Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The most wonderous time of the year ~

Here it is, just a few days before Christmas, with everything so different this year it is hard to believe that it is almost here. Without so many of the usual markers...classes to go to, friends to entertain, family gatherings... time  has become so strange that it has become somewhat difficult to keep track of the days.

But it is indeed the holiday season, and time to decorate the house for Christmas. Since I cannot have my traditional family Christmas Eve dinner, there will be no one but Miss Twiggley and I here to enjoy it so I decided to do a scaled back version. Though not as elaborate, I have found that it has lifted my spirits and with that in mind I decided to share with you in this post some of  my favorite decorations from the past, some I repeated this year and some not.

Below, last years flower tree, one of my favorites and one I will probably repeat next year. 

All of the Santas in the kitchen a yearly must do, but sadly not this one.

2019 mantle designed to match the tree I showed in the first picture, again one of my favorites. Next year I think I will try to imitate a mantle Sharon Santoni did on her blog: A French Country home. You can see it on Instagram. It was almost totally evergreens and really spectacular.

I started collecting these Christmas fairies by John Roberts four years ago. I have been adding to my collection every year. I find them a charming and a whimsical  addition to tuck in here and there. 

And who can resist sweets during the holidays even if some of them are faux.

And last, the holiday window in my kitchen which I did again this year. I love this scene and never have found a better way add the spirit of the holiday to the room I spend the most time in. 

I hope that all of you are able to find joy in this season, with the new year we have some very positive things to look forward to and hopefully by Christmas 2021 we will be able to gather safely again with family and friends to enjoy the happiest and most wonderous time of the year.

Merry Christmas


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

And now Christmas ~

Fall in it's glory starts late in Southern California, it is just in the past week or so that the leaves have begun to change color and drop in my garden. Of course we don't have the dramatic leaf color changes that take place in cooler climates but the difference is notable, and even though few flowers are blooming it has become my favorite time of year.

The child's bench below is awash in fallen magnolia leaves, I should rake them for the compost pile but I like they way they look so I will leave them for a while 

The Crepe Myrtle tree growing beside the pond looked particularly pretty this morning with all of it's leaves turned to gold. Pretty as it is, it does created the additional work of skimming the fallen leaves out of the water - well worth it though.

This weeping mulberry tree is starting to show one of it's most lovely features, the wonderfully distorted trunk. As the leaves drop it is revealed until next spring when it once again becomes a giant cascade of green.

Out in the front garden the red umbrellas, and the gnome walkway have all been stored away for the winter. Here another Crepe Myrtle and Magnolia tree are providing color and interest to the landscape.

And now that fall is fully here in my temperate zone it is time to think about winter and of course...


I won't be doing as much decorating this year as I will be the only one to see it. But it still gives me pleasure, and I will be able to share some of it with all of you!

Take care, stay safe.

Thank you for visiting


Friday, November 20, 2020

Fall vegetable planting ~

For the past few years I have been trying different ways to plant winter vegetables and herbs near my backdoor. On cold, dark, winter nights going to the far back of the garden to pick things is not very appealing, especially with racoons and cayotes wandering about.

This year I am trying something new. The boxwood planted in my three containers on the deck had seen better days, I pulled them out, and replanted the pots with a combination of lettuces mixed in with pansies, I also added a few miniature daffodil bulbs for additional interest in early spring.

Across the way in two window box containers I planted a variety of  herbs: parsley, sage, chives, winter savory and thyme.

It is amazing how fast leaf lettuce grows, I only planted these a week ago from pony packs and they are already getting big enough to pick a few leaves for a salad. Besides being eatable they are very decorative and I love having a place to plant pansies that would otherwise be lost in my large garden.

Below is the bouquet I made for my gardening class Zoom meeting last week. It contains some of the few flowers still blooming in my garden in these waning fall days.

Last, I leave you with the window in the media/library room decorated for the fall holidays. Previously my little witch took center stage but after Halloween this sparkly turkey replaced her.

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving holiday. It certainly will be a very different one this year for so many people, including me...I will be having a Zoom dinner with my family as we try to keep healthy and safe.

Thank you for visiting.


Monday, October 26, 2020

Slipcover, seeds and seasonal decorations ~

I finally completed something that I have wanted to get done for a long time - a new slipcover for the bench in my entry hall. I already had the fabric and was finally prompted to tackle it because the old pale pink fabric didn't match the two newly upholstered chairs in the other part of the area. Making a slipcover instead of having the bench reupholstered allowed a more casual look and the ruffle (which I love).

You might notice the clock which fits perfectly into the niche. It has been in my family for many, many years. Because I have the original receipt I know that it was bought on monthly payments from a shop on White Chapel in London for two pounds. One of the few items that my relatives brought with them when they immigrated to America, it must have been very precious to them, it certainly is to me. 

