Thursday, April 26, 2012

Random rose!

Last year, there was an apparently-dead stump of wood on the hill that runs down from the pool area. Very close to one of the privet trees that were removed. Nothing doing: just another old stump,

Then late last year, a rose-shaped twig appeared. Just one. Thin and weedy. After a while, I cut it back. A couple more appeared during the winter... then suddenly, with the new year, a whole rose bush sprouted, and now it's rambling over the slope, covered with buds.

No perfume, just pretty.

So where did it come from? A random seed, dropped by a rosehip-feasting bird? A long-dead rosebush resprouting now that there is no privet sucking the life from the soil? The root stock of a grafted rose, just doing its own thing?

Whichever... it's pretty!

Gloves for foxes...

Tall spires of foxglove flowers. A year ago, they were seeds.

... and a perfect fit for big, bumbly, bumblebees.


A group of these in the little garden between the deck and the pool. I think they are the ones that came "free", inside the planters at a yard/estate sale last year. Amazingly beautiful.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Horton’s Iris Garden, Loomis, California

Today I visited, for the first time, Horton’s Iris Garden in Loomis. Not very far away, and will need to go back in a couple of weeks or so to see more of the wonderful irises that are growing there. What an amazing collection of flowers. And it all started with a hobby,,, (When I arrived back home, Karli told me that Mrs. Horton was her friend Jenn’s teacher when she was at school!)

There are irises for sale in pots, but the best way to buy is to go to the garden and look at them all. List the ones you like best—their names are all on tags in front of the flowers—and then order them, and pick them up in late summer to plant in your own garden. (This means of course that you’ll have to visit several times between early April and the end of May, because different iris bloom at slightly different times. What better reason to walk through masses of wonderful, wonderful flowers?) You can also order from the Horton Iris Garden website, or from their printed catalog—and they will ship too.


Peggy Sue

Beautiful flowers, all named (who has the job of naming irises?) “Debrenne”, “Gypsy Glitters”, “My Friend Jonathan”, “Peggy Sue”, (I loved Peggy Sue), “River Siren”, “Smiling Duncan’s Eyes”, to name but a very, very few.

Places to sit in the shade and just relax… or wander among the flowers… or visit the playful goat kids. Lizards were scooting around through the plants today, zippy, fast as the temperature rose to the highest so far this year. A very, very nice place to go.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just one more iris, today. More soon!

This one is more blue than purple, but the camera has captured what it saw as the sun played on the petals. This is to the right of the front door, towards the side of the house; the others are under the kitchen window.

There is another, with buds almost bursting... tightly-packed petals looking almost black. Tomorrow? Maybe.

Ad then... this one appeared. Quite, quite magical. In the shade, the colour appeared more blue: when the sunshine fell onto it, as in these pictures, a more mauve hue dominated. And orange fur a doormat for pollen-sticky insect feet.

Yellow iris

And then the yellow irises bloomed...

Iris weekend

 The sun started shining again on Saturday, and the first of the irises, this delicate mix of white and purple, opened on flower. By Sunday, there were several open, beautiful. All the more remarkable because they had been ordered online when I lived on Long Island, arrived too late to be planted as I knew I'd be moving, were brought to Sacramento and stuck into planters for the winter, and then replanted last spring when this house became home.

Hey up!

With all the rain this week, the ducks have been a little confused. Here's another visitor to the swimming pool. She could raise the feathers on her head, like a little punk duck.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another visitor, just outside home office window

Welcome visitor; dining on slugs and bugs and snails. Both on the ground, and in the crevices of tree-bark. And sometimes heard, loudly, drumming out a rhythm on the trees in the greenbelt.

He's a Flicker, a woodpecker.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring flowers

Calendula--which we used to call marigolds--are happy flowers, like petalled sunshine. And they are friendly flowers, keeping bugs away from the vegetable garden.

I have happy memories of planting their large, curly seeds by sticking a twig or pencil into the earth to make a hole and then dropping them in, one by one, in the border of my parents' garden in Syston, at the house at the top of Albert Street. I wonder if they are still self-seeding there?

I think this is called Jacob's Ladder? It's growing in the Japanese garden and is very pretty.

Garden update

Six square yards of spent mushroom compost were delivered on Saturday, and I spent a lot of the weekend shovelling it into the wheelbarrow and then lugging it over the steep garden behind the pool, where the daylilies are. Hopefully this will help retain moisture and prevent all the topsoil washing away as I gradually replace the weeds with perennials. Now it's going to rain for the rest of the week, so the remaining pile of compost has to wait.

Planted beans this weekend, but didn't get around to sowing the runner beans until last night (they'd been soaking in a jar of water overnight). This morning, I find that someone (squirrel? raccoon?) had dug them all up again, but hadn't eaten them. So I planted them again. This may be a daily activity until they dig their roots in.

The baby peach tree has lots of baby peaches--but it also has peach leaf curl. Sad face. Can't do anything about it now except for pinching-off the badly-affected leaves. At least the tree is still small enough to do that easily. Will have to use a preventative spray in the winter.

The Jerusalem artichokes are beginning to sprout--two have emerged so far. And the horseradish is sending up leaves. The rhubarb seems to be struggling a little but not giving up yet. The asparagus, however, has failed to show: I may have planted it in the wrong place. That's part of the discovery process. This garden is teaching me something new every day.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The mystery of the disappearing peas... and the daylily fairy

All of the peas that I have planted, with the exception of those in the raised beds (which are growing like triffids) have disappeared. This includes garden peas, sugar/snap peas, mange-tout and sweet peas; those that were planted late last year and this spring, those that were pre-sprouted and those that were not.

Either there is something in the soil that they don't like, or there's someone/something diligently following the plantings and eating them as soon as they have been sown. I think they did it to the dahlia tubers too.

Maybe I'm wrong and they'll all suddenly appear in a glut of pea-ish-ness just in time for Sacramento heat. But it seems strange that they would flourish in the raised beds, and not in the soil (raised beds are topsoil too and in a less-sunny area of the garden to those that were planted directly in earth).

But the daylilies... I think the daylily fairy godmother has been helping out. I know I bought a lot last year and tried to divide as many as possible (using them on a hillside to help control erosion). But not this many... they are appearing all over the place!  Magic!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sunday was fine!

Planted the new salvia(s) in the front garden, the herbs in the herb garden, and finished the first of the three vegetable beds with more sowings of parsnip, lettuce, mesclun, beetroot and peas. Weeded the side foundation bed (where the raspberry plants are starting to grow) and added two blueberry bushes. Will have to add a cage or net very soon.

Drove the truck to the feed store on Greenback--the one with the life-size model horse in the parking lot, which they dress up for Hallowe'en), bought four bales of straw, and used them to mulch the potatoes. I am not going to trench them up--rather mulch them down. Will see if it works, or if I end up with masses of green-and-poisonous spuds. Some of them are blue potatoes--how can you tell if they are green?

Also planted two dormant tall phloxes--one blue, one white--behind the pool fence, one near the globe artichokes, and one closer to the vegetable garden.

I have a mass of gladioli and dahlia corms/tubers to plant. Where to begin?