Friday, April 18, 2014

Week in Review~ Lunar Eclipse~Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD)~ Before and after ~ Beyond my Garden Gates

"All of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today." 
~ Dale Carnegie
Photo courtesy of Gerry Plunk

Trend Report: Color is in.  

The lunar eclipse- a radiant melon hung in the inky night sky in a was a cosmic menage a trois. No cloud offered a veil of privacy. The whole of insomniacs were watching the earth's shadow crawl between it and the sun. Such celestial beauty sky spawning prayers and prophecies. No wonder the the moon blushed.


June, 1989. Our backyard was just beginning to tell us what it wanted from us. It whispered "I want to bloom."

April, 2014:   Today, my garden's wild heart sings.  The view from my study is a symphony of inspiration.  

My garden inspires me to dream in color. 
To have courage and work hard.
To have faith. 


It is divine to surround yourself with roses just for the sake of how beautiful they are. How they fill the air with beautiful perfume. 

This season, allergy season, there is a routine. Breathe deep. Sneeze. People offer "God bless you." My reply "I am."

The Mourning Cloak Butterfly- according to this  website- this black beauty is one of the longest lived butterflies in North America. Nothing in my garden is listed as a preferred source of nectar- but there are oaks in our little finger canyon. From there it must have spotted my garden and thought "This is the promised land."

The first several years, this rose bush was a sickly child.  It would send out a few dangling balls: which failed to open.  Her feet are planted near a feeder. Perhaps it is all that "free-range fertilizing" from the song birds  darting about which nourished her to a happy adulthood. 

The sparrows teach about the importance of opportunity. The garden arch wasn't erected for their use- they instinctively know- that is not important.  We can't always have what we want, but we can be happy with what we have.

Caring for this land has expanded my definition of stewardship. As a child, I thought that meant to leave things be.

A lifetime later, I realize that  Mother Nature is not only unreliable, she is, too often, cruel. To enhance the opportunity in the landscape for food, water, nesting and shelter-  this is a higher charge.

Fridays are my day in the garden.  Some time in the morning, I will have crossed over to less civilized terrain.  Clearing weeds. Clearing my mind.

But before I go, let me share a few pictures from beyond my garden gate.


Meet Oulie. The White Highland Terrier is the daughter of the Caesar Dog Food TV Commercial model.  She lives the good life with Dawn Saunders and Ed Bilezikian in Laguna Hills. You may remember their garden from the 2013 Elegant and Enchanting Garden Tour.  

I am still reeling in a sensory awe of the captivating home of artist Maria del Carmen Calvo , and her husband, Dr. Walter L. Henry. This floor insert was created from a broken stained glass window and cast off bits of glass set in cement. 

Fresh flowers cut from the garden graced several vases.  Everything the artist touches- a bit of her soul flourishes.  

The artist has known great tragedy. But instead of wallowing, her gift is to rise motivated to capture moments of great beauty and share them.  

I am but a humble writer. I do not know if dreams of future roses dominate the horizon, or if the ugliness of certain governments of men shall.  It is ominous that Jews in the eastern Ukraine, where Soviet separatists have taken over, have been ordered to register with the government. 

This Easter season, may we lift our heart in joy for every moment of peace and beauty we have.  May our lives be dedicated to active prayer to spread our blessings to those without. 

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful.

Linking to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rose Society of Saddleback Mountain ~ Sneak Peak to The Elegant and Enchanting Garden Tour

The Otherworldly Garden

Step through iron gates, patterned in intricate loops and twists as if rendered in European lace. Walk past the densely planted perimeter onto the brick covered courtyard, where a bronze medallion is polished by tires passing over it. Enter the world apart created by Spanish artist Maria del Carmen Calvo and her husband, Dr. Walter L. Henry.

Photography by Gene Sasse
The garden has been child and muse to the European-trained artist. What is now her largest masterpiece began like a gesso covered canvas; the couple’s vision of paradise forming in her imagination. In maturity, there are now remaining but two trees, a vine, and a house rendered as an italicized letter “L” from the once inauspicious landscape.

The orchid room once housed a hot tub 
For the next 30 years, the vision and hands of master artist Calvo sculpted, crafted and made real a garden which regales the senses in a sensual symphony.

The olive allée

Outdoor rooms are strung like jewels along pathways. Two story windows and doors left ajar evaporate the distinction between interior and exterior spaces. 

Even on the hottest days, the air is cool while strolling under the shade of arbors decorated with the muted shades of English-style roses. Their fragrance joined in delicious seasonal waves of perfume notes from wisteria, lavender and Brugmansia x candida (Angel’s trumpet) 'Double white'.

Water features abound. Some days, egrets dive into the lily pond in hopes of catching a koi for dinner. 
The patio fountain was a gift from a friend
A fountain on the patio serves as the headwaters of a rill pointing to the Pacific Ocean. Hummingbirds dart downward from their nests to sip from the arching waters along the length of the Lilliputian canal. Smaller birds- and sometimes the family dog- lap up the shallow waters at the endpoint basin.  

This journey  into the otherworldly beauty of a painting come to life is just one five gardens The Rose Society of Saddleback Mountain is featuring in support of Plant Biology Scholarships and the “Year of the Rose” garden at the Mission Viejo Library. 

Date: Saturday, May 10, 2014
Time: 10 AM until 4 PM

To order Tickets for the self-guided tour, or for more information, please click here, or phone (949) 837- 2141. 

