Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Blogger Bloom Day November 2017

 Fall is a time of renewed blooms for some plants...the heat of summer always causes a dip in blooms that then recover for a bit before winter actually arrives.


Melinus nerviglumis however has taken a while to bloom this year and is only really getting going now, seen here backed up by an iris I am beginning to think is 'Eleanor Roosevelt'. This was a passalong plant and I have called it 'Patricia's Grandpa's Iris' but recent photos somewhere caused me to do a little research and I am fairly certain a new name has emerged.


Lavenders that slowed down have put out another round of blooms, this one backed by salvia greggii Teresa.


Zinnias continue to bloom and I have been tossing seeds around in the hopes a few reseed next year. These were all planted in big containers with peppers, you can see the pepper supports altho the peppers are cut down.


Another salvia that is having a renewal of blooms is 'Big Swing' with its incredibly intense blue flowers.


Chrysanthemums bloom here and there in the garden, all from the same 4-inch pot purchased many years ago. You can also see a few tomato blooms...Juliet just keeps going although I doubt these will be fruitful.


Pelargoniums love the fall cooling off  and have a new flush of blooms.


Hardy cyclamen is sweet and the leaves are pretty too!


This scented geranium also appreciates the cool weather.

Elsewhere alyssum, more salvias, various lavenders, begonias, sasanqua camellias, rosa 'Flower Girl', ornamental oreganos, plumbago and more are brightening the often cloudy days. Winter is coming but for now the garden is happy.

For more blooms visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and follow the links!




Thursday, October 26, 2017

Front Arbor Remix



The lath house is now filled with plants and in that post I mentioned the pieces I reused in it from the old front arbor. I also mentioned that parts of that old arbor were reused in the new front arbor and I was asked to have a look at that. So...



The original arbor was bought at Lowe's and had metal supports on the bottoms of the side supports. Those were mounted in concrete and the idea was that they had a little give so could move in the wind and not break. Stop laughing...it made sense at the time. And actually worked for a number of years until the metal rusted and that arbor started to lean. So last spring I took the arbor apart and used the side pieces for the top of a new arbor. This one has 4x4 redwood posts for the supports, mounted in concrete. 


There are three posts set in a triangular shape so each part of the arbor crosses a different part of the path that turns at the corner of the garden.


So now the clematis armandii gets one section and rosa 'Flower Girl' gets the other which will help with pruning issues that arose when they were jumbled together on one arbor.  I am cautiously optimistic that this arbor will last a long time!


Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Lath House For All Seasons


Sometimes garden interests get a little out of hand. One could hypothetically develop an interest in a certain kind of plant, for example, rex and cane begonias. So one buys a few then a couple more and pretty soon the best spots for them are crowded and then there is no more room. So the gardener has to stop buying them. Just kidding! What the gardener has to do is cut down an old decrepit privet (that needs to be pruned several times a year to keep it out of the electrical lines) and build a lath structure. 
First 4x4 posts are cemented in place. Then paint chips are hung so a decision can be made. One by one they were eliminated...


If the gardener is lucky they are a pack rat and have the cross pieces from an old arbor (that was already partly used for a new arbor). The posts are not straight across from each other because that would have meant taking out a camellia that provides beautiful spring color easily seen from the house.


Then many strips of lath are painted before being nailed up. Many strips. Taking longer than the gardener imagined it possibly could. 


Until finally it is time to move the begonias to their new home!








When winter comes and the begonias need to be moved to the nanogreenhouse this space will be converted to a shelter for succulents. A fiberglass cover will be installed part way up the posts to keep the succulents dry so cold-hardy but rain averse succulents will be happy as can be. And the best thing is that there is still room for more begonias. Because the gardener would never build something without planning for that possibility. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Garden Blogger Bloom Day October 2017

Fall is slowly arriving in my Central California garden. The fires less than an hour from here are closer to being contained and the air is not as smoky as it was. It is, however, still less than clear...the winds have stirred up dirt from a long summer of no precipitation and tomato and sunflower fields that have been harvested and tilled. Lots of dirt and dust. Any rain that shows up later this week will be very welcome. Although at this point it looks like .1 of an inch. As for blooms...here are a few!


The species cyclamen have started to pop up showing their sweet blooms just before their leaves join them.


Gaura is still blooming and still flopping into the path. 


The lavender that was cut back has put out a second flush of blooms.


Zinnias planted in with the tomatoes are still blooming...I guess when the tomatoes go the zinnia will too...



The ornamental oregano 'Hopley's Purple' keeps going and attracting pollinators. It will keep going until we get a frost at which point I will cut it back to the ground. It is a bit invasive but not that difficult to keep in check and I love the way it weaves through other plantings. I haven't been doing much in the garden in the way of plants although I have planted peas, carrots, favas, parsley, cilantro, dill, and radishes that have all begun to pop up. Instead I have been building a new structure to house my growing rex and cane begonia collection in the summer and that will double as  succulent protection in the winter. It is still a work in progress but I am having fun and it is taking shape. I am however pretty tired of painting lath strips....stay tuned for the big reveal, hopefully soon!

