In My Garden – July 2021

In My Garden – July 2021

This will be a very quick tour of the garden this month but I wanted to get in an update.

It’s interesting to see how the pollinator garden has changed over the past couple of years, plants have come and gone. Our winter rain was so sporadic and rare this year that many annuals did not return. I think the seedlings dried up before they could get a start. The perennials however, have flourished. This fall I will try reseeding, fingers crossed that we get more rain.

Pollinator Garden July 2020

Pollinator Garden July 2020

In the vegetable garden the peas have just about finished, I will be pulling them out this month to plant winter vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

The bush beans have lots of flowers but no beans yet.

Bush beans

bush beans

There are a couple of kale plants at the end of the bean bed, rescued from the discard pile at the Botanical Gardens. They were looking very wilted and sick but have recovered and flourished.

Kale

Kale

We’ve been eating a lot of zucchini from the garden. I pick them when they are fairly small and enjoy them grilled.

Grilled Zucchini from the Fort Bragg garden

Grilled Zucchini from the Fort Bragg garden

The lavender plants are full of bees.

Lavender

Lavender

The dahlias are starting to bloom.

First dahlias

First dahlias

I am trying to limit my watering and I’m afraid the garden is going to look the worst for it this summer. Wells are going dry all over the area. So far we are okay but it’s a worry.

Most of my time in the garden this month has been taken up by trying to keep track of our new puppy, Shanna.

Shanna

Shanna

She’s into everything (although learning to stay out of the raised beds and the flower garden), and everything goes into her mouth. And, anything can become a favorite toy.

Shanna vs an old mop

Shanna vs an old mop – Casey and Quinn look on aghast…What is she doing?

And then we had our favorite corgis for the weekend. It was a wild time but everyone got along. Generous amounts of treats kept everyone (mostly) in line. That’s the lone male, Milo, walking away.

Aussies and Corgis

Aussies and Corgis

So, that’s where and how most of my time has been spent this month. It’s the reason this post is so late.

I can’t believe it is almost August.

Be well everyone, stay cool and safe. Get vaccinated.

 

In My Garden – June 2021

In My Garden – June 2021

The big news in the garden this month has nothing to do with plants.

Water Tanks

Water Tanks – and Casey investigating

Two 3000 gallon water tanks with outlets for fire hoses.

One out of four wells is expected to run dry this year in Mendocino County because of the drought. Our county depends heavily on seasonal rain water for all our water needs, and it was a very dry winter. These tanks also have outlets for fire hoses if needed (there are no fire hydrants out here in the country). So far our well is holding steady but we worry. The water from the well will go into a new filtration system before being pumped into the tanks for use inside the house. We have several new outlets directly from the well (unfiltered) for watering the garden.

Our lawn has gone dry and brown, it goes unwatered.

Summer is beginning to show its head in the vegetable garden

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable GardenThe first tomatoes – still green but  there are lots of flowers on the plants

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Broccoli is heading up.

Broccoli

Broccoli

The first baby zucchini

Zucchini

Zucchini

The cucumbers are also under plastic to keep them warm but aren’t showing a lot of growth yet.

In the flower garden the spring native wildflowers are beginning to go to seed. Although they look a bit messy I will leave them to sow their seeds for next spring.

I know it is early summer when the roses and lupins start to bloom.

First Rose - Just Joey

First Rose – Just Joey, they one is very aromatic

Lupin

Lupin

The snapdragons starts a good friend gifted me in the fall are blooming in all colors.

Snapdragons

Snapdragons

And the bees love the lavender in bloom along the driveway.

Lavender

Lavender

The pollinator garden showed very few annuals this year (maybe because of so little and very sporadic rain), but lots of perennials are showing their heads. Dominating are Sweet William Dianthus in all colors, California poppies, and Shasta daisies.

Pollinator Garden June 2021

Pollinator Garden June 2021

Just for fun, here is what it looked like in June of 2019 the first year, and June of 2020.

The rhododendrons are almost finished although I did manage to find a few to cut and bring into the house.

That’s my garden summary for this month. How is your garden doing?

