Friday, June 30, 2006

Orange Dragonfly

In the summer, never venture in the garden without your wide-brimmed garden hat...and your camera. This fellow really liked the spent stem from the gladiola plant. He circled and circled, always perching on the tippy top of the stem. His wings are like iridescence gossamer fabric.

Musings on a Volunteer Squash

When I spread out my compost this spring, I found some of the seeds had not decomposed. I eliminated most of the volunteers (way too many to let them go) but let a few grow. This plant has done very well. I'm just not completely sure what it is going to be! By the shape and knowing that I tossed a few acorn squash into the composter, that's my guess. What's yours?

Interesting things I noticed about this plant. The female flowers have set first with approximately five fruit spreading up the vine. I do see at the base of the plant very smally beginnings of the male flowers. Lucky that I have so many squash plants this year because the male flowers of those plants have provided pollen to these female fruits and it has set! I wonder if this is nature's way of encouraging cross pollination to develop stronger offspring seeds.

Lemon Cucumber Continues to Develop

The lemon cucumber experiment continues. The fruit is ripe when it is the size of a large lemon. I estimate this cucumber to be three-fourths of the way there. I cannot believe how fabulously prickly it looks. Sort of reminds me of my husband's beard after a long holiday weekend without shaving!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Purple Pepper, Part Deux

You never know what to expect when you cut into a purple pepper. The interior flesh is a warm celedon green color. Very exotic.

The "Pollinator"

From the state who brought you the "Governator," we present the "Pollinator." Busy collecting and spreading pollen from flower to flower, the bee seems to never tire.

Bird of Paradise at Dana Point Harbor

This bird of paradise is located in paradise: Orange County's Dana Point Harbor.

Tide pools, natural gardens, sailboats, swimmers, kayakers all find their place here.

Vibrant Yellow Flowers

Look at these lovely flowers. They would be a prize in any garden, right?

Well, these lovely flowers greet anyone entering I-5 South at the Ortega Highway. I love California!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Purple Flower is Glorious

Rambling along a border fence, this vine of blue flowers.

Unusual Weather for Southern California

Stormy weather was brewing today in Southern California. Lots of dark grey clouds filled the sky. The temperature dropped ten degrees. Wind gusts blew leaves from the trees and down the street. Eventually, eight raindrops fell and then the sun came out. Remember, it never rains in California in the summer.

Cooking with Zucchini

Straight from the vine and into the saute pan. I couldn't resist photographing the cooking of today's lunch!
Melt one teaspoon butter in a pan. Add one small zucchini, sliced. Saute for 2 minutes on medium high heat until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Serves: One hungry gardener.

The Bloom of a Zucchini Fades

While out hunting spiders' webs early this morning, I found the garden insects were already very busy. Bees were buzzing from zucchini flower to pumpkin flower to cucumber flower. And the ants were marching one by one in this very showy zucchini flower.

Bloom at 7:00 a.m.

Bloom at 10:00 a.m.

Bloom at 2:30 p.m.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What a Tangled Web We Weave...

Nothing tangled about this web. Final garden check at dusk, and guess who was spinning a trap for any night flying insects? Mr. Spider. I took the photo with a flash and was able to capture the filaments of the web very nicely. I will be back first thing in the morning to see if the dew can help me create a stunning photo.
Post Script: I went out at 7:00 a.m. to see the spider's web. Gone! Every bit of it. I am so glad I took photos last night.

Lemon Cucumber

My unusual vegetable this summer is one called lemon cucumber. The cukes have started to grow and as you can see, they are round and a bit more yellowish than the standard cucumber. Should be interesting to watch it as it grows.

Helping to Pollinate--It Worked

This is the result of the pollination I helped with a few days ago. The pumpkin on the right had my assistance with the pollination. The other did not. One pumpkin is now successfully growing into a mature veg. The other is not.

I love the close up photo. The colors are so rich. I love the pattern of the skin.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Flower Power! The OC County Fair

The Orange County Fair is coming. The theme of the fair this year is Flower Power! I love going to the fair. I have some favorite non-gardening spots. For example, anyone who has a collection can have it displayed. It's amazing what interesting things people collect. And of course the annual piglet races are charming.

I also love the vegetable and gardening area. People proudly display their tomatoes, beans, or squash. The OC Fair and Expo Center is also the home of the 3-acre working Centennial Farm. Their vegetables are amazing. They use a lot of trellises and raised beds. I have Gardeners' NV when I visit the farm. Oh, and no farm would be complete without the barnyard animals. They have it all!

