Bits and pieces of the beginnings of 2014

Little blessings
In early December, I got sick with the flu. I got better in time for Christmas and then caught a cold on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and have been recuperating from that ever since. Imagine the delight I felt when I peeked out the north facing windows to see the camellias were blooming before New Year's Day! It's as if they know I need to see their brilliantly colored faces just a tad earlier than February. It really isn't the camellias that know. It's their Creator that knows. And I am grateful that He cares enough to send sweet little blessings like this when I need them.

The studio build-out moves forward... without me
Hubby had a lot of vacation time accrued and decided to take a significant chunk of it before, during and after the holidays. As well as doing the Christmas shopping this year, he diligently crossed things off the to-do list of home repairs and improvements.

He removed the last vestiges of the pantry units that ran along the interior of our garage that is to become my studio. That is the wall (above) where my computer workspace will be.

The garage door will be replaced by a large set of three windows to let in loads of east-facing light perfect for photographing and creating.

The only things left in the garage are what you see above. The freezer (at the left) needs to be moved inside where it will reside permanently from now on in a pantry we're going to create by framing in half of the area we call "The Tiki Room". So the moving of the freezer is the next big thing that has to happen (probably some time this week) before we can begin the last bits of clean up around the existing garage framing (removing old stucco, sheet rock and nails). Then it'll be time to install floor joists.

The pantry bases Hubby built years ago came out in sturdy intact boxes that will be perfect to use as planter boxes in the area of the back garden that has yet to have hardscape installed. The boxes aren't made of pressure-treated lumber (just plain old pine) so they'll be somewhat sacrificial and will degrade over the next couple of growing seasons. That's okay since they're on their second life anyway.

This Winter's garden
We always have overnight frost in the winter but don't normally experience extended periods of time when the overnight temps dip so far below freezing over and over that everything gets "zapped" really bad.

Well, in early December that's exactly what happened.

Hubby monitors the weather very closely so when the forecasts showed a freeze warning with temps dipping down into to the mid 20F range (-6C) it was time to take some serious precautions. Despite being sick, I went out and strung some white Christmas lights (the old non-LED kind) around in each of the citrus trees to help them stay warm and prevent serious frost damage to the branches. My efforts saved the foliage but not my orange crop. The freezing temps caused the interior juices to expand and burst the bottoms of many of the oranges--freeze-drying the insides as they hung on the tree. It's too bad too... I had a really nice crop this year.

For the first time I can remember, I didn't have any roses blooming on Christmas Day to photograph and share here on the blog. Every rose that was blooming was shriveled to a brown blob. The bower vine on one side of the front pergola really took a hit and I'm wondering how much of it survived. The red Japanese honeysuckle on the other side did better but still has some crispy leaves. I'll have to wait and see if I lost either of my two remaining bougainvillea. I'm not used to the roses looking so bleak in January. Even the Cecile Brunner (below right) said, "Enough is enough!" and has dropped all it's normally evergreen-year-round foliage.

And then there's the amazing loquat (above left). I am always amazed at the tenacity and heartiness of such a tropical looking tree. Even its blossoms are weathering the cold well. If a frost kills a bunch of blossoms, the tree just send out more in their place.

Again, I'm grateful for the small blessing of seeing life thriving when everything else in the garden looks so bedraggled and sad. The loquat, the camellia, and the palm trees are all beautifully green reminders to me that everything will be green again in another month or two--that by the end of February I'll be able to set out the new planter boxes, fill them will soil, and begin sowing seeds in March.

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  1. Cindy,

    As bad as it is to be ill, your flu was at just the right time...imagine had it come along before Christmas! I had much the same, a back problem that developed Christmas night, but thankfully then and not when we were out and about celebrating!

    Your garden is as lovely as ever. I always find beauty in dormancy. It's just another phase in the awesome changes in a garden.

    Best wishes to you and yours this New Year. Stop by sometime! :)


  2. Both my husband and I were sick with the flu over Christmas too. Odd mix of blessing and curse.

    Your studio plans sound stunning! How exciting. I'll bet you can hardly wait to move in.

    We're in a deep freeze here, with blowing snow and snowdrifts and crazy cold temperatures. No camellias in these parts.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year Cindy! So l looking forward to seeing how your studio comes along during the year! xo Jen


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