In My Garden – January 2020

In My Garden – January 2020

The rain has finally stopped for long enough for me to take some photos. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the rain and am very grateful on many levels. I’ve pruned most of my perennials back and even more have died back, the garden looks a bit bleak. I remind myself that it could be worse, we don’t get snow and a frost is rare. Our yard is only about a half mile from the Pacific Ocean and the weather is more similar to the Pacific Northwest than it is to the rest of California. In addition we don’t get the summer heat because of the fog. When the interior of the state warms up, it pulls the fog into the coast. But like the rest of California, our summers are dry and the winters wet.

Although the garden looks bare and dreary, there are signs of spring. Bulbs are emerging and there are some small native annuals coming up. Those are self sown from last year’s plants. They eventually find the place in the garden where they are happy and come back each spring.


The winter blooming hellebores are starting to bloom.


The vegetable garden contains mostly kale which loves the cooler kale

It’s a struggle to keep the slugs and birds from devouring the peas (both snap and sweet flowering).

The Cupheas are still going strong, they seem to bloom non-stop whatever the season. So the hummingbirds have a year round source of nectar. These are grown as annuals in the colder parts of the country but they are perennials in our milder climate.

As well some of the salvias are still blooming, more nectar sources.

Here’s a quick peak at the whole garden…

Looks a bit sad right now. But spring will be here soon, meanwhile we love the rain. Happy gardening everyone, it’s time to explore the new 2020 seed catalogs.

In My Garden – December 2019

In My Garden – December 2019

The rain is here at last, long awaited and very welcome. In fact it has been difficult to find a nice day to take some pictures. I’m happy to take a break from the necessity of watering. This will be a brief post as there hasn’t been much going on and plant growth has slowed or stopped altogether. We don’t get a lot of frosty days and snow is almost unknown so plants just go dormant.

The work this month has been to prune back the roses and other perennials, and seed sweet peas for next spring. Now is the time to put seeds in the ground so they can develop strong root systems by May and June.

Last month I also seeded snap/snow peas, two varieties. One is a wavy purple podded strain and the other green, they should be beautiful intertwined on the trellis. They just started coming up in the last week. I ordered the seeds from ROW, they are a trial experimental snow pea mix.

Snap Peas

Snap Peas

Baby kale and purple mizuma are a couple of inches tall.

baby kale and purple mizuma December 2019

Baby Kale and Purple Mizuma December 2019

The winter greens will grow slowly in the cooler temperatures but I should have greens for salads and stir fries by next month.

Fort Bragg Vegetable Garden December 2019

Fort Bragg raised bed garden December 2019

There are only a few flowers still blooming, with the exception of the cupheas.

You can see why they call this variety candy corn. The hummingbirds like it; which is good since the rain has knocked off the flowers of most of their favorite plants.

Here’s a quick look around the other flower beds.

Newly planted perennials

Another bed with another cuphea, this time pink and lavender

More established bed #2

The potted lemon tree continues to product, although the lemons are smaller than normal. I pruned it back and trimmed some of the lemons off the tree in hopes they would grow in size. Maybe I see a little difference but not much.

Potted Meyer Lemon

The big surprise is the strawberry plant growing in the pot. I know no idea where it came from, most likely the birds.

Strawberries in the lemon tree container

So far there are no strawberries but the plant is very healthy. Our cat likes to nibble on the leaves.

And that’s all right now. Have a wonderful holiday everyone.

2019 Christmas Tree

2019 Christmas Tree


In the Garden – November 2019

We are still waiting for the winter rains to start, i don’t remember them ever being so late. In truth, I am tired of watering and look forward to reading seed catalogs in front of a warm fire with a cup of tea. But instead, I am digging a new garden bed and putting in plants. I was inspired by my friend Wendy in Berkeley because I helped her design and plant a new garden. And my husband was even in favor of the plan, which surprised me. He’s the one that has to do the watering if I am away. The empty spots will be filled with dahlias that I have ordered and will arrive sometime in March.

New Garden BEd

New Garden Bed

The plants include large number of salvias plus some other plants that I know do well here. We still have to work on the path. I’ve positioned it where the dogs run, so hopefully they will stay off the plants.

Dogs and garden

Mom, do we really have to stay off the garden?

The vegetable garden has slowed considerably but I have baby chard, lettuce, carrots, radishes and kale. I planted snap peas a couple of weeks ago and I see the first small sprouts. I hope to plant my sweet pea flowers by early next week, I’ve ordered a trellis and am waiting for it to arrive. I do love sweet peas and now is the time to seed them, they need the winter rains to develop strong roots. I look forward to flowers in May and June.

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

The artichoke plants are looking very healthy and bushy. Hopefully I will get some artichokes come spring.

Artichoke Plants


My time this month as been spent weeding, mulching, and cutting almost everything except the salvias back. The salvias are still blooming and are am important source of nectar for the hummingbirds.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my garden. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

In My Garden – October 2019

In My Garden – October 2019

It’s pumpkin time, and there is a tsunami of pumpkin this and pumpkin that everywhere! I am not a big fan of pumpkin spice or even pumpkin pie (which seems somehow un-American). But I do love all the winter squashes that are currently in the market. Unfortunately my own garden environment is too cool in the summer to grow them.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things growing in the garden.  I’m still harvesting lettuce, arugula, chard, cilantro, parsley, Lacinato kale (or cavolo nero or Tuscan Kale), beets, and carrots. This month I seeded more kale, chard, cilantro, carrots (the small round Parisienne variety), arugula and several varieties of lettuce. The weather has cooled so growth will slow but, since we rarely get any frost, they should flourish with our winter rain.

