Happy New Year!

As I type this, it's already 2009 in many places. Here in California, the new year is still several hours away. As far as I'm concerned it can't come soon enough! What a mediocre year! Did anyone have an unequivocally good 2008? Well, I am happy for you if you did. As for the rest of us, it's almost over.

This blog will turn 1 year old tomorrow. Happy birthday, blog! I made 265 blog posts this year, and that's not bad. Blogging every day has never been a goal of mine. Do any gardeners blog every day besides Carol and Christopher? Carol, Christopher--thank you for blogging. You are an inspiration to us all.

As gardeners, I think we want to be more observant of the changes that happen in our gardens and blogging is a good way to do that. So I'm shooting for 300 blog posts in 2009, and I'm calling that my official New Year's Resolution.

What happened in 2008? Let's take a look back...


I began the year wondering if doom might be the theme for 2008. (I ask you, was I far off?) The next few days, a big storm knocked down trees and powerlines across the Bay Area.

We shook it off and went for a drive in Marin.

I got a little carsick on those winding roads


and it was nice to stop the car and go for a walk.


Later on, my gardening guru and I went down to Santa Cruz to shop for native plants and visit the botanical garden at my alma mater. We particularly enjoyed the various winter-blooming members of the Protaceae.


IMG_1287 Protea


I got a lot of gardening ideas at the San Francisco Botanical Garden's design symposium, Gardens That Work.

We took some time to appreciate the stark light of winter.


Many of you shared my anticipation for the Mediterranean biennial Echium wildpretii that bloomed in my garden in 2008. The swirling drama of the leaves and slowly elongating flower stalk was a thrill to behold.

Echium wildprettii


Another first flower opened in February--Cobaea scandens. And I visited Annie's Annuals for the first of many times in 2008.

Even more exciting, we rode the rails in Tilden Park.


I took another class at the Botanical Garden, this one about butterflies.

Frances inspired me to brag about my seedlings and it felt like spring in the garden of my guru. I ended the month with a visit to Land's End.



I found some spring wildflowers on Bernal Hill but in my garden, it was too early. Instead, we witnessed the Echium's ongoing drama.

Echium wildpretii

I took an ecology class about San Francisco Bay which included a visit to Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge and the Bay Model.


Spring finally came to the back 40 in April. We had wildflowers galore.

Platystemon and eschscholziae

Platystemon californicus

Phacelia + Syrphidae

Gilia tricolor + Iris douglasiana


And, finally, Echium wildpretii's first flower.

Echium wildpretii

Echium wildpretii

Echium wildpretii

It was a good time to visit gardens everywhere. We visited Ruth Bancroft, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, the Eleanor Community Garden in Palo Alto, and of course Strybing. We even found a blog-worthy bit of sidewalk planting.

And, very best of all, my friend Julie from Mid Beacon Hill came to visit and we went to Santa Cruz.


Wildflowers continued to hold sway in May.

Vanessa atalanta, Red Admiral


Nemophila menziesii

Platystemon californicus


But the main even event on this blog happened on the road. Guy and I flew to Santa Barbara and drove back home to San Francisco over the course of five days.



Lotusland (above) was nothing less than a revelation, but even lesser gardens in San Luis Obispo and California's missions were a joy to visit.


I'll never forget one night at the Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn 1

or the hour we spent lolling about Cambria Cemetery.


When we got home, I showed you around where I work.


June was a quiet month, as summer rolled in and time slowed down. We enjoyed the last of the spring wildflowers and watched Penelope Hobhouse DVDs.


Even a shopping trip to Dry Garden under gray summer skies couldn't lift me out the doldrums.





By July, we settled into a summer mellow.

My garden

Days were either hot and dry

my garden

or cool and fog-drenched.


There was some kitten drama with Miss Penny's emergency surgery, and her gradual recovery.

Post-operative Penny


We took a little break and went to Seattle. Guy's sister took us to a lovely conservatory.


We participated in the neighborhood garage sale and took Guy's parents to visit the Hakone Japanese Garden in Saratoga.

I went to a CalHort lecture about plant collecting in Japan and China.


I only blogged twelve times in September, my slowest month ever. The garden was very quiet, but you wouldn't know it from the Bloom Day.

I took refuge from the long summer in the deep green of the redwood forest.



Los Angeles

We flew to Los Angeles for the weekend and visited the Getty Center. We puzzled over the azalea maze and admired the rebar frames for bougainvillea.


Back in the Bay Area we took one of my favorite drives--up to Petaluma, over to Tomales, down to Olema, back over to San Rafael, and home. In Tomales, I lusted over orange grass at Mostly Natives Nursery.

