In the Garden – December 2018

You might think that here in the Northern hemisphere not much is happening in December. Not so, it’s a very happening place. Our northern California Mediterranean climate means many plants and shrubs are still blooming, and spring blooming plants are busy putting down roots with the winter rains. FINALLY! The garden beds at the back of the house have welcomed the addition of a lot of new plants (plus compost). The new annuals and perennials won’t flower until the spring, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. The lovely annual baby blue eyes, and short-lived perennial California poppies have already tripled in size. They will self seed (in fact there are a lot of seedlings from last year popping up) for this and next spring. It will be a lush planting come mid-spring.

This is what the back garden bed looked like the beginning of this month:

View to the back of the house

It doesn’t look that different a month later. There are a few more small plants, that’s all.

My wildflower meadow has progressed, you can see the new seedlings coming up from recent rain showers.


I worry that I seeded the area too densely; this was my first experiment with a wildflower meadow and pollinator garden. There are some transplanted perennials, a salvia, a few lavender plants, and a montilija poppy (also called a fried egg poppy), plus some plants that didn’t do as well in the back garden bed. This will be the third attempt with the montilija, they are very hardy as long as they like where they are situated. But if it isn’t to their satisfaction, forget it. This is a new site with really excellent drainage, we will see.The rest is from mixed wildflower seeds, over 50 different types which are specifically designed for the Pacific NW. I have also added some bunch grass seeds for the birds.

My goal of attracting and keeping hummingbirds in the garden during the winter has been a success. They are aggressively protecting their territory, visiting the feeders and, even more importantly, the plants. Feeders do not provide all the nutrients they need through the winter. None of the following plants (considered hummingbird plants) were planted in the garden until about March of this year.

Hummingbird at a feeder

The hummingbird plants currently blooming in the garden are of many varieties…salvias, sages, abutilon, nasturtiums, and cuphea. All of them have tubular flower shapes that attract hummingbirds. Most of the plants are still fairly small, but the variety is large. They will get much bigger and fill in the bed.

That’s the quick update for December. Oh…I almost forgot. I have 3 additional raised beds added to the existing 2. I planted 3 artichoke plants in the new beds; as well as seeded more lettuce, radishes and kale. According to Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Pierce (a gardening bible for bay area gardeners), it is iffy that the radishes and kale will grow this month. But the weather is weird and, who knows, it has been a lot milder in recent years.

We are well on our way to being more self sufficient. We have had our first salads, a mixture of different mesclun seed mixes, arugula, and baby mustard leaves. The greens were picked only an  hour before we ate them. They almost doesn’t need any dressing.


The lettuce mix is so wonderful compared to the grocery stores, much more tender and delicious.

The baskets are to keep off the birds while the plants are small. So far I haven’t noticed a problem but I experienced a lot of plant loss in Oakland due to birds and squirrels. There are too many predators in Fort Bragg, they keep the squirrel population very low.



15 thoughts on “In the Garden – December 2018

    • I have a very handy husband for all the hard physical labor, that’s the only part of gardening he likes. I just love seeing things grow. And it is gratifying to see all of nature’s small creatures enjoying it. Sometimes I just sit on the patio and watch them all flitting and buzzing around. The hummingbirds are my particular favorites, they are so fierce for such a small and delicate bird.

      • I have a little hummingbird garden (still isn’t rehabbed from all my time away) but one year I had a very aggressive hummingbird! He literally would attack if I sat on my bench, so just to keep him calm I stayed a good distance away. I don’t know why I assume it was he, now that I think about it! I started referring to him as the “killer hummingbird!”

      • Ha! Probably a he, they aggressively protect their territories. Or could have been a she if the best was nearby. I get buzzed if there are nesting females.

      • He stayed until mid October and it was a warm fall but I was getting really worried about that maniac! All the other hummingbirds are gone way before…and we had a frost not long after he left. It was the craziest thing. I’m loving that you have hummingbirds around so long! And it’s not easy to get a photo of one! Great job!

  1. I’m loving your varied posts Liz. Gardening, gifts in the kitchen, IMK posts etc. I do try to do this myself, so as not to seem repetitive. Love your house, and what a beautiful outdoor space you have to cultivate. How lucky that you see hummingbirds in December where you are. Wow! Would love to see what comes up in the spring for you. That’s my fav time of year, just guessing and wondering what will come up and what won’t.

    • I love that part as well. It’s one of the things I enjoy about this time of year, the watching and waiting. It must be even more gratifying when winters are fierce and snowy.

    • The flowers are so beautiful and the bees love them. I have seen the bees actually rolling in the pollen, so much fun to watch.

  2. Wow! What a fabulous share, Liz. I love learning about plants and gardens and your garden is just so beautiful with the wildflowers and the hummingbirds!

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