Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Birth of a Monarch- Butterfly that is

"Each day brings a miracle of its own. It's just a matter of paying attention to this miracle." 

Home for the winter, our well-educated mountain man son, Trevor, took notice of a detail which had become simply part of the scenery to us. There are chrysalis hanging about the garden. From plants. Attached to structures. Off furniture- including the oak china cabinet which is my signature defiance of the rules as to what belongs inside and what belongs outside. 

He and his dad set up the time lapse photography- which translates on the film as changing background color. Photo shop could have leveled the light to a consistent level. However, there is a point when fixing images is like women who don't know when to stop with the plastic surgery. We need more practice enjoying the perfection within imperfection.  

Stopping to watch this butterfly escape its cocoon was the first time I realized the blackening of the encasement was not its getting old- it was the black of the wings pushing their way through the translucent casing. 

Not all monarch butterflies migrate.  Once they find a hospitable environment, 3 generations may stay before the fourth is off on its famous vertical grand tour of the continent. 

Linking to My Romantic Home Show and Tell

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - January 2013 - Winter abundance

 Rosa 'Mutabilis', the Butterfly Rose, her fragile silken blooms hover over the well-branched specimen is a rule breaker. A true rose, she is in no way staid or formal. Instead of her blossoms fading in the sun, each petal dances through the color wheel, deepening in tone from yellow to tangerine to pink and finally- crimson.   

The plant tag promised she would grow 6-8' fall. Mine billows in the wind in complete ignorance of any restrictions of when she should stop performing. She's at least 12 ' tall and knows no season she doesn't wish to be in bloom. 

Her long abundant branches wave in the birds from the chaparral filled finger canyon that we are locked in permanent battle for supremacy of the land with.   Rested, it is a short flight for visiting birds from the protection of her arms to the main bird feeders. 

The bird feeders were placed so that I can watch from both my study and the kitchen.  This Victorian was one of my husband's first woodworking projects using a scroll saw. Well-worn, particularly now that wood peckers have found our yard, this is probably the last season before it is replaced by a newer model. 

What makes this feeder a popular hang-out with our feathered friends? 

Abundance and diversity. 

This feeder was built to protect  the silo feeder, which we have filled with parfait like layers of nuts, seeds and dried fruit- this week-cranberries. 

Nearby- the bougainvillea has been trimmed and trimmed and trimmed again this year to produce a thick canopy over the thorny branches. If you look closely at the top you should spot 2 birdies waiting in line for their turn at the feeder. 

A family of 3 dove walked the grass in the opening in search of dropped safflower seeds. Skittish birds, the thicket of the bougainvillea on the edge of the lawn made then less nervous about the lens aimed at them.  

Even a bench is a welcome perch. 

Tahoe is 6 now.  A Chihuahua -  Miniature  Pinscher mutt-  she thinks like a hunting dog. Open the sliding door to the backyard and there is nothing she loves more than flushing  the birds. 

Most of the year the hummingbirds ignore the feeders- winter is a different story. 

Our chilly nighttime temperatures settled in the mid 30's last week- turning the tangerines that color which signals the salivation glands. Time to pick and peel. 

The Angel's trumpet flowers aren't that beautiful peachy color of summer- but the fact that she isn't one dead stick is proof we didn't drop below freezing temperatures for any extended length of time.    

All this abundance- this very fat hawk isn't looking to diet.  He's looking to make a decision on if lunch will be wearing feathers of fur.

 Narcissus. They are planted around the perimeter, wherever a few extra bulbs can be tucked in to. Their scent is heavenly. Except to gophers.  

Last year I was on travel when the heat wave hit. My beautiful fuchsia died. I thought. I was wrong. 

 From the vegetable garden, a tutierre was pulled out from under a deceased tomato vine. its wire feet pinched inward to fit in the pot. It will give structure to the fuchsia as it regains its stature. Tomorrow I will look at the seeds to see if a suitable vining companion might add to the entry statement- this is a house where a gardener lives.  

