How do you review a year like 2020? It's truly the most horrible year in my memory. As if the political scene wasn't bad enough already, it got worse as elected leaders failed to lead and divisions within the country intensified, encompassing even public health and safety issues. A pandemic that other countries managed well (relatively speaking) spun utterly out of control in the US due in large part to inconsistent messaging and controls leading to a death count of 344,000. Restrictions both self- and government-imposed kept us from traveling and seeing friends and family in person. Even basic chores, like grocery shopping, became fraught with complications. While stocks somehow managed to soar, many parts of our economy tanked as smaller business were crippled and many closed, perhaps permanently. Millions of people lost jobs and our homeless and food insecurity problems worsened. Unemployment agencies and food banks struggled to get help to those who needed it and government assistance was sporadic and, in some cases, riddled with fraud. On top of all that, natural disasters plagued the country, including California, which lost more acres to wildfire than ever before.
For many people, myself included, their gardens became even more significant as we spent more time at home. Plant shopping, one of my favorite activities, was dramatically curtailed this year, limited almost entirely to my local garden center and mail orders. Visits to public and private gardens were also severely curtailed. But my garden was still my main refuge so I've pulled some of my favorites photos of it to share with you, as well as a few photos taken in nearby locations.
|Aloe vanbalenii, photographed at South Coast Botanic Garden
|The Sun Garden at Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar, photographed during a visit with a group of South Coast Botanic Garden docents
|Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt' in full bloom on my back slope
|My north-side dry garden
|The succulent area of Seaside Gardens, photographed on the one and only trip I took to this nursery in Carpinteria this year
|Ferraria crispa bloom, always a welcome sight
|View of my south-side garden looking toward the house
|My lath (shade) house photographed from the upper level of the front garden as one of several "Coronavirus Tourism" posts
|View from the back door, featuring the Dutch Iris in bloom
|The back slope looking up from the bottom, another area featured as part of a "Coronavirus Tourism" post
|A nice vignette featuring Leucadendrons, Agaves and Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer'
|One of several visits peacocks made to my garden this year. I stopped filling my bird feeders for an extended period to discourage them from visiting but I suspect the coyotes may have had greater influence.
|When a friend stopped by on my birthday, we walked my neighborhood (masked and socially distant of course) to check out the gardens visible from the street. This one was the most spectacular.
|I met this coyote as I was headed out the back door at 9am, startling both of us. This event ended the short, supervised outdoor excursions I'd previously allowed my cat to take each morning.
|I visited nearby South Coast Botanic Garden for the first time since the docents were furloughed in March. The lavender field looked great even if he absence of volunteer help had a larger impact on other areas.
|Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', surrounded by Acacia 'Cousin Itt' and Nassella tenuissima, viewed from the dirt path between the back border and the hedge that runs the entire length of the upper level of the back garden
|One section of the front garden backed by Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' and Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike'. The path adjacent to the hedge leads to the lath house.
|This colorful cloud formation, called a "fire rainbow", is a naturally occurring phenomenon unrelated to fire
|This vignette featuring Aeonium 'Mardi Gras', Coprosma 'Fire Burst', and Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy' pleases me every time I look at it
|I moved this Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' from our former house in a pot. It became a giant once planted in the ground. The red foliage is prominent in July, while it flaunts yellow flower-like bracts in January.
|View of the front garden looking north from its southern end
|This overhead view of one of my Monday flower arrangements is my nod to my garden's summer bounty
|My husband and I paid a late-August visit to Sherman Gardens to see the Sculptura Botanica exhibit created by ceramic sculptor and landscape designer Dustin Gimbel
|Agave americana medio-picta 'Alba' surrounded by larger Agaves ('Blue Glow' and 'Blue Flame')
|Agave 'Multicolor' accented by yellow-flowered Lantana and Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'
|The Dahlias in my cutting garden peaked in October, later than usual as I was late in planting the tubers this year
|Splashing birds, mostly finches, enjoyed bathing in the backyard fountain
|I enjoyed a little fall color in the form of this Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' and a persimmon tree
|I "fluffed" several succulent pots in November but this one required little upkeep. The centerpiece is xMangave 'Red Wing', which is perhaps my favorite of the intergeneric hybrids commonly available at present
|We experienced a second round of wildfires in Southern California in early December. We weren't in any direct danger but the air was smoky for more than a week. It created interesting light effects but mostly kept me out of the garden.
That's my haphazard recap of 2020. I hope that 2021 brings better things for all of us. Best wishes!
All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party