Posts Tagged ‘garden notes’

Sunday Garden Notes

April 1, 2012 @ 7:06 pm | Filed under:

We harvested most of the radishes. There is nothing, but nothing, like the sight of a three-year-old’s face alight in wonder at his first glimpse of those bright red globes. (But then the long taproots alarmed him and he flung his harvest into the dirt.)

Something is eating my baby lettuces. Peter Rabbit, probably, thinks Rilla, who has been enjoying the Potter stories with me. I always seem to pull them out this time of year.

We have exactly one lime on the little tree that has never produced in the five years we’ve had it. Much hope hangs upon this rather unimpressive specimen…

The heavy rains two weeks ago washed out most of our carrot seedlings. I need to replant and keep forgetting.

Bees are ecstatic in the salvia, tree mallow, and nasturtiums. There’s a single blossom on Rose’s yellow rosebush. It’s quite a stunner, as if the bush put everything it had into this one glorious flower. This is the bud that was crawling with aphids the other day. Rilla enlisted the aid of a ladybug and it must have lunched itself to the bursting point, because the blossom is unblemished.

I’m still waiting for the bees to find the borage we planted last week. I have my doubts about it; it’s an unusual white variety, and I wasn’t sure it would attract bees at all. White flowers are night flowers, the delight of moths. But Farmer Bill assured me it’s a bee charmer, and Farmer Bill knows his stuff. We’ll be patient.

Only one of my sunflowers came up! It’s taller than Huck now and working on a bud. I wonder what critters got the rest of the seeds?

Monday Afternoon

February 27, 2012 @ 4:50 pm | Filed under: ,

All weekend I couldn’t drag myself out of the garden, but today is cold and rainy. That’s all right; this is much better writing weather. This blog is going to be low-key for a while. I’m in the cave.

Outside my door, I hear the pleasant clatter of dice against a table, over and over, and murmuring girl-voices. Rose and Beanie are playing D&D. Rose is the game master, the story-crafter. Beanie was delighted, this morning, when she rolled a charisma check and came up high enough to converse with the black dragon she’d encountered. Apparently Rose does an excellent extemporaneous dragon.

Rilla has all the Draw Write Now books spread out across the bedroom floor. There are horses and dolphins to be drawn. I will emerge to a menagerie in crayon, later this evening. The boys are playing Wii Party. Jane is getting ready for her web design class. Scott’s got music playing, something with lots of inquisitive trumpet, while he tackles the lunch dishes. Crows are calling through the rain. Yesterday we planted seeds: radish, butterhead lettuce, carrots, field peas. And in the flowerbeds: cosmos, sweet alyssum, California poppy. I found a few stray sunflower seeds that had spilled out of last year’s packet into my gardening basket; we tucked those at the corners of the veggie patch. I’ll have to remember to plant those blue morning glories again at the base of the stalks when the sunflowers come up.

Perfect timing, this rain.

Garden Notes: Late February

February 25, 2012 @ 9:12 pm | Filed under: ,

I spent most of the day in the garden, most of yesterday too. I found some old bricks and used them to lay out one end of a small raised bed for our veggie patch this year. We’ve planted banana peppers, onions, and cilantro from starts, and there are seeds to go in tomorrow: carrot, butterhead lettuce, and radish. I’m not sure anyone in the family cares much for radishes, but they grow so quickly and are fun to harvest. Oh, and we’ll plant a few beans. We buried a couple of seed potatoes this afternoon. Will I ever cease to marvel at this climate? February was always the longest, hardest month back east. My children love snow (those who remember it), but not I.

Saw our first monarch of the season today! Alas, it made two passes around our yard and fluttered on by. My milkweed has buds but isn’t open yet, and may not bloom at all—it’s horribly infested with little yellow bugs I thought were a particularly squicky kind of aphid, but now I’m doubting. We recruited an army of ladybugs, who munched dutifully for a while but have now flown home to check for fires or something.

Bees: a respectable number, but not the legions we hope to see when the salvia blooms.

I took a million pictures today but none of them came out. Ever since I dropped it on the street during Comic-Con, my camera is reluctant to focus.

Bloom notes, mostly for my own reference. I like to poke through my archives and compare…

geranium (three kinds)
tree mallow
Cape honeysuckle
lavender (two kinds)
jasmine (the one with the pink buds, not the white)
the yellow marguerites
African daisies
snapdragon
nasturtiums
sweet broom
viola
alstromeria
sweet alyssum (white and purple)
ice plant, in magenta profusion
bougainvillea (trying—I think I need to move it to a better spot)
red salvia (barely)
petunia
stock

Probably more things I can’t remember right now.

This list staggers me. I say that every year but staggered I am again.

FEBRUARY.

We do penance for this in October, when the very air crisps your skin and the only color in the garden is brown.

October Garden Notes

October 25, 2011 @ 4:59 pm | Filed under:

We’ve just passed the five-year anniversary of our arrival in San Diego. We were going to commemorate it last week with a trip to a favorite park, but the three youngest kids have taken turns with a lovely little virus, so we’ve postponed.

