Garden in December

Friends from the east coast or from Europe often remark that California has no fall colors.But I've actually seen some stunning fall color here in the Bay Area. It doesn't hurt that it's usually sunny, and the crisp blue fall sky contrasts nicely with the red leaves of the liquidambar and pepper trees. Cities have planted trees that have good color -- love it or not -- and some of the natives also change colors. Here's California snow drop bush (Styrax officinales), with vibrant yellow leaves in the late fall (and very pretty white flowers in the spring.

Here's Aristolochia Californica (California pipe stem) I have next to my front door. It's not aggressive and works well on the elegant little bamboo trellis.
Seems to thrive with little water in fairly deep shade. Of course, it won't look like much for the next few months, but the heart-shaped leaves and very weird flowers are worth it. Not to mention the butterfly that can survive only if enough Aristolochia are around.

And her's a picture of Rhododendron occidentalis. Yes, that's a little blossom there. I have no idea why it decided to bloom and chuck its leaves at the same time, but the yellow spots on the flower are a perfect match for the leaves. I'm growing this Rhododendron in a pot under redwoods and I water it about 3 times a week in the dry season. It has very shallow roots, so a pot that's wide but not deep works well. Once all the leaves are off, I'm planning on repotting. That ought to help me stay warm, too. Nothing like lifting a large plant out of its pot when it's in the low fifties.