Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Finally back ~

For the last couple of weeks I have been having technical problems with my computer, which at this time of social distancing, especially for someone like me who really enjoys all of the online connections has been very distressing. And, of course I didn't have access to creating a new blog post. I am just glad I was able to get this post up before Blogger's new platform is put in place as I am sure that will also require a certain amount of learning, I am so used to the old blogger platform. 


Meanwhile, I planted another batch of seeds. I can't think of anything else that has given me so much pleasure over the past few months as planting seeds. The seedlings from the first seeds I sowed have been planted out into the garden and are doing well. This time, more zinnias and two types of cosmos, both should thrive in our hot summer weather, plus nicotiana Sensation, tall and willowy, it gives a lovely effect in a border.

One of the most dependable plants in my garden are gaillarias, commonly known as Blanket Flowers. They seem to bloom almost year around. The one below is particularly nice, especially when considering it is a self-seeded plant. The individual stems are longer than my other gaillaria plants - all purchased in six packs. I am going to collect some of the seeds and try to propagate it.

The daylilies are blooming and although I have them in several colors these old fashion common orange ones are my favorite. I usually don't like orange flowers but these are so pretty and flourish without any care; they are like a ray of sun a far back border.

I noticed this view when I went out early this morning - the Rose of Sharon in full bloom, below: a white, dwarf crepe myrtle, red fountain grass, some of the a fore mentioned nicotiana and roses. Peeking through is my new red gate, finally finished!

Finally, the bouquet I made to share with my gardening group's Zoom meeting. I wanted to show off the beauty of three red roses: David Austin's Prospero and Othello, and the classic Burbon rose Madame Isaac Pereire. All three roses are intensely fragrant. I combined them with gaillaria seed heads and Heavenly Bamboo flowerettes.

It is so nice to have my computer back up and be able to post again.

Take care, stay well, and  when in public wear your mask!


Friday, June 5, 2020

Twilight hopes ~

I was looking through some old pictures the other day and came across one of an alfresco table setting from a couple of years ago. It was this time of year, perfect for outside entertaining, as I remember the dinner I prepared was mexican food, gazpacho, followed by chicken enchiladas. I somewhat nostalgically thought, "when would I be able to do this again - have people in without worry". Hopefully this summer will give some respite to our health concerns, maybe even a vaccine, there is always room for hope. 

Meanwhile, I decided to share with you some new photos of the garden at twilight, that supremely magical time of the day.

The pavilion softly lite, a perfect spot for a glass of wine before dinner. This poor structure has been battled by time but still remains, and is really the focus of the rear garden.

We brought this lantern home from Morocco many decades ago, frankly when I turned on the light to take the picture I wasn't sure if it would come on, but it did, and beautifully so.

This picture speaks for itself, the fountain surrounded with Bewitched tree roses, at the base the ultimately dependable erigeron, commonly known as Santa Barbara daisy, frothing in it's exuberance.

 Coming full circle, a return to the deck festooned with the rose Climbing Pinkie. Maybe in the forth coming weeks it will once again be filled again with happy conversation, good food and laughter.

Meanwhile I pray that in this very difficult time in our country, with multiple serious problems, as citizens united in our love for democracy and well being, together we will find our way back to a better normalcy not forgetting to respect and love one another.

Thank you for visiting.

Stay safe and stay well


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Social distancing ~ A slight opening

It has been hot here the past week which makes it much harder to get anything done outside unless you start early in the morning. Last week I spent one morning creating a little gravel sitting area. The gravel is in now and I will be sharing a picture later, once the new gate (which is sitting in pieces in the garage) is finished and hung. When I raked off the existing mulch I found a thick layer of  rich compost that I collected to be used in other parts of the garden. I felt like I had found a gold mine.

Every year I find Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, with it's little daisy like flowers growing and blooming, always in unexpected spots, I must have planted it at one time. I have read that it can become a garden thug but in my garden it has been very mannerly and I would welcome more of this tiny charmer. Feverfew is a medicinal herb commonly used for migraine headaches. Interesting.