I have been harvesting lots of seeds to plant next spring and have been looking for a good way to organize and package them until planting time. I came across a Pinterest post with the perfect solution - simple origami seed packets. You can use any type of paper you want and make them in suitable sizes. I used plain white paper to make them easier to label. 

They are so much better than the envelopes that I was using before, and so compact that I can fit several different packets in old jam jars to stack on a shelf in my kitchen pantry...I knew I was saving these jars for something, they are just too cute to throw away, and now I know what it was.

I leave you with this picture of  the fall decorations across from the aforementioned bench in my entry hall. The crows will fly away after Halloween but everything else will stay in place until Thanksgiving.

 Thank you for visiting, stay safe, follow the CDC guidelines, wear your mask,


Don't forget to vote! It has never been so important.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Fall decorating ~

This is my first attempt at putting up a blog post with the new Blogger format. So far it is going okay but I expect to run into some hurdles so I intend to keep it very succinct and hope I can manage to present something worth looking at.


Last week I spent some time decorating the house for the fall holidays, at first I questioned doing it at all because with social distancing I am the only one that's going to see it, I decided to go ahead, it was nice to continue on with a traditional activity. I am so glad that I did, just looking at the decorations has given me a lot of pleasure, a touchstone with the past, and hopefully a look to the future when life will be normal again.

Above, in the office is one of the ghosts. I  put them on several of the large mirrors throughout the house, it is amazing how something simple can be so much fun. I think this was originally a Martha Stewart idea. After Halloween I will take them all down and leave everything else until after Thanksgiving.

In the kitchen I once again filled a box with pumpkins, fall foliage, and hung a wreath in the window.

The living room mantle holds more pumpkins and lots of dried flowers and foliage, embellished with
   antique lace, ribbons and another little ghost.

The decorations in the kitchen cabinet are very similiar to what I have done before, it just seems to always work. I love this big jack-o-lantern, after Halloween I will turn him around and leave the whole vignette up for Thanksgiving.

Last of all, a dried floral arrangement in the living room and of course another little ghost.

I have no idea how this post is going to look when I press the publish button, I know that I have a lot more to learn about the new format but at least I have been able to share with you a bit of what has been happening here at Rose Arbors.

Take care
Stay well

and thank you for visiting.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Misc ~

Following the advise of members in my gardening group, I cut back my Clematis in late spring after their first bloom. I could see the vines were growing again but was pleasantly surprised yesterday morning to see new flowers. With such hot weather I don't expect to see a lavish display but I am really enjoying those I have been blessed with. 

On the other hand, I have a very generous crop of pumpkins. I planted the seeds in the far back area of the garden, near the compost pile, they spread out in all directions and have really taken over. I planted two kinds of seeds, Cinderella pumpkins and the giant variety and have lots of both to share come later in autumn.

A friend who is a most gifted writer recently came up with the phrase, "Sloth Dressing" to describe what many people, limited to social interaction, stuck at home, all combined with the summer heat, are wearing right now. I thought it was a perfect description of my current at home apparel which is limited to comfort and ease - to me that is a dress, something I can wear both in the house and outside to water and maybe pull a few weeds in passing. The dress below is my answer, I have made this dress many, many times over the years and it fits my needs perfectly, it is not fashionable, elegant, or  flattering, but I really don't care on days I am at home alone with no one to see but Miss Twiggley and functionibility and freshness takes precedence. I like it so much that yesterday I went through my fabric stash and cut out another one to make.

Pampas grass can be a real garden thug, luckily I picked the perfect place to plant this one. It is a dwarf which makes it more manageable and because it is planted in a good spot hasn't given me anything but pleasure, especially this time of year when it blooms. I cut it back every year and the results have certainly been worth that bit of effort. If I can ever find another one I know exactly where I would put it...I might try making a division of this one and see what happens.

Below is the bouquet I made to share with my class on our Zoom meeting. The earlier lavish abundance of flowers in my garden has peaked but I was able to come up with some Dahlias, Roses, Lantana, Ruillia, and Salvia. I look forward to the cooler weather of fall when I will have more to choose from.

Sometimes I think it is rather silly of me to be posting about gardens, dresses, and bouquets when so much is happening around us right now, but we all need some diversion just because it is all so over whelming. I long for the days when this will be past us.

Thank you for visiting

Take care, stay well, and VOTE


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Garden stalwarts ~

It is hot!


We have been experiencing some very hot weather, 100+ degrees everyday for the past week. Just keeping the garden watered and trying to protect heat sensitive plants is taking most of my gardening time. This is complicated because with our continuing drought conditions water is precious and must be used judiciously. 