Eggshells in the Compost

As a special treat for everyone, I made cinnamon muffins this weekend. The recipe called for two eggs. Oh good, even the composter is going to enjoy the muffins! Don't forget to crush the eggshells before you add to the composter. This step will speed up the decomposition. Of course, calcium is added to your soil as the eggshells decompose.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Kentucky Pole Bean

The pole beans are maturing. I picked approximate nine beans today. I hope with another harvest tomorrow, I'll have enough beans to cook.

My skinny Kentucky beans make me long for a bean I first discovered in England. A staple at the nurseries, the runner beans are very long beans which are deliciously tender. When I first grew them, I was surprised at the tenderness of the pod after seeing the length. When I first moved to California, my nursery carried runner beans in Renee's Garden Seeds. Lately, however, they have not carried that variety. So its skinny short beans for me this year!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pollinating Pumpkins and Zucchini

I must be a bit of a type A control freak. Because my garden is small, I want every square inch of it producing all summer long. When a female flower opens on my squash, zucchini or pumpkin plants, I find a male flower in bloom, pluck it, peel off the flower and begin my job as a pollinator. I dust the female flower with the pollen of the male flower and hope for the best. I could wait and hope some passing bee does the job for me but if not, I see the missed opportunity of a maturing vegetable. I don't know for sure if my intervention is the cause of the resulting pollination, but my plants do bear a nice amount of vegetables.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pineapple Sage

The pineapple sage in my garden was originally planted by the previous owners. Like mint, you are supposed to be able to add this plant to iced tea. I have never consumed the plant in this fashion. Instead, I prefer to gently rub the leaves which release a fragrance reminiscent of fresh pineapple.

Besides having an exotic fragrance, the plant attracks hummingbirds once its red flowers bloom. In my climate, the flowers bloom in September. Being red, the hummingbirds cannot resist.

Cucumber Yellow Flowers

This robust cucumber plant is loaded with flowers it almost looks like a bedding plant.

Sun Sugar Hybrid Yellow Cherry Tomato

This yellow surprise was waiting for me in the garden. I took the picture and then plucked it from the vine and popped it in my mouth. My first home-grown garden tomato of the season. But I know seven more will be quick to follow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I'm a Sweet Bell Purple Pepper Eater

As I was typing this title, I remembered the funny song from my childhood..."One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple-people eater." It is a bit of a tongue twister.

I love the deep purple color of this bell pepper. And I love growing my peppers in all colors not green. The colored peppers are always three times the cost of the green peppers at the store so I feel I am reaping great financial benefits from this colorful pepper.

Pergola with Bougainvillea

This pergola is at the home of my friend. The bougainvillea top the pergolas with bold color.

Cucumber with Prickly Skin

This cucumber is described as a "bush" cucumber plant. The vine is anticipated to be 24 inches in size. The fruit is ideal for salads and pickling.

Some of the leaves have been plagued by powdery mildew. The plant is in a location where the sun is not quite as intense. I have decided to handle the problem by cutting off the leaves with the mildew present. I'm hoping if I can get through the "June Gloom" days (morning marine layer) without powdery mildew contaminating all of my squash and cucumber plants, I might have a really lovely garden this year.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Trumpet Flowers

I walked at Dana Point Harbor today with my friend. Afterwards, we went to her house. She has a lovely garden and allowed me to take photos to share on my blog. She is closer to the ocean so I am fairly certain she is in zone 24. This is a beautiful speciman of the trumpet flower.

While we were enjoying her garden, we spotted a butterfly on one of the flowers.

Bamboo Poles

I am thrilled. I talked with my local nursery a few weeks ago, and they ordered a dozen 8-foot bamboo poles for me. They arrived on Saturday and I have been busy building teepees for the last two days. I use the structure of the poles to provide support for twine stretched between them. Once constructed, the teepees will be used to support my tomatoes, cukes, and pole beans.

Courgette on the Vine

This is my first zucchini of the summer. I am very excited. Last year I had a lackluster harvest even though my zucchini plant took up half of my very small garden. I have the sauté pan on the stove and the shredded parmesan ready for tonight's dinner.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tomato--Word History

One of my favorite sites on the net is Your Dictionary.

Besides gardening, I also love words. This site if fun because it is a great dictionary site and also provides a "listen" button with the proper pronunciation.
Listen to the Word Tomato

I guess that puts to rest the whole tomAto/tomahto thing!

Here is a little info about the history of the tomato as well.

