In My Garden – October 2021

In My Garden – October 2021

The garden is finally winding down for the season. The days are shorter, nights cooler and the sunlight is somehow special. I found this description from the NY Times archive:

Spring sunshine is the awakener, rousing buds, opening leaves and flowers to clothe the earth again and bring life to the winter‐dormant world. Summer sunlight is the ripener, the hot accompaniment of growth and maturity, of fertile egg and seed, the insurance life in summers to come. Winter sunlight is a token rest, of the long sleep, the short day; it is proof that blizzards blow themselves out, that ice eventually melts, that no winter lasts forever.

But autumn sunlight is simply perfection of the day, glory of the season, the year’s high achievement, somehow. It summons one to the outdoors, where even the autumn leaves partake of it. The maples shimmer, the birches glow, and when they drop their leaves their splendor is sunlight at their feet. Roadside grasses ripen with sunlit heads of seed. The sky is clean, clear and the sun itself is benevolent, the autumn sun making an autumn day a special moment in time.

We don’t have much in the way of colorful autumn leaves here but the first windy gale of the season brought the old redwood needles onto the driveway.

windy day needle drop

windy day needle drop

As in the kitchen, we are laughing at the antics of puppy Shanna. Her ‘Harry Potter Broomstick’ otherwise known as ‘old mop’ finally broke apart and was relegated to the trash heap. That did not deter her as she immediately found a substitute, a long branch that fell out of a tree during the windstorm. It’s even longer than the ‘old mop’. Here she is swinging it around and whacking everything in sight, including poor Casey.

 

Quinn

Quinn “leave me out of it”

The broccoli and cauliflower are finished, I harvested the last two heads of cauliflower this afternoon. They are starting to bolt, much to my initial disappointment. But I found, that when roasted, the more open structure results in many more crispy bits…my favorite. It’s an unexpected benefit.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Our grass (probably more weeds than actual grass) is greening up with the cooler weather, dewy mornings and early rain. We’ve had over an inch of very welcome rain this month.

I moved a bench closer to the pollinator garden as well as a couple of half wine barrels that I will plant. I’m looking forward to having my tea or coffee and watching the bees come spring.

Pollinator Garden – October

There is not much growing here right now as California natives go dormant in the summer. There is (supposedly if the weatherperson is correct) a big rain storm coming next week. I have some more wildflower seeds to plant before the rain.

Here is how it looked in the spring of 2019.

Wild Flower Meadow, Fort Bragg CA

Wild Flower and Pollinator Garden June 2019

This is the newly planted area, I have high hopes once we get to spring. I’ve put in a variety of colorful perennials that should have a long bloom period.

New plantings October 2021

The pineapple sage is a welcome nectar source for the hummingbirds. We have had swarms of them all spring and summer but now only the native year-round Annas remain.

Pineapple sage

There is still a little color in the garden.

The native bumblebees were late to show up, and seem to have abandoned us early this year.

Native Bumblebee on Scabiosa

I have seen and heard a dozen or more flocks of Canadian geese flying south. It makes me wonder if we are in for a cold and wet winter. Fingers crossed.

Shanna, Casey and Quinn wish you adieu.

Shanna, Casey and Quinn

Shanna, Casey and Quinn

My constant companions in the garden.

 

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.

 

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 – November 2020

In My Garden – November 2020

My garden has been my refuge these past few months, weeks and days. We are now past one election hurdle; I suspect there are many more to come.

November is the month for putting the garden to bed, as I wish we could with all the politics swirling around right now. I have been pruning, cutting back perennials, pulling out spent fall annuals, and planting native wildflowers for spring. We’ve had our first winter rain, although slight. There is a much larger storm system on its way later this week and we had our first frost last night. I’m getting the garden ready for a lengthy well deserved rest.

That’s not true in the vegetable garden though. I will hopefully get my snap pea seeds before the rain, the bed is ready for the 30 inch tendrils of a shorter variety. Now is the time for planting. Lettuce, arugula, carrots, sprouting broccoli, chard, and cabbage are all getting a good start. They love the cooler weather.

