Here are some photos of the beautiful grounds at the MacArthur Place Hotel in Sonoma, California. What a perfect day on the eve of March!
Bird house fountain
Camellia in bloom.
Note: of course, I started writing this last week and now that I have time to finish, it is raining :-0
I heard the governor on the radio the other day, and it made me realize my yard might not get much water this summer.
This is serious stuff. And it is likely to continue into the future. I might as well face the facts.
I have decided to delay planting our front yard. Why plant, if I can’t water or shouldn’t water? I am going to wait until the fall when it is cooler.
That said, I am also going to plant even more drought-tolerant plants. This poses a problem for my style of gardening — I love cottage gardens. I am not a fan of a cactus or succulent garden; I have seen enough of those growing up in the desert!
I am going to search for cottage plants that don’t take water. The one that comes to mind is lavender. My lavender on the “hell strip” by the street never gets water. I spray it for a second or two once in a while to wash off the salts. I think the morning mist waters it.
I could plant my whole fountain area in lavender and have a few of those succulents that have the hot pink flowers–Calandrinia spectabilis. It is supposed to be indestructible, which is good.
Sage (the herb), salvia, alstoemeria, moonshine yarrow and a native verbena like De La Mina also might be good. I rarely water my alstoemeria once established and it still blooms. I also think artichokes would be nice–of course, they will likely need a little more water. That is one thing I have learned that can be difficult about mixing low water plants with ones that need more water–if you water too much, you kill the drought tolerant ones and if you water too little, well you know. I think you have to pretty much go whole hog with drought tolerant! At least zone your plantings to match your sprinklers so you can have a low water area, and if you need it, an area that needs more sprinkling. Usually the plants will live without water but they just won’t bloom. I have found this true with day lillies. They like water to flower.
Of course, grass falls into this category. We have a tiny figure eight of grass, which is ugly anyway due to other grasses mixing in and compacting of the dirt (and holes the dog dug). We could brick it over or try a native grass–no more mowing. Another option is to make the grass even smaller and edge each border with a gravel or river stone then have the grass. I have seen this in larger yards and it looks beautiful.
In the shade, I like drought-tolerant ferns: here is the article I have been searching for in Sunset Magazine on ferns that like it dry. And this article has some other ideas for “wild and romantic” drought tolerant designs. Some of those look pretty.
Better Homes And Gardens has some other good garden ideas for drought-tolerant plantings. This page for Intermountain Nursery has a lot of the plants I like. You can see moonshine yarrow, mimulus, and other plants here, including Carpenteria Californica, which is planted on my hill and is about to bloom for the first time. (Maybe it needed a really dry year to bloom.) I am really excited to see it and will post a photo.
Looks like I will have time to plan this new drought-proof garden all through the hot, long summer.
It was a great gardening day today in Southern California. We got a lot of things done that we had on our “to do” list.
At lunch I talked to my friend who reads this blog and she told me I never explained what happened to my chicken after Cleo attacked her. The short story is that she is alive and well and laying eggs. The long story is that about ten days after the attack my daughter came in every upset because she found a giant scab covering a wound on the back of Doodle’s neck. It looked like a wad of tar the size of a small fist. The feathers were gone or falling out. Doodle was lucky to escape with her life. She hid her injury, and despite seeming extra scared of the dog, went back to laying eggs shortly after her attack. In fact, she was the first to give us an egg after a three-month break. We are so lucky and we keep a much better eye on the dog around the chickens.
Today, we made some adjustments in the henhouse and attached their roosting branches to the walls. They were loose before and the chickens had taken to sleeping in the egg box. Now that they are laying again, I want them out of there at night to keep it clean. I am going out there right now to spy and see where they are sleeping. If they are in the egg box, I will push them out! Ha!…
Well a sleeping chicken won’t budge. JHnny and Chicken Little were in the egg box but Doodle was perched on the roost. I was able to shoo Chicken Little on the branch–she was very compliant, but Henny wouldn’t budge. I tried to gently push her but she pushed back with force even though she seemed to be asleep. I thought she might fall out of the egg box, if I pushed her too hard, so I gave up. I will try again tomorrow.
Here are some photos from the garden today and the jobs we did: weeding, although in a drought there aren’t as many weeds; putting compost on all the perennials–finally I am using my compost out of my compost bin–it’s been a really long time and I’ve never used it; planting alstroemeria on the hill and dividing my Princess alstroemerias; fixing sprinklers in the front yard and beginning to replace the base of our old fountain.
