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