Friday, January 26, 2007

Red Lettuce

The very warm, sunny days are encouraging a lush growth of lettuce in my garden. The lettuce is also threatening to bolt! Yikes. Don't do it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Eucalyptus Seed Pod

Other trees on my hillside is a group of Eucalyptus trees. They have very interesting seed pods. They are woody and extremely hard and appear in groups. These are still green. They will continue to dry and turn brown. Click on the photo. You will enjoy the detail on the pods.

Oh, and that unnaturally blue color in the background. Just the California sky on a weather perfect day. Remind me to look at this photo in June when the skies will be marine layer gray.

Is this a fern?

This foliage is in my garden in several places. When doing a little gardening this week, I noticed it had some beautiful red and green berries. I wish I knew what plant it was. Maybe someone has a clue?

I received a comment which sounds very knowledgeable. The "Germinatrix" reports this fern to be Asparagus densiflora meyersii. Thanks for your input.

Conifer Pine Cones

One of the trees on the slope of our hill is an evergreen which is getting larger every year. Yesterday I noticed it was loaded with pine cones.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cactus in Bloom

Prickly but pretty. My cactus is blooming. Looks like there are a few more blooms ready to burst in a week or so.

Narcissus, Forcing the Bulb

Every year I swoop into Restoration Hardware after the holidays. They usually have some of their kits for forcing narcissus. I set mine up about six days ago. Now the bulb has started to grow, so it will just be a short while until I can enjoy a little early burst of spring in the house.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Visit My Vintage Valentine Blog

We have a collection of vintage valentines. My plan is to post them as we approach Valentine's Day. These cards are part of a collection sent to my grandmother and her sister when they were little girls. One is addressed to "Baby Edna." Dates on the post marks are from 1910-1913. Some of the addresses are wonderfully sweet. These were sent at a time when one only had to write "City" or "Local" and the post office knew that meant Columbus!

Renee's Painted Lady Runner Beans Arrived

My seeds ordered from Renee's Garden arrived. I love the seeds for the runner beans. Beautiful large mocha and chocolate color. The seed package states that the runner bean is an antique dating back to the 19th century. Vines will climb 8 to 10 feet and the blossom is edible. I wouldn't waste my time eating the blossom when the bean it will produce is so delicious.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Frost Kills Tomato Plant

Here is the result of the cold weather we had last week in California. While temps are a bit warmer now, I am finding it cozier to stay inside. Really I should go out to the garden and clean up this mess.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Orchids in Bloom

I have never had success getting orchids to bloom a second time. I have one orchid which has been in my home for five years and not a bloom.

However, I have a way around this problem. I let the nurseries do the work and enjoy their blooms as they come from the nursery. These colors are fantastic.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Herd of Tumbleweed

Apparently, tumbleweed is a "pack" animal. Here is a "herd" of tumbleweed which came to rest after rolling around and spreading its seed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I have two artichoke plants in the garden. They don't seem to mind the cold weather. The nursery tag indicated it was great for cool, short-seasoned climates. I am very excited to see the blossom and the acutal artichoke when it starts to grow. I'll post photos!

En Plein Air Photos in Carmel and Venice, California

En plein air is a French expression meaning "in the open air." Roland Allen is a master at photography en plein air. Roland is the Director of College Counseling at the school where my sons attended high school. He has an eye for photography and takes fabulous photos. Here is a quote from one of Roland's web sites:
I am an educator, a blogger and a reader of proven literature, particularly the works of Flannery O'Connor. My art is personal and untrained. In my mind, art should reflect real life in order to be interesting: which means that it should be rich, colorful and full of texture.

I wanted to share these photos with my garden blog readers.

These photos and Roland's original art designs are available on notecards and postal cards at Roland's Designs.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mocking Cold Temps, Ornamental Kales Thrive

Here is a stunning garden bed hanging out this winter covered in a frilly white ornamental kale. This plant can take the nippy cold nights we have had this week. As many gardeners (and consumers) are aware, California is experiencing record cold temps at night. Many citrus crops are suffering and will be reflected in grocery costs in the coming months.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Orchids from Rogers Gardens

Today I took a trip to Rogers Gardens. It is a fabulous nursery about 30 minutes from my home. The trip was not disappointing as the sun was warm through the unusually cold (and I mean cold--ice was on the walking paths this morning!) air. As I was finding the al fresco nature of Rogers a bit too chilly, I ventured into the orchid shop. The abundance and variety of orchids was startling.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Its Always a Beautiful Day in California

Sometimes "real world" weather is cold and gray, but Californians cope by ignoring what seems real and focusing on their faux "eternally paradise" garage doors! That's why it is always a beautiful day in California.

