Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Encinitas Garden Adventure

L-R Nan Sterman with Lydia Plunk at the Festival

A driving-force behind the Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour, Nan Sterman is a garden goddess. What Johnny Appleseed was to his generation in encouraging man's interaction with nature, Nan is to ours. With her encyclopedic knowledge spread by her kindly voice, she is on a mission to plant seeds of love for plants that enjoy being on a water diet. 

Poppy by Gene Sasse
It is only natural that when Cool Springs Press put together a team of  leading gardening experts to write Water-wise Plants for the Southwest, she was there go-to gal.  Nan is as well-suited for her leading role as authoress on this project as California poppies planted in our sunny Southern California landscape plan.
So it was with great joy that Gerry and I ventured in our first official adventure since the end of The Great Illness. The day before we took the drive down the California coast it was 96 degrees in Diamond Bar. Nan has connections up high- she arranged for cool beach weather. The only thing we missed when we arrived in Encinitas were our sweaters. Those could have been handy under skies that ships dressed in battleship grey would have camouflaged. 

 Now I have about 800 images from the day to select from. 500 still to edit. Where to start in the varied visions of personal paradise to which we were invited to explore? Why not with a few scenes from the garden that undoubtedly would have been my mother's favorite. 

The deck- a subtle pathway washed in different colors upon the topside was planned from the get go to open around the palm tree which is planted like a living umbrella in the center of a custom table. 

The tropical setting: Unique and Unforgettable.  A "transportative" garden. One where whatever you were thinking of when you arrived- you are transported immediately to this other place and time that was once just a seed of someone's imagination. 

More. Much more, to come.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Uplifting Power of Music

"Music can evoke positive emotions, which in turn can lower stress levels. In a survey study, positive emotions were experienced more often and more intensively in connection with music listening. The more the participants liked the music, the less stress they experienced. To get the positive effects of music, you have to listen to music you like."

University of Gothenburg, March 2012

Remember when Julie Andrew's sang "The hills are alive with the sound of music. "  All these years later I feel the same uplifting message from the birdsong playlist that runs pretty continuously here.  Above, a California Thrasher made himself at home in the old Victorian feeder while its tube section was being cleaned. Preferring to limit his range to the chaparral covered hillsides of California, the long curved beak work like chopsticks to pick out exactly what item he wants to eat. Which can be anything from bugs to berries. 

 If you are very fortunate- some avian will find a place to sing so close to where you sit inside that you will hear the lullabies over the household mechanical systems. 

Near our backdoor, every year little tweeties make a nest atop the security light. Perhaps it is incubator-warm up there. As long as little hatchlings don't take a tumble, it is as safe from predators as I can imagine. It's too awkward a position to even angle a camera lens for a peek-a-boo.  

So Gerry used me for a decoy.  While the mommy bird chased me down the side yard, my husband put up the little reflecting mirror to center a picture of the eggs in the nest.  Soon she fluffed her feathers back in her bed. In just a few days little sopranos will prod her with their vocalized demands. 

As long as there is Nyjer seed- there will be finch flying in. Gerry's taught me the setting to capture the birds paddling through the air currents like fish across water.  

A young man helped me in the garden not long ago. He had never seen a hummingbird at rest. Ah, the things we take for granted. Sometimes it strikes me- my normal is hardly normal. We have been sublimely blessed in our partnership with God and his natural world. 

Last week a major check off the to-do list was accomplished. My fellow bloggers and bloggesses- please forgive that as I catch up with the requirement of responsible living- I am somewhat behind on the reading what I most adore- yours.  

Quote from weekly newsletter sent by  David Wu, D.C.1401 S Diamond Bar Blvd, Diamond Bar, CA 91765 (909) 396-9500

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Fifty Mile Bouquet inspres on GBBD April 2012

Welcome Garden Bloomer Blogging Day-trippers. The urbane New York Times and suburban little ol' me have something to firmly shake hands over.

The 50 Mile Bouquet, Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers, written by Debra Prinzing and opulently photographed by David E. Perry may be pretty and petite- it is also important.
Filled with the stories of modern-day pioneers offering hope that the American Dream of self-sufficiency is not just alive and well: it is beautiful beyond measure.

