Occasional Daily Photo 11/30/11

I switched out the 50 mm lens today for a 24mm to get a bigger view. I’ve been leaning on the 50mm like a crutch — for such a small garden, it just seems easier to manage with the 50mm. This wider view with the 24mm is as you’re coming in the gate from the east, and I’m pretty much backed up against the house with my camera. I’ve seen better camera phone photos than what I get with this 24mm lens, so more practice is definitely in order and/or a night school photography class.

Sometimes, opening this gate after a long day, the garden still has the ability to surprise even me. It’s as though the garden proclaims, Here nature triumphs! Yes, even in November, it’s still a busy, busy garden. I’ll never be able to practice simplicity of gesture when it comes to plants. But there’s more bare ground exposed than this telescoped view implies, and as the “soft” perennials of summer die back, what’s becoming apparent are some of the star plants for a zone 10 winter, such as agaves, yuccas, grasses, and euphorbias.

The agave is an attenuata hybrid ‘Blue Flame,’ one of two, the other out of frame. At the base of this agave to the right is a clump of the hardy cranesbill ‘Bertie Crug,’ which survived some tough conditions this summer, including very dry soil and the typical overcrowding I inflict on plants. Bertie managed to bloom through it all, even if her dark pink blooms were mostly hidden by her neighbors.

Just in back of the agave is one of two big Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ that I tried like heck all summer to keep from becoming deformed by overcrowding, just for this moment in fall thru winter when they gain size and really start to shine. The small-leaved, creamy shrub on the extreme right is a variegated prostanthera, or Australian mintbush. Deep golden yellow flowers dotted mid frame are from Amicia zygomeris, which seems to be responding to a strong cutback and cooler temps with a sunny flush of its typical pea flowers. The dark red grass is Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline.’

If it weren’t for the little heater I’m running in the office this grey, chilly day, the view out the office window onto the garden could almost be mistaken for summer. (Except for all that bare soil.)

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