After five years, you’d think I’d be used to the strange seasons here, but a Southern California October still feels novel to me. My garden dries up in August, goes dormant almost, unless I’m willing to douse it with gallons of water daily. (I’m not.) Now, after a week of wonderfully cool(ish) weather—why, the mornings have been almost brisk!—and sheltering clouds, things are perking back up a bit. Suddenly the roses are blooming. Up and down the block, my neighbors’ rosebushes look like the end of The Blue Castle. The cape honeysuckle is magnificent, swarming with bees. Geranium, lantana, plumbago, and morning glory: everywhere I look is color. Red, pink, orange, sky blue, violet.

We planted lettuce starts and peas this weekend. There’s one melon ripening on the cantaloupe vine, and the watermelon I planted over the summer is finally thinking about blossoming. Will it produce? We shall see.

(My garden attracts all sorts of critters.)

Farewell June

July 2, 2011 @ 7:48 pm | Filed under: ,

So wait, it’s July all of a sudden? I need to do some quick June notes.

* Brief trips to Phoenix (with Rose & Bean) and Pasadena (with Jane)

* A day with Kristen and my amazing goddaughter

* Shakespeare Club performance of scenes from Twelfth Night:
oh those kids made me proud!

* The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

* Lots of game time for everyone, including The Floating City and Glitch

* The Bat-Poet with Rilla and her stuffed bat, Bitty

* 84, Charing Cross Road

* New session of speech therapy for Wonderboy

* Jane started a C++ class online

* Huck’s hair went curlsplosion again

* The sunflowers are forming buds

* Hollyhock bloomed AT LONG LAST (we waited three years)

* Monarch caterpillars on the milkweed
(first spotted today, so technically a July note)

April Garden Notes

April 30, 2011 @ 8:20 am | Filed under:

We spent the better part of the week outside working on the flowerbeds, and since this blog is the archive of what-I-was-doing-when, I like to file my garden notes here.

Photos from April 22nd, after we did a flowerbed cleanup (pulled out a year’s worth of bermuda grass, planted some seeds and annuals and a new lavender to replace some things that died over the year).

Lots of lettuce ready! Need to eat more salad! After this photo was taken, we did more weeding, rearranged hoses, moved the morning glory (behind lettuce on right) closer to the wall (cement wall to right of photo), planted sunflower seeds, and planted a watermelon seedling in the front of the bed near the nasturtium.


A view from the veggie patch looking down the length of the flowerbed. The far corner has become something of a shade garden because the neighbors’ trees have gotten big. Foreground moving away: nasturtiums, salvia, ice plant, cape honeysuckle (the huge flowering shrub, orange flowers), pink geraniums.

For contrast: here’s what this space looked like three years ago.

june08

June 2008, looking the opposite direction. The lettuce patch above is in that wall/fence corner now.

When I rearranged the hoses later in the week, I made a loop go through the bare mulch part of the nasturtium patch in the foreground. I think we planted some of the flower seeds from the kids’ Easter baskets there, but I’m not sure. We did plant zinnia, cosmos, bachelor’s button, and morning glory farther down the bed toward (but not IN) the shady corner, and a few more sunflower seeds along the back fence where they came up so beautifully two years ago. Oh, and it was CANTELOPE seeds we planted near the nasturtiums, now I remember.

The redug/replanted area to the left of the cape honeysuckle and butterfly bush. There had been a large semicircle of stones sort of where the hose is. They were thick with bermuda grass so I heaped them in piles as we yanked the weeds. Some are still in piles. 🙂 We planted the new lavender (above Huck’s head with a new arc of stones), some poppies, moss roses, a fuschia, impatiens, and the aforementioned flower seeds. That’s a bougainvillea on the back fence with the bare lower stalk and new green growth at the top. It’s usually in flower this time of year, dunno what’s wrong this year.

This pincushion flower was a giant clump two years ago. Now just some stragglers, but still one of my favorite things in the garden, especially contrasted against the orange and yellow nasturtiums (to its right) and the cape honeysuckle (left).

roseandfriend

April 25. Milkweed is blooming (far right above R’s wrist) and Rose rescued a tired monarch. I know I posted these photos already but it’ll be nice (for my later reference) to have them here in context.

firstmonarch2011

Later in the week, starting Tuesday the 26th I guess, we tackled a woefully weedy flower bed in the front yard. Very small bed bordered with bricks that you could hardly see under the bermuda grass. Rose & I pried them all up, yanked the weeds, returned the bricks to their places, added compost, and planted a few (small, cheap, easily movable if necessary) things: the rest of the flower seeds, some sweet alyssum plants, a yellow daisy. I discovered that the boysenberry plant in my big gray planter—the planter was a gift from my Shakespeare Club kids a couple of years ago—had rooted itself a runner by the house wall–neat!

We also uprooted all the weeds in the backyard strip along our neighbor’s cement wall. It’s ready for planting now–more sunflower seeds, I think. Busy week!

Gone to Seed

June 18, 2009 @ 8:21 am | Filed under:

This virus has really knocked the stuffing out of me. We had to bail on almost all our planned activities this week, including (to my dismay), the extra Shakespeare rehearsals we’d planned. And I’ve ignored my garden dreadfully. All my herbs went to seed.