Mostly Natives Nursery, Tomales, CA

Yeah, I need to have some of that.


November was a horrible month. I was happy for a new president but the vote on Proposition 8 made me sick. We protested.


Also, my trusty Canon A610 died and went to camera heaven.


I took great consolation in the awesome, supportive blog comments and the cupcake-scented flowers of Montanoa grandiflora at the Botanical Garden.


In the garden, we enjoyed what little fall color I had to share with you.

Calycanthus occidentalis


Acer circinatum


The hardest month to look back on because we're still in it. But we went to the fungus fair this month after enjoying Nhu's mushroom box.

Nhu's mushroom box

There's nothing like brisk walk on steep hills to clear the mind.


My father read and listened to every single reader comment about the tragic ash. I thank you all for your input and I will keep you informed about how that situation evolves.

Perhaps antipating this long look back, I visited an old family farm and felt a little nostalgic about how things used to be.

But when it comes down to it, change is a part of nature. Change is deeply embedded in the order of things.


We can ignore it for awhile but ultimately we cannot avoid it. We can resist it for awhile but ulimately we must accept it. We can try to shape it but we cannot control it. Life is an endless process of change that requires continuous learning and careful observation.

Happy New Year! Thank you all for sharing this blog with me. It wouldn't be anywhere near as much fun without you.

ADDED: Best of 2007


Frances said...

Hi Chuck, what a delight to travel through the month's with you. 300 posts? That is a lot, although I would like to have more to read and see the photos from the new camera too. Everytime you take a class, I feel like I have been there too with your in depth analysis, urging me to grow more veggies and try new things. The echium was a wonder of nature, it was fun to chart its progress. You give us so much, thanks for all of it, my friend.
A very happy 2009 to come for you and yours!

Pam/Digging said...

Ah, you've reminded me of some of my favorite posts: the echium, the Dry Garden, Lotusland, your strolls around the neighborhood. Keep up the good work, and see you in 2009. Happy new year, Chuck!

Christopher C. NC said...

Chuck, you are a hard act to follow. I ain't doing no year in review, unless I get snowed in maybe, but there is also a story to finish.

And thanks for outing me as a blgging nerd with no other life.

Your spring wildflowers look so organized. Maybe in another ten years I might get there.

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

Warm wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2009! Hope Miss Penny has made a full recovery. Glad you enjoyed the Conservatory here in Seattle. I love going there during the darkest days of winter.

Christopher C. NC said...

Oh yes, Happy New Year to you and the hubby.

If you thought 2008 was a mediocre year, hang on to your hat for 2008. I have a feeling its going to be a doozy.

Christopher C. NC said...

2009 Doh!

Nicole said...

Nice recap, I like the Protaceae, echium and dry garden.
Happy New year, Chuck!

cloverann said...

Happy New Year, Chuck! And thanks for those 299 posts and the brilliant year in review. Your photo reminded me of a plant-lust: Is it too late for me to plant an echium, here in Sonoma Co.? I think I need GROVE of them on my hill! Here's to a plantfabulous 2009. And thanks for keeping us informed, entertained and enlightened.

JvA said...

You make 2008 look good.

Here's hoping that all of us who like our jobs are able to keep them in 2009.

Gardener of La Mancha said...

Happy New Year, Chuck. Blogging has been put on the back, back, back burner for me with grad school and all, but you continue to inspire with awesome blogging and gardening. I have a feeling this year is going to be awesome! I look forward to the next 300 posts.

cindee said...

Happy New Year and blog anniversery!!! I enjoyed your year in review also(-: I am looking forward to many more wonderful pictures with your new camera(-: Last year started off bad and just was a down hill roll for me. I am looking forward to a fresh new year and good things to come(-: I hope you have many good times this year too!!!

Deviant Deziner said...

Love the re-cap !
Looking forward to following your blog , as well as Chistophers in Clyde in 2009.

Maybe we will cross each other's paths this year in person.


lisa said...

That was a fun look back, Chuck! I'm with you: good riddance to 2008! But I think 2009 is gonna be fine...heh...sorry. Seriously, your blog is a pleasure to read, and I look forward to more in the coming year! (Maybe even a meet-up at Spring Fling?)

Carol said...

I just figured out that I didn't have you on my feed reader so was missing a lot of your posts. Happy New Year! I do post a lot, but am no longer posting every single day. I skip some days. Not many, but some.

I also came by to find out about the Penelope Hobhouse DVD's. They are a bit additive. I just let it play in the background while I do other stuff. I'm glad I've got them! And if I had been paying attention, I might have bought them last summer.

And happy blog-anniversary!