Monday, July 31, 2006

Back to Normal...

Temperatures have dropped and things feel more normal here in SoCal. The top temperature is the outdoor temp at 1:00 p.m. and the bottom temperature is the indoor temperature sans air conditioning. Ah, the electric meter is spinning much more slowly!

Stephanotis Flower

Ah, the stephanotis is in bloom. The fragrance is marvelous and the flower is so simple and waxy.

My vines are in an alcove area surrounded by small shoulder high walls on three sides. The plant gets some direct morning sun and by afternoon receives no more direct sunlight.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Garden Gnomes at the Orange County Fair

Went to the Orange County Fair. Mr. And Mrs. Garden Gnome were there in a very big way!

The garden was loaded with all kinds of beautiful veggies.

Sunflower at the Mission in San Juan Capistrano at Sunset

The setting sun has a way of creating magical photographs.

Flowers Afloat

My friend, ES, arranges flowers in the most imaginative and unusual way. Here is an arrangement she made for a boat trip. She has artistically included tulips and orchids with shells and baskets.

Friday, July 28, 2006


This is a photo I posted yesterday. My son created a special effect which I thought was cool enough to deserve a second posting.

Epsom Salts--Are They Organic?

Organic is the way I like to garden. I was on the Burpee web site today. They had a tip of the day "Epsom Salt To the Rescue."

"High in magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt can be used to increase the yields of tomatoes and peppers which need magnesium for maximum fruit production. It also seems to improve the flavor of both vegetables. Mix two tablespoons of Epsom salt in a gallon of water, and spray a pint of the fluid on each plant as soon as blossoming begins. Repeat this process once a week throughout the season to keep the plants in top production."

This sounds like a great way to increase yield. Does anyone know if using Epsom Salts would still be organic?


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sunflower Power

My friend KC gave me a wonderful gift this spring--sunflower seeds on an easy-to-grow seed tape. They germinated so quickly and have been growing and growing and growing. This week the tallest one passed me in height (5'7").

This morning when I came back from exercising, I discovered my first sunflower had bloomed. Isn't it sunny and bright?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hot Temps, Cool Cucumber

Keep cool by picking that ripe cucumber from the garden.

You can replace the lemon slice in a glass of ice water with cucumber slices. No, that's not a's a yellow lemon cucumber! Chillax baby!

Eat 5 to 9 a Day

Not only does gardening provide me with a great hobby, it also allows me to get my five to nine a day. During the summer with the garden right outside my kitchen door, I can easily get my daily vegetable and fruit servings, no problem.

Fruits and vegetables can be divided into color categories. My garden contains at least one item from each color group: green (peas), red(tomatoes), orange/yellow(pumpkin/acorn squash, blue (eggplant), and white (onions). Check to see what veg and fruit colors you have in your garden.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Interesting Trees at the Harbor

The Bees love the flowers on this tree.

My early morning walk with BKA and MB took me to Dana Point Harbor. This location was selected because of the possibility of cooler weather by the coast. We were not disappointed. During our walk, we happened upon these flowering trees. Flowers in the shades of red and orange were a hit with the bees!

Tomato Confetti

Reported earlier on this blog was the gobble and run assault of an almost ripe tomato. Some garden pest has ruined over ten tomatoes and keeps returning each night to destroy another tomato. I discovered this tomato in the garden in my early morning garden check. Argggggh.

No Longer Contender for World's Largest Pumpkin

Ah, the pumpkin ripens. I guess that means my pumpkin is out of the running for the world's biggest pumpkin! Currently, this speciman is about the size of a small cantalope.

Ohio State University recommends "to protect the pumpkin from direct sunlight, construct a shade out of burlap or other lightweight material. This will prevent premature hardening of the outer skin and will allow the pumpkin to reach its full genetic potential in terms of physical size."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lizard Surprise!

Because there are practically no rainy days in Southern California in the summer, occasionally I spray the foliage on some of the plants. They can get very dusty.

Today as I was completely absorbed in the task, a surprise visitor jumped out of the bushes and landed on the rock ledge. I think I had surprised him with an unexpected cold shower. He did a nice job blending in with the surrounding stonework, don't you think?

