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?

In My Garden – August 2022

In My Garden – August 2022

If May and June are the season for rhododendrons, August and September are the season for dahlias here on the Northern California coast.

Above are a couple of pictures of the dahlias at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. The dahlia garden is a favorite site for weddings in August and September; they are are spectacular with an amazing variety of bloom shapes, colors and sizes. If you ever get to visit the area, the Gardens are a highlight and a must see.

In my own garden, I planted a dozen new ones this year in a sunny spot along the driveway. They are flourishing (unlike the bearded irises that were in the same spot before).

Above are a few examples from my own garden.

Although the dahlias are the stars (and the lawn is now mostly a brown field of dead grass and sand), there are some plants of note.

Red Hot Pokers

Kniphofia caulescens, a variety of red hot poker

We often see the pokers growing wild in abandoned fields. They need no summer water once established and come back each year.


Lilium regale “Regal Lily”

These lilies are scented and the stalks are about 10 feet tall!

Helenium autumnale ‘Red Shades’

Helenium autumnale ‘Red Shades’

I first saw Heleniums at the Botanical Gardens last fall during a nature watercolor painting class, it was love at first sight. It’s going to take a few years to get them established, the clumps form by offshoots ad should become larger each year. They bloom late in the season when everything else is starting to go to seed or become dormant.



Bees and hummingbirds adore Cupheas and they bloom almost non-stop all year. I have several varieties in the garden and they all seem to do well and are fairly drought tolerant after the first year. I think the one above is sometimes called candy corn plant.



The lavender is almost finished but a few weeks ago it was covered in both blooms and native bumblebees, much to my relief. The bumblebees were late this year for some reason and I was worried. But we had a relatively cool spring and perhaps it just took them a bit longer to start their colonies.

The pollinator garden is looking a little wild, lots of grasses right now, I cut back the Shasta daisies so it looks a little messy.

That’s my husband in the second picture putting in birdhouses. We had 4 in various places around the garden already and just put in 2 more. Of the 4, 3 were inhabited in the spring…2 with chickadees and 1 with tree swallows. We’d like to encourage the tree swallows since they eat insects, most specifically mosquitos. Since I don’t use any herbicides or pesticides, the birds are important to keep down the numbers of unwanted insects.

We’ve had lots of beloved visitors this summer, both human and of the canine variety. Here is our friend Marylinn conducting an orchestra of dogs.


I hope you all are enjoying the end of summer. I can’t believe it is already September.

What’s been happening in your garden?


In My Garden – June 2022

In My Garden – June 2022

I honestly don’t know where to start. Everything is in bloom! June is gorgeous here in N CA. Although the rhododendrons are mostly finished (there are still a few blooms popping up here and there), everything else is in full flowering mode.

Just look at the variety in the bouquet above.

The sweet peas add their fragrance to any room where I place them. I especially like them in the bedroom where their scent fills the air when I enter the room.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

The vegetable garden is in full swing as well. I decided to pass on planting tomatoes, cucumbers and beans this year. There simply isn’t enough sun for heat or them to do well and their performance has been disappointing.

But zucchini, which we love for grilling, is having a bountiful harvest. I planted several varieties and colors.



There are lots of other vegetables, greens do especially well because of our cooler weather.

New this year is our Traeger smoker, a generous gift from a house guest. Please let me know if you have any favorite recipes. It’s all new to us and we are still experimenting.

Traeger Grill

Traeger Grill

Also new is the metal whale on the railing behind it (but I think my husband installed it upside down).

Nasturtiums are almost overwhelming the dwarf lemon tree in this half barrel.



There are lots of flowers everywhere.

Happy gardening and have a wonderful 4th of July.