Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back to the Garden

Such a lovely, lovely delicate day here today. Warm, on the verge of being hot, sunny and blue, the very definition of the perfect Northern California afternoon. Just the thing to tempt an elderly gardener (that would be me) out into the yard to heft a pickaxe and see if he could bludgeon the garden into submission. I call this my "Christina, Bring Me the Axe" persona.

The garden won. It always does.

My back hurts, my thumb is bleeding, I need to go dig a berry thorn out of the side of my hand. But before I go into surgery, let's take a walk through Le Jardin des peenee, shall we?

The big show off, say something coral beauty above? Passion flower, a vine now twining fifty feet from where I planted it and completely oblivious to abuse. You go girl, that's what I say.

The big purple blur above is one of my local favorites, my beloved ceonothus. No photograph ever does justice to its dense cloud of sapphire blue beauty in the spring. Ah me. The cheery rose red flowers are a chrysanthemum called "Ruby Slippers." Every year they are a reliable source of bright color over a long time. They are what gardeners call a "promiscuous bloomer." Just like me.

In a burst of uncharacteristic optimism this fall, I broadcast wildflower seeds (or birdfood, as our friend Dan calls it) all over the bare spot left by removing a tree in the upper back corner. Apparently Dan's assessment is right on the money since the only survivors are poppies (yay) and several of these charming golden boys. I'm not sure, but I think it's an erysimum, or wallflower. I've seen these all over the place here and lusted after them, so their appearance in the yard is a big deal.

God love him, this poor old apple tree is pretty much the only survivor of the owners of our house in early 80s and the only people who passed through here interested in gardening. It is as far in the very back of the yard as it can be, way beyond where I could give it any attention and yet, every year, it puts out these lovely blossoms and then a few tough little crab apples.

We have a beautiful yellow rose that I found in the marked down section of the nursery. I pointed out to the guy working there that it was, to use the technical term, dead. It was just a stick, long after all the other roses had leafed out. He said he'd give it to me for three-fourths off. How could I pass it up? A dead stick for seventy five percent off. Turned out it wasn't quite dead yet and in the years since has produced enormous quantities of big yellow blooms and these fantastic orange rose hips.

And then there are our geraniums (I know they're actually Pelargoniums, but it's too confusing to go into that here. Plus I have several true geraniums, just to make things even more murky.) Nothing is easier to cultivate and we have batches of them, but these with their psykodelic red/pink/fuschia thing going on are some of my favorites. I notice now there is also a great big old weed coming up in the middle of them, which I failed to observe when I was out taking pictures. I suppose I have to back out and take another whack the yard


  1. Just gorgeous! I never would have believed it if someone would have told me that I was going to turn into my Great Grandmother puttering around in the yard with her flowers. This season is really surprising me with things blooming that weren’t there last year. I love inheriting an old lady’s flower garden. Can’t wait for my enormous scuppernong vineyard to start producing muscadine grapes...they