In My Garden – March 2023

In My Garden – March 2023

I have to admit that I haven’t been in my garden much this past month. It’s been too cold and wet. I did get around to fertilizing the rhododendrons on Valentine’s Day, just before the rain started again. The ideal days for fertilizing them are easy to remember, Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day. That’s before they bloom and afterward.

It’s been an unusually cold winter with a lot of rain, hail, frost, and snow (the last time it snowed was in 1989). We can’t complain too much about the rain as we certainly need it…the cold I will complain about.



The dogs slip and slide on the deck on their way to do their morning potty.

As I go out between storms to check the garden, I see a lot of sad (read dead?) looking plants. We are zoned 9B and snow is not a happy place for many of them. April 15th is our last frost-free (fingers crossed) day. I will wait to cut anything back until then.

And then there was snow…

Shanna is fascinated by all the strange weather outside, just as long as she is snug and warm inside. She’s allowed on the bed during the day but sleeps in her crate at night.



We are having problems with our well, it seems to be contaminated with the salt that was used to clean the filter. So we are drinking bottled water at the moment. We’ve had to purge it several times, which breaks my heart as water is precious. We will meet with the well and pump folks in a few weeks to seek a solution but may need a home desalination system in addition to the filter. It’s been depressing and a worry.

The bulbs are my happy place.

We leave for a three-week trip to New Zealand in a week. This trip was supposed to happen in March of 2020 and is long delayed. Three year’s ago the Prime Minister of New Zealand close their borders 3 days before our flight to New Zealand.

The trip includes a two-week hiking tour of the south island organized by New Zealand Trails. I promise to take pictures and give you all an account of the trip when we return.

Meanwhile, thank you for visiting, and I love your comments.


In My Garden – February 2023

In My Garden – February 2023

We’ve had an unusually cold and wet winter so far this season. The rain is welcome (although maybe not so much at one time). The combination of weather plus travel has kept me out of the garden for the past couple of months. Consequently, the weeds have taken over and it’s time to get out there between storms.

Frost damage

Most things have been cut back in preparation for spring.

Pollinator garden looking sad and weedy

The pollinator garden looks sad and weedy

Cut back in preparation for spring weather

Cut back in preparation for spring weather

I planted several kinds of bulbs in pots this year. Once they start blooming I will place them around the front door.

Wildflowers were also planted in pots to welcome spring. In pots, I will have better control over watering.


There are flowers in the garden, just not so many. The hellebores are in bloom, and cuphea plants seem to bloom non-stop for all 12 months of the year.



Arrangement of hellebores and paperwhites.

I usually plant sweet peas in late November, I was late this year.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

They are one of my favorite flowers and remind me of my grandmother in England. She always had a long row of them on a trellis at the side of her garden.

The salvia (Mole Poblano) is late blooming this year but I see the first signs. It’s an amazing bright red and the hummingbirds love it. It will grow up to 6 feet tall although it can be trimmed back to a shorter height.

Salvia gesneriiflora "Mole Poblano"

Salvia gesneriiflora “Mole Poblano”

The freesias are coming up.


I am not going to show pictures of the vegetable garden this month. Give me some time to dig out the redwood roots and do some seeding. I’ve been harvesting the last of the kale and the arugula but need to spend some serious hours getting it ready for spring planting.



In My Garden – October 2022

In My Garden – October 2022

We’ve been busy cutting things back this past month. The redwoods and tan oaks needed limbing up for fire safety reasons. Instructions say the lower branches of the trees surrounding the house need to be removed until they are at least 10 feet off the ground. Normally the branches reach the ground, looking like skirts. (See the picture below.) The trunks look quite sculptural with them removed. Before the house was built in the ’70s the area was logged. All the redwood trees on our property are second-growth, the daughters (they are clones) surrounding the mother tree.

I love the redwoods on our property, their roots stretch and intertwine under the entire acreage. I imagine them talking and giggling along their root ‘telephone’ lines, laughing at the antics of our dogs as they chase their balls into the threshold of the forest, under their skirts, tickling them. And carrying away needles in their fur, the footprints of the trees.

