Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Garden of Lights

In honor of the holiday season we accompanied the Sweet-Granddaughter and her parents to the Quail Botanical Gardens' Garden of Lights.
It's unfortunate that I am not a better photographer because the gardens were magical with Christmas lights among the bamboo, palms, bromiliads and ferns, as well as hundreds of temporary poinsettias.
The Walled Garden was transformed into the Poinsettia Garden for the three week event.
The Children's Garden was lit as well and featured Santa as the driver of the regular train set. If you click on the photo it will enlarge enough to see him waving even as he was speeding past.
We visited Santa and roasted a marshmallow then decided to escape before one of us got in the way of one of the flaming sticks being waved about by overenthusiastic seemingly unsupervised miniature roasters.
We made our way to the parking lot by way of one last well decorated path...this was truly a fun experience for our group giving us a very different impression of the garden than we ever got from day time visits. It was a festive beginning to our holiday celebration!

Monday, December 15, 2008

GBBD December 2008

I came home from a weekend trip to visit my dad on a dark and stormy night. It didn't bode well for my plan to take photos for Bloom Day this morning. The first foray into the garden ended when the clouds began to empty on my camera and head...not a good photo taking situation. However, by about 10:00 this morning the clouds had parted enough for me to run and get a few shots and I decided to be happy with what I had and not worry about more or better or anything.
I'm a sucker for cyclamen at Christmas time. I often buy a plant or two (or more..) for the porch and front door garden. I like the red burst here and there when it's foggy or dreary out. After the holidays I usually tuck the plant in the ground and right around the next Christmas they begin to bloom again. The first bloom of the year is out just in time for Bloom Day, growing right next to some wax begonias beginning to go dormant for the winter.
Pansies are blooming happily in the back yard brightening the view from the back door.

The unknown pink Abutilon against the front of the house has grown over the years to about 15 feet tall. It's not the most lush plant but every time I think about cutting it back I can't make myself deprive the hummingbirds of their treat or myself of being able to see them almost everyday. Although it's leggy it blooms almost year round so there never seems to be a good time for pruning.
The wax begonias in this pot are fairly protected so are hanging in there better than the ones in the ground in the front yard. But eventually they will die back also, to return next spring.
The blue marguerite, Felicia amelloides, continues to bloom, although not as prolifically as in the heat of the summer.

Dwarf Carnation Evermore is one of my favorite plants. Rightly named, it blooms pretty much all year with only a few breaks. And it smells wonderfully reminiscent of my childhood.

Every month garden bloggers worldwide respond to Carol of May Dreams Gardens invitation to share what is blooming in their gardens (or right now, for those in more northern cold climates, in their houses!)

The more or less complete list of Davis bloomers is as follow~

Anisodontea Very Cranberry
Anisodontea Elegant Lady
Bush Mallow
Lavandula Pinnata Bucchii
Abutilon Pink Parasol
Unknown pink Abutilon
Solanum jasminoides
Solanum rantonnetii
Pink Pandorea
Garden peas
Salvia dwarf Indigo Spires
Salvia Victoria Blue
Salvia Dancing Dolls
Salvia Autumn Sage
Red Christmas cactus (indoors)
White Christmas cactus in bud (indoors)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Garden Blogger Bloom Day November 2008

Fall days that have cooled into the 60s and 70s have brought a flush of blooms to Davis gardens. Solanum rantonnetii has bloomed all summer and after getting pruned back over a month ago it has burst forth with another round of color. This is a very forgiving plant matter how much I cut it back to keep some degree of control (I admit there may have been a better plant for this spot) it just stays happy. Except for a month or so midwinter (when it can show its semi-deciduous tendencies if the weather gets cold enough) S. rantonnetii is a trooper.
The potted wax begonias are equally happy, not realizing that soon they will die back and disappear for a month or three before returning in the spring.
I'm happy to see this pink chrysanthemum blooming. I accidentally uprooted it when digging and dividing some overgrown agapanthus a couple months ago. It appears to have forgiven me.