One thing I learned about the alstroemerias–the Princess variety that I have on my upper hill are short stalked and grow close to the ground. The pink ones have been very hearty and fairly drought-tolerant. They get full sun up there. I could not find them at my local nursery so I gave up and bought the regular variety for the far right side of the hill–the ugly side. I hope these grow. I wanted orange ones but they don’t seem to have those either. Anyway, I hope the two I planted will grow.
We have some flowers on the apple and the nectarine. The peach is not flowering and I hope I pruned it right. It’s almost time to replant to veggie garden but we still have peas, lettuce and our tomatoes are ripening. Isn’t that crazy? We planted them in November and just ate our first cherry tomatoes last week. The weather is all messed up!
At least it is supposed to rain this week, and I have put the compost out so I am hoping it refreshes everything.
Well, Cleo did injure our chicken. We did not realize it for about a week. My daughter discovered Doodles’ neck feathers falling out and then the black patch like tar on her neck just at the base of her head. The circular scab is about two inches wide.
It hasn’t seemed to stop her in any way or slow her down. I tried to put medicine on it but the scab (I guess that’s what it is) is so thick.
It was scary to realize that Cleo really did hurt her. We have to be a lot more careful with her and the chickens from now on.
On a happier note, I have a Rosarian from the Rose Society coming on Monday to advise me on pruning my roses. I am excited to finally have an expert (from my area) tell me if I am doing it right or not. I have been clipping away at the roses for about a week now. It is such a big job that I have to break it up into an hour here and an hour there. I have 16 roses and I’m planning to buy three more despite all the work this time of year. They are the most rewarding plants once you get through the pruning.
I will post an update after I learn what mistakes I’ve been making (or hopefully not making!)
Other than the travesty of our coffee maker breaking, the week has been off to a pretty good start.
Warning—this blog was written entirely without coffee.
Even though it was not a perfectly sunny weekend, it was warm enough to garden, and I got a lot done. I planted almost all the plants I bought last fall and I only have one rose left from last spring’s order that I still need to plant. I’m scoping out a new spot–that means I’ll have to get another rose to plant where I thought I would plant this one. You can never enough roses!
It’s good not to have planting last spring’s plant purchases hanging over my head.
For some reason, I finally worked up the nerve to start using the Rose Pro method of fertilizing, what appears to be a complicated series of odd things you have to hunt down at nurseries and drug stores to pour on your roses each month—urea, potash and Milogranite—just a few of the things in my future. This week, I put Epson Salts and Super Phosphate on half of them today (the half that didn’t get the Ada Perry’s Magic Formula—I just love that name and won’t stop using it!).
Now I have an experiment going. We will see what works better. I can’t put the Ada Perry’s with Bone Meal on my roses where the dogs will eat it so it goes on the plants outside the wall. The puppy took a lick of the Epson Salts but I stopped her right away and most of my roses are fenced off (for this reason and the because of the chickens) with that low green wire fence.
I put my first chicken poop compost on a few of my plants too. Hoping that doesn’t burn, but it sat for six months and looked like real compost you’d buy in a store (Ha ha) and the dogs don’t want to eat it because it doesn’t smell like chicken poop anymore—just a guess…
I planted rosemary and horsetail reeds in my chicken garden. I need to buy more to fill out the space because they look nice and the chickens aren’t eating them. Rosemary chicken is a new joke around here.
I planted two azaleas because I have acid soil and they are supposed to like that. We planted artichokes, tomatoes, delphiniums, blue berries, onions and Iceland poppies, which I had to fight over with little sister who wanted them all for her fairy garden. She is envious of big sister’s fabulous fairy garden but hers is just as good…
Boy, I’m so random. That’s a problem with liking plants and not having enough coffee.
My husband bought a Raticator. You should hear Henrietta squawk when she sees a rat. It sounds she is being strangled. I heard chickens can stop laying eggs when the rats come so it should make Henrietta happy to have a new rat trap to save her.
Anyway, here’s stuff I don’t want to forget to buy:
More Bill Wallis geraniums—they are looking great.
More Peruvian lily
Rosa Rugosa alba
Ferns for fern grotto—new idea for under elm tree
Remember to consider weeping willows because Tacoma Stands look terrible and may need replacing
One new Zuni Crape Myrtle tree
Cat mint to plant under roses
New lemon (dwarf)
Plant eggplant this year
Okay that’s enough! It will probably take me a year to plant all that.