I accidentally overlooked my first zucchini squash and it got rather large, but perfect for making a loaf of zucchini bread. I tried a new recipe incorporating applesauce and it really did turn out well; very moist and not too sweet. Of course the first of anything seasonal always seems to taste the best. A zucchini plant is so useful to have around, the ways to use this vegetable seem endless.

I took this picture of the lavender walkway just when the sun coming up. This planting was inspired by my wonderful gardening teacher Jan, she had a lovely one in her home. It has been relatively care free, I occasionally clip it back being careful not to cut into the hardwood. I used different kinds of lavenders so if one dies I can easily replace it. Lavenders do very well for us but can have die off. At the end of the path you can see the climbing rose Eden heavy with flowers.

And finally, this casual bouquet made from prunings of a weeping tree rose, they were just too pretty to throw away. 


Things are opening up a bit here although we are still experiencing rising cases of the virus. Today I went to Trader Joe's for the first time in over two months. They were very organized, everyone was wearing a mask and trying to practice social distancing. I had to wait in line, but not for long, and once inside with my list I found everything I wanted. including their pico de gallo which I have really missed - I use it on everything from omelets to tacos. And linguine!

Thank you for visiting

Take care and stay well


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Social distancing ~ a ray of sunshine

While opening up the house this morning I caught a glimpse of the early sunlight  streaming through this window, I thought it was so pretty that I got my camera and took this picture. This is a north facing window and it is usually quite shady, however I did have the trees pruned  which apparently has allowed the morning sunshine in, a pleasure I will continue to enjoy until the foliage on the trees thickens up again.

The first, heavy spring flush of roses is almost over, roses will continue to bloom but not in such abundance. I have been spending lots of time dead-heading, a chore I really don't like. But the rose, Climbing Pinkie trailing across the railing on the back deck, is already covered again in buds. She is a very vigorous rose, one of my favorites and as you can see likes peeking through to the other side. Fortunately she is torn-less and quite easy to cut back.

Like everyone else there have been many things that I have had to give up through this time of social distancing but having a good supply of books to read has not been one of them. This due to the innovation, dedication and organizational skills of my local library. Almost immediately they were offering books and all of the other media materials for drive-by pickup. You call in your requests of  up to 10 items, and within 30 minutes they are available to you for pickup without any personal contact. For added safety, when the items are returned they are placed in a "quarantine" area before being available to be checked out again. I have always known that this library was special but this has only increased my admiration and thankfulness that I have such a wonderful local resource to enjoy.

For any of you that enjoy libraries as much as I do a wonderful book to read is,
The Library Book, Susan Orleans.

I posted before about my increased interest in planting seeds, here is the latest batch, the zinnias have just sprouted but many others are almost ready to plant out. Some of them have been experiments and I have no idea how they will perform in my climate zone, others are old standbys and some are plants I used to grow, such as Nicotiana Sensation and Ageratum Blue Horizon. It should be interesting to see what turns out to be a success and what will sadly end up a failure.

As a side note I read an interesting way to stop seedlings from becoming leggy, not to fertilize overly, which only increases the leggy growth, but to brush them lightly several times a day with your hand, imitating fans that are used commercially. Not all plants have this problem but I have always had  difficulty with zinnia seedlings. I have been doing this and it does seem to be helping. Rather like staking a tree lightly to allow the trunk to strengthened with gentle movement.

Last, I leave you with a bouquet I made to share with my gardening group at a Zoom meeting last week. Rather than being artful I was trying to include some of the things blooming in my garden...Eden roses, alstromeria, spirea, aquilegia, snapdragons, asclepias, and lantana.

Now that we are starting to loosen restrictions I hope that wherever you live are able to do it in a safe manner. This has been such a difficult and strange time, one that will not be easy forgotten.