May 2021 – In My Garden

May 2021 – In My Garden

As I said last month, spring is where it’s at in Northern California. Everything is blooming after the winter rains, trying to attract pollinators and set their seeds before the dryness of summer puts an end to things. I do water a portion of the garden through the summer, but this year it will be much less. Our lawns turn brown and dry, being without any summer water. Being summer dormant they will return to green come late fall. Our experiment with barley seeds didn’t turn out very well, the usual long winter rainy season never really happened. The new sprouts dried before they really had a chance. It has been the second driest winter in a century. As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, now we add the possibility of a dry well and a bad fire season.

But, in the meantime, the garden is glorious. Pink and blue columbines are almost 3 feet tall, the red and orange geums are in full bloom, salvias are putting out red and blue stalks of flower that attract hummingbirds, and the buzz of native bumblebees fill the air. It was a dry but cold winter, the bumblebees have been late making their appearance.

Grab a cup of tea or coffee (or a cool glass of rose) and let us wander through the garden. Starting with the veggies, my friend Linda provided me with some healthy starts of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.

Tomato, zucchini and cucumber starts

Tomato, zucchini and cucumber starts

I’ve planted the tomatoes in the raised beds under plastic to keep them warm.

Lettuce is still abundant, this soft head with a bronze blush is one of my favorites.

Lettuce

Lettuce

 

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

These apricot nasturtiums have found the way into one of the larger pots, and then they would their way into some botanical gin and tonics. Just the thing for celebrating the first BBQ of the season.

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Botanical Gin and Tonic

We are mulching the garden with a heavy layer of chips from trees we had taken out a couple of years ago. I’m hoping it will cut down of the water required in the flower garden.

The rhododendrons, lily of the valley bushes, and azaleas are blooming.

There are native wildflowers.

And the red salvias are still blooming like crazy, drawing lots of hummingbirds to the garden.

Back Flower bed

Back Flower bed

Columbines…these were originally seeded from my first packet of wildflowers.

And of course there are poppies.

 

Thanks for joining me today. I’d love to hear from you.

In My Garden – March 2021

In My Garden – March 2021

In My Garden I have hummingbirds. They are voracious at the feeder which hangs just outside the dining area window. From the kitchen I watch the nectar disappear seemingly overnight. In past years, the garden has been populated exclusively by Allen hummingbirds. They would disappear in early January, migrating further south, to appear again in late March. Sometime last summer the Annas arrived, they are year-round residents here on the coast. All summer and fall there were fierce battles between the two species both at the feeder and near their favorite flowers. I’d hear an orchestra of their calls whenever I worked in the garden, and my head was often buzzed. Things are currently much quieter right now. I expect their explosive fighting to resume soon as the more aggressive Allens return to fight for their territory and claim supremacy at the bottle brush shrub they all seem to love.

In my garden I see the very first signs of spring. It’s not only the shy green shoots emerging from the base of what looks like a dead stick, but also something about the light that’s different. It’s the clarity and piercing quality of the sunlight, like the shock you get when emerging from a long grey tunnel. You may not have even realized you were in the dark until the brightness hits your eyes. The plants must feel like that as well, a sudden awakening after a long sleep, emerging into new light. Part of the joy of the early spring garden is the search for those signs of new life, so different from the sometimes exhausting exuberance of summer.

The main flower beds still look a little bare except for one of the winter flowering salvias with its bright red blooms. This one is Salvia gesneriflora ‘Mole Poblano’. 

The hummingbirds have already discovered it.

Back flower beds

Back flower beds as seen from the patio off the master bedroom

In the vegetable garden I’ve planted lettuce from 6-pack starts. You’ll see chives, chard and spinach in this bed as well. I will start lettuce from seed in another few weeks.

lettuce

lettuce and chard

The lawn (if you can call it that since it is dominated by dandelions) is green up. Although the weather is still cool, the longer daylight hours are stimulating everything into sudden growth.

The daffodils are flowering, their sunny yellow faces welcome sights in the rain. And the freesias are just about to bloom.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Freesias

Freesias

Later this month I will be putting out a layer of compost over the new shoots to support their rapid growth. It’s still a little cold and our last frost free date isn’t until next month so I want to wait as long as possible.

