Winter strawberry leaves

Winter strawberry leaves
This shot is SOOC (straight out of the camera) except for the crop

One of the things I love about strawberry plants is when the leaves turn red because of the frosty nights. This year, mine are bi-colored with red AND green leaves together!

My strawberry plants grow in pots by the edge of the pond where the recirculating water pours back into the pond over small piles of rocks. I've tried the strawberry plants in various locations in the garden and this is the only one they really like. I guess they like the somewhat moist air that rises from the pond in that full-sun location.

I think our new deck is providing more shelter for the plants than in years past because the frost hasn't crisped the strawberry leaves. An extra bonus, I'd say.
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Loquat blooming

Loquat blooming

Nine years ago we were spending our first winter here at Rosehaven Cottage. To our delight, the neighbor had a very mature loquat tree growing on the south side of our house right along the fence line. I'd never seen a loquat tree in person before moving here. Although its thick waxy leaves look wonderfully tropical, it's a hardy tree that can withstand temps below freezing.

For the first couple of years, we loved the shade the tree provided in the heat of summer and the evergreen foliage and blooms it provided in the starkness of winter. The squirrels loved it too, scampering up and down the top of the fence to get to the delicious fruit whenever it was ripe in late spring.

Then the house next door sold to a new owner. And one Sunday we looked out our window to find that the tree was gone. We were moved to tears. And it wrenched our hearts watching the very confused squirrels come running down the top of the fence and then stop where the tree used to be and look up as if to say, "What happened here?"

Needless to say, the following summer was hotter on the south side of our house. And the fence looked starker. I wasn't happy (tree lover that I am).

But all was not lost, thanks to our little squirrel friends. During those days they had munched on ripe loquats, they had also buried the pits in the ground below on our side of the fence. And it wasn't long before I saw little loquat seedlings coming up amidst the ivy that grows there. As they got bigger, I dug a couple up to put in pots (one now lives in my mother-in-law's garden). A few stayed in the ground and as they matured, I trimmed them and thinned them so that only the best formed trees stayed.

Year after year, the loquat seedlings have gotten bigger and their large tropical dark-green leaves have multiplied. But no blossoms. Year after year and no blossoms. If there aren't any blossoms, there won't be any fruit. I thought maybe the loquats grown from seed were sterile. Well, at least I could enjoy the foliage, right?

But this winter, around Christmas, I noticed clusters were forming on the tree! Would we really have blossoms? A couple of weeks later, and we do indeed have blossoms! I've seen a few bees buzzing around them. I'm hoping we have enough bees to pollinate them (last summer we had hardly any bees in the garden and the ones I do find are dead on the ground). If enough pollinators do their job, the squirrels will have their loquats again.
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Almost like being there

My yen for Hawaii is an annual occurrence that happens every January. I don't bother to try to hide it. This year we have been socked in with January skies of fog and clouds that don't let the sun shine through. If I can't drive to another part of the Bay Area where the sun is shining (like I did last week), I usually have to be content with looking at the photos from our last trip to Hawaii.

But this year, it's been different thanks to a sweet bride that asked me to do her flowers for her Hawaiian tropical themed wedding this past weekend. Since last Thursday, I have been surrounded by exotic blooms of every kind in amazingly sunny gorgeous colors. I've been in my own little tropical paradise, and it's been wonderful!

There's nothing like being up to your chin in orchids, birds of paradise, Asiatic lilies, ti leaves, heliconia, ginger, and palm fronds. It definitely chased away the need to buy the next plane ticket to the islands. Well... at least for the time being...

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The color of January

Little purple pansy

Red and green are the colors of Christmas. Black and orange are the colors of Halloween. Red and pink are the colors of February with Valentine's Day. And for us in the U.S.A., red, white and blue are the colors of July with July 4th being Independence Day.

Because I'm an artist, I find myself assigning colors to all the seasons and holidays that are celebrated throughout the year. Somewhere in my childhood, I decided that periwinkle was the color of January. I don't know why. I just did. And it stuck.

Like many children that grew up pawing through the large assortment box of Crayola crayons (a luxury item back then), I came to know certain colors by the names assigned by Crayola like "Cornflower Blue", "Salmon Pink", and "Orchid Purple". Crayola has changed many of the names since I was a small, but I still remember the names. So that's why the name "Periwinkle" always come to mind to describe the color of January. It's not really blue and it's not really purple. It's periwinkle.

Interestingly enough, I have an unconscious tendency to dress in the colors that I've mentally assigned to seasons of the year. So when January rolls around, all my periwinkle sweaters get worn a lot more than usual.

What color is January to you?
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