Purple Fountain Grass

I'm not sure what I did but I am keeping the purple fountain grass in my front garden under control. Lately the plant is staying at a moderate height (around three feet tall). In the past it has grown to five feet heighth which is just too big for the area it is planted. I love the deep purple/burgundy color against the other greens planted near it. Also, because it is so light the gentlest breeze causes it to sway. Something about this movement seems perfect for the warm (HOT!) days of August, which are just around the corner.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Legend of the Palm Trees

This posting has been modified to reflect the information received from a reader of my blog that the information was not accurate.

The new posting shall simply state that there is a hill in our city which has an interesting history. It is quite a landmark since their are a number of palm trees planted on the top. Because the of elevation, the trees can be seen for numerous locations.

Thank you kind reader for providing the additional information. This blog would never want to misrepresent anyone or cause anyone bad feelings.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Three Lemon Cucumbers

The lemon cucumbers are turning out to be one of my more prolific vegetables this season. The skin of the lemon cucumber is varied. Sometimes they are very yellow; other times a pale yellow.

I'm Feelin' Hot! Hot! Hot!

Sorry for the whine but it is hot. It's never this hot where I live even during the Santa Ana winds. We had to turn on the AC! This is a big deal because electricity costs an arm and a leg where I live.

Bee Collecting Pollen

Busy doing his job of collecting pollen from the flowers.

Come visit my store, BUZZ OFF, on CafePress! This darling design with the phrase "buzz off" on t-shirts and totes.

Robin Red Breast

This little robin was bopping along the sidewalk in my back yard. He was finding various things to eat. I wasn't able to get too close. I've seen some hummingbirds as well as some yellow birds. They usually leave before I can get my camera out of the case and turned on.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Putting the Fun in Fungi

This mushroom village is growing with gusto on a lawn near my house. Photo Op!
Under the cap of this mushroom, the gills almost look like an expensive fabric which has been painstakingly arranged.
This 'shroom looks more like a 'smore!

Horizontal Pole Beans

My nineteen year old son wandered into my garden patch the other morning. He has a signature style of humor which can best be described as random and dry. The pole beans had reached the top of the teepee and were reaching into space. He saw an opportunity for a sight gag. Beans are supposed to grown vertically, right? How funny would this be--horizontal bean pole growth? Lucky for him, one last bamboo pole was available. He rigged the pole between two teepees and has been encouraging the beans to grow along the pole. Awesome.

Victim of a Gobble and Run

The bounty for some scavenger wandering through my garden in the dark of night was my first full-sized ripening tomato of the year. The thief didn't know my big plans for a weekend sandwich topped with the glorious red globe fruit. Nope, he just gobbled and ran. He didn't even "clean his plate."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tree Bark Art

These photos were taken with a HP camera in macro lense mode. No other enhancements were made. I love the colors and textures.

I have taken photos of tree bark before. I feel my appreciation of the bark of trees is validated after my recent trip. Here is a gallery of photos of trees in my neighborhood, including palm, pepper, and eucalyptus trees.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cloud Nine Eggplant


This beauty was truly unexpected when I discovered it growing in a crowded part of the garden, completely hidden by the leaves of surrounding zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes. When I saw it, I gasped from surprise and amazement. Now that I have made the discovery, I will be following it closely.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tomato Hornworm/ (Tabacco Hornworm)

Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! Who is that eating all the leaves from my tomato plant?

Why it is none other than the tomato hornworm.* The tomato plant was being depleted of its leaves down to the stem. Lucky for me I spied this ravenous creature as I went to photograph some newly developing veggies. Even though they are the size of an index finger, they are so clever in their coloration and markings, they are hard to see. And yuck, it presented me with green goo when I tried to remove it from the stem on which it was napping. I repeat...YUCK!

The hornworm caterpillar is named after the magenta colored "horn" which is at the posterior end of this lovely creature.
*I misidentified this little fellow in my original post. Observant readers of my blog have indicated my error in their comments. I stand corrected and state that this little guy is actually a tabacco hornworm. Thank you faithful readers! :)

Watch this video with still photos and action video of the hornworm caterpillar.

Water Lilies and Lotuses

The water garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was another stunning area to visit. Two symetrical rectangular ponds brimmed with a wide selection of plants. Bright blue dragonflies, too small and too quick to be photographed, darted among the lilies.