Our property looks quite different without the branches reaching the ground. We plan to leave the skirts on the trees that are on the outer edges. A puzzle for the dogs to find their balls.

I am currently followed throughout the garden by the chirping of hummingbirds. At a time when most of the garden is starting to sleep, the salvias are blooming like crazy. I can watch the hummingbirds sipping nector from the ‘honey melon’ “Pineapple Sage” that is throughout the garden. This is a smaller version of the much better known Salvia elegans “Pineapple Sage'” which can reach 4-6 feet in height.

Salvia elegans 'Honey Melon' "Pineapple Sage"

Salvia elegans ‘Honey Melon’ “Pineapple Sage” and Shanna

Salvia elegans "Pineapple Sage"

Salvia elegans “Pineapple Sage”

Both plants, in my garden, have bloomed nonstop since May and usually continue through to late November.

This one is Salvia purpurea ‘Lavender Lace’. It’s just starting to bloom but continues till spring. A great source for nector during the winter months. This salvia can also get quite large, you can see the sunflower bending over it. I have left it so the birds can eat the seeds. 

Salvia purpurea 'Lavender Lace'

Salvia purpurea ‘Lavender Lace’

The hummingbirds also love the cupheas and they bloom year round in my garden. This one is very happy in a half barrel. Cuphea ignea x C. angustifolia is also sometimes called bee plant as they love it. The fall chill has dramatically reduced the numbers of bees so I haven’t seen many lately.

Cuphea hybrid ‘Starfire Pink’ (C. ignea x C. angustifolia)

Cuphea hybrid
‘Starfire Pink’
(C. ignea x C. angustifolia)

The Allen’s hummingbirds have the garden to themselves since the other two species we see in the spring and summer have migrated to warmer climates. I expect them back around March of 2023. It’s comforting in this small world of my garden to have trust in some things when so many things seem to have gone crazy and are out of my control. I try to concentrate on this when I feel dread for our larger planet and nation.

The Rudbeckia in the pollinator garden are still going strong. They have been blooming nonstop. I hope they reseed new plants for next year.

Pollinator Garden

Pollinator Garden – October 2022 Rudbeckia triloba

The patch is looking quite messy right now but I leave the grasses so the birds can eat the seed.

Only a quick tour through the vegetable garden is left. I have seeded arugula and some winter salad greens which are said to be cold tolerant. We will see if they actually come up. But the carrots have sprouted, also radishes. I have hope.

That’s not fungus you see but Sluggo. We have slugs, giant slugs right now!

I love comments. Thank you for joining my on this little walk through my piece of the world. What’s up in your own garden?

P.S. I know arugula is misspelled but can’t seem to correct it!


In My Kitchen – October 2022

In My Kitchen – October 2022

In my kitchen I see flowers, armloads of flowers have been cut to sit in vases on the counter and the dining table. It’s dahlia season up here on the Northern California coast and they are simply gorgeous. As an added bonus, the gophers (and deer) leave them alone.

They come in the colors of the rainbow. If you can get to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in the late summer or early fall, the dahlia garden is a must see, a favorite spot for weddings.

Besides beautiful flowers, what’s new in my kitchen?

A good friend made this gorgeous cutting board for me.

Cutting board from Paul

Cutting board from Paul

He recently retired and has been spending time in his shop. It’s going to be perfect as a charcuterie board. I envision generous portions of cheese, fruit and cured meats displayed on it. Thank you Paul.

In My Kitchen are these cute wooden whale salad servers. They were a gift from my generous friend, Wendy. Aren’t they adorable?

Whale Salad Servers

Whale Salad Servers

And in my kitchen are new cookbooks. It’s my birthday month and I can’t imagine a more wonderful gift than kitchen inspiration. The one by Aran Goyoaga is filled with gluten free recipes. Since I have several gluten intolerant friends, I expect it to be especially useful.

This new cookbook if full on new ideas, and I am excited to try them.