If I had a decent cup of coffee, I would probably make more sense. The French press is our salvation and our curse–it’s a slow process for a small cup of coffee. Today I heard my husband talking to my father about how to make cowboy coffee or boiled coffee, his lifetime specialty. We have to do something while we wait for our new coffee maker to come in the mail. Here is his try at cowboy coffee.
I haven’t done a chicken update for a while. So sorry, gals! They are remarkable and we now get three eggs a day. Along with our garden goods, we are feeling somewhat self-sustaining these days. I just need a goat!
We had an ongoing debate whether our chicken named “Grilled” — terrible name, I know–blame my thirty-year-old nephew for that—but back to my point—we all thought grilled was a rooster. While the two Buff Orphs were laying eggs every day, Grilled was turning on us and pecking so hard that she the broke skin. She made odd cackling noises in the morning. Bigger and more decorated than the other two, she also had sprouts of rooster-like spurs on her legs, a larger comb and wattle. My daughter took to carrying a stick or broom around with her to protect herself from Grilled “attacks.” She came in the house crying a couple of times, not because Grilled pecked at her, but because she was sure Grilled was a rooster and we’d have to “send him back.” I had no idea if the feed store would really take him. I’d had calls from friends in similar situations who went back to return a rooster and ended up driving around to various East County feed stores because they were all “full” of roosters and couldn’t take more. My one consolation was that Grilled never crowed, which seemed to be the 100 percent sure sign of rooster-in-the-coop.
Then one day, Grilled laid an egg. Whew! Grilled’s eggs have a very nice dark brown shell. Grilled likes to sneak off to find little nests in secret places like the corner of the fence under the bottle brush tree. She did that last weekend—more crying and screaming from my girls. “Grilled is gone,” the cried. “She’s lost!” We all ran around —well, like you know what—looking for that damn chicken. Of course, I found her after the hysteria had gone on for about 30 minutes. I was not about to stick my hand under her to grab the egg and shoo her out of her sneaky nest. Later I went back and there was an egg. Later my husband went back and took away her nest! Poor thing.Anyway, the most challenging part of the chickens, which I find relatively easy to care for in exchange for all the lovely eggs and entertainment they are giving us, is Cleo, the puppy. And, the fact that the two blonde chickens are hellbent on escaping their “free range” area and stepping right into the waiting jaws of our six-month-old pup!
Now our old dog is very good with the chickens. He tried to eat them when they were chicks–you might recall in a past post, but he is sensitive. You yell at him once, and he won’t do it again.
Cleo on the other hand–as you can see she is a puppy school graduate–but that doesn’t matter. Here’s her perspective: I am out in the yard. Yippee. Yawn. I’m tired, but really I’m full of energy. I’m chewing leaves, crunch, crunch. I’ll eat this stick. Hey, looky there!!!! A fluffy flying thing–it’s coming to me! Ha. And look at that fat fluffy blonde, squeezing between the slats of the gate my dad built to keep me out. Yeehaw! It’s my lucky day! Those fluffy squeaky toys are heading up the hill. Hey, they must be bad, I must stop them, I am a herding dog! Oooo, really…I must eat them–no I shouldn’t–but a taste of feather–oOOOO. Delicious and disgusting–yet, why did that thing squat down. Who wants to chase that limp, prone bird? Is it dead or is this a trick? I am a smart dog. I cannot be fooled by a bird. Oh no, here comes mom with a broom. She’s screaming at me, again! Oh, I must stop myself. She looks mad. She is picking up that fluffy thing and making noises that she usually says to me when I get stepped on. I will chase the other one. Yikes! more broom, swishing the air near my butt! How does she do that?
Okay. We use brooms a lot around here. (Note to husband: I did not say ride brooms.)
Puppy vs. chicken. Neither of them are learning! Why two fat little birds squeeze themselves through three or four-inch slats on the gate to get chased by a puppy, I will never understand! For now, I’m on standby with my broom–it keeps Grilled chicken in line, and Cleo too!
A few weekends ago, I had the chance to get together with my high school friends for a great girls’ weekend and reunion in Laguna Beach, California. One of my all time favorite garden stores is nearby—Rogers Gardens, and we had planned to end our trip with a visit to Rogers and a Sprinkles cupcake. What could be better!
Along the way, we discovered a second wonderful garden shop—a quirky place full of unexpected and wonderful gardening ideas. Laguna Nursery on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) was not hard to miss with its red hearts and funky metal garden sculptures standing out as we drove by. A quick u-turn and we parked in the back and entered the garden shop that seemed right out of a fantasy novel.
In the front garden, a giant white glass orb floats on the water’s mirror surface and seemed to glow in the bright morning sunlight.