I was surprised to see pea blossoms on these Sugar Ann peas...they are only a few inches high but are beginning to put out a few blooms...maybe we'll have peas for Christmas!
Solanum jasminoides brightens up the west fence .
My new-this-summer Dwarf Indigo Spires is sending up some intense blue blooms near the front door. I'm hoping they were telling the truth and it stays under three feet...I'd have to do some thinking if it ends up needing staking.
Rosa Flower Girl is an old favorite. Although the leaves look a bit worse for the wear by the end of summer, it just keeps blooming and has regained some pink color now that the days are not quite so hot.

Lavandula pinnata bucchii is another long bloomer and is seen here in front of the potted Meyer Lemon with Felicia amelloides and Plumbago auriculata and pelargoniums in the background. Actually, aside from a few chrysanthemums, some annual vinca and the peas, most of the bloomers today are plants that bloom a good part of the year. Here is the list, hopefully fairly complete despite the fact that it is too dark to go take a last look.

Solanum jasminoides
Solanum rantonnetii
Glossy abelia Edward Goucher
Lavandula pinnata bucchii
Plumbago auriculata
Anisodontea Elegant Lady
A. Hibiscus Bits
A. Very Cranberry
Pink Pandorea
Annual Vinca
Wax begonias
Dwarf Carnation Evermore
one clueless tomato blossoms
several clueless pepper blossoms
Salvia Friesland Pink
S. Mulberry Jam
S. Dancing Dolls
S. Victoria Blue
S. greggii
S. Dwarf Indigo Spires
Rosa Flower Girl
Abutilon Pink Parasol
Abutilon unknown pink
Bat face cuphea
Bush mallow
For more gardens around the world visit Carol at
Carol began GBBD over a year ago and continues to provide a meeting place for gardeners to share blooms each month.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Walk On The Dry Side

I recently visited Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in the southern California town of Claremont. My dad, niece and I arrived early on a cool, cloudy morning following an evening of rain which included thunder and unusual SoCal event. The garden was having a plant sale so I worried about parking but luckily for us, although maybe not them, there was plenty of space in the lot. We headed down the path and soon came upon what in the spring is a wildflower meadow. We saw only cleared soil...through which a wonderful path made in the shape of a snake slithered!
As we continued on we saw lots of cacti and other drought tolerant and native plants...not my usual favorites but quite interesting to see in large plantings.
This pretty rock caught my eye...I wonder if anyone else sees what I see in the dark spot?We saw lots of wildlife...a hawk (maybe a sharp-shinned), monarch butterflies, squirrels, lots of warblers and other songbirds... and a cute little baby turtle trying to soak up some sun on a rock when the clouds parted.
I actually got a shot of a hummingbird, although when I saw the one my niece got I realized why I might want a better camera. Then again, she is the better photographer, so maybe I'll stick with what I have for now.
On our way out I was tempted by several plants at the sale, but the thought of a one gallon cactus as carry-on luggage slowed me down. Seriously, there were several salvias that I might have tried if I could have thought of anywhere I might have an empty spot to fill back home. But for some strange reason my better sense prevailed and I left with only photos and the memory of a quiet, enjoyable walk through a very different garden from those I usually frequent.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall Thinks About Sneaking In

I suppose it's fall here now but the wisteria is putting up the good fight. A plant after my own heart! Looking at the front path, however, I see the beginnings of the leaf inundation which will indeed come in waves. It was easier to rake leaves back in the days of lawn but now it's just a meditative experience to ease the masses out from around plants. And if a few remain it's all good anyway...they just compost in place!
Back in the garden I'm trying to get the winter veggies going and I've succumbed to the allure of the Gardener's Supply plant covers. The sparrows just aren't satisfied with the seed I offer them...they need greens for the first course. My greens. My carrots. My beets. My spinach. My peas. They've already finished off one round of lettuce that was not under cover...guess I'm a slow learner. Every year I've jury rigged a cover out of window screen or bird net. Nothing has been totally successful so this year I asked for these nifty covers for my birthday and my dad came through.
So we've got spinach, broccoli, carrots, beets, swiss chard, cippollini and scallions gathered safely under the covers. I'm hoping they will be easier to use and do the job well. The peas are still making do with bird netting...once the plants are of a certain size they seem to be less appealing to the sparrows. If these covers work as well as I hope they will I'll be ordering a few more next fall. And the sparrows will be looking elsewhere for their greens!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