Thank you for visiting

Stay safe and stay well.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Social distancing ~ seeing red

I always look forward to May because it is usually such a lovely time in the garden and also when I put out my red umbrellas. They stay up throughout the warmer months, and come down at the end of September, along with the Wimsey Walkway - more about that in a later post.

I am not a fan of red flowers but I like to use the color red as a garden accessory - umbrellas, furniture, gates, pathway posts, awnings all my same signature red, adding pops of bright color here and there throughout the garden, helping to give it (I hope) more cohesion.

It was with this in mind that I added posts to delineate the new entry into an recently redesigned area in the back. I intend to build a gate to put here but getting building supplies has been a bit difficult for me with all of the restrictions. The posts have been in for a couple of months now so I figured I might as well go ahead and paint them.

It is interesting how this little entry has made this spot make more sense. Here it is from a side path leading to the back...

...and here from the other side looking in from the center path. The posts are nice but a little red gate will be better. 

As long as I had gotten out the paint and had dirtied up a paint brush I also freshened up this bench in far, far back.

And then realized how much these chairs needed to be repainted. There is more painting to do of course because it simply doesn't end. I often liken my garden to painting the Golden Gate Bridge - by the time you get to the end it is time to start over again at the beginning, painting, weeding, planting, etc, with a home and garden it never ends.

There have been many things I have missed during this time of social distancing but I have been fortunate, mostly because of the garden and my home, not to suffer from boredom, rather the opposite, there is too much to do - lucky me to find most of it enjoyable!

Thank you for visiting, I hope you are keeping safe and well.


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Social distancing ~ looking forward

Last week I was fortunate enough to get all of the trees trimmed. I usually have this done earlier but so much is different this year with the virus. Things were really getting overgrown and it is important to get trees pruned before the heat of summer sets in. One big job was the very large orange tree you see in the picture below. It is a lovely specimen but needs yearly attention to keep its shape,  the tree is so prolific I was worried the weight of the excess fruit would cause branches to break. This picture was taken after it was pruned.

Under the tree trailing across the little bridge is the wonderful landscape rose Climbing Pinkie.

Today I picked the first of the sweetpeas, I planted them late last fall and it has taken them a very long time to produce flowers. Now they will require cutting frequently to keep them blooming and not setting seed. There is nothing to add fragrance to a room like a bouquet of freshly cut sweetpeas. To me they are the epitome of charm and seemed perfect to 'plop' casually in this teapot on the kitchen counter.

A very nice friend wrote on her Facebook page recently about a family recipe, this really struck a cord with me as I have always thought how important it is to archive in some manner all the recipes enjoyed and loved by our families - in my family we are still mourning my Aunt's cheesecake recipe that was lost when she passed away. Food invokes memories, enjoyment and love. My collection of family favorites, stained, torn and shabby, copied by hand or in well worn cookbooks have been copied down by my children and are seeing their third generation. I can't imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without the ubiquitous string bean casserole but for us what makes it really good is the addition of sliced water-chestnuts, an addition in my Mother-in-laws recipe, a minor thing but it wouldn't taste the same without it. I hope this is something you have found the time to do.

And last, I leave you with a picture of the foxgloves blooming along one of the back garden pathways. I love foxgloves they seem so magical to me. Here they they are treated as annuals, our summers are just too hot for them to get through. I usually plant them from 6 packs but I am thinking about trying some seeds for next year, the variety Foxy, which you see here, bloom the first year, most of the other foxgloves are biennials. They do not like warm weather and so do not last long but well worth it even for a short time.

I hope that you are doing well during this difficult time. It seems that things are slowly, and I hope safely, opening up. Today I got an email that my local Armstrong's nursery will be open, with restrictions of course - nothing would make me happier than putting on my mask, keeping social distancing, and paying them a visit.

Thank you for visiting

Take care and stay well


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Social distancing ~ finding peace in the familiar

Miss Twiggley is spending a lot of time in the windows today, the trees are being trimmed and she finds it very entertaining. As for me, I will just be happy when it is over and quiet is once again restored to the garden. I was hoping to be able to wait until the quarantine was completely over to have this done but several of the trees were getting so out of control it was getting dangerous.

