In My Garden – April 2023

In My Garden – April 2023

I am not sure where to start…there is so much going on in the garden. While we were away for almost four weeks, spring sprung.

The tulips are up with their cheerful blossoms.


There are wildflowers as well, some volunteers and some planted.

The sweet peas in a half wine barrel are starting to twine up their supports. I plant them each year in memory of my English grandmother. She had a long row of them along a trellis in her garden in Teddington. She put a sweet-smelling vase full of them next to my bed whenever I visited. It’s one of my favorite memories of her.

Sweet peas

Sweet peas

I don’t expect blooms until late May or June.

This is Silene,  I planted them last year after seeing them at the Botanical Gardens. I love their pink flowers and they bloom continuously for several months.

Silene dioica

Silene dioica

Much to the pleasure of the hummingbirds, the salvia is finally blooming.

But the rhododendrons are not blooming. It’s been an unusually cold winter, but in the past, at least one has been blooming by now. I hope to have some pictures to share next month.

One of my favorite flowers is the hellebores. They don’t seem to be bothered by redwood roots, bugs, or drought. The clumps get bigger and more glorious every year. Even better, they bloom in partial shade in winter and early spring, a time when their blooms are especially appreciated. I only regret that their flowers are downward facing.


The kale and arugula in the vegetable garden went to seed during our long absence. The good news is that the native bumble bees love the flowers.

Gone to seed

Gone to seed

I did plant a few lettuce starts this past weekend in one bed. I am delaying planting more until we have completed a total revamp of the raised beds.

I am tired of digging the redwood roots out of the raised beds. Additionally, any remaining rootlets make the soil acidic, not good for vegetables. We intend to raise the beds at least a foot off the ground and replace the soil. It’s a job that will have to wait until we have the time, or rather my husband has the time as he takes care of any hardscaping. We have a bunch of cinder blocks that were under the old hot tub, and we will also have a lot of lumber left over from the replacement of the deck.

This brings me to the big news from the garden. We finally started the project of replacing our old fifty-year-old deck. We spent Easter weekend clearing it off and removing plants from around the perimeter. Here are some ‘before’ pictures. Since Covid we have spent a lot more time entertaining outside, making that space very valuable. As it goes almost three-quarters of the way around the house, it dramatically expands our living space.

The back patio is piled with deck furniture.

The old hot tub was at the end of the deck off the kitchen. Eventually, we will purchase a new one that will go on top of the deck at the end.

You can see the circle on the left of the deck picture below where the lemon tree was located in a half barrel. It hasn’t been doing very well and I intend to plant it into the ground once I know where the final location of the deck. Hopefully it will do better there. The front and back decks will be connected with a new walkway.

lemon tree in its temporary location

lemon tree in its temporary location

When we moved it we discovered that the barrel containing the lemon tree was rotting. It was time to do something.

Workers removing the dock, Shanna enjoys the company

Workers removing the dock, Shanna enjoys the company

Since the workers bring their dog with them, ours have a new playmate.

Quinn, Shanna and friend

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for updates from the garden and deck. And I love comments of all sorts and will reply,  I love reading them.

I hope you are all well and enjoying your spring or fall weather. The shoulder seasons are my very favorite times of year.


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 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?