Ready for peas

Ready for peas

This year I will cover the new seeds with bird netting. The sparrows and junkos got most of them last yer.

Sprouting Broccoli and Chard

Sprouting Broccoli and Chard

 

Young Cabbage Plants

Young Cabbage Plants under shade cloth to protect from cabbage worms

 

Lettuce, Arugula, and Carrots

Lettuce, Arugula, radishes, and Carrots covered in bird netting

Here are a few pictures of the flower beds, facing the back of the house from left to right. The blue kiddie pool is for the dogs, they like to cool off in the water after a strenuous game of ball or frisbee or tag.

There is always something to do even if it is only filling the bird feeders. For that I am thankful.

Because of the heat lamps we have been able to hold a few appropriately distanced dinner parties outside, just off the kitchen deck. Once the rains start it will be more difficult. We have a rain flap over part of the deck but it is only large enough for four to be safely distant from each other, and it won’t work if there is any wind.

Ready for dinner

Ready for dinner

In the pollinator garden most of the plants have been sheared back. Amazingly that one rain shower (it was only .25 inch) has resulted in seeds sprouting.

And here, just for recording purposes, is our sad front yard. It’s mostly sand and weeds, our leach field for the septic system, and a playground for the dogs. I have purchased some seeds to improve the soil and will be working on it this week before the rain on Thursday. So here is the sad ‘before’:

Stay safe everyone, stay well, be kind to each other. I think we all need some tenderness right now.

I love your comments and suggestions. Thank you so much for visiting with me in my garden in Fort Bragg, California on the coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Garden – May 2020

In My Garden – May 2020

May has to be the best and most beautiful Northern California gardening month. Everything is starting to bloom, there is color everywhere. It’s lovely to sit in the evening with a glass of wine and soak in the view of the back garden.

I find my mood changes depending on the weather and if the sun is shining. Blue skies bring optimism and quiet joy, grey ones bring lethargy and sadness. The exuberance of the spring garden ignores all those effervescent and shifting moods. The flowers bloom without knowledge of the crisis in the world. The bright colors make it seem aflame, a riot of orange poppies, tangerine geum, marmalade heuchera, and yellow lupines.

I can sit quietly, listening to the buzz of bees and the songs of sparrows. In the distance I hear the sounds of breaking surf on the beach. I let the peace of the garden wash over me, a private timeless world…no schedules, no appointments. The world is on pause and I sit in the middle, quiet and serene for the moment.

Exuberance

Exuberance of colors and textures

The bees are especially active in the pollinator garden. This is the second year and survival of the fittest is definitely taking place.

Pollinator Garden May 2019

Pollinator Meadow May 2019

Last year we had a lot more rain.

The bearded irises and Spanish lavender plants edging the driveway are in bloom.

Spanish lavender and Bearded Iris

Spanish lavender and Bearded Iris

In the vegetable garden I have planted summer squash, cucumbers, winter squash, basil and determinate tomatoes this month. My husband (and partner in any hardscaping project) helped construct supports to make mini hoop houses. The microclimate of the property has not been kind to tomatoes in the past and I hope, by warming the beds, I will have better luck.

Raised Bed Veggie Garden

Raised Bed Veggie Garden – May 2020

A peak under the plastic

A peak under the plastic – tomatoes, basil and summer squash

 

Last year’s pole beans are coming back, they are about an inch high. I will plant bush beans later this week in a newly prepared bed.

Ready for Bush Beans

Ready for Bush Beans

The snap peas and sweet pea flowers are finally taking off. It was a challenge to keep the sparrows from eating the new shoots. I finally unearthed some old netting from the depths of the garage and that has helped a lot.

Snap Peas and Sweet Pea Flowers

Snap Peas and Sweet Pea Flowers

I have company in the garden, if not helpers.

Quinn

Quinn – “Mom, I will just watch you working while I relax here in the sun”

 

Casey

Casey – “Sunny days are made for napping unless you see a squirrel.”

Be well everyone, be safe. And happy gardening.