A December stroll

Typical weather for winter has returned with colder temperatures and more rain. We have had our first freeze and it has dipped down into the 20s (one night 24!) several times. I took a walk around the garden to see how the plants were handling this. The answer - surprisingly well!

Some, of course, do not like it at all. I knew Salvia 'Amistad' was very tender. Whether it makes it until next year remains to be seen. It is, however, a plant that I would purchase again. The hummingbirds loved it.

Salvia 'Amistad' and Mugo Pine 'Aurea'

Another iffy one is New Zealand Flax. I have never grown this before but I have always admired the imposing spikes of it in California gardens. I hear it is marginal here. The 24 degree night did not seem to phase it. Of course the wet conditions here during the winter are sometimes the culprit.
Phormium 'Rainbow Queen' (New Zealand Flax)

Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet' seems to really like the cooler weather. Look at all those buds!
Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet'

Another shrub that seems to be beautiful in all the seasons is Pieris (Lily of the Valley Shrub)...

Pieris 'Mountain Fire'

Rose buds are everywhere. I have never seen such pink buds on 'Marie Pavie'. This is a white rose with pale pink shadings. Look at these buds though...

Polyantha Rose 'Marie Pavie'
China Rose 'Mutabalis'
I believe that I am going to move the Oriental Spruce 'Skylands' to the back garden as it obviously does not like full sun...

Picea orientalis 'Skylands'

A stray Holly seedling that I have no idea where it came from. The leaves are beautiful. I would love to find the name of the variety.

A few more winter beauties to wind up...

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. That mutabilis must be the best rose ever. It is blooming down here, too, even though it has been hot and dry! NZ flax does not do well here -- it is iffy as you say -- temperamental, not liking it too hot, nor too cold. Yours looks good. I like the yellow pine and yellow sedum --- would be kinda fun together.

  2. Your garden is full of wonders in December. Some varieties of Phormium are hardier than others but good drainage seems to be the key to success. Birds like to plant holly all over the garden.

  3. I enjoyed your stroll. I too love Salvia 'Amistad'. It has not proved hardy for me in my relatively mild winters, but I don't mind purchasing it as an annual. Your Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet' is fantastic; I can imagine what it will be like when it blooms.

  4. Your garden doesn't seem to mind the cold weather. If Armistad is like Black and Blue Salvia it will come back and be larger and stronger. That Holly does have pretty leaves. I don't think I have ever seen it. How is that terraced are coming along? I hope you get it done this winter.

  5. The stroll in your garden was marvelous and I admire the combinations of color and texture that you have, which bring interest in December. I also have a Skyland Spruce (since 2008),which is now about 15-18 feet tall. it is in located in a southeastern exposure with some afternoon light shade from a neighbors large maple across the street. I do know they don’t like intense sun all day, which could cause scorching. Thank you for the wonderful tour. I enjoyed it immensely!

  6. Your garden looks awesome, Phillip.

    As Deb said, I'm particularly impressed with that Viburnum. I presume it's an evergreen one?

    As for that holly -- dang, looks dangerous! :O

  7. Are you familiar with the Plant Identification and Discussion Facebook group? The group has over 100K members and has proven to be a valuable resource in identifying even the most obscure plant, down to its exact variety, in a matter of minutes. I'm sure they can name the variety of your Holly.

    Beyond that, I have enjoyed watching your garden grow.

    1. Hello Sharon, I think I am a member of that group. Thank you for reminding me. I did not even think of that!

  8. Phillip, loved the stroll. I have three 'Marie Pavie' and one of them has those pink buds especially in cool weather. So beautiful. It's not been very wintry here in Oklahoma. We're having what we call a "Texas winter," but I hear that for Christmas, it's going to get very cold and perhaps, even snow! Since we rarely get snow especially at Christmas that would be a real treat. Thanks for taking around with you. You seem to be adapting so well to your new place and garden.~~Dee

    1. I should have noticed if the buds were always that pink in the winter.

  9. Your garden is a wonderful place to be, even in wet winter weather. Thanks for sharing it with us.


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