I would be sorry, but—

cilantro

Who knew cilantro made such a lovely flowering plant?

That’s shot lettuce above it, the weedy yellow flowers.

Our nasturtiums have grown into huge bush-sized clumps, a tangle of red and yellow and orange flower cups that the bees are mad for. Sometimes the tangle of color happens on the petals of a single flower.

fireblossom

Elsewhere in the garden…

corn

berry

hibiscus

snoopygirl

Bit of Earth

May 1, 2009 @ 6:49 pm | Filed under: ,

“Is there anything you want?” (asked Mr. Craven.) “Do you want toys, dolls, books?”

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?”

In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.

“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”

“To plant seeds in—to make things grow—to see them come alive,” Mary faltered.

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

I’m laughing at myself. I was reading over some of my garden-notes posts, and the way I go on, “my garden” this and “my garden” that, you’d think I was describing some vast Martha Stewart-esque estate. Um, y’all know I’m talking about a small suburban backyard, don’t you? I mean, I know I’ve described where we live in other posts, how this house we’re renting is about half the size of our Virginia place, and the lot size is your standard bitty-slice-o-ground. Just before we moved in, the owners (who are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet) put down some wonderfully thick sod in the back, so we’ve got a nice place for the kids to play, and there’s a patio and a fence. But the grass was all there was in back (in a climate like this, that’s a lot!). What trees there are, are on the other side of the fence. (Also on the other side of the fence: an elementary school, which cracks me up.)

Our neighbor to the north put up a rather high concrete-block wall between our houses. It’s veryclose to the side of our house. You’ve seen it here before; remember when the kids decided to brighten it up with some sidewalk chalk? Between the grass and the back fence, running the width of the yard, is an area about six feet wide that was bare dirt and weeds when we moved in.

The owners let us put down mulch to keep the weeds at bay, and my mother helped me plant some flowers there. Whenever I talk about “my garden,” that’s what I mean. That and a long concrete planter built into the patio against the house wall. The geraniums and lambs-ear I posted a picture of the other day grow in the planter, and the poppies, and some lavender and thyme and a few other things. In the back mulch bed (that’s what we call it) are all the flowers I was gushing about yesterday. There’s a small square area on one side without mulch (where the wall meets the fence in the photo above); that’s the veggie garden my mom planted in January. It’s right up against the neighbor’s concrete wall and gets good southern exposure. The rest of the wall is bare and not what you would call attractive. I keep meaning to plant sunflower or cosmos seeds along the wall, something tall to cover it up a little, but the kids like having access to it for chalk drawings and bouncing tennis balls off of.

The south corner of the mulch bed is just bare mulch, with some determined Bermuda grass attempting to reclaim the territory. I keep meaning to plant cosmos and poppy seeds there, too. Seeds because they’re cheap and the plants are easy to remove if the homeowners should wish to, at some point. In between the bare-mulch corner and the veggie-garden corner are the sunflowers, the salvia, the ice plants and moss roses, the birdbath and bird feeder, the wandering jasmine, the daisies and cranesbill and strawberries. It sounds like a lot, but it’s all packed right in there together. So now you know when I gush about “my garden,” I’m talking about this one flowerbed.

jasI know it’s a cliche, but I’m a huge believer in blooming where you’re planted. Or in this case, I suppose, making things bloom. Gosh, I love to go out in the golden afternoons, the green mornings, and stand among those flowers and just breathe. Look. Listen. The thing about gardening is that it really does engage all your senses. There’s beauty to see and smell and taste and hear and feel. (Oh those velvety lambs-ear leaves! That sharp rush of cilantro on the tongue! The white stars of jasmine perfuming the evening!) There is so much peace there, where things are growing. And so many stories unfolding all around you. The busy insects, the treasured bees, the gossiping birds. The ants have been working for two days on removing a dead worm to their underground storehouses. The armies of aphids have vanished from the pincushion flowers’ stalks, and a lone ladybug quietly trundles up and down the slender stems. I could swear the mockingbird singing a rhapsody in blue on the wire above the concrete wall is showing off just for me.

I made friends with a mockingbird once, our first year in Virginia. I was digging out a flowerbed and kept coming upon fat white grubs all curled up in stasis, horrible things, and I would flick each one off my trowel onto the grass a little way away, and the mockingbird would swoop down and gobble it up. After a few days like this, it used to perch nearby whenever I was working in the yard, watching me, expecting more snacks. I felt like Mary Lennox befriending the robin. But this was no Secret Garden, just another run-of-the-mill suburban backyard. I loved helping to transform it to something unique and lovely (albeit always jungly and weed-plagued) during the five years it was ours. I am loving, now, the coming-alive of this borrowed patch of ground, loving it with a joy as raw and childlike as Mary’s joy when she was given leave to do what she liked in her own “bit of earth.” She found a secret Eden, but it wouldn’t have mattered, really, if all she’d had was a corner of the kitchen garden. There’s magic in every bit of earth.