All images on this post  are by Gene Sasse, used with permission. 

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Charley Turns One~ Theme Birthday Party ~ A Petting Zoo ~ Part 1

" What makes a party great is the guests know how much they are loved. The affair can be simple. It can be grand. Taking great liberties with Biblical interpretation-  The disciples were aghast when a woman of questionable virtue washed Christ's feet with expensive perfume- Christ was adamant that we should celebrate life while we have it." 

~ From a letter to a friend

The invitation to Charley's birthday party on the commemorative guest book
Happy Birthday! Our granddaughter  Charley is a year old.  She is just beginning to teach those whose life she touches about what is important. About love, protecting innocence and joyful sharing. 

With as few words as a grandmother who is a writer is capable  of- please enjoy images of the day as recorded by Anne Nguyen- the real person behind the beautiful images on the blog Nikkipolani. 

On my husband's side of our family, there is a great tradition of recreational horsemanship. 

Mama Shannon stayed close by
Charley is now the 4th generation of riders  in the family album.

Papa Kenny is a fortunate man
Her daddy told us when she was born, Charley could have any animal she wanted. 

Let the choosing begin... 

Maybe the soft bunny....

Goats. Ducks. Chickens. So many to choose from...

Time to let the cousins and little friends in. 


Theming the party as a Petting Zoo made the day like the world's best field trip.  But this is just the beginning... Stay tuned... The Morris family our youngest son married into- they know how to celebrate life. 

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful!

Monday, April 7, 2014

So Cal Hort Garden Tour ~ The Pannell- Waters Garden~ Urban Sanctuary~ Tips for Growing Produce

"Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for', worth dyin' for, because it is the only thing that lasts." 

~Gerald O'Hara *

The white weigela was bought at a swap meet for a dollar
 Catherine Pannell-Waters and her husband, Robert , were young and in love, living in Seal Beach, when the urge for land pulled them inland. The time Robert spent commuting to his job in Downey, he dreamed to spend it gardening. For a year, the professional couple scoured real estate listings. 

It was a modest home which captured their hearts. They ignored the house had no storage, a dying furnace and leaking roof. What it had was generous lot. With plentiful outdoor space,  Robert could build a greenhouse for his cacti collection. There was space for gardens and to grow their own food. 

The lawn is a gift of nature, only rarely watered. Generous plantings provide privacy and homes for birds

A licensed landscape contractor, Catherine's personal vision was different from what she designed and built for clients across Los Angeles and Orange counties. The couple was not seeking a showplace so much as sanctuary. 

Pannell-Waters have a bird list of 110 confirmed species
Once the youngest couple in the neighborhood, and now the oldest, the pair continuously collaborates on their mutual vision of paradise.   

There was no grand plan in creating their personal Eden.  Projects, such as the beautiful brickwork, were  mostly weekend projects for a couple whose skills compliment each other.  

With room to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs, Catherine enjoys making relish, jam, pickles and relish  from what isn't eaten fresh. She reports with a smile, except for meat and staples, she spends maybe "$100/ year at the grocery store." 

Some quick tips 

Tip 1: Plant herbs in pots. You'll have less critters to wash out of the leaves when you bring into the kitchen.

Tip 2: Use posts to hang baskets and colanders to carry produce inside. 

Tip 3: Wire fencing gives birds a place to land- but is not firm enough to give cats a place to pounce on them from. 

 Growing up in half a continent apart, both harbored childhood affinities for palm trees. 

Here in LA, Catherine grew up mesmerized by her uncle's photographs  of the Brazilian town of  Belém. Involved in military mapping of the Amazon River, his capturing images of palm trees jutting above the colonial architecture near where the great river emptied into the Atlantic Ocean, left an imprint on her heart.

As a young woman invited to visit Robert's Midwest childhood home, Catherine discovered her beloved's mutually early attraction to palm trees. In the heartland, her then prepubescent future husband had chosen for his own room, palm tree printed wallpaper. 

Staghorn  ferns decorate the trunks of palm trees
Now, Catherine and Robert are fascinated with the acoustical differences  played by wind and rain strumming an instrumentally diverse canopy.

In their working days, visions of retirement were filled with plans to remodel, invest and travel. When the day came,  once again it was the call of the land which won their hearts. 

They didn't know who owned the vacant land next door. More interested in the sounds of symphonies than heavy metal music, the name James Hetfield meant nothing to them. 

What they knew was that a vacant lot for a neighbor in the suburbs was a nuisance. So they took their nest egg, trading it for land which turned out to be owned by the lead singer for Metallica. 

Flowering quince's beauty allowed it to be an exception to the rule that this is a native garden space.

This newest garden space was planned as a passive park. It would be done on the cheap, with native plants, with no supplementary water except from a hose bib used for emergencies. 

A fence at the front was not planned, but proved a necessity. 

Robert and Catherine let the land lead them on where paths should be.

Let light patterns determine where the understory would flourish.

Where cactus would get just the right amount of sun. 

The couple observed that little plants surrounded by imported mulch often failed, so they utilized material onsite for a higher success rate. 

This aloe, blooming near the curb, was one of two snagged from a box brought to a meeting of the Southern California Horticultural Society.  

A big thank you to Robert and Catherine for opening their garden to So Cal Hort and to the Theodore Payne Garden Tours. 

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 

*Scarlett's father in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind