All the distance shots I have this month are actually from the end of November, because the yard looked better then. At the end of November, the red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) had bright red leaves, and the the buttonbush right behind it had bright green leaves. Now they both have no leaves. In fact, the monotony of the fence line is completely uninterrupted, because there's no longer a single plant in the back yard that is more than two feet tall and still has leaves on it. December is really not a good month for gardening in small yards. In a big yard where the fences aren't so oppressively close, a gardener might be able to focus on the plants and appreciate this stage of their life cycle. In a small yard, what little is left of the plants is completely overwhelmed by FENCE FENCE FENCE everywhere you look.
But I do have close-up shots from the past day or two. And yes, there are even some flowers blooming.
I got up early enough last weekend to see one of our first hard frosts of the winter. This is the non-native scarlet mallow (Sphaeralcea philippiana) with frost on it.
This is the same plant later on the same day, after the frost had melted. (And evidently I tried harder to pick a heavily blooming section of the plant after the frost melted than I had done first thing in the morning.) The scarlet mallow has always bloomed prolifically year-round.
These are the other flowers in the front yard at the moment: foothill beardtongue (Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs') and California fuchsia (Epilobium canum 'Calistoga'). The beardtongue just has these two flowers on one plant; none of the other beardtongue plants (which are the same cultivar) have any flowers now. The California fuchsia is actually blooming quite a bit, but by comparison to the amount it was blooming a month ago, it's not blooming much at all anymore. The vast majority of its extremely numerous flowers have been knocked off their stems by storms, including this one that fell next to the beardtongue flowers.
In the back yard there are still a few flowers on the California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense), although the plant as a whole has turned mostly black and looks really terrible (as it does every year at this time).
There are also still a few flowers on one of the evening-primroses (Oenothera elata), although the vast majority of the evening-primrose plants are no longer anything but brown, leafless sticks covered with dry seedpods.
The one species that's really blooming heavily in the back yard right now is the rosillas (Helenium puberulum). Like the scarlet mallow, these bloom all year round. The scarlet mallow is better behaved, though - the rosillas reseed rather heavily.
This is a brand new plant, ribbed fringepod (Thysanocarpus radians). It has a cluster of tiny flower buds at the top that were already there when I bought it.
The giant gum plant (Grindelia camporum) was new last month and was also already in bloom when I bought it. It's no longer in bloom now, but I neglected to post a picture of it last month, so now you get a picture of it this month instead.
Susan complained that I also neglected to incorporate any pictures of our pets in last month's post, so this month I have to show you some pictures of Boston. The serpentine sunflower (Helianthus bolanderi) in this picture is also no longer in bloom now.