Wednesday, May 31, 2006

California Vistas

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is a view of the mountains around our neighborhood. Due to a cool spring, the vegetation is still green. A few more weeks like this one, however, and they will become golden brown.

The timber fence in the foreground delineates a path for hikers and horses. When we first moved here, I would hike these all the time. Then I found out about coyotes, snakes, and bobcats and really like sticking to the paved streets!

When Life Give You Lemons, Make a Big Bouquet

My friend MB has several Meyer Lemon trees in her garden. They are amazing lemon trees in that the fruit is both delicious and the tree prolific. To my palette, the flavor is tart lemon with peppery undertones. (Okay... I think I have lived in California too long. My description of lemons are starting to sound like wine-tour chatter!)

After she makes all the lemonade she can drink and all the lemon meringue pies she can eat and gives bags of lemons to her friends, she creatively finds other ways to use her lemons. I think this is stunning.

The Language of Flowers

One of my favorite books is Kate Greenaway's, "Language of Flowers." My copy is a 1978 reprint of her book originally published in 1884.

The book has two parts. First,the book lists flowers alphabetically from A to Z with the Victorian interpretation of their meaning. For example, the foxglove means insincerity while the honeysuckle means generous and devoted. The second part of the book lists the attributes in alphbetical order. For example is you want to express disdain, the yellow carnation would be the appropriate flower.

During the Victorian times, flower arrangements would be sent, often from men to women comprised of various flowers. The flowers where then interpreted using the language of flowers to decipher the hidden message. If the arrangement was a small nosegay, they would be called a "Tussie Mussie."

Gardenias are A-Bloomin'

The previous owners of my home had a brilliant landscaping idea. They planted gardenias flanking both sides of the front door in an alcove area. According to most gardening books, these plants shouldn't have survived in this location. However, they survive and thrive. This time of year the first blooms of the season are starting to pop. Beside being a visual treat the fragrance is intoxicating. An added benefit of being in an alcove is that fragrance is captured and is concentrated.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Don't Judge a Flower by Its Bud

Who would guess that this hairy little flower bud would develop into flowers as lovely as these poppies?


One thing I like about my garden blog is that I am constantly learning the correct spelling of flowers. I didn't realize until I started this blog that daylily is one word.

Although June is just one day away, June Gloom has been absent the past couple of days. For those outside of the coastal regions of California, June gloom is a description of a weather condition. It is a deep fog (or marine layer) which blankets the coastal areas in California. Days are gray when June Gloom is present. Although called June Gloom, conditions can be right for June Gloom in May or July. The marine layers are sometimes very deep, and the sun won't burn them off until early afternoon. And sometime June Gloom can come back in the afternoon. So the month of June can be devoid of sunshine.

I love the orange and yellow in this flower. This is the color you want in your garden when June Gloom appears.

Monday, May 29, 2006

...and the Number One Reason to Visit Your Garden More Than Once a Day

Cactus! I had been in and out of the garden all day and failed to notice the cactus blooming. The cactus sits on a work area to the side of the garden and I just didn't notice. But here is this prickly plant practically screaming, "Look at Me. I am beautiful!" I love the little tiny pink flower inside the larger yellow and pink blossom.

New Landscaping

New landscaping waiting to be installed. How exciting. This step is the finishing touch to a new house in the neighborhood. The house has a Tuscan look and the landscaping which has been installed so far is unified with this architectural style. California pepper trees are in the wooden crates. Our neighborhood has a requirement that each home must have several of these trees lining the perimeter of the property by the curb. The Royal Palm is installed and will probably remain with the leaves tied until it becomes established. This minimizes moisture loss.

I love rocks and am interested to see where the crates of small boulders will be placed.

Notice the clear blue sky with a wisp of a cloud. No marine layer all weekend! What a delight.

Entry Flowers

At the entry of my neighborhood, the gardeners have created a beautiful oasis of flowers. I love the mixture of colors with the thick bent trunk of shrubbery.


This lovely border of cosmos adds a light and airy touch to the contrasting green turf. The face of the flower is illuminated by the sun and seems to brighten the area.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Theme: Bees

I went on a walk through my neighborhood today. I took my trusty camera with me. Before I left, I had noticed many bees with very busy buzzing around my roses. As I walked, I could see where the expression busy bee had originated. Any flower or shrub which had a fragrance also had a plethora of bees. Several times I tried to photograph the bees collecting their bounty. My camera (or finger or reflexes) were more often than not slower than the bees and I was not too successful in capturing "Bees at Work."

