Two Years in a Garden

Hmmm. Another garden post. Apparently that’s all I want to talk about right now.

Anyway, MLG was here today working on yet another project. Before he got started, I had to point out how well all the trees he has helped to plant are doing. The first tree, my oldest and biggest Japanese maple, is actually what started this whole adventure. Some of you might remember this story, but its worth repeating.

I grew all my Japanese maples in containers, because the ground here is 3/4 rock, and 1/4 clay. Pretty much impossible for a single person to dig in. And this oldest tree (now 28 years since I bought it) was still in a wooden box that was disintegrating, but the root system had long since gone through the bottom of the box into the ground. If something wasn’t done, the tree was not going to make it one more year. I asked MLG if there was some way we could build a raised planter bed around the tree, since some of its root system was still above ground in the box. And so began the wonderful garden adventure.

Here is the tree, looking pretty forlorn, in its box.


And here it is, a month later, in its new planter. Looking kinda sparse, but still living.


And here it is this year, looking, IMHO, quite marvelous!


Here is a glimpse of the new wooden border MLG started working on today to surround all the rest of the Japanese maples that we put in the ground.


And here is something you all might already know about. But I thought I was quite clever to think of this and thought I would share with you.

So you know you’re supposed to leave the darn daffodil leaves intact so the bulb can re-nourish itself. But honestly, they are just a mess. You can’t see if there’s any room to plant anything new, and if you do plant something, the daffodil leaves are so massive that they shade the poor new plants that are trying to get some sunshine. I read somewhere that it was okay to bundle the daffodil leaves in a rubber band or something. I had a lot of those nice ponytail holders left over from my years of long hair. They work perfectly! And if you buy the ones without any metal parts, you can take them off when the daffodil leaves are spent and save the holders for next spring.

Here are the daffodil leaves as is.


And here they are all bundled. I don’t particularly like the way they look, but I can see my garden and plant some new plants now.

DSCN2700So it was another morning of working in the garden. Honestly, I am spent after all that bending. I did go to the gym, mostly for the promise of the hot tub/spa. But I managed to do 40 minutes of pool walking/jogging.

Have a great weekend. I am so happy to see signs of green and bare ground from my friends back east! Happy springtime to you all!

Its Definitely Spring

Last weekend I was in the Bay Area visiting my mom. The sky and the green hills were particularly beautiful that day. You can see “Niles” painted on the side of the hill. That has been there since I was a little kid! My mom said they periodically go up and whitewash it.


And just turning in a different direction:


Then this weekend in my garden:


the flowering almond is doing very well this year:


This plant just says “Springtime!” to me.


Some new hyacinths that are an unusual color. And Noah didn’t knock them down either :)


Icelandic Poppy. I am going to get more of these next year. I think they are one of the plants that does best if you plant it in the fall.


A pretty color combo.


This camellia is one of the first plants I ever planted here (28 years ago!) It has never done well in its current location, and MLG and I were planning to move it, and then this year it decided to put on a big show!


Chinese Fringe Bush. This plant almost gave up when I had it in a container, but now after being in the ground for a couple of years, it is doing extremely well. It blooms through several seasons, and I have seen it used in commercial landscaping, so I think it is a pretty easy keeper. I think the flowers are very different and pretty.




The tulips came back!


And plenty of daffodils and narcissus.


I’m including this picture for my gardening/landscaping friends. It doesn’t look like much now, but I am most excited about this. One day a couple weeks ago, I just got it into my head to put all the rest of my Japanese maples into the ground. And the very next time MLG came around, he dug four giant holes in this hard rocky ground, and got those big trees out of their giant pots, and put them in the ground for me. I’m hoping they will be much happier there, and will give me a better show next fall.


Yep, spring has arrived in Northern California!

Storage and Garden Report

First of all, I want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU for all the nice comments on my last blog about Mr. Monk. You all knew him better than most of my friends! All of us are doing fine. Especially Queen Sophie. After she got over her worry that she might be the next to be “banished” from the kingdom, she has taken back her “rightful place” on the chair next to me in the evenings.

And, I also wanted to thank so many of you for your interesting and informative comments on the previous blog about my knee. Since I wrote that, my first ortho doc got back in touch with me. He had been battling the insurance company all this time (over their refusal to approve the Orthovisc injections), and now advised me to file a complaint with the State Department of Managed Health Care. I completed that today. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

In the meantime, how about a report on some everyday life stuff :)

Last week J. the contractor came back to finish the little pantry and add shelves to the laundry room. Squeee!!! MORE STORAGE SPACE. I hardly know what to do with it all.

