Before the Storm

It does seem I only write about the garden these days, doesn’t it? I still have plenty of thoughts about food and health and weight maintenance, but it takes more work to write about those things. Here, go read Charlie’s musings about attempting to get his eating under control. He says it so well:)

In the meantime, here’s the latest from the garden. This morning a big storm is blowing in, so I went outside to see if I needed to stake anything up. Here’s a few shots of what I saw:

The foxgloves and friends in front of a pink maple:

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A more composed photo:

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I got this oriental poppy at Annie’s Annuals last year, and waited impatiently all year for it to bloom. It had one giant bud for a long time, and then one day, this bloom appeared. It is ridiculously large. But it seems it might be the only bloom I get from this plant? We shall see.

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The Japanese maples are doing so well. They love this weather we are having this year. A bit warmer (but not too warm,) and a lot more rain!

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I love these cheery pink blossoms on some of the ground cover I planted last year.

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This is some kind of hardy orchid. I moved it last year, and it is doing very well in its new location.

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I am learning the value of moving plants in a garden. I’ve had this wild geranium for a LONG time. I love the blue of its blooms. But it always got too much sun, and didn’t really bloom much. So last week, I wanted to use its spot for the new rose I got. I had MLG move it to the back of the garden, where it is mostly shade. It was immediately happier!

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The geraniums and impatiens are still waiting to be planted. They look kind of pretty here! Pondering that…

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This is the last stone work we are going to do for a while. I got ONE MORE LOAD of stones on my way home from the doctor this week, and MLG is scheduled to work on placing these stones to make a path here. That is a heavenly bamboo in the foreground, and the two hydrangeas behind it. They are looking VERY good this year. I can hardly wait for them to bloom. That reminds me–I have a hard time making a decision on when/where/if to prune plants. I have started googling “when to prune _____”, and then I just go out and do it! It seems to be working very well. The plants are looking a bit healthier, and are giving me more blooms as a result.

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The front bed is ready for a few plants. Yesterday I pruned the cherry tree a bit, and the honeysuckle too, so that the bed will get more sun. That is Chloe. She never stops moving outside. She must patrol the yard. Noah doesn’t seem to notice everything that she thinks needs to be observed closely.

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Fortunately, inside she has no problem settling down. She (along with all the other dogs) are happiest when they are touching me:)

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Happy weekend, everyone! I wish for you sunny skies and cool breezes.

Garden Doings

I think I skipped a week, so I’ve got more pictures than usual in this post.

I got some plants for the birdcage. I used creeping jenny from my own yard, because it seems to be creeping everywhere. I put that in the stump slots. So far it seems to be taking off.

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I knew I needed bright flowers in here for them to show up. I got a primrose, some small bright yellow perennial, and the green plant is sweet woodruff, which I love, but which Noah also loves. I decided this was the safest place to plant that!

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The cherry tree in bloom:

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Close-up:

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The lilac bloomed well, but way up high! I have been carefully pruning it for two years, and it seems to be working.

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Close-up:

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The fringe bush is blooming. I like this plant, but it also irritates me. It seems to have a mind of its own. I foresee a serious pruning in the near future.

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For some reason it occasionally sends out white blossoms as well as the pink.

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I bought coral geraniums for the front pots this year, to match the door:)

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And I couldn’t resist this Japanese maple at the local nursery. Its shape and color called to me!

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THEN, this week I went to get another load of rocks. Hopefully, this is the last load. They have a very nice nursery at the rock place, and I saw the roses. They were beautiful plants, and about half the price that other nurseries charge. I couldn’t resist this pink one. It is exactly the same color as the paint that I had mixed for my bedroom and bathroom! Its called Lasting Peace, with the old Peace rose as one of its ancestors. Its a grandiflora, and has a beautiful smell as an added bonus. I took this picture in the car on the way home!

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The next day, MLG was here, and he got it in the ground for me. I think this will be the perfect place for it.

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On that same trip, I made a stop at Costco. This was my only impulse buy. I am hoping it will help me to keep my tools in one place. I drive myself nuts by leaving them where I am working, and then immediately forgetting where it was I left them. Also, it says you can sit on it. My back is not enjoying the weeding at all. Maybe this will help.

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And now, the cherry tree is coming to an end of its blossom. Its even fun to see the petals on the ground.

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There’s one lilac blossom low enough for me to grab and take a sniff of on my way in from the garden. Such lovely, heavy blossoms, all for the price of a little fertilizer and some water.

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We had a nice rain last night, and now we are predicted to have sun and warm for the next week. I predict I will be spending quite a bit of time outside, working in the garden and splitting logs (MLG brought his log splitter over and was kind enough to leave it for me to continue working on the log pile.)

Good Bones

This week has been super fun in the garden. Of course it helps that we are having a lovely early spring, which has been warm enough to make things pop out all over, but still cool enough that blooms will last longer than usual.

