Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Time to Pick the Oranges...

I will most definitely be picking oranges soon...before someone beats me to them all.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Old Faithfuls Bloom On

I know I've said it before, but there are a few plants here that are almost year round bloomers.  That is what I count on in January...that they hang in there until the spring ephemerals step in and take over. Rosa Flower Girl is one of the best of these...she blooms almost every month of the year. Even now, when many of the leaves have fallen off, there are several big clusters of the small flowers. I love her in winter...she is a very pretty pink. By summer, when the temperatures heat up, the flowers will be almost white.

This wax begonia, however, owes its blooms to the sheltered spot it is in. All the other begonias have died back and will not reappear until warm spring days temp them. Hmmm...maybe I will have to start moving the begonia pots under cover with the succulents.

Dwarf Carnation Evermore is exactly that...forevermore blooming. It is rare that there is not at least one bloom here, although of course it blooms more freely in warmer weather.

Those coffee grounds that I have used this year on Camellia sasanqua Kanjiro have been a huge success! This is the third month that there have been blooms on this plant...it seems to LOVE those coffee grounds!

A new bloom this month is the broccoli! I have not had much luck over the years growing broccoli. I have blamed snails and birds for eating the plants before but this year I realized the culprit was cabbage white caterpillars. I hauled out the BT and like magic...I have broccoli this year!

Viburnum tinus Spring Bouquet is just starting to bloom. This is the plant that I am hoping takes over as the main backdrop against the fence as I slowly eliminate the too fast growing privets. I hope some day to have much less pruning to do.

This miniature rose, a long ago gift with no tag, is still putting out one or two blooms at a time. And...

Rosa Flawless is right there with it.  Elsewhere in the garden, sweet allysum, lavandula pinnata buchii, and solanum jasminoides are also blooming. Not much of a collection but I know to those who may finally have some snow in their gardens this looks like a lot for January. I'm going to head over to May Dreams Gardens to see what Carol, our Bloom Day leader has found in her garden and what others from around the world have posted for this January Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gardening Season: Unlimited!

Many people talk about the length of the growing season in their garden. But what I find interesting is the length of the gardening season. I have gardened in the same town for over 37 years and the gardening season has gotten longer and longer until now it pretty much runs all year. And I am not talking at all about global warming here, this is more a case of a gardener's evolution. My first gardens were summer gardens and when winter came, with cold and fog and dreariness, I was inside feeling trapped. I would have liked to have been outside but it seemed too unpleasant. And with young children who didn't want to be out there I suppose my opportunities for winter gardening were limited.

In those long ago days of early garden ownership I would go to my parents' house in Southern California for Christmas and get all enthused about the jade plants, Crassula ovata, blooming all over their garden, the sunny skies, and the warm temperatures. I would make plans for some time in the garden as soon as we got home but as we drove north and traveled over the Tehachapis we would descend into what you see here...fog and gloom.For some reason that stopped me from following through on the gardening plans.

Over the years, however, I have found that more days are 'good gardening' days. Unless it is pouring rain (I wish! we are so behind on rain for this year) or we are experiencing one of our really windy days, if I have the time, I can find something I need to do out there. And on those rainy or windy days? Projects can be done in the garage...things like making Fairy House parts or repotting plants.

The experienced gardener can always find things to do in the garden despite the weather or the lack of an actual possibility of growing anything. And the more experienced (read 'older') a gardener gets, the more there is to do in what some consider the off-season. Partly, that is due to the fact that the older gardener might not work quite as quickly or for as long a period as she once did. So waiting to do a major cleanup all at once is dangerous, flirting with anything from sore muscles to more serious overuse injuries. Experience has also taught her that waiting to do the last leaf cleanup until the weather warms up is one way to produce a bumper crop of snails: those clumps of leaves under the pelargoniums provide lovely little cozy gathering spots for snail families. The older, experienced gardener is also usually an addict so gardening of any sort is a fix, and often a needed metal health break.

Once cleanup or projects of some sort are begun, the garden reveals its magic, even on a misty, cold day. The silence of a foggy day makes the gardening experience very different. Spring will be here soon enough; if we are lucky there will be many rainy days between now and then. For now though, sun, fog, and rain don't matter. If I have some free time I am heading to the garden.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Fairy House Gets a Door

The Fairy House was progressing nicely, even without a clear idea of what I was doing. To watch how I got to this point click here for Part One, The Fairy House Opens for Business and  here for Part Two, The Fairy House Roof Takes Shape. 
After the roof was secure and the walls were totally stable the pieces made to be the original walls, currently being used as support for the new walls, were moved away from the House and circled to form a garden wall. The space between these and the House was filled with used potting soil from pots that were being redone, bringing the soil level almost to the bottom of the door frame. (In this photo the roof has been resurfaced, but the gable area has not yet been done. This part of the process was explained in Part Two.)

The door frame is a found metal piece that at one time had probably held a 4 inch square tile, a sort of small trivet. It had been embedded in the concrete when the front wall was made.

My good friend and ceramic artist Donna Lemongello had offered to show me how to make ceramic tiles...she knew I loved ceramics but that I knew nothing about how they were made. After two sessions in her studio I not only had my door (and some pieces for another project) ready to be fired, I had a new respect for the art that Donna creates.

Here are the pieces at an interim stage. Wood grain was applied to the large door (and several smaller ones made for future use) by setting a nicely grained piece of scrap wood on the wet clay and striking it sharply to make an impression. When the door was finished and fired, tiny gold hinges and latch hooks were added and it was installed. Some clean up finish work still needs to be done.

Steps were now made to mark the space where a path will eventually lead to the front door of the Fairy House. For the time being simple stepping stones made of extra mortar mark the general location.

The original tower piece, made back in Part One, was mortared to the second piece made when the height of the House increased. The tower has yet to be completed and sited in its final location.

Cleanup, the path, tower completion, a flag for the tower flag pole, a few more wall pieces to finish the back half of the circle. Yes, there are several things that remain to be done. Landscaping has only just begun. In the next few months I expect to be able to finish much if not all of these details. And I think I'd better do that soon. Because I have an idea or two for the next House....