Here’s the pantry. That’s all I’ve put in it so far. I have those two big corner cupboards with lazy susans in them in the kitchen. I’m not sure what to put there, and what to put in the pantry. If anyone has ideas or opinions, feel free to share.


And here’s the laundry room shelves. Plenty of extra storage up there for I don’t know what!


I also had J. put this little hanging cupboard in the mudroom. It used to be in my bathroom. I still liked it so finally decided that this would be the place for it.


I tell you, for someone whose ONLY storage space for many years was a big closet in her bedroom, I feel like I’ve hit the storage jackpot!

And here is a view of the garden. Still pretty bare, but things are sprouting. There are little buds on all the trees. Its fun to go out there and scope things out every day. I have to be careful to not get carried away with planting, because there’s still a real possibility that we will get some frost, up until May.


The camellia bush is chock full of buds. The Pink Flower Thief is keeping a close eye on it….



Crazy California

It seems almost rude to post flower pictures in the middle of the huge snowstorms my friends back east are having to endure. But maybe these pictures will provide a little pleasant diversion from all the white stuff outside your windows?

Even though I live in California, Southern California seems like a foreign land to me. I had a hard time packing warm weather clothes to go on this trip. But, I was very glad that I packed my flip flops “just in case.”

Marsha, our hostess for the retreat, is a wonderful gardener. I took some close-ups of some of her outstanding flowers.

I liked this one so much that I wrote to her and asked the name of it. “Tournament of Roses.”


The same rose two days later:


Maybe a Peace rose?


Decorative cabbage. I love these, but can’t keep them in the yard. I thought Sophie was going to explode one night after she tore into one.


I love the soft color of this rose:


And one more decorative cabbage.


An oriental poppy that was out in front of one of the restaurants.


And back home again, I found a few flowers in my own mostly dormant garden. Of course, violets are always the first to bloom.


I have several primroses that I nursed through the heat of the summer.


And crazy early, there are a few daffodils blooming.


Keep calm and carry on, girls. Spring IS coming!



A few sights from the weekend:

A late poppy–especially brilliant in the fall light.


First cup of coffee fixed in the new kitchen:


First baking excursion in the new kitchen:


Debby does home improvements! (Putting polyurethane on the underside of the butcher block top for the island.)

DSCN2168A completely clean studio (look quick!)


Sleeping beauties.


Lots of good stuff happening around here now. I hope to have COMPLETELY finished rooms to show you by next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me :)


Sneak Peek

Yesterday was a really exciting day! Started out bright and early with MLG (master landscaping guy) working out in the garden. We took down the two gigantic tomato plants, and then he got to work digging holes in my VERY HARD GROUND, and we put two trees in the ground and transplanted two other large plants. Oh, and we set my fairy garden up on this pot so its more visible. I got the fairy garden on my trip to Tahoe (which was a very nice time, I’ll write more later.)

Henry Lauder Walking Stick in its new location!

Henry Lauder Walking Stick in its new location!

Fairy Garden in the back of the garden

Fairy Garden in the back of the garden

Inside the fairy garden

Inside the fairy garden

Overhead view

Overhead view

Next, really before we got any of that done, the cabinet guys arrived!!! Wow, that was really quite a production. Somehow I hadn’t realized how much work they would have to do after they got here. Here’s just a sneak peak at part of the kitchen. I am in love with the wood of these cabinets, to say nothing of having ALL THE SPACE. I am excited beyond words. Oh! and that overhead lighting? I resisted that quite a bit, but now I am SOOOO happy with it. Nice and cheery and bright in the kitchen!


(A few of the drawers are missing, because they forgot the inserts, and took them back with them.)

In the meantime, J. the contractor worked on finishing the laundry room. We planned to use the leftover wood flooring, but found that there was not quite enough. So mid-day I took a quick trip to Sacramento to get another box. So much for saving money on that floor… but it does look nice.

And THEN, J. stayed late and brought in the washer and dryer and hooked them up! Guess who was washing a load of clothes at 8pm? What a novelty, to walk around the corner from my bedroom and plop the clothes into the washing machine!


Anyway, I just wanted to give you a sneak peek at what is finally happening in the kitchen. Floor might go in today, the countertops arrive Monday, Tuesday the new appliances will arrive, and I’m guessing that Wednesday, J. will do the backsplash. Its been a wild ride, but the end is finally in sight!