6:00 AM in Diamond Bar
This week was as crowded with work as my garden is with flowers.  An article with a follow on at Patch, consulting on newsletter copy and wrote text for advertorial in the upcoming issue of American Style magazine. All while the computer gremlins decided to be like gophers. Show up when and where least wanted. Grrrr. Despite the inconvenience, the stories are gratifying, the people interesting:  much as the stomach is stuffed after a holiday feast, my mind and soul are serene from a wonderful week. 

And I am inspired. By Debra and Matthew's book. And my garden. 

I didn't have to walk 50 feet to find Disneyland roses, nandina foliage, puffs of fresh centranthus ruber, nasturtium and succulent blooms to fill a vase the hybridizer of Pink Promise rose sent me home with from a long-ago photo shoot.

John Schoustra, one of the speakers at last week's So Cal Hort meeting sent me home with stems of his beach series lilacs.


I wish I could send the scent of  how lovely these low-chill darlings is. Arranged simply with ferns, a spring of Wine Festival and one other iris- my living room is redolent with fond memories of a walk in Cambridge on a rainy spring day.

Speaking of rain. So Cal got over 2" last week. Our gutters and rain gauge all over-flowed. Diamond Bar cancelled the City Birthday Party for the first time ever. The cost of replacing sod paled in comparison to any inconvenience in rescheduling to May 12th.

Old leaves were washed from trees. The only issue in photographing a bunny was- which one? We have a new size this week: tea cup.

The third bouquet this week features a heart of Betty Boop roses, nandina stalk for greenery more puffs of centranthus ruber to fill in and succulents to drape- and grow roots. 

When it comes to succulents: they are the rabbits of the plant world. You can't see just one: not for long. 
The 50 Mile Bouquet has a blog  

Linking to My Romantic Home and

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birds and Bees on Easter ~ The Way of Gardeners

Brilliant yellow Tabebuia blossoms camouflage a Western Tanager

The wild birds here would be perfectly happy to  eat us out of house and home. So I have a budget. When the seed is gone, the feeders may be left empty. There is so much abundance in the hillsides and gardens, it isn't like anyone is going to starve. Easter Sunday is not one of those days. On Easter, our favorite fliers may count on eating and drinking like royalty.

Mid-day- tapping, more like a child playing Morris code with a pencil than a woodpecker's machine- gun drumming,  could be heard outside the living room. I squinted up through the sunshine yellow blossoms of the tabebuia tree in hopes of  spotting what I thought was there.

Way at the tippie top, there he was. The first Western Tanager of the season. Trying to hide in the only tree where his plumage might blend in. I ran inside. Grabbed the the camera. Installed the telephoto lens. Prayed the snowbird on a rest stop between Central American and northern forests would still be on his break. He was. 

Bee on scented geranium
 This bee is exemplifies why it would be in everyone's best interest for more people to develop the personal relationship with the natural world in the way of a gardener.  To garden is to solve problems.

The past few decades the news has abounded with the shortage of bees. Really? Probably in areas of monoculture and pesticides. Here, breezes spritz the air with lavender, thyme and scented geraniums, their blossomy scents outracing my clippers. Here, thanks to diversity and a minimum of synthetic horticultural intervention, bees are year-round partners in production of food and flower.

A hummingbird sips its share of nectar from butterfly weed
 Asclepias A. tuberosa - From the looks of things, the hummingbirds aren't going to keep  a little thing like the common nickname  butterfly weed keep them from their share of the nectar.

Today was a 15 hour day. It's been a very long time since I've pulled a schedule like this week, but that is how it is for freelancers in every profession. 

My blogging buddies: forgive me. I am remiss in returning your visits. Soon.

Today, I did not get a good walk-a-bout working in the garden. But it isn't necessary to work up a sweat to be ready to pass the night in gentle sleep. Memories redolent with garden scents relax. I'm sure how I feel now is how I felt, , when as a child, my mother sang a lullaby to me. 

Sweet dreams-    

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter - Faith, Love and Garden Renewal

Easter is the celebration every meaning of love.

Scrub jay

“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.”

― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." is something spoken in political context in time of war. But its wisdom is rooted in the New Testament-  John 15:13.   

Easter is the holiest day in the faith of our family. There is naturalness to The Resurrection being celebrated in the season of garden rebirth. 

 The symbolism of the season cannot be avoided. Even on a quiet year when it is just us and none of the usual holiday decorations made it out of storage.