As my walk was drawing to a conclusion, I saw something ahead of me on the sidewalk. I couldn't tell what it was. As I approached, I could see someone had found a bee hive. The sidewalk was litered with the honey comb. I am sure there is a story which was not so pleasant since socks were left in a heap in the vicinity of the broken comb. A few lone bees continued to fly to and from the destroyed honeycomb. The honeycomb is really an engineering marvel.


The perimeter of our property is lined with cypress trees. These are stately evergreens with fabulous seeds. I love the texture these provide.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Everyone always tells you to stop and smell the roses. I think I am going to suggest we modify this phrase. Instead of "Stop and Smell the Roses," the new phrase will be "Stop Before You Smell the Roses." A closer look will show you why you should "BEE" careful.

'Nuff said.

Calla Lilies

The flower bed at the front of my house seems to be the ideal location to grow beautiful calla lilies. The front of my house faces east. The beds get the morning sun and then the garden is protected from the heat of the afternoon because it is shaded by the house. These bulbs bloom from early spring to the beginning of summer. Sometimes as many as seven flowers will be blooming. This evening as I returned from my walk, I found these too irresistible to walk by without capturing their beauty.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Lovely Centerpiece

Last night my husband and I attended a 40th birthday party of an acquaintance. The event planners created this lovely floral centerpiece. I loved the colors which were so vivid. I didn't recognize many of the flowers by name but there is cockscomb among the blossoms. Besides the boldness of color, the centerpiece was low and allowed for easy conversation once people sat down to eat.

A Break from Gardening

Laguna Beach. If you aren't in the garden, this is a great place to be!

Oh, but you can't get too far from gardening. For those of you who want to know: LB is ZONE 24. "Marine-dominated Southern California Coast
Growing season: all year, but periodic freezes have dramatic effects (record lows are 33 degrees to 20 degrees F/1 degree to -7 degrees C). Climate here is oceanic (but warmer than oceanic Zone 17), with cool summers, mild winters. Subtropical plants thrive." (Sunset Magazine)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Begonia and Lobelia

Again the proof is in the pudding. Talented gardeners do exist but plants can fend for themselves quite nicely. This is a set of container plants I have on my patio. I truly have neglected them for the past year or two. Our weather intervened and coaxed these two plants along. Last night with camera in hand I snapped a photo. Stunning. Look at the color. I think this spring's weather with deep coastal marine layers, which of course means cool weather and bright but not sunny days, have been the magic ingredient.

Everything's Coming Up Roses

This is my favorite rose bush. The fragrance is unbelievable. When it is in bloom, I can tell instantly when I walk in the garden.

This spring has been wonderful for my roses. The white roses started blooming first. Last night when I was outside with my trusty camera, I noticed this bush is about ready to go crazy blooming.

Good Night Little Flowers

Last night I went out to throw some green kitchen scraps into the composter at the transition from dusk to night. I noticed these little purple flowers go to sleep at night by closing up their bloom. How sweet is that?

You might also notice an eggplant plant (also known as aubergine) next to my flowers (upper left hand corner). I like to mix it up in my garden and plant veg and flowers next to each other. I thought the deep purple blooms of the eggplant and the deep purple veining in the leaves (and subsequently the purple fruit) would be lovely next to these purple flowers.

Good Morning!

Good Night. Pleasant Dreams.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Soil Amended...Now Plant

After the sifting of my compost (see below) I used it to amend the soil. I also purchased Worm Gold which is a packaged amendment made of worm castings. Worm castings are the droppings of the common garden worm. Finally, I worked a bag of potting soil into the dirt. I really wanted to plant or I would have made one more trip to the store to get a bail of peat moss.

I trip to Plant Depot earlier this weekend provided me with plants of heirloom tomatoes, green peppers, zukes, pole beans, cucumbers, and eggplants. My friend had given me some special seeds for sunflowers which I hope are busy germinating in the soil right this very moment.

I always love this time of the garden cycle. Nothing but potential!


Peas from my garden inside their snug little pod are exquisitely sweet. This variety of peas was edible as the pod alone or if you weren't fast enough to pick the pod in its immature state, the peas are excellent as well.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Snickety Snake in my Garden

Today I was going out my front door to walk and almost stumbled across this rattle snake. My son Chris says I was crazy to take pictures of it since they move so quickly. I really didn't get too close and used my zoom lense. I didn't realize how quickly they can move...but now I do!

