking nice.
A kalanchoe species or Edit January 17 Cotyledon orbiculata--see first comment from Elephant's Eye
Your basic jade plant
Crassula multicava, a low groundcover with vaporous little jade-plant-like flowers floating above it
Arctotis Big Magenta
Another Arctotis hybrid
Your basic prostrate rosemary
People generally grow aeoniums for their foliage...
...but they also have a month or so when their flowers can upstage the plant.
And humans aren't the only species that appreciates the flowers. Look closely and you'll see quite a few ants going to town...


Two forms of Oxalis purpurea, purple- and green-leaved. It's pretty, but best contained in warmer climates where it can spread.
Sleepy Oxalis purpurea flower, slowly unfurling as the morning advances, feeling blurry until until the sun hits it.


Green rose in bud...

Green rose unfurled...looking a little less green.


Checking out the garden, photographing flowers, you get to see what’s going on in the garden. I’ve mentioned the weeds already. Now, let’s add gopher holes into the mix shall we?

While I’ve pretty much given up trying to control the gophers, I can at least pick away at the weeding. Okay, enough blogging for now. Time to pull some weeds. But maybe I’ll check out a few more Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts first…


25 thoughts on “january bloomday”

  1. You had so many pretty flowers, I had to check your ‘About’ and see where you are from. To bad about the gophers. Nasty little hole makers that they are.

  2. You have a really beautiful garden, James, weeds inclusive (hah!). I’m amazed that so many of your plants are blooming this time of year, but then, that’s SoCal for you. Our last frost in December killed off a couple of my bush monkeyflowers and all of my encelias (E. actonii, E. farinosa & E. frutescens) except for the Coast Sunflower (E. californica). But, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that maybe they’re not quite expired, and will actually sprout back to life in the spring (wishful thinking, ’cause they look really, really beyond toasted). The Carpenteria bloom is fab – a great sub for camellias, no?

  3. Now how big does giant coreopsis get? I have a coreopsis trypteris, or typteris (can’t remember spelling) and last year it reached 8′ easily after being planted in fall of 2009. The bigger my perennials, the happier I am.

  4. Ah, the Mimulus speaks to me. My M. Aurantiacus is crispy brown right now and looks like it went to plant heaven. I love that you included your weeds. My garden is currently hosting the shotweed convention so I feel your pain.

  5. Hi, James – Ah, Southern California! How I miss it! And especially at this time of year! Thank you so much for sharing all of your flowers – even the weeds! 🙂

  6. EE, thanks for the information. I was reading along with your discussion with Town Mouse, but her photos didn’t look like this plant and I’d seen an ID on the web a while back that called this a kalanchoe. Looking up Cotyledon orbiculata I do see some photos that look more like what I’m growing. I’ll have to carry on with the ID. (This was a handmedown plant from a neighbor.)

    Donna, this afternoon the gophers just took out one of the larger plants in the garden. If only they stopped at making holes and mounds!

    RBell, I’d heard that the variegated form doesn’t bloom so profusely–and I’d guess it grows a little slower. But it might be a better garden plant since the typical form can take over a space.

    Loree, no dandelions? Congrats. Hopefully your neighbors don’t cultivate them so that they blow in once the seeds mature.

    Gayle, the native nightshade ought to be grown more. Yes, it’s ratty in the summer, but in the cooler times of year it’s terrific.

    Wendy, thank you! Summer isn’t THAT far away, fortunately…

    Arleen, the black sage is the only one of the natives that I pruned this year, so I wonder if that hs something to do with them all being in bloom so quickly. I know you had some tough freezes but I don’t think it dropped below 37 here–another reason they might be so far ahead. This weekend has been really warm. Maybe your natives will finally get a chance to wake up?

    Meredehuit, it’s definitely green this time of year, helped along by our amazing December rains. But come May or June and our emerald hills will be turning more like golden topaz–still a gorgeous color.

    Benjamin, I don’t know that the tree coreopsis gets much over 6 feet, but the plant has a strange persistent trunk that gives it its name. My plants are currently nice border-looking plants, but in a couple years should start to take on the Seussian shapes they’re famous for.

    Colleen, have you ever thrown shotweed into a salad? I’ve read that some people eat it. One of the mustard family that escaped the veggie patch and comes back every now and then gets yanked out and added to some lettuce for a satisfying salad. The flavor’s okay, with the chief satisfaction being the fact that I’ve pulled a weedy crop from the garden.

    Dorothy, I’m right there with you on the sages. I couldn’t imagine a garden without them!

    TM, a couple of the other sages are still laggards compared to this first crop. I’m hoping to see more of them.

    Ruth, I’m glad there are a few Southern Californians out there reminding ex-pats what it’s like out here. If only we had a reasonable water supply it’d be the perfect place to live.

    Denise, it’s a lot of flower species, for sure. I’m really looking forward to March, when the garden really goes crazy!

  7. It is kind of hard having to weed 12 months a year, isn’t it? Not that I do it all that much, but living in the South means I’m still working at it most of the year. I love all your natives. And the aloes are stupendous!

  8. Nice of you to point out a drawback to year-round flowers, not that it kept your post from ratcheting up the envy factor. The aloe, alone, turned me a deep shade of green.

  9. Ah yes, the alchemy of garden photography, making all seem perfect and weed free. Goo don you for owning up, I never do!

    I don’t envy you your year-round climate, though I moan about dull grey weather in January a lot. I rather like the four distinct seasons, it helps me keep track of the year somehow. Mind you, couch grass and dandelions, and other perennial weeds, make life miserable whatever the season! I’m digging out bucket loads of both at the moment, and you can’t even turn it into compost, the ultimate gardener’s revenge.

  10. Thanks for all the lovely flowers. I’m in love with those red aloe flower spears – I had NO idea.

    If t’were my bit of earth, I’d probably build some whimsy out of the gopher hole with a tiny mailbox or maybe just a name sign, like you might find the Hundred Acre Wood. Are they destructive, the gophers, or do you manage to co-exist?

  11. Fer, can you grow aloes where you are? I suppose you could bring one indoors if it’s too cold.

    Jean, five months without weeding sounds like such an amazing break! Here, during high summer, without rains, fortunately there isn’t much weed activity.

    Janet, it takes a while for new arrivees to see the changes in our seasons, but after a while it becomes absolutely clear. But the changes are definitely more subtle.

    Laguna, thanks!

    Greg, the common Aloe vera doesn’t bloom so spectacularly, but even that plant is nice to have around for the flowers. Our gophers can be pretty destructive. They have a taste for roots and bulbs. Sometimes you stand in the garden and start seeing plants moving as the gopher attacks their roots sytems. After a minute or two the plants sometimes topple, the top completely severed from the roots. Kinduv makes me want to design a whimsical little torture chamber–more Poe than Milne. But in the end I accept the losses and get along. At least we don’t have rabbits and deer in my immediate neighborhood.

  12. Hi James! The naming of one of the plants on your pictures needs to be revisited: you call it Pineapple weed (Matricaria matricoides), instead it is Southern brassbuttons (Cotula australis). I always look forward to your new posts, keep up the good work!!!

    1. Many thanks–much too belatedly–for the correction, Oscar! I appreciate your careful reading of the plant identifications!

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