I got a few plants, and had a few ideas, and when MLG got here, I asked him if we could try them, and then he had ideas to embellish my ideas. So fun!! I feel like we are actually getting a good form for the garden now–“good bones” as they say.

This was a huge chore that actually got done several weeks ago. This was my last  (and oldest) lace leaf Japanese maple that was still in a pot. I bought it 30 years ago when I first moved here! We had discussed getting it into the ground, and since we had such good rain, the time came to do it. MLG cut the pot, just like the one he did last year, so that is only the rim of the pot in the ground. It was terribly heavy, and MLG took the tree in and out of the hole several times to get it in just the right direction and at just the right height. And then he brought over these old railroad ties, and used them to make a border around it. And found some leftover bricks to make a nice platform for the dogs’ water bowl.

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I was enchanted by the look of the railroad ties, and I asked him if he could use some to make a border along one of the stone paths. Yay! More places to plant stuff:)

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And then he surprised me by putting the railroad ties along the back of the Camperdown elm. You can see we are not done with the rock work here, but we have a plan. Just have to go get the rocks…

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Over by the fence by the road, he planted another spirea (I call it bridal wreath) next to the forsythia, and I got another honeysuckle, which he planted next to the fence. I love the pink honeysuckle that I have, but it has no smell, and I missed that.

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This is just a view from the backside of the front corner beds. Its kind of a miracle that the tulips did not get covered over by that brick path!

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So I saw this ivy at the nursery and was just charmed by it–a pale tricolor leaf. And I wanted to keep it in a container and put it up high, so it could trail down. My neighbor had had a pine tree cut down, and she offered me some of the wood. So MLG brought this stump over, and spent some time making sure it was “level” (these are the things I would never bother to do, but they add a lot to the overall soundness and structure of the garden.)

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I had been thinking about moving this “fairy garden” out by the studio door. This way I could have some color out there, and the deer would not be able to get to it. But it needed a perch. So MLG went and got another bigger stump, and went through the same leveling work, and gouged some holes in it so I can try to grow some little hanging plants in there!

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On the other side of the door, I have my planters all cleaned up and ready for some geraniums, as soon as all danger of frost is past. The deer didn’t seem too interested in geraniums last year.

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Here is one of the maples called Peaches and Cream–a good name for it, don’t you think? It gets more green as the season goes along, but this is how it starts out.

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And this is just a view of the shade garden. I love that that fern comes back every year in the spring. It was the very first thing I planted in the very first bed that MLG built for me.

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In the back of the garden, more exciting things are happening. MLG mentioned quaking aspens last week, and I do love them. The aspens grow naturally up the hill from us (at a much higher elevation), on the way to Lake Tahoe. I checked with our local nursery, and she said that they would grow here, as long as they were somewhat shaded and in a protected area. Well, it just so happens that we had the perfect spot for them. I bought two of them. They literally look like two very tall sticks, so not very impressive in a picture. And another maple in the ground in front of them. Hopefully I’ll have some good shots to show you later in the year.

I really feel like this year we have made some great progress in making a cohesive garden, and I have thought more about what I really enjoy, and less about what is the “right” thing to do. I’m leaving room for some colorful annuals, and I even bought some peat pots to try to get some of my seeds started, since we can have frost up until May 1st here.

Have a good weekend, and buy yourself a plant. Plants are one of the great bargain pleasures in this world. $2.50 for a 6 pack of petunias can brighten your life for a long time!

A Weekend of Garden Fun

I took a trip to the Bay Area this weekend to do some Mom-chores. But I managed to fit in several nursery visits, where I got my fill of some great bedding plants, and even got a few seeds to try! I didn’t take any pictures at the nurseries, but they are both worth a mention, in case you are ever in the area. First up was one I have mentioned before–Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore.

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One of the features of Alden Lane Nursery is the huge oaks throughout the nursery.

And the next one was new to me, Half Moon Bay Nursery. Half Moon Bay has a lot of nurseries, but for some reason we have always missed this one. It is huge, with a great variety of plants, and I also appreciated all the signs telling about the plants. I also thought their prices were quite reasonable.

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Half Moon Bay Nursery was so large that we only saw a small part of it. We are looking forward to our next visit!

When we are in Half Moon Bay, we always stop at this orchid nursery. It is immense, and is just overwhelming to see all the different varieties of orchids that are available. Most of them are quite reasonably priced.

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I arrived home with all my little plants, and did a quick yard inspection with the dogs, and was happy to see some new plants in bloom!

The flowering almond looks better than it ever has:

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Some pretty daffodils:

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And the tulips have made it through another year. I was afraid we had put those brick pavers right on top of them!

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Little Zoey needed a bath as soon as I got home.

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Rain is predicted through tomorrow night, so I am planning to spend some time in the garden on Tuesday, weeding and planting my little treasures:)

Before the Storm

Last week, before the big storm hit, I ran out to document the garden’s progress. These are all small and cluster daffodils, and I have to go outside the fence to get a picture of them, because they all seem to want to face in that direction.