So, it is at this time that I really appreciate one of the garden stalwarts: Lantana.

Heat  just doesn't seem to phase Lantana. It is common and used  everywhere here, along freeways in street medians,  in commercial plantings, and of course home gardens, in many ways it is so ubiquitous that it can be overlooked for it's beauty. It is a  drought tolerant, tough, tough, plant, I cut all of mine back almost to the ground every year and they return bigger and better than before, just in time to provide some color in high summer when it is needed most.

In my garden I have both trailing and bush Lantana,
  trailing yellow borders a portion of my driveway and softens the gravel garden. I have  used white trailing Lantana in the new area in the back under trees, it does't grow as densely which allows inter-planting without taking over.

Lantana color choices used to be limited, now we have more to select from and blended colors - pink and yellow, shown in the picture above (my favorite) and yellow combined with orange which clamors over one over my driveway pillars in the street garden. There is also one with variegated leaves.

This is one of my favorite pictures, I love the contrast between one of  the stone pillars, original to the house, and the orange/yellow Lantana flowers. A very rabid grower now reaching over 6 feet, last winter I cut it to the ground - hardy indeed!

And now my Op-Ed moment....

Between the hot weather and all of the other problems our country is dealing with it is nice to have something to depend on, even if it is common and ordinary. I will take calm, dependability, and ordinary, over what is happening now, any day. I am so looking forward to Fall when the heat is over, the virus manageable, and (hopefully) a new leadership and direction for our country that combines the best of the old with innovations and ideas for the future.

 Democracy is a very fragile thing, once lost almost impossible to regain.

Thank you for visiting


~ Don't forget to vote and if possible do it early.~ 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Hope ~

I got up early this morning to work in the garden before the heat set in. The sun was just coming up and it seemed like a perfect time to take some pictures, so instead of getting out my gardening tools I went back into the house and got my camera.

These petunias planted around the base of the fountain in the front have been very successful, I hadn't planted petunias for a while but I will definitively plant them again. They have been blooming for several months now with their happy pink faces.

A jumble of some of my favorite flowers in a front border...verbena, roses, and Queen Anne's Lace.

One perfect dahlia below the back deck, being watched over by a little friend. I love dahlias, in my garden they are just now coming into full bloom.

Glorious pink zinnias, from seed I sowed a few months ago. Some of them are from seed I harvested last year and some are from newly purchased seed. I will be collecting the seeds from these to plant for next summer's garden.

After taking these pictures and a few more I still had time to get some gardening chores done. Actually it was a rather nice day today temperature wise and although it is really too late in the season to plant I couldn't resist picking up a few pony packs from Armstrong's yesterday. Along with spreading several wheelbarrows of mulch, I got them all planted with fingers crossed that they will do well.

"Hope for the future is the heart of all gardening."

Thank you for visiting.

Stay well and stay healthy.


Monday, August 3, 2020

Catching up with summer ~

It would appear that as far as blogging, July completely skipped by me this year and now suddenly it is August. Living in such a confusing time, without classes, the gym, social outings and all of the other things we used to enjoy without worry, it has become hard to even know what day it is. 

But some things are a constant, my library still allows us to check out books with drive-by pickup. The local Armstrong's nursery is open and I have been enjoying the convenience of Grubhub on days I think I deserve a special treat and am tried of my own cooking. And of course there is still the garden as needy as an infant, especially this time of year with so much watering.

The beautiful and extravagant floral displays of spring are long past and the intense summer heat limits what is blooming, I do have some flowers, mostly the old summer standbys, but as the summer continues I will be relying more on foliage to provide color in the garden.

A few weeks ago on my way to mail some letters I passed by a building site that had been razed and noticed a pile of river rocks piled up to be hauled away. Just what I needed for edging to keep the gravel in place in the new sitting area. I immediately stopped and put as many of them in the car that I could handle. I ended up with quite a load and a sore back the next day, but it was worth it.

 I shared the beginnings of this project with you a while back when I put in the red posts. Building a gate, which was the whole reason for the posts, took much longer than I thought. 

Eventually, like many things I attempt, it got done. I was going to use ready made pickets from Home Depot but they were too big and clumsy looking for my little gate, so I ended up buying the wood and cutting them myself, not that hard - the difficult part was cutting and attaching them to the form  the arch.

the whole space looks more cohesive now and I love the pop of the red gate.

I will end this post with a bouquet I made for my gardening group's last Zoom meeting highlighting some of the flowers currently blooming in the garden: dahlias, crocosmia, nicotiana, guillaria, rubeckias, coneflowers, penstemon, and roses.

I hope you are you are keeping safe, well, and healthy.

Thank you for visiting.


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