Raised bed vegetable garden - Fort Bragg, CARaised bed vegetable garden – Fort Bragg, CA

The baskets are to keep the birds from eating the seedlings, to discourage marauding night creatures from digging for worms (the skunks can come in under the gate…we have captured them on our night camera), and to prevent our cat from using the beds as a litter box.

The artichoke plants completely died back during the summer and I thought they hadn’t survived. In fact I started to dig them out and then was surprised to see new shoots at the base of a stem; I added compost and mulch to see what would happen. Here they are now in early autumn, with luck I will have artichokes in the spring.

Artichokes - October 2019Artichokes – October 2019

The redwood trees surrounding us make gardening a bit of a pain. The redwoods roots are very aggressive in searching out any water, they love the rich damp soil in my raised beds and come up through the wire mesh in the bottom. Once all the plants in a bed are finished, I have to dig out the roots and add new soil (otherwise the roots would completely fill the beds). It’s a lot of hard work because there are a lot of roots, about half the soil is gone and needs to be replaced. It’s the price of being surrounded my such majestic beauty.

This time of year the color green takes over as many flowering plants are not at their best. Here is a view of the back perennial bed.

Western cottage garden - Back bed Fort Bragg, CA

Western cottage garden – Back bed Fort Bragg, CA October 2019

And here it was at the same time last year.

View to the back of the house, October 2018 Fort Bragg, CA

View to the back of the house, October 2018 Fort Bragg, CA

The garden has changed!

Much to the delight of the resident hummingbirds, the salvias and cupheas are still in full bloom. They will keep providing nectar throughout most of the winter. From those birds I have been able to identify (they are rarely still), we have Allen’s hummingbirds. They usually leave in mid-winter to migrate and then show up again in the early spring. I would love to attract some Anna’s (who stick around all year) but haven’t seen any so far. The Allens are quite aggressive in defending their territory.

Salvia 'Amistad', in back Salvia greggii (I am not sure of the variety but it is lovely salmon color)

Salvia ‘Amistad’, in back Salvia greggii (I am not sure of the variety but it is lovely salmon color)


Salvia elegans also called 'Pineapple Sage' this one is especially loved by the hummiingbirds

Salvia elegans also called ‘Pineapple Sage’ this one is especially loved by the hummingbirds


Cuphea – Candy Corn Plant (appropriate for October)

The pollinator meadow is greening and showing millions of baby seedlings.

Pollinator meadow, mowed but millions of baby seedlings starting

Pollinator meadow (2019), mowed but millions of baby seedlings starting from the seeds


Meadow- soil improved by ton of new soil and compost – October 2018

Everything survived while we were away in Scotland last month, this month is busy as we leave for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland tomorrow and will be gone again. Thank goodness for a wonderful house/garden/dog/cat sitter. I am not sure what we will do when she goes back to work early next year.



In My Garden – September 2019

In My Garden – September 2019

There are definitely changes in the garden, the flowers are starting to set their seeds as they finish blooming. I’m noticing less of our native bumblebees (the furry kind) and more European honey bees. I’m not sure of the reason for the shift but it is rather dramatic.

Cuphea, the bees were swarming over this bushy perennial. It’s a favorite of the hummingbirds as well.

That’s the Cuphea in the back, Nicotiana (an unusual pink one) in front. The European bees were swarming over the Cuphea a few days ago. They haven’t been the predominant bee until now.

The vegetable garden is still producing lettuce, green beans and zucchini. My artichoke plants, which I thought had died, are sending up new shoots. I’ll be pulling out the beans and zucchini this coming weekend as we will be away for the next 2 weeks. Our house/dog sitter is not a cook, it will be enough for her to keep up with the watering (and the dogs) while we are gone.

Vegetable Harvest

We mowed down the pollinator garden last week. I am interested in what comes back with the winter rains. It was a bit too thickly seeded last year, next year everything will find their place. Also the birds have been very interested in the seeds, thinning the plants naturally.

I cut back the tall bearded iris bed, the Spanish lavender planted there is till blooming along the side of the driveway..

Iris Bed along the driveway

The Geum Totally Tangerine has been a non-stop bloomer.

Geum Totally Tangerine

And I am totally in love with this Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower, Fama Blue. The flowers are on sturdy long stems (some are 3 feet), they last a long time in a vase and are the most beautiful blue/purple. The bees love them and it’s a great color with orange or peach.

Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower, Fama Blue

My dahlias are almost finished although I am still getting some blooms. This spring I think I will separate them a bit as they are planted too close together leading to some powdery mildew. My husband has been encouraging me to add another bed and I have already ordered some additional dahlia tubers. But I think I like them mixed in with other flowers rather than in a bed of their own.


This dahlia came from my Oakland garden where it did not like the heavy clay. I am not even certain it ever bloomed. Isn’t it beautiful? And the bee seems to agree. When we moved up here I dug up as many plants as I could manage and replanted them in the Fort Bragg garden. Much of my garden there was in my neighbors side yard and I knew he would not grant the new owners the same gardening rights (in fact he completely mowed all the remaining plants down and replanted with completely inappropriate plants). Sad.

I wish you all happy gardening as the seasons change. There is something very satisfying in putting a garden to bed, cutting things back and preparing for the new season. When we get back from Scotland that will be my goal.

For those of you on the Southern Hemisphere, your gardening season is just beginning. I look forward to reading about your gardens.