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Close up:

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And on the other side of the yard, the hyacinths are doing much better this year. And some more of those small daffodils. I want to get some larger, fancy daffodils this fall. Now I need to remember to order them!

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Close up:

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These apricot colored hyacinths are so big this year–last year they didn’t do much at all. But this year they are so big that  their stems can’t support them. I put little bamboo supports by each of them so they won’t topple over in the rain!

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Are these grape hyacinths? I always think they aren’t going to bloom, because they put up a profusion of messy looking greenery very early and then nothing. And then all of a sudden, there they are, standing up to the storm! I would love this picture if it weren’t for the “background decorations”:/
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Close up:

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Okay, this wasn’t in the garden. Its actually in the front seat of my car. My mom LOVES succulents. I was pretty excited that they had a three pack of them at Costco for a very reasonable price. I got her this one and another funky one, and got myself another jade plant. I really liked that one I had last year. Unfortunately, I found out that they are not frost resistant. I will plant this one in a pot that I can bring in the house during the winter.

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We are due for more storms this week, and I hear that there might be some low snow. I dare not complain, because I want to plant a lot of annuals this year. I love their showy colors, and I don’t think they are particularly drought resistant.

The Lemon Tree and the Dog

**WARNING: dessert talk ahead**

My mom and I used to be best friends. And then we weren’t. And if you used to watch Oprah, and you believe what the experts on that show said, its not healthy for mother and daughter to be best friends. I remember hearing that, and understanding what the expert meant.

Over many years, my mom and I have worked on repairing (restoring?) our relationship. Its been trial and error. Help has come from unexpected places. One of the few things my mom and I have in common is our love of plants. So that is always a safe bet for birthday/mother’s day presents. A couple of years ago, I got her a little Meyer lemon tree. I wanted one myself, but it freezes in the winter up here, and since she lives in the bay area, I knew she would have good luck with it. Sure enough, her very first year, she had a nice little crop of Meyer lemons in January. She harvested them and then gave them to me. I told her I would make her some lemon goodies. This turned out to be such a fun thing for both of us. It gave me the rare opportunity to do some traditional baking, and try new recipes, and she got the benefit of some very delicious homemade lemon treats. This year she had an even bigger crop. There were enough to make three lemon desserts. I googled “Meyer lemon recipes,” and chose a Meyer lemon cake, a Meyer lemon pie, and these wonderful, Lemon Creme Crumb bars. 

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Cooking the lemons for the cake.

The cake is so interesting, because it has an almond meal base, and you actually cook the lemons and then process them whole (except the seeds) into a paste that you use in the cake batter. It was a delicious, dense and moist cake. Very sweet, but to me it did have a bit of a sour taste. I think it would depend on how sensitive you are to “sour.”

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The pie is one of the simplest recipes I’ve ever seen. Most of the time you have to cook the lemon custard or curd, and then put it in the pre-baked pie crust. This one you just combine the four ingredients (lemon juice, sugar, butter, and eggs) in a blender, and pour into the unbaked pie crust. I used my large muffin tin to make six small “pies.” Yumm.

The Crumb bars is a repeat–a recipe I made with last year’s harvest of lemons. So ridiculously decadent. I had so much fun baking. And especially that each recipe came out very successfully. I save one or two pieces of each for myself, and box the rest up to take down to my mom. The whole thing feels like a project for the two of us to work on together.

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About a year ago, I started worrying about what my mom would do when her old cat died. She doesn’t actually deal very well with death and grief. So one day, at our local shelter, I saw that they had a little Pug/Chihuahua cross. I had actually met a couple of little dogs of this cross, and they had delightful personalities. So I asked my mom if she would consider adopting her. I guaranteed her that if it didn’t work out, I would take the dog myself (all the while hoping against hope that it WOULD work out!)

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My favorite picture–a mutual admiration society!

Well, not only has that little dog changed her life for the better (they walk a couple of times a day, and my reclusive mom has made so many friends in the park that she lives in, its almost unbelievable!,) but it has also been another thing for us to connect about. I get to hear almost daily about how this is the best dog in the whole wide world, and about her antics, and about how much she loves my mom, and how much my mom loves her. I don’t mind. If she doesn’t write for a day or two, I write and ask for a “Boopsie report.” It has really given us common ground for communication.

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The picture my mom approves–a little more dignified.

 

Thankful

Thankful for snow!

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And nature’s perfect colors.

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The smell of herbs.

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And ice sculptures.

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Thankful for color in winter.

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And a tree I grew from a seedling.

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How fun to see pretty leaves littering the ground.

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Thankful for a new baby to love–Zoey!

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Miss Bess is thankful for her special perch next to the warm wood stove.

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It was a perfect day. I wish the same for all of you.