God provides inescapable symbolism in the everyday. Didn't blow or boil eggs this holiday? Birds nests fill nooks with hatchings. Seeds are planted- progeny reborn.  Speaking of progeny- which of the rabbits is The Easter Bunny? 

No Easter Bunny? Plant nasturtiums. There are seeds and six packs to suit patient and impatient gardeners alike.

In this home, we are Christian celebrants of the Lutheran persuasion. To explain my faith in terms a believer in a different faith can understand...

Which came first: the Chicken or the Egg? I believe that faith is the chicken;  good works the eggs.

It is my personal belief that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. That He is re-born, his address is now in heaven. I believe in a compassionate God who shares tears with us. I picture Him praying for us AND cheering  as we overcome the inevitable hurdles. When I listen to Him and when I don't- He is the ultimate coach. He earned that right on the cross.

Whatever your faith, dear readers, may your day be blessed.

Images provided by Gene Sasse

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chasing Rabbits. Which is Better: Wild or Tame

"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!" ~ Sitting Bull

The results of their love in Diamond Bar includes rabbits. Lots and lots of rabbits.

First out of the gate- The rabbit in full stretch
 Last night the Pasadena Writer's Salon met- meaning Gerry had my camera all to himself. Taking a call from our son at the oil fields in Wyoming, Gerry shot away. From the images, I think he had more fun than if he were in the bleachers at one of the few remaining California horse tracks. 

Tahoe sprinting in hot pursuit of  her friend, Mr. Bunny
Tahoe loves to chase the rabbits. Not that she has a dog-ly clue what to do with one if she caught one. Some days, the rabbits play tag instead of chase. Tonight the rabbit sat in the middle of the lawn while Tahoe ran straight to the escape hole behind the bench. Tahoe turned, walked over to the rabbit. Sat down. The rabbit hopped away with no more concern than if my husband's dog were just another rabbit.  

As long as the dogs don't follow through the hole in the fence, the rabbits can use it for an exit

But not last night.

Where is Reno? When it comes to sports, my chihuahua mix is pure spectator ):-
For anyone considering purchasing a bunny rabbit for Easter giving, there are a few things to think about.
1) When you go on vacation, you need to hire a sitter.  An adult. Or you might come home to the rabbit hutch door open- your dog wagging his tail happily because he jumped in with the bunny- who is cowering in the corner. Unless your dog is a big dog. In which case you will come home to a very full dog and no rabbit.
2) How do you feel about helping deliver baby bunny rabbits? There is a reason for their reputation for procreation. Put that with no visible signs of pregnancy or that the vendor could be wrong about the two bunnies both being girls.
3) When delivering the baby bunny- just like with people- things can go wrong. How do you feel about having to pay the vet for an emergency c- section?
Been there. Done that.  If you choose to buy a bunny anyhow, at least you know more about what you could be getting yourself into than I did.
This post is dedicated to Ara.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hills are Alive with Springtime

"It boggles my mind that someone can see life breathed into a baby, watch the grass die and come to life again, see leaves fall and watch the re-birth of a tree, or gaze on any of the majestic splendor that is this earth and not be over-powered by the presence of an Almighty God."

~ Bill McCartney
University of Colorado Football Coach and
President of the Promise Keepers

The break in weather from winter to spring  is not so stark in Southern California as it is in the Rockies. Yet watching the hummingbirds make themselves at home in the red valerian that is colonizing wherever ground meets sun and a source of water; a sense of place stirs my soul as sure as snow is melting in the mountains.

In checking the bird guides to put a proper name to this green-backed beauty, it seems that some hummingbirds can only be identified by how their nests are composed.

Cymbidiums still blooming
In the springtime, a thousand shades of green clothe Diamond Bar's hillsides. What is au natural and what man has wrought is not obvious. But now that heaven will likely withhold greening rains, soon the wild beyond will show itself in shades of beige and brown.

Could this be the Easter Bunny or is it just one of his herd of helpers?

There was a time when I sought garden- perfection. Bunny pellets, at times more plentiful than blades of grass, were an irritation. Time in this garden has changed my perception. These are not pests, they are  God's helpers sent my way. Just short of being tame, the bunnies scatter their fresh manure.  Working for just a bit of food.

Maybe it isn't the bunnies that are tamed. Maybe it's me.