I was going to do a little trimming of shrubbery in the front yard this week. I think I will leave it to the professionals since I saw the snake head directly into the bushes!

Update: A visitor to my blog believes this slinky reptile to be a gopher snake. I must say I am relieved because Casey, my dog, isn't smart enough to stay clear of predators in the garden.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Compost Sifter

I love my compost bins. I have two in my garden and in the spring I take the wonderful bounty out of the composter and use it as a soil amendment in my garden. This weekend was the designated weekend to accomplish that task.

Sometimes some larger items in the composter (like tree branches) don't completely decompose. I use a sifter to separate the small decomposed material from any remaining larger items.

The pictorial below shows how you can take a garden shop plant flat and turn it into a wonderful sifter.

(But first...Casey needs my attention)

Start with the plastic container from the garden shop flower flats.

Cut wire screen to fit the bottome of the flower flat. Cut the wire so no edges of the wire remain. Be careful. I got a few puncture wounds from the exposed edges of the wire mesh.

Attach the metal screen to the bottom of the flower flat using zip ties. This are available from the garden shop or from the hardware store. Once "zipped" cut the remaining "tail."

Here I am sifting my compost. You can see one of my compost bins behind me.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Another Photo from Saratoga, California

The town of Saratoga has some beautiful floral arrangements around town.

Harvesting the Peas

The sweet peas have been wonderful. Any pods which I miss harvesting while they are in the edible pea pods stage grow into sweet and wonderful orbs of green.

Too cute for words

Sometimes you have to post a photo of your dog just because she is sooooo cute!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Farmers' Market

Mmmmmm. Just a few more posts from Northern California. How can you resist.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Container Gardens

Container gardens are the answer to providing a bit of mother nature in places not ideally suited to the end. These are two containers filled with wonderful plants outside a restaurant at Santana Row in San Jose. During my travels, I discovered Northern Californians are have more gardens than those in Zone 23!

California Liliacs

This is California's version of liliacs. Millions of blooms. Beautiful.

Mother's Day in Palo Alto

Sitting among the hydrangeas is my mom. This is the Palo Alto mall. This might be one of the prettiest malls I have seen. The common areas have been planted with fabulous flowers. This area was thick with blue hydrangeas.

Carmel, California Garden

I have been on a trip to Northern California. One stop included a visit to Carmel, California. This is a beautiful little garden which was tucked down a darling little passage way.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Don't Hate Me Because My Roses Are Beautiful

The roses in my garden have the best blooms ever. This white rose blooms next the my red rose. It reminds me of the old fairy tale, "Rose White and Rose Red." The white rose has a head start on the red rose this year. I went outside this morning and found these two blooms.

Two beautiful specimens. The petals are almost artistically shaped. This is my sixth year to see this rose bush bloom. I honestly don't think I have ever seen the petals curve so beautifully before. I will watch the season unfold to see if all of the roses are this fabulous.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


My bird of paradise plant is huge. You can see a portion of the trunk in this picture. Around the bottom of the plant are these vibrant geraniums. Last year I cut them back very severely. They have rebounded with vigor.

Coral Rose Buds

Right outside my kitchen door is a very floriforous rose bush. The rose buds start out a startling shade of coral. Once the bud opens the bloom is a subtle shade of peach with yellow undertones.

I struggle with this rose bush because it is prone to suffer the blight of powdery mildew and rust. The initial bloom of the season is the most prolific. After this bloom, I will work to prune back some of the stems so the bush will be well ventilated.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Earlier this year, I was at the garden shop. They had zucchini plants. I knew it was too early to plant but I couldn't resist. Once they were planted the weather turned cold and rainy. They last their vibrant green color. I didn't think they were going to make it.

Good news. With the longer days (but not warmer) they are getting enough light (not sun) to turn a healthy shade of green. This weekend I went out to discover the first bloom of the season.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Orange Tree, After the bloom

After the Orange tree blooms, the flowers fall away. Left is the world's tiniest orange! If you look closely at this photo, you will see the small spherical fruit. You may notice that some of the fruit is darker and some is lighter. I am going to watch closely this year. I think the lighter fruit is destined to become part of fruit drop. This is when the tree selectively drops fruit. This allows the plant to send more nutrients to the remaining fruit to allow larger fruit at harvest time.


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