Tomato Word History:
Among the greatest contributions to world civilization made by the early inhabitants of the Americas are plant foods such as the potato and squash. The tomato, whose name comes ultimately from the Nahuatl language spoken by the Aztecs and other groups in Mexico and Central America, was another important contribution. When the Spanish conquered this area, they brought the tomato back to Spain and, borrowing the Nahuatl word tomatl for it, named it tomate, a form shared in French, Portuguese, and early Modern English. Tomate, first recorded in 1604, gave way to tomato, a form created in English either because it was assumed to be Spanish or under the influence of the word potato. As is well known, people at first resisted eating this New World food because its membership in the nightshade family made it seem potentially poisonous, but it is now is an important element of many world cuisines.

Quasi Hydroponics Tomato Experiment

This tomato cutting is rooting in my lovely little Waterford vase. I made a little bouquet the other day and along with the flowers stuck this little "sucker" from my tomato plant. To my delight, it rooted while in the vase with the flowers. As soon as I am caught up with other gardening tasks, I will transplant to the garden.

Cut Flowers

This large agapanthus bloom is brought to you courtesy of some pesky insect. The whole bloom was cut clean off of the stalk. Rather than throwing it on the compost heap, I decided it would look smashing in a large vase. Now who gets the last laugh, Mr. Insect?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Garden Conservatory

While on my trip, one of the area hotels had a fabulous conservatory. A banyan tree, which had to be cut down, was transported across the country and reconstructed to create a wonderful garden.

A miniature Mount Rushmore was created in another part of the conservatory. All of the trees were bonzais to create the illusion that Mount Rushmore was really large.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Full Moon in June

The first night of my trip, I looked out the window of my hotel to see this fantastic full moon. I cannot believe the detail my digital camera captured! You can see a little redundancy image because the camera picked up the reflection throught the double-paned window.

Tonight I checked for blue moons (two full moons in the same month). We don't have any blue moons in 2006. The next blue moon will occur in June 2007.

Back in the Nick of Thyme

I have been away for almost a week! You know what that means. My garden was in dire need of weeding, trimming and a little TLC. My thyme had gone to seed. I just cut it back very hard. My rosemary bush was also in need of some trimming. I now smell like a roasted potato at Sunday supper!

I have to download some photos from my trip. I will post some garden photos. They are really fun. Later.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

In the Weeds...

My sister lives in Maine and uses the expression "in the weeds" when she has too much to do and isn't keeping up. I am so "in the weeds!" Can you get behind in a hobby? About ten days ago, son #2, home from college, came home from his part-time job with the flu. Two days later, some #1, home from college, had the flu. Two days later, I had the flu. Earlier last Sunday, before I knew I was going to get the flu, I went to the garden center and purchased flowers and some beans, a few bags of potting soil with the intention of creating some beautiful containers.

My containers were looking very sad. I had randomly stuck spider plants in them last fall, geraniums, vinca. I was tidying up the yard and anything alive was stuck in the dirt.

So finally, I am over the flu and I went out to work on the containers. The flowers which I dutifully watered all week were looking worse for the wear. But the containers! Yikes. Everything I stuck in them had become rootbound. Big gnarly deeply penetrating roots. I tugged and tugged. I hacked and pulled. Finally, I got all of the old plant material out and in with the new. But I only got two of them in good shape.

And tomorrow I have commitments which will keep me from gardening the whole week.

I'm in the weeds!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Desperately Seeking 8-Foot Bamboo Poles

I love using bamboo poles for staking plants in my garden. I have now been to two of my favorite nurseries to find they no longer carry that size or they are out of stock. Today, Casey the dog gets her rabies vaccination. There is another nursery by her vet and we'll stop by before the appointment.

If I don't find any, I will have to purchase the funky metal stakes coated in green plastic. Not my favorite look.

I'll keep you posted on the outcome. I may have to venture out to Rogers Gardens. A bit of a drive. Hopefully, they will have what I need.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Red Carpet Gladiolus

I don't think there is a couture designer anywhere who could create a gown with ruffles as spectacular as the ruffles on this gladiolus. It is definitely red-carpet material.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Nandina is a ubiquitous shrub but for good reason. They grow very well in our California climate but I was first introduced to nandina in Texas where the temperature range is much more dramatic.

I like the seasonal changes of the nandina. The new spring growth is a lovely deep rose color. In the fall, the color of the leave will change again. Sprays of white flowers on pink-tinged stems will develop into lovely red berries in the fall. Let some of the berries drop and you will probably have some volunteers sprout.

Pink Hydrangea

This is my first year to attempt hydrangeas. I am not disappointed.


This photo was taken with a new camera (HP Photosmart R818). I have been using it for about a month now. I found this feature which allows you to set for super close-ups. I cannot believe the detail.

This campanula is destined for a starring role in my container pots. I have eight of them of various size (all on drip irrigation). Currently, they are a mishmash of plants. Plans are to turn these into a study of flowers of purple, white and gray-green hues.


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