The center of the white flower was quite different. It almost looks like a green shower head. It remains after the petals of the flower fall off.

Bonsai Maple Tree (Trident)

This Trident Maple (Acer Buergerianum) was a gift from the city of Tokyo to the City of New York in 1961. The bonsai tree is over 125 years old. This speciman is currently on display in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Purple Orchids

One of the places we visited in NYC was the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The conservatory was wonderful with all types of climate zones represented. These purple orchids were breathtaking.

New York City Central Park at Sunset

Just returned from NYC. Not surprisingly, the garden has produced produce of gigantic proportions. I used the panoramic setting on my cameral to capture this stunning picture of Central Park tree tops with the skyline behind it. I recommend clicking on the picture to see the incredible detail.

I love the golden reflection of the setting sun in the skyscraper windows.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pink and White Oleander

A sidewalk winds down the street in front of my neighborhood. It's planted with trees and oleander bushes. I've been walking at night because the air is cooler. The oleander bushes were begging to be photographed. The center of the pink flower looks like it is candy striped.

Yellow and Orange Cannas

Isn't it nice when neighbors plant a flowerbed right on the property line. I get as much enjoyment from this garden at the front perimeter of my yard as they do! This cannas actually faces my property. It is very shaded in this corner and the yellow flowers really brightens up the area.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Bulb Hunter

The NYT published a very interesting article online. A bulb hunter in Texas is "reintroducing flowers long out of vogue, committing himself exclusively to those that have ably asserted themselves against the particular cruelties of exceedingly hot weather for decades, even centuries." He searches out old line bulbs and asks owners for permission to harvest a few for his company.

As a senior at Texas A & M, he devised a senior project around collecting bulbs from the area, propagating them and selling them to nurseries and on the internet. His company The Southern Bulb Company "has gained him considerable attention, earning him a spot on House & Garden's list of most important American tastemakers in April and turning him into a sought-after speaker on the garden club circuit." He goes to old neighborhoods to find these heirloom plants.

I love the fact that he is dealing in rare and heirloom bulbs which have climatized to the warm (hot) nature of the south. This is of special interst to me in zone 23 because I know that many bulbs do not grow in California because the weather isn't cold enough. Mostly bulbs are one season only. I saw he has a bulb which looks like it is related to the early snowdrop, one of my favorite bulbs. This seems like a great company.

He has a blog which chronicles his adventures in running his company. Very interesting.


Unbeknownst to me, honeysuckle was strangling some of my shrubbery. I noticed my shrubs needed some pruning and when I investigated, I discovered honeysuckle had found its way into the area and had established itself.

I spent several hours trying to eliminate the honeysuckle from the area. I also untangled it from branches and limbs where I could. I think all the plants are very happy again to be growing unencumbered.

If you look at the photo, you can see the stanglehold the honeysuckle had on these two branches.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fragrant Gardenia

The gardenia bush continues to bloom. The sun warms the blossoms and releases a very deep fragrance at the entrance at the front door. This bloom is the major one for the year but the plant will continue to produce a few blossoms through December!

I deadhead the flowers once they start to fade to yellow. I have a special soil mixture that I am going to add to top dress the plants. Because these plants are under cover (and since it never rains in the summer), I will hose the plants every few weeks to wash off dust from the leaves.

Grape Tomatoes

Two grape tomatoes are on the way. Grape tomatoes came out of nowhere a couple of years ago. They started appearing in place of the ubiquitous cherry tomato when ordering salads at local restaurants.

My taste buds prefer them over the standard cherry tomato. They seem to be a little sweeter. Their shape is more elongated than the cherry tomato and resemble an olive or grape, hence the name. These two are full size just waiting to ripen.

I wonder if they are making inroads in other parts of the country.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Swallow's Nest

San Juan Capistrano is famous for the annual return of the swallows. The swallows winter in South American and every March return to the San Juan Capistrano Mission which is centuries old.

One of the birds confused my house (which is only 25 years old) for the mission (centuries old). Maybe it's time to do a little maintenance...hmmm. Here is the mud nest it created in the corner of an alcove area. Nests are not to disturbed because the birds often return each year. There is actually an ordinance against destroying the nests.

More history on the swallows.


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