We eat a lot of salads in this household, frequently as the center of the meal, if not the entire meal. salad freak has already inspired me. Look for posts from it very soon. My mother used to say a cookbook was worth the purchase if you got one great recipe. I’ve already earmarked more than a dozen from this one.

In My Kitchen I have some new spice mixes. These are from the Oaktown Spice Shop. It’s a favorite place to browse when I am in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland. Just walking into the store and taking a deep breath transports me to exotic places. They also have an on-line shop and are very efficient about prompt mailings if you are too far away to visit. .

New Spice Mixes

New Spice Mixes

I haven’t tried this salsa yet, the recipe is on the back of the package.

We are in a shoulder season right now, the time between late summer and early fall. Our evenings have turned crisp and cool, but the mid afternoon sun is still warm. I adore the earthy smell of early autumn, it’s my favorite time of year. We are still using the BBQ most nights and also enjoying tomato season. It will be over soon and my thoughts will turn to winter squashes and greens.

We have been lucky that an unexpected mid-September storm rolled through and ‘mostly’ put an end to the worries of fire season.

We used the Traeger Grill to smoke some pork chops, they were delightfully juicy and flavorful.

Smoked pork chops

And enjoyed fresh tomatoes on crisp bread with mozzarella with them.

Our meals are still simple, I haven’t pulled out the slow cooker, casseroles, or the instant pot yet. It will soon be the season of soups and braised dishes, but not yet.

And here is my surprise. A picture of a dragonfly in my pollinator garden, I’ve never seen one before with this particular coloring. After doing some research, I discovered that this is a male 12-spotted skimmer. He let me get quite close to take a photo. Isn’t he beautiful?

Male 12-Spotted Skimmer

Male 12-Spotted Skimmer

In My Kitchen is a virtual party of bloggers from all over the world. It’s a collection of posts about what is new in their kitchens, a summary of the last month bounty.  It’s hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Click on the link to read those posts.

In My Garden – September 2022

In My Garden – September 2022

This is going to be a short one since it is now early October. These pictures, however, were taken in September.  It’s been a busy time in the garden, lots of cutting back and some new plantings in the pollinator garden. It’s not going to really show much until next year. Hopefully there will be lots of butterflies, bees and other insects in addition to the hummingbirds in 2023.

The native bumblebees were late this spring and summer, most likely because it was so cold in the early spring. At least it was cold for us. They are still buzzing around although their numbers have decreased. I cut back the Spanish lavender and they have been on the flowers for the much smaller second bloom.

Here is the pollinator garden in September, with three new birdhouses. Last spring there were two and we had chickadees and wood swallows nesting in them.

Pollinator Garden September 2022

Pollinator Garden September 2022

It looks a little sad since the Shasta daisies have been cut back. But there are lots of clumps of sweet William, columbines, yarrow, and salvias just waiting for spring. The grasses are providing seeds for the birds.

We still have some lettuces that are ready for the table in the vegetable garden. But I pulled out the last of the zucchini and directly seeded lettuce, carrots, radishes and arugula.

New bed seeded with greens

New bed seeded with greens

They doesn’t look like much yet since I just planted last week.

This container has newly seeded carrots.



The screens are to keep out the birds and stop the dogs from digging. They love to dig in the new fresh dirt with worm castings and manure.

They keep me company in the garden.

Casey and Shanna

Casey and Shanna

Watching my every move, just in case I have a ball in my pocket.

The dahlias are beautiful.


September Dahlias

They are perfect colors for fall. I have been asked about the time it takes to deadhead them, but I bring armloads into the house. It’s no trouble at all.

The rest of the garden is slowing down, things will look much better in the spring. Natives, of which I have many, go mostly dormant in the dry summer. I do water but try to slow down this time of year. Mostly I am tired of watering but it’s also better for them to start to sleep.

An exception to that tendency is the Cupheas. They bloom all year, much to the joy of the hummingbirds.

We are enjoying the crisp fall weather and had our first rain of the season a couple of weeks ago. There are V’s of Canadian geese flying south, a sign of the coming winter. We hear them, honking encouragement to each other, before we see them overhead.

And that’s a peek at my garden. What’s new with your own?