GBBD October 2008

I often say I garden because I have to…it’s a compulsion or addiction for me.
I love working in my garden. I love eating from my garden. I love looking at my garden.
I love looking at my garden while eating a snack picked in my garden when I’m
taking a break from working in my garden. But just recently I’ve come to understand a bit more about the gift of being a gardener.
Ten days ago my 77 year old father suffered a hemorrhagic stroke while
visiting his sister 2000 miles from his home. He spent 6 days in the Cleveland Clinic, was discharged, flew home to California accompanied by one of my brothers and one of my sisters (thanks Mom and Dad for making sure there were enough of us to handle this!) and immediately admitted to an acute rehab program. We have run the gamut of emotions and fears, been told one thing only to learn another and texted/phoned each other in one week more than we have for 10 years. Right now we are cautiously optimistic that he will eventually return to his normal routine…a routine that includes going from one of our homes to the next fixing what needs fixing and building all kinds of things. My yard alone boasts a fountain he bought and installed, a lamppost in my fern corner, and the banksia arbor, side shed and patio roof, all of which he designed and built.
Right now he is, thankfully, physically in good shape. The stroke did not affect any of his motor abilities and his years of hard work have kept him strong. However, he cannot read or write (much) and is understanding about 30% of what is said to him. His speech is confused although improving. What does any of this have to do with being a gardener? I flew home from the weekend at the hospital mentally and physically drained. I’ll be heading back this next weekend with the possibility that we will spend it in his apartment beginning outpatient life. What got me calmed down and back on track was sitting in my garden. Out on the patio, unable to think, I just sat. And in doing so my garden began to calm me. Just being in the place I love to be, watching the birds and cabbage whites, the voices in my head slowed down and I knew that the patience a gardener learns was going to figure into the next few months. I’m glad I have my garden to come home to and I’m hoping my dad will be here helping out again before long. Or maybe just enjoying what he’s helped me create…a peaceful place to sit and be calmed…and maybe eat a freshly picked snack.
What would he see if he were able to be here today? Cool nights have not stopped the blooms and I started making a list. But after trying to focus I gave up and decided to just let it be. Instead, here are some photos I took. I hope to be able to pull a list together…next month!
To see lots of actual lists visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens who each month invites us to join in her Garden Blogger Bloom Day extravaganza!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

GBBD September 2008

How can it be the 15th already? But the calendar says it is and so Carol at May Dreams Gardens is hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day once again! To see blooms from near and far visit May Dreams Gardens and indulge yourself!
In Davis we’re enjoying a bit of a welcome cool down…although we’re being threatened with more heat to come soon. There are lots of blooms but I’m having trouble finding anything new and exciting…most of the bloomers are plants that just keep turning out the blooms through much of the year…abelia, society garlic, bush mallow, abutilon, lavenders among them. The only new bloomer is one giant liriope.
So although I’m thinking about the pending winding down of the summer garden it was fun to stop and see what is still in bloom and enjoy the perseverance of some of my stalwarts. So come on in past the solanum and let's see what we find...

Solanum jasminoides
Solanum rantonnetii
Glossy Abelia Edward Goucher
Lavender pinnata buchii
Plumbago capensis
Anisodontea Elegant Lady
Anisodontea Hibiscus Bits
Anisodontea Very Cranberry
Pink Pandorea
Star Jasmine
Annual vinca
Wax begonias
Shasta daisies~a few stragglers
Dwarf carnation Evermore
Blue marguerite
Nepeta Walkers Low
Society garlic
Salvia Friesland Pink
Salvia Mulberry Jam
Salvia Dancing Dolls
Salvia greggii
Salvia Caradonna
Salvia Blue Hill
Salvia May Night
Annual salvia Victoria Blue
Rosa Flower Girl
Rosa Berries and Cream
Rosa Demitasse
Giant Blue liriope
Abutilon Pink Parasol
Abutilon~unknown pink
Origanum Herrenhausen
Bat-faced cuphea
White four-o'clocks
Basil~various varieties
Gaura Siskiyou Pink