At the feet of the pot are the blessings of a quick run to Roger's Garden in Corona del Mar. 

Herbed goat cheese in oil- tossed with  organic edible flowers and croutons from Bristol Farms:  a  perfect salad and perfect place to end this visit. 

Linking to Carol May's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 

Copyright Notice

This site, including the pictures and text, is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I grant you prior permission to use my feed and quotes of 100 words or less as long as you give credit. If you wish to use more, please email me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter in Southern California Through The Eyes of a Gardenista

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." 
~Edith Sitwell

It is a crisp 49 degrees tonight. While the Flowering Bradford Pear Tree may be  best known for being covered in white flowers in springtime, it is in the winter when her leaves blaze bright that I love her best. 

Beloved by builders for being inexpensive, city planners for their symmetry and homeowners for making sure even trash day has curb appeal 

I love them for the free mulch. So far none of the neighbors has complained when my broom and I sweep away what the wind has whipped to the ground. My gardener is a amused that what most of his customers want hauled away I covet like they are loose diamonds laying about. 

If you purchase a tree, be sure to cough up a couple extra dollars for a named variety. 

These trees are not so sturdy as they appear. The generics tend to either send limbs crashing fall over at age 20 years. Mine came down with no prior warning while I was on a break from gardening beneath it back when Senator Bob Huff was a City Councilman. He was good at looking in at his constituents to see if there was anything he could either help with or learn from. Raised on a farm, I think he secretly wished the chain saw was packed in the car trunk when he left for church earlier that day. 

Flowering Bradford Pears are beautiful specimens- just be aware they are like many beautiful women- maintenance expenses do not decrease with time. 

Take heed when a limb looks heavy- put the tree trimmer on auto dial with instructions to thin the canopy so the trunk is not as the mast of a great sailing vessel. It is the wind  into densely woven branches and leaves which rips majestic trees to the ground like they are mere paper cups on a picnic. 

Do not park beneath a mature flowering pear- unless you want to gamble on needing a new car.

If any fruit tree has a brain, it is the Meyer Lemon. It politely ripens just a few fruit at a time. For her politeness, she is rewarded with drinks of OMRI Fish Rich organic plant and garden fertilizer.  Great stuff. With little pooches,   I worry about most fish-ilzers attracting the local carnivores. But the gentle 2-2-2 formulation is very low odor. Get some. Your plants will thank you.

This is the mother of all African Blue Basil in my garden. Mostly ignored in an over-exposed side-yard pot, her trunk is thick enough to qualify as a limb.  If my fellow gardenista Glenda Bona can remember what year we drove to Solvang for the day-  this was my hardware store souvenir. I do believe the purple spires have been calling in the bees since before the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. 

 *Today's quote was found on the Quote Garden. Uplifting readers since 1998

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR~ Life's Meaning and Happiness

"Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New Year find you a better Man."  Or woman.
Ben Franklin

Happy New Year!   The world did not end. Again. A lesson in the wisdom of ignoring naysayers. 

In the moments between the traditional New Year Football Menu- which in this household can be shortened to the  expected result- heartburn- why not consider how happiness is  found, 

Live you life with hopeful expectation that it will be long and meaningful. God doesn't make mistakes in how he's made us- but he certainly lets us go through struggles. Best to dress your actions in accountability- with accents of fun.  

Trevor, our oldest son came home to parents paddling through projects that were mating and begetting ever more work. His presence slowed us down. During his precious rare appearance, reminding us that we are worth more simply as people than the sum of what we might ever own. 

We closed out the last day of 2012 in a very living room with a camera; a couple flashlights and laser pointers  aimed at a white bit of paper taped up to make a screen. A tripod held the camera for long exposures as he went to doodling.

Above is one of our favorites. When he was in kindergarten, the doodle would have gone on the refrigerator. Now children of all ages, their artwork goes on the Internet. 

I will forget how much work got muscled through the last 2 months. I will get past the computer going on its " holiday vacation." The burglary will be in put in perspective. I will never, ever forget how much it meant to have a grown son love us enough to make some real time to be with us.