December can be the least exciting time in the garden and the most difficult month to find photos for a calendar.  It is particularly hard for the series of True Image calendars I’ve done over the years because they use a 13 month calendar – with December on both ends.

I keep a special gallery of December photos just for this purpose and thought it might be fun to have a little contest because this year’s calendar is the best we have done in many years, perhaps my favorite of all time because I got to pick exactly which photo to use in exactly which month.

The two photos we used for the 2 Decembers are in this blog post, and I’ll send a free calendar to the first five people who figure it out and comment to tell me which ones. (Hint at the end of the post.) The calendars are not produced for retail sale – they are promotional calendars as year end business swag and I always order a few cases for my own business promotion.  It is a win-win for me since they pay me to license the photos, I can afford to order the calendars with my business imprint.

Red and green are classic combinations for December and I wrote a blog post about that many years ago for Gardening Gone Wild:  Red and Green at Christmas. As part of that blog post I used this photo of the red berries on a Cornus kousa tree at Quarryhill Botanic Garden.

Red Cornus kousa dogwood berries on tree in autumn at Quarryhill Botanical Garden

Following that classic red and green symbolism, red Holly berries on this variegated Ilex aquifolium is another December photo that fits into the red and green theme.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Trim’ Variegated Holly with red berries

Poinsettias have become classic Christmas plants because they’re bred to have their enormous showy bracts persist as long lived house plants. Breeding in recent years has created some very interesting pinks and bi-colors though I must say I simply prefer the true reds.

Poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, red and pink foliage plants for christmas display

Speaking of true red there’s nothing quite like the deep rich reds of an amaryllis, a classic forced bulb for an indoor winter treat.

Red Amaryllis flower, close up with anthers

But outdoors has plenty of December interest and there’s nothing quite like the bare branches of a deciduous tree, and this Camperdown elm (Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’) with green moss covered branches at Filoli is simply a classic December scene.

Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’, Camperdown Elm tree in winter; deciduous bare branches in estate garden

There are several great fruiting trees for late autumn and early December. Persimmon trees are predictably fabulous for their fall color but that is normally November. However pomegranates ripen and stay on the tree into December and there’s an unmistakable resemblance to a Christmas tree ornament.

Pomegranate red fruit hanging on tree Punica granatum ‘Blaze’

I’ll finish the selection of December photos with a garden picture, a picture one would not think is December but in our summer-dry climate a clever gardener knows many plants grow year-round, and after the first rains come in late autumn things begin to perk up, especially sedges in a lawn meadow, here created by David Fross of Native Sons Nursery.

Dave’s December meadow; Lawn substitute Carex praegracilis, Field Sedge

Which two of the above seven photos are actually in the new 2021 calendar? You can figure it out by looking at the promo page the publisher created for the calendar.  I will send a free calendar to the first five people who comment correctly here and if you find you missed out, it might be because you are not signed up for my monthly digest, an e-zine of articles in the previous month. Those folks got this announcement on December 3.

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Be safe friends.