It's All About Perspective

Here's what I have discovered about flowers. If you view them from five feet seven inches away, you are going to miss out on some of the magic. This bloom is downward facing, forcing one to bend deeply to really enjoy its beauty.

Flowers at the Getty Villa

The Getty Villa in Los Angeles is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. A group of my friends and I were able to visit the museum on Friday. The weather was brisk but sunny. The weather made time spent in the garden truly enjoyable.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Brown Thistles on a Grey Hillside

Hiking the hills around my home today, I found fields of thistle, no longer in bloom, but gone to seed. The center is soft and very fragile. Similar to dandelions, the seeds are transported on tufts of brown, feathery fluff.


Statice is growing along side some walking trails near our home. This is one plant which is perfect for the low rainfall we receive year round.

Exotic Succulent in Laguna Beach

Airport run early this morning. We decided to drive back home by way of Pacific Coast Highway. As we were driving on the portion of PCH which goes through Laguna Beaach, I spotted this fantastic plant. These arching plants are at least eight feet tall if not ten. Quite unusual. I had never noticed them before.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Yesterday the Hips, Today the Rose

The roses continue to put out very showy blooms. This bush is right by the door which leads to the garden. Except for the time in March when I do a hard prune, there is probably not a week which goes by without a bloom.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rose Hips

If one garden plant was going to have hips, it would have to be the very sensual, romanic rose, wouldn't it?

I do not prune my roses until the end of March in an effort to ward off powdery mildew on the newly emerging leaves during our rainy season. Because of this, I sometimes get some rose flowers which go to seed and form some beautiful rose hips.

Runner Beans 2007

I made my first seed purchase for my Summer Garden 2007. I have been disappointed the past few years with my inability to find runner beans in my local garden shops. I was first introduced to runner beans when we lived in England. These are fabulous green beans which start out as bright red and white flowers and turn into long, flat green beans. When I first saw them in the grocery stores in Surrey, I avoided purchasing them. They were so long (12 inches sometimes) and thick, I was sure they would be very tough. However, when shopping one day, another customer told me how wonderful these beans were. I tried them and loved them so much, I included them in my garden. Here is the beauty of these visually lovely beans. You get so much yield from one blossom. Twelve inches of tender bean!

When I first moved to California, I found Renee's Garden seeds were carried in my local nursery and she produced a seed for the runner bean. However, the nursery no longer carries this seed. So today I went to Renee's Garden web site and purchased a packet of seeds. While I was there I also purchased a deep midnight green zucchini seed as well as two varieties of cucumbers.

One of the many things I like about Renee's Garden seeds is the cleverness of her seed packages. For example, one of my favorite bean seeds she produces is a tricolor package. The beans which grow are green, yellow and purple. They really create a lovely visual garden as well as being tastey. (Note: The purple beans do turn to green when they are cooked, however.)

Pictures from Renee's Garden

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


My sister, Kris, sent me this lovely loofah to use in my bath or kitchen. It is so pretty, I might just save it for display.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Copper Watering Can

This pretty copper watering can is a gift from my sister, who is also a gardener.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Don't Blame the Unseasonably Warm Weather

My narcissus is blooming. You might think this bizarre weather we are experiencing coast to coast is the cause. Fear warming is not to blame. Because of the moderate climate here in California Zone 23, these bulbs bloom every year around this time. The fragrance these flowers give off is very pleasant.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tumbling Tumbleweed

Last Friday's big wind storm dislodged tumbleweed from the hills surrounding our neighborhood. This is a small tumbleweed. It probably is 1.5 feet in diameter. Tumbleweed is very round and with a bit of wind behind it, rolls quite fast. The tumbleweed almost looks like a skeleton of a shrub and is quite dense.