For more Bloom Day posts visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens...!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Cautionary Tale, Or, Black Widows Live here Too

This is somewhat of a cautionary tale but it does, as many tales do, have a happy ending. Many years ago, when my children were young and I had a family child care program in my home, I built a sandbox in the back corner of the garden. I dug out the soil, lined the bottom with shade cloth, built two benches along the fence, and filled the pit with play sand.


It was a great success for several years. Then one day I was watering and as I went past the sandbox I decided to hose down the fence behind it where there were a few spider webs. Now, I live in California's Central Valley and I am well aware of black widows and what their webs look and sound like...these were not those. Be that as it may, when I came past the sandbox a bit later there were no fewer than 3 black widows hanging out on the benches, driven out by the water. That was of course the end of that sandbox. I realized I was never going to be 100% certain there were no new black widows hiding under the benches, the original 3 having been eliminated. Black widows are a fact of life here and I have often said that, given 15 minutes, I can find one for anyone who might want to see one. Here is the cautionary part of our tale...don't expect black widows to respect what you think is your space...they live here too and love cozy, dark nooks and crannies.
Time marched on, I retired, and one day recently I decided that life was too short to have to use part of it pruning the California privet that had been allowed to grow and shade that corner and the sandbox. Being under electric lines it needed pruning twice a year. So I have been working on taking it out and now have it down to a 5 foot trunk more than a foot in diameter. A friend with a chainsaw is scheduled to come take that down soon.


This open space will soon be the home of the lath house I have been wanting to build to house my growing collection of cane and rex begonias and so this morning I decided that I should start digging the holes for the corner posts. My clay soil is a pain to dig deeply and I figured that getting one of the holes started, furthest from the trunk, would not get in the way of removing said trunk. I was planning on needing to dig, soak, repeat as I always do when digging more than a foot into the ground here. Imagine my surprise when the soil was super easy to dig! There, just a few inches below the surface, was the layer of sand remaining from that long-ago sandbox. So now 2 of the holes are almost dug and when the privet trunk is gone I will dig the other 2. Unfortunately, the sand box did not extend to that area so those will require a bit more work. But half the number of difficult holes to dig is a happy ending in my opinion!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Foliage Follow-up August 2017

This little vignette has been making me happy this summer. I see it from my preferred seat on the patio and am pleased with the combination of heuchera, hellebore, purple tradescantia, columbine, and orthrosanthus multiflorus all backed by the foxtail fern growing in a large container.



Dipping my toe into Foliage Follow-up, organized by Pam at Digging.  Follow the link to find more beautiful foliage posts!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Garden Blogger Bloom Day August 2017


It is Garden Blogger Bloom Day, and we have Carol at May Dreams Gardens to thank for that. Head over there to see more blooms around the world! I personally have Carol to thank for the zinnias blooming here and there in my garden...she talks about hers often and posts lovely pictures of zinnias in her garden so this year I actually remembered to start some seeds and then scatter the plants around the garden here. They are adding some needed color to my heat weary garden!


There are some blooms on the gaura now and they are sweet swaying in the afternoon breeze.


A very happy bloomer is the ornamental oregano Hopley's Purple that I have divided and spread around. It is a nice summer ground cover, dying back in winter here in the central valley of California and returning reliably every spring. It climbs up through many things, here through lambs ear that appeared one year in my garden, probably tagging along in some purchased plant.


My new anisodontea Strybing Beauty is settling in nicely. I am hoping the hummers are enjoying it as much as I am since I planted it with them in mind.


The wisteria is still blooming its light summer bloom, just enough to keep the carpenter bees busy and brighten up the fence it grows along.


Eriogonum grande, red buckwheat, is blooming in the front garden. It has not managed to get as big as I hoped but there is always next year!


Glossy abelia is an easy to grow drought tolerant shrub that blooms here for months and keeps the bees happy.


Every so often rain lilies pop up in places I had forgotten about as these did just yesterday...good timing on their part.


Dahlia Tutti-Frutti has been a success this year, pumping out blooms now for over a month. It is one of the few successes I have had with dahlias. Funny how those successes make us want to keep trying. But I need to give up on dahlias again...they are, in general, just not that happy in my garden. 


Cooler weather has arrived, at least for the time being. It is a good time to garden and thoughts of what to plant this fall are starting to appear. However, I doubt summer has left yet so those thoughts will remain in the planning stage for now.

Happy Bloom Day!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Tenderloin People's Garden


While on a quick day trip to San Francisco to get a San Francisco library card (way better selection of e-books!) and a National Parks senior pass before the price increase (you only have until August 28 people!) my friend and I stopped by Soluna for lunch. As we crossed the street I noticed this wonderful urban garden. 


