The Garden After A California Rain Or Two

When last we left California, a long drought prevailed. (I wrote “reign” at first, but we will eschew the puns today.) Happily, in December, and January, the rains came. We’re in recovery. Long-term drought still running, 40% of the state still deep in, but the short-term is OK, and snowpack above average.

We’re all cautiously optimistic, when we’re not standing in the rain letting water run over our eyelids.


Then, late in January, the sun shone.


Blue sky, patio puddles, leaf.



A roly poly came out to play.


As did a few flowers. The hellebore.


The oxalis, which I’m supposed to hate because they are invasive, but I find I enjoy in little pockets. Like children talking about secrets on a playground.


Bleeding currants, a native California plan beloved by hummingbirds. Anyone remember when I planted them? They took.


Wild strawberry. I never know just how much of this is going to show up, spring to spring. This year’s abundant.


And perhaps the most breathtaking this time of year, the daphne. It smells so beautiful you have to watch for unplanned garden swoons. Sweet. Citrus. Both. Delicious.


One last caution. I know some of you, in cold climates with long gray winters, might think you want to come to Northern California in February. Don’t. Not that I don’t want to see you, I do. And one of our occasional weeks of 75-80 degree temperatures might be tempting, I know. But it’s also possible that the rains will continue, a day in the low 50s will stay gray, nights will freeze a little bit.

No, wait until the summer solstice. Come see us in June, or early July, for the skies as blue as your crayoned childhood. The sun warms the pebbled cement decks of our swimming pools, and dries the grasses into smelling of honey. I know you’re less tempted to leave home then, but, I think you’ll be glad you did.

For now, I’m on hydrangea watch. Nothing yet but a few teeny leaves on long brown stalks. Good thing the daphne’s perfume and washed leaves makes waiting a pleasure.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  • Happy Spring! Enjoy your garden, it’s lovely.

    10:37 am
    Lisa said...

    @Linda @ a design snack, Thank you! I hope spring comes to you soon too, if you’re in the mood.

  • There you go again . . . ahhh.

    10:38 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jane S., My pleasure!

  • Seriously, if you want grey, rainy days in the 50s, with freezing nights just stay in New England!

    Can you eat the wild strawberries?

    10:42 am
    Lisa said...

    @Patsy, My thinking exactly. And I don’t know about the strawberries – I went to check and something else had eaten that one little berry I had.

  • Hello Lisa, Lucky you to get wild strawberries. And your admonition may have the opposite effect on me–we have similar rainy, dismal winters, but summers turn suddenly into a blazing oven.

    Happy Chinese New Year for Monkey Year!

    10:44 am
    Lisa said...

    @Parnassus, Oh yes, I think California would be a great respite from the Asian summer! And gong xi fa cai to you too! Year of the Monkey is my year, after all!

  • “crayoned childhood” – Lovely!

    10:45 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy L.D., Why thank you, resident poet!

  • Lovely pictures,beautiful garden,strawberries in winter…. you live in Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale!

    (Although you crushed my children’s dream about weather in SF)
    We have only a possible touch of spring to come in our dreams and I have a flu.

    5:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, I am so sorry you have the flu. It is such a miserable experience. And, sorry to dash hopes on our SF weather but really, do come in June, July, August, September, all those months are brilliant and beautiful.

  • I love your garden pictures. Always so pretty. Now I want daphne in my garden. Wonder how they do in Idaho ? Will have to check our local nursery.

    7:14 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mary anne, I think you may be in luck – at least they are supposed to be good in the Midwest, will that work for you in Idaho? One thing to look out for, they do have a habit of dying mysteriously. One or two of mine did just that – I’m always a little bit on tenterhooks about the others.

  • I too am writing a post on the glorious effects of the recent drenchings we’ve received. I’ve never been so happy as to see the abundant rains pour their magic over the land.

    Scenes from your garden are beautiful but that oxalis! You are one lucky gal to have smatterings of it here and there. I’m fighting a tough battle as my garden is smothered in it. Smothered I tell you!

    7:15 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Chronica Domus, Oh I look forward to seeing and reading what the rains have done for you! And I cross my fingers that the oxalis encroachment remains manageable. They’re better than the acanthus, which I hate with the fire of a thousand suns.

  • Roly poly! So cute! I’ve never heard that name before. In New Zealand they’re called slaters. Don’t know about England actually, as I’ve never had occasion to ask.

    You’re lucky in your daphne. They’re a bit particular about their climate, aren’t they. Enjoy the beautiful fragrance.

    8:16 am
    Lisa said...

    @Eleanorjane, Daphnes seem to be particular about a lot of things:), so I’ll just be happy for as long as mine decide to stick around…And yes, roly polys or pillbugs. I guess we go for a sort of onomatopoeia in our naming?

  • Oh, how I love California and I am so happy that you are recovering from the drought. Wonderful photos to show this. Thank you.

    8:34 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan D., Thank you! And cross our fingers for continued recovery – we still need more rain and all the good thoughts from everywhere.

  • When our son was little he loved visiting his grandparents’ home in the SF Bay Area. He said it smelled good. They had a fence along the driveway covered with jasmine that flowered year round.

    Our own garden is dormant under a blanket of snow. Hopefully El Nino will keep on going.

    8:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @AK, Agree, go El Niño go! And that’s really sweet that your son took note of the scent of jasmine. So perceptive.

  • Like children talking about secrets on a playground…written as only Lisa could
    envision with her mind and her heart.

    10:01 am
    Lisa said...

    @BarbaraG, Thank you. That’s very kind.

  • Such exquisite prose and photographs – thanks for this morning inspiration!

    10:03 am
    Lisa said...

    @Anne Woodyard, Thank you for the nice words:).

  • Why is YOUR DAPHNE Blooming and mine isNOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??

    10:03 am
    Lisa said...

    @LA CONTESSA, Daphne likes to keep her mystery, AKA, WE SHALL NEVER KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Spring looks lovely in your neck of the woods. Strawberries too!
    Colour me happy with those Crayolas from childhood….I am spending time doing just that with our grand children!
    Enjoy the rain…stomp in some puddles.

    10:13 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Some puddles have definitely been stomped in! I bet your grandchildren love that coloring time.

  • We haven’t had as much rain in LA as you’ve had in No. Cal., but what we’ve had, has made a huge difference in my garden. I’ve always been told that plant somehow “know” the difference between real rain as opposed to “irrigation”, and I haven’t had a chance to experience it, close up, until now. Your garden looks beautiful. Glad you’re having fun in it too!

  • Spring! Glorious! Thank you for sharing. Our weather at the moment is marked by wide swings between bitter cold and unseasonal warmth, and it is nice to be reminded that spring will, in fact, settle in.

  • In the mountains of SW Virginia, my hydrangea budded in our overly warm December. Now, with all of the cold and snow, I fear that I won’t have blooms this year. My crocus are hanging in – they are all ways my first sign of spring even when we have snow in March.

  • Lovely! Now I need to find somewhere to smell the scent of Daphne. I imagine it is the wrong season here in Western Australia for me, so will have to wait.