In my garden, or rather on my feet, I have new gardening clogs reflecting the colors of a spring meadow. The clogs brighten my mornings as I wander through the garden in my bathrobe, a cup of tea in hand, to check for new growth and any overnight damage by marauding insects or slugs. I find these solitary early morning check-ins one of the great joys of having a garden.

Gardening clogs

Gardening clogs

 

 

 

 

May 2020 to March 2021- Some Thoughts in the Time of Covid-19

May 2020 to March 2021- Some Thoughts in the Time of Covid-19

I wrote this in May of 2020 at the beginning of what has turned out to be almost 12 months of dealing with the pandemic caused by Covid-19. At the time we were in strict lock-downs in California. I didn’t publish it and just reread it in my draft post folder. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it. Maybe because we were all dealing with way too much at the time, and it’s not in keeping with the usual style of my blog. But reading it now I realize that I still have many of the same thoughts, feelings and hope for the future. Now that the vaccine roll out has started I pray that we remember some of the lessons learned over the past year.

May 2020…

“Times of scarcity need to be met with generosity, times of fear with comfort, times of uncertainty with presence. When we care for those around us, we create a field of love.”

Thomas Hubl.

Hello out there. How are you doing? We are now in the 7th week of California’s shelter-in-place and social distancing requirements. I am feeling, as I am sure you are as well, a little stir crazy. I miss my friends and our easy social gatherings. I miss the company and passion of my fellow gardeners. The remainder of our current County Master Gardener class, of which I am one of the hosts, is on Zoom. It’s not the same. I miss volunteering at the Botanical Gardens. I miss my bookclubs. I miss cooking for friends and our impromptu dinners. I know it has been even more difficult for many of you who are trying to balance work, children, home schooling, meals, and some space for yourself.

Maybe you are not missing commuting, or traffic, or the hectic round of activities that fill your days and those of your children. I hope you are finding new passions and avenues to express yourself.

What do you think back to normal will look like? What are you going to do when things open up a little? I am not sure I will return to a ‘normal’ (meaning the way things were) way of life before a vaccine is available. I won’t feel comfortable going to movies or restaurants or large gatherings. Here in Fort Bragg our ‘normal’ summer events have all been cancelled. There will be no film festival or music festival this year, the theater company cancelled the rest of the season, I doubt we will hold the regular 4th of July celebration… it goes on and on. A disaster for a small coastal town that depends on tourism.

When this is all over, the world and my community will not look the same. Maybe we should spend some time considering what we want to keep and what we should drop. It’s time for a reset.

Here are some things I hope will be part of the new normal.

The new normal may contain a greater sense of community. See this happy tear jerking article about a wedding in Washington Square. If that type of thing continues, our lives will be enriched. None of us stand alone.

Maybe the new normal will have a different attitude towards health care. Would you want the person standing next to you in the grocery store, or the wait person serving you at a restaurant to be without healthcare because they couldn’t afford it? Would you want them to be out and about because they had to be, even though they might be sick? Because they couldn’t afford to see a Dr. or they couldn’t afford to get a flu shot? This is only the first global pandemic, there very well could be more.

While I am on healthcare, maybe medical school could be less expensive. We don’t have enough internists or GPs because students need the extra income from specialties to repay loans. Maybe tuition could be forgiven if a Dr. will spend time in a small rural hospital. Rural communities have problems recruiting physicians because they can’t pay enough to cover their medical school costs. These folks are our heroes. They shouldn’t spend a good part of their lives in debt.

Maybe the new normal will bring a new appreciation for our teachers. Those of you home schooling right now are realizing how difficult a job it is.

Maybe the new normal will mean universal affordable access to broadband and the internet. This is a subject I feel strongly about, I even wrote a letter to the NY Times, a personal first. The major cable companies have ignored rural or low income communities and our government has done nothing to help; it’s criminal. If you don’t have internet because it isn’t available in your area, or the internet speed is inadequate, or it’s too expensive for your income, you are out of luck. The kids can’t access school, you can’t work remotely, Zoom conferences aren’t possible, no streaming Netflix, and forget about having virtual cocktail parties with friends. Even reading the news is difficult because many newspapers don’t deliver anymore, and you can’t read them on line. Which means you aren’t educated and you can’t be part of your larger community or the world.

My new normal will contain a large dose of gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude that we are still here and appreciation for many things we took for granted.

What about you?