There is something I find so lovely in the contrast between the rusty iron gate and this beautiful pink climbing rose. I don't remember the name of the rose but I know that it was purchased long ago from Roses of Yesterday and Today, they are still in business but at a much reduced standing. I remember how excited I used to be when their incredible catalog came in the mail every year, full of such clear information about each rose, it's classification, and growing habit. I think you can still visit the growing grounds in Watsonville, California.

I purchased this fabric to make drapes for the living room, then changed my mind and the direction I wanted the room to take. I have tons of it and decided that I would use it for new bedroom drapes. It goes well with the soft furnishings in the room and the rug (which I may replace, we will see). I have sent away for lining fabric but with deliveries slow it might take a while for it to come. I plan on using the tasseled cord to trim the drapes. I have used this same trim on other drapes in different rooms, it just seems to go with everything and look pretty. I want to get all of the drapes finished before repainting, that way it should all come together at the same time.

Much to my surprise, because it is very early, the waterlilies in the pond are blooming. Not quite Giverny, but pretty nontheless.

Lastly. Another retro recipe. I made French Breakfast Puffs yesterday. It is a old time recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, and now available online. It is simple and oh so good! Rather like a good crumb doughnut. While still warm the muffins are rolled in melted butter and then in a cinnamon sugar mixture to coat them. I used to make these frequently on weekend mornings for a special treat because they were so fast and easy. They also freeze well.

The Desert Rose dishes are also retro, I like to display them in the kitchen cabinet for the spring and summer months. this Franciscan pattern is still available but no longer made in the United States and sadly isn't the same quality. Although I have had it for a long time I still think it is pretty.

For some reason at this stressful time we are finding our way back to the old and familiar. Skills and new interests are being re-discovered. Old time comfort recipes, games, a return to books, jigsaw puzzles, these things seems to bring comfort, I know they do for me.

Thank you for visiting 

Take care and stay well


Friday, April 17, 2020

Social Distancing ~ A ray of sunshine

I can work outside in the garden for hours but for fatigue nothing does me in like a trip to buy groceries - who would have thought that a trip to the market would be considered an act of bravery.   Considering the way so many people in the service sector, law enforcement, firemen and medical fields  are literally putting their lives on line to keep the country going my self-serving anxiety really is very selfish. I am so very fortunate to be able to stay at home in comfort.


Meanwhile the garden provides me with a lovely ray of sunshine. Well, perhaps not always, the past week was one of constant, unseasonable rain, but then the sun came out and with it a garden full of flowers. Below, my first poppy, seeded like they all seem to, in random unexpected places and seldom where I plant them. Naughty girls!

A few weeks ago, inspired by a member in my gardening group I brought out an old strawberry pot to plant. It became a bit of an challenge because they are so hard to water. In normal times I would have gone to Home Depot and bought a piece of PVC pipe, drilled holes in it and watered it that way... 

...Instead I coiled up a piece of 1/4 inch piece of drip hose, laying it in the pot as I planted and attached it to the irrigation line in this area. The pot should now be watered along with everything else in this bed. It will be interesting to see if this works, so far it is looking good.

Otherwise this week: a new puzzle...

...and a succulent bouquet for the living room. I put this together on one of those rainy days I mentioned, when it was far too wet to work outside. I lined the terrine with a plastic bag, filled it with potting soil, and stuck the cuttings in, this should last for a very long time, or until I tire of it, then I will transplant the cuttings outside.

And lastly, today I want to share with you this beautiful tree rose in the back parterre. I originally had two of them and sadly one died, but this one carries on in such a splendorous manner that I sometimes think it is trying to make up for the lost one.

Like you I am praying for better days ahead when we can meet friends and family without restrictions and with lots of hugs. I also pray for all those people out of work, trying so desperately to get by, and get back to their jobs in a safe manner. And those we have lost in this sad terrible time.

Thank you for visiting.

Take care and stay well