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Teeming With Tomatoes

Just before we left for a visit to the Sweet Granddaughter and her parents I noticed the tomatoes were beginning to ripen. I picked all the ripe (and almost ripe) fruit, made some tomato marmalade before we left, and took the rest with us on our journey. We left some with my dad along the way and ate the rest in San Diego. I'm not sure if they were no longer considered local (!) but there was no gas used in their transport that wasn't going to be used anyway so I think it's a wash at worst and negative energy cost at best. Having been gone six days I was anxious to see what had happened in the garden while we were gone and the Gardener Trainee was in charge. I'm happy to report that the GT passed his test with excellent plants were sidelined and the tomato plants are once more full of ripening fruit.
This is the reward of the impulsive, greedy, cheapskate gardener. I started seeds in the spring for all the varieties I decided to grow this year. That would be Sweet 100, Sungold, Mule Team, Costoluto Genovese, and San Marzano. Well, and there were the left over Brandywine seeds from last year that I wouldn't have bought again but since they were leftover I really thought I should start some. Then I was at the farmers market and saw beautiful plants ...and having been wondering about the possibility of nematodes in the garden it occurred to me that I should get a good resistant variety to test drive. Which made me get too close to the pretty plants at which point I had to buy a Sausage as well as the nematode defying Big Beef. Not long after that I realized I had not gotten seeds for Early 'safety' tomato of choice. So I had to pick one up. Now my tomato plant collection was complete! Until I went to the big open house at UCDavis where they were giving out free starts. And since I was there with my husband and son I made them get in line and came home with another Sweet 100, Celebrity and Shady Lady. So that is the recipe for what would be called too many tomatoes if such a thing were possible. I guess I should feel far the Brandywine and Mule Team have not contributed one fruit. But in Davis the tomato season is still young...maybe they'll get in the swing of things and add to the fun. I may need to look for that recipe for oven dried tomatoes that I saw on line!

Driving The Central Valley

Leaving San Diego to drive home we got on I-5 ...or as the southern Californians would say "the 5". I can always tell someone newly arrived from the southern reaches of the state...every freeway begins with "the", I guess to differentiate it from imposters. And where does the "the" fall off? Maybe once you cross the Tehachapis and descend into the valley? I can tell you that the trip through the Tehachapis is cleansing in a different sense. As I said, we got on "the" 5 and headed north. The Pacific Ocean was to our left for a number of miles but soon we encountered heavier traffic and could see the cities crowding together. Passing Disneyland (there's the Matterhorn!) we headed toward the actual city of Los Angeles although it is difficult to say where LA begins and all the rest packed in around it ends. Reaching the beginning of the climb up into the mountains I could feel the mental weight falling off...trying to explain it to The Driver the best I could come up with was "the whole feng shui is awful". Does a freeway or city have feng shui? Anyway, up over the mountains, down the Grapevine and into the valley. This is much better! Everyone can use a little open space. Trying to pay attention to what I've seen too many times to count I decided to get a few photos of common sights on what I call I-5.
This is what miles and miles of the valley look like this time of year. No rain equals desert...dry soil, dry vegetation, tumbleweeds in the making.
Off in the distance you see swaths of green. Irrigated fields up next to desert are the norm here. Fields of cotton, grapes, lots of almonds and tomatoes...all growing here to feed and clothe the nation. Speaking of tomatoes...that truck up on top is one of many loaded with processing tomatoes and heading to canneries. Another common sight, one I see each summer less than a mile from home, is the tomato spill. You see this more often on corners but this spill must have been a truck stopping on the side of the freeway a little too quickly.

As we closed in on the last 200 miles we met up with the 444 mile long California Aqueduct...driving north as water flowed south. I think I'll refrain from commenting on the implications of all that Northern California water heading south...Garden Rant has already explained why they need it.