The Tenderloin is one of the few neighborhoods without a full service grocery store and this garden, planted on city land, attempts to fill part of that void. 


Volunteers grow, harvest, and distribute fresh produce here, free of charge, twice a month.


Although it was closed when we walked by the garden was lovely and looked to be producing nicely.


It was a bright spot on a foggy, cool, August day.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Enough Tomatoes




It is caprese time in my little orto! Thank goodness. I am of the belief that the one thing everyone who gardens should have in their summer garden is tomatoes. Nothing tastes as good as a tomato warm from the sun. I enjoy all the  fruit and vegetables I am able to harvest from my small garden but tomatoes are the thing I relish the most. And they have become one of the hardest things for me to manage. Years ago I had an abundance of tomatoes...my garden was apparently teeming with tomatoes. That must have been the beginning of the dark times. Hidden in that long ago post I mentioned that I was wondering about the possibility of root knot nematodes. A possibility that was confirmed soon thereafter. Since then I have solarized the garden one year, cover-cropped with French marigolds one year, planted all susceptible plants in containers, and, for the last 2 years, planted susceptible plants in spots that were dug out to 2x2 foot holes and filled with planting mix. There are also some peppers and tomatoes in containers.  All of these attempts helped but I have not come close to the harvests of the past.


This year I realized something. I don't need to have my garden teem with tomatoes. I just need enough for caprese a few times a week and maybe a few slices for sandwiches.

Which makes it all the more maddening to find tomatoes with bites out of them. It appears that some critter has decided it likes garden ripe tomatoes too. The choices are squirrels, birds, possums, and the disgusting roof rats that like to run on the power lines at dusk. This fix is a little easier. I have begun picking tomatoes that are just short of being what I consider ripe and it appears the critter(s) were planning to wait too because this has mostly worked. I still find some totally green Juliettes lying about half eaten but it has been almost a week without a red tomato being eaten. As gardeners know it is always something. And so, as long as I have enough tomatoes, I will consider it a good summer harvest.









Monday, July 17, 2017

Garden Blogger Bloom Day July 2017

It's been a hot few weeks and the garden is in its usual summer bloom slowdown.
This year I remembered to start some zinnias from seed and plant them out in various spots to try to brighten up the hotter days, some in the pots that have tomatoes and cucumbers in them. This Gulf Fritillary is one of many who hang around for the Passiflora caerulea in the side yard (not so much it seems for the sanguinolenta blooming further below) and it seems to find the zinnias a good addition.



Salvias don't mind the heat, thank goodness, so there are several in bloom and Salvia Big Swing is one of the showiest with its bright blue flowers. This is a favorite also because its blooms continue off and on almost all year in my Zone 9b garden.


If you are a fan of Gardeners' World like I am you may be constantly tempted/teased/tormented by all the lovely dahlias. So, over the years I have tried them, given up on them, and tried them again. California's Central Valley and the English countryside have a few too many climate differences for them to look as lush here as they do there but, be that as it may, I am back in 'try them' mode. Lauren Michelle is one I try almost every time and it has just started blooming this year. 


Here is that Passiflora sanguinolenta...sweet little blooms and a much tidier plant than the caerulea that wants to take over the world. 


Tutti Frutti is a dahlia that several friends around the country tried last year in The Great Dahlia Experiment. It has been very happy here and in Tennessee but apparently not so much in Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Indiana, or Rhode Island. It was chosen as a dahlia that stood a better chance of thriving in varied climates but it appears that was wishful thinking. (Edit: Or maybe not as far off as I thought...it seems it is still alive in Kathy's Cold Climate Gardening garden too! In a container!)


My most successful scabiosa is Scabiosa ochroleuca...it has self seeded in abundance and I love the tall stems that move in any sort of breeze.


Gloxinia violacea is in a small pot and this year I decided it should try summering outside. Its first bloom opened just in time for Bloom Day!


If you would like to see many more blooms from around the world click over to May Dreams Gardens where Carol has links to all sorts of beautiful blooms!






Friday, June 30, 2017

Impatience Inspired Dinner




It is that sweet moment when the garden is on the cusp of providing bounty and the cook gets impatient. There have been a couple of tomatoes on salads this week and even one cucumber. Before last week's heat wave we picked 4 decent sized zucchini. But it is still a harvest that can be managed in two hands, no basket needed.  I have been watching the the first borlotti beans swell and one pattypan squash reach pickable size so I cast about in my mind for a way to actually make a meal out of them.


The winning answer was gnocchi with pancetta and veggies, 


the gnocchi flavored with garden chives,


and the pancetta browned then added to sauteed pattypan squash cubes. The borlotti beans were shelled then simmered for 30 minutes before being added to the pancetta pan along with a couple tablespoons of butter and finely minced garden sage.


It was a nice dinner that quelled the impatience of the cook, at least for the time being.


Although I think it is almost time to buy some fresh mozzerella....