How to Grow Your Own Peanut Butter Blossoms

During the holidays, I didn't seem to have time to bake. I also know that past holiday baking extravaganzas have lead to what is known as "the Cookie Diet". I do not recommend it for weight loss but rather a weight gain diet.
However, after taking Thomas to the airport to return to college today, I noticed a candy container with Hershey's Kisses and in the pantry a full jar of Jif Peanut Butter. Time for some Peanut Butter Blossoms. I pulled my 1975 edition of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book from the shelf and started mixing and blending. While the recipe I followed was for standard peanut butter cookies, I knew I could add the kiss on top after baking with no problem.
The cookies are delicious. Unfortunately, in a desire to get the whole batch baked at once, I may have overcrowded the tray. The cookies spread a little more than I anticipated and ended up touching each other. They still taste yummy.
Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients; blend into creamed mixture. Shape in 1-inch balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart (!) on ungreased cookie sheet (Line with parchment paper). Crisscross with fork tines. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. ***Cool slightly and remove from pan. Makes 4 dozen.

***Upon removing from oven, immediately place and unwrapped Hershey's Kiss firmly on the hot cookie.

This recipe was from a time when baking included presifting flour before measuring and postsifting to mix the dry ingredients evenly through the flour. I know we are all in a big hurry these days but including these steps seems to assure a more consistent end product.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rambunctious Raccoons Wreak Havoc

Something yummy is living beneath my turf. I know this because every five to seven days raccoons visit my yard and tear large pieces of my grass away. They must find something soft and gooey under the sod because they keep coming back. I spend the time flipping over any of the grass with roots intact to recreate what was there originally.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Liquid Amber Seed Pod

Because we don't get shockingly cold weather in zone 23, the leaves on the liquid amber take most of the fall to flutter to the ground. We have four trees in the front of the house (had five but one was destroyed in some vicious Santa Ana winds). Three of them have lost all of their leaves. The one closest to the house still has a few leaves dangling. Once the leaves are gone, the branches are starkly displayed with the spikey seed pod. On the driveway, thousands of little black-brown seeds are scattered waiting for the wind to whisk them to some fertile soil.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

White Calla Lily Ready to Unfurl

Going away on vacation has two benefits. First, you have the fun of the vacation. Second, when you come home, your garden has all kinds of surprises for you. I returned from vacation to find my calla lilies beginning to bloom in the front flower bed. This photo shows the bloom is just beginning to unfurl.

My plants stay in the ground year round and are quite happy in their location. To my pleasant surprise, they have propagated on their own by seed.

Poinsettia Power

In November 2006, I finally took the poinsettia plants displayed for Christmas 2005 out of the house and planted them. They were dropping leaves very rapidly in the house and I didn't think they had a chance to survive. However, after several months in the ground, I was delighted to find the bracts have turned bright red.

Tomato Ripens In January

The tomato has one spot of green to ripen and then it's mine, all mine. I am hungering for a summer style BLT. I can use the romaine lettuce in the garden which makes the sandwich all the tastier. The vine is looking a little weather worn but as I was taking this photo, I saw three small green tomatoes hidden in the foliage so I won't be removing this plant...yet.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Red Peppers in January

The peppers keep on coming. We have been away for about a week. Upon returning home, I found the garden had been very busy while we were gone. I did not remove several summer plants at the end of the season because they had set some late vegetables. Here is the yummy result--probably some of the best peppers I have ever grown. They are extremely heavy and have turned bright red. I have some small new peppers on the plant. I will probably leave them to mature as long as we are having such warm and inviting weather.

Funny Perspective on the Sweet Edible Pea Pod

Really, until the cypress trees came down this fall, I had stopped planting much in my winter garden. The trees blocked much of the sun light needed to have success in a winter garden. Sunlight now drenches the garden again and the result is a bounty of sweet pea pods. I tried to have the sun back light the pod so you could experience the translucency of this delicate vegetable. You can see there are eight peas in this pod.

New Year's Lettuce

I planted a six-pack of both romaine and red lettuce in November. Thanks to our sunny, warm weather, these plants have grown to beautiful lettuce to pick for dinner salads.
One reason I have had such luck this year with my winter crops is the loss of two cypress trees on my neighbor's property. Both trees developed problems this past year and were removed from the southern hillside below my garden. Now I am getting sun in the garden which normally would be shaded by the trees. Sorry trees but happy sunny garden!


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