Fountains at every turn, some with smoke (or steam) coming out of them.
This downspout fountain really intrigued me. You could hang this in a tree and run a drip line up the tree and onto the top of the downspout, and then the water flows into a pool or basin below. I want to try this.
This garden room was a big hit. With soft, fresh pine needles on the floor, it smelled like a forest. The moose also gave a forest look to the place. That was eclectic!
Little finches in fancy cages:
Well, that was a fun tour—I bought some seeds too. I recommend stopping in and exploring.
Then we went by Corona Del Mar and drove through the beautiful neighborhoods. What is it with that place? Every garden is perfect—no mildew on the roses, no wilt, not one piece of grass out of place. It’s all cubical boxwoods, iceberg roses and fox gloves. There are maybe four or five perfect blocks of gardens. Maybe they all get advice at Rogers Gardens up the hill! We stopped at the house where I first met my husband. It was totally remodeled and almost unrecognizable. The night I met him, we walked through that neighborhood after dinner and he picked rose petals off the rose bushes lining the streets and “popped” them, which means you smack them in a certain way that they kind of pop like a balloon and fly apart.
That’s a funny memory of this neighborhood. I guess it was a perfect place to meet.
: – )
Anyway, we stopped in Rogers for a quick tour of the Halloween shop there, which is incredible and the home goods, not to mention the plants. I just look away. “Look away,” I tell myself. You can’t drive home with all these!
It’s really hard for me to create an order and cohesive look in my yard when I am attracted to so many different plants. I’m like a crow that can’t resist shiny objects…. Maybe that’s why I can’t live in Corona Del Mar! My gardening style is not that organized.
We ended our garden touring at Sprinkles, a sweet ending to a fabulous weekend.
Here’s to the getaway gals—thanks for decades of friendship (did I just say decades?):
And here’s a little Flashback Heart Attack for you!
Hey! I have been wanting to re-style my blog for several reasons. My old blog has grass and I’m not about lawn-care! I wanted something with roses and the chickens, of course! Fortunately, my daughter is a great artist and she made this drawing, which I love. Here is the whole drawing so you can see it all. I had to crop it to fit the banner.
I have lots of stories and photos to share, and it’s fall planting time (I already pulled a muscle in my back digging holes in the hill.) I am waiting for cool weather so I can really start working. I am grateful to my neighbor Gail who is letting me dig up grasses to plant on the ugly empty spots. As you know, I hate holes in my garden.
I have tons of seeds to plant, too. Just waiting for this heat wave to end!
This is Julie, matching her pillows.
Our friends Julie and Brian have one of my favorite backyards. The space has a lower patio where they have dinner parties on a long Spanish table is surrounded by a retaining wall planted with lush roses, lavender, alyssum and sometimes tomatoes. The upper level has a sloping grass lawn–perfect for cartwheels, a fire pit area with chairs for lounging and borders of citrus and cannas. The upper level has another patio, a loggia type structure and the kids’ trampoline. Julie decided to freshen up for summer and to redecorate her lounging area now that Brian put a tin roof on the arbors that make the outdoor room at the top of the hill. They had us over to see their hard work and have some snacks and of course, fabulous cocktails.
Here’s my Better Homes & Gardens shot of the outdoor living room. I love the turquoise and orange. The curtains block the wind and sun (and I’ll tell you a secret–you can get them at Ikea. They are regular curtains. Pillows at Home Depot–if any are left!)
The patio fountain:
Here’s the jalapeno poppers they made from scratch with chiles from our friend Dulce’s garden:
Yum-yum. Get the recipe here: Sunset Magazine July 2012 edition.
Julie is a designer, and I think the colors in her new garden room are fabulous. Don’t you? Orange and blue, my favorites. As we ate our jalapenos in her new room, seated on the newly rosewood oiled teak furniture, we planned the next few weeks of gardening. September is coming and that is a busy month in San Diego. I can’t wait for my family to be occupied with football on TV so I can go outside and garden–hee, hee. Really! Okay back to the yard– it looks amazing. Here are more pictures of all the outdoor “living room” type areas they have interspersed in their yard–maybe it will give you ideas next time you want to create a garden room!
For lounging time! (Not much of that when you are busy gardening!)
Beautiful retaining walls from salvaged concrete patio. I love the roses and lavender planted along it. Some years, they mix in tomatoes. Those chairs surround the firepit. I like that they have lots of thick gravel to outline the different areas.
Sorry, Brian! I don’t have your photo! You were too busy cooking!