Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby peach tree


I hadn't bought or planted any ranunculus bulbs... yet they are so pretty. And suddenly, Grocery Outlet has them, potted, inexpensive. So I now have a box-full (eight pots) that will be planted out after work today. And I know that they will multiply year-after-year--fantastic!

Budding beauty

I love spring...

... because it reminds me where I planted things last year, as emerging bulbs poke their way out through the soil to the sunlight. And spring in California doesn't wait for the official day--it's here, and now.

Some things that are emerging are making me scratch my head. I know I planted a lot of orange tulips... somewhere. I thought they were in the garden, not in a pot, but they could have been in either or both places. But this? What is it? A giant crocus in an unusual colour... or a tulip without a stalk???

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Posted by PicasaThey are everywhere right now... the males (Toms) are strutting and dancing and rustling and generally showing off, in groups, while the females look bored (as bored as turkeys can) and carry on gossiping amongst themselves.

There are a couple of almost-white females, but all the males are regular brown. With the face and neck colours that change from grey to bright red and blue, depending on their mood.


Posted by Picasa Plum-blossom on tree in backyard.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flowering quince, flowering

It's in the corner of what-will-one-day-be the Japanese garden.

Don't check my bank account

Every day when I go to the mailbox, there is another plant or bulb or seed catalog. And I read each and every one... especially when they also send me "half-off your order!" emails and tantalising photos of plants that I can't buy at Home Depot or the local nurseries (unless, of course, I'm prepared to spend $37 on on that absolutely-adorable helleborus at Capital Nursery which really isn't going to happen... you have to draw a line somewhere).

Today it was "Royal Dutch Gardens", the other day it was Brecks and before that, Spring Hill....

I dare you. Go online and browse their catalogues.

Given the financial state of our local nurseries--very sad--I think I'll be doing most of my garden shopping online in the near future. If I don't already. Just how many of those "grab bags"--boxes of green treasure--did I order last year?

Can't wait for spring to see what comes up. No I didn't write it all down or map everything I planted. I was too tired after the digging.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Where are the allotments?

I grew up in England, where allotment gardening was part of life. You often had to wait a long time for one to be available, but then you had space to grow all your family's fruit and vegetables.

I remember the one that my Dad was allocated; it was overrun with couch-grass and nettles, and almost-impossible to get under control. And the allotments in Manton, Rutland, where I lived when my daughters were born. My then-father-in-law told stories of how his dad had somehow "captured" more than his fair share of allotments to grow his prize dahlias.

I saw allotments in the center of Warsaw, Poland, and in the Netherlands, too. They provide growing-space for people who don't have enough growing-space at home, who live in apartments, or who simply love gardeing.

Allotments are made available at an affordable rental and gardeners are expected to keep their own plots neat, tidy, and free of invasive plants. Usually you're allowed, or provided-with, a shed or other structure for keeping tools or garden chairs whatever you need to enjoy gardening.

There may be a small orchard at one end of the allotment, lots of vegetable plants, and flowers too.

So where are America's allotment gardens? There are a few 'community gardens', run on a similar pattern, but nothing like the systems in many other countries. And yet there are many fine parks and open areas within American cities, where allotments could be opened up.

What do you think? Would people use them--or are they too-suspiciously-socialist-like for the average Joe?

Monday, February 13, 2012

This weekend in the garden

Buds on the young peach tree, and on the lilac I planted a few weeks ago. Forsythia (planted last weekend) bursting into flower, and the four cuttings I took from it and stuck in the earth all seem to be surviving. There's a new green in the grass, and the bare oaks seem to be somehow greener; that sounds silly, but it's as if you can see them preparing to leaf right before they bud.

Daffodil leaves are a couple of inches high. Tulip noses poking out of the pots, at least those that haven't been dug up by squirrels. At least, I think it's squirrels. I don't think it's the turkeys. They are too busy scratting up the peas, despite the chicken wire protection.

Rasberry canes are sprouting; most of the new bare-root roses have baby leaves.

I have a hellebore in flower, under the trees. Shy and pink.

Sunday, I dug and planted the beds for asparagus, strawberries, and the seed potatoes that had longer sprouts; more potatoes to be planted later. Including some that are blue.

I wonder what the turkeys, squirrels and coyotes will do with all that? I might need to cage off the entire back yard.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Israel again: Haifa and the north

This is the final set of photos from Israel: from Haifa, and the north.

Amazing that one small country can have such diverse landscape and climate: from stone desert in the south to temperate and mild rain in the north. All beautiful.

Some ideas came home with me. Red anenomes and leaves that look like fennel. Cyclamen growing wild under trees. Plants to grow Za'atar.

Photo album: Haifa and northern Israel 

(I changed the name of this page, because it seems to be receiving a lot of search hits from people who cannot spell and who are NOT looking for this page.)

Israel part five: the Dead Sea

Judith and I took the bus from the Moshav to the Dead Sea, where I picked up my rental car. We had to laugh when it was brought out by the Hertz lady... it was TINY. At least, in comparison to what I'm now used to in the USA. It wasn't quite as small as a Smart car, and somehow they'd managed to fit four doors on it, but it was still tiny. A Hyundai Getz. I was worried that it wouldn't get up the bigh hill to Dimona, but it did, very well... and by the end of a week of driving it, I wanted to bring it home with me.

Here's the day trip to the Dead Sea: I had dust in my camera, which stayed there until I could take it to the camera shop here.

Day at the Dead Sea

Israel part four: Jaffa

The ancient port of Jaffa, on the Mediterranean coast.

Photos from Jaffa

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Israel part three: Tel Aviv

I spent 24 hours in Tel Aviv with my sister, Judith, who knows the city very well. We window-shopped at night, explored Jaffa early in the morning (photos soon), wandered through the market and streets of Tel Aviv, had lunch and then we both had to leave for home--Judith back to her home in the desert, me back to the USA and Sacramento.

I hope we can do it all again soon.

These are my pictures of Tel Aviv.

Smilebox: Tel Aviv

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Israel part two: life on the Moshav

My sister, Judith, and her family live on a Moshav, between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, close to Jordan and close to 400 metres below sea level. A farm in the desert? Yes, indeed: peppers and tomatoes and dates and watermelon and flowers and courgettes and more. We saw the Moshav's produce for sale in Tel Aviv; you may well have eaten peppers grown by my brother-in-law, or tomatoes from his neighbour.

Smilebox: the Moshav in January

Monday, February 6, 2012

Israel part one

Here's the first complilation of photos--from the Arava. There will be more to come: it was a wonderful trip and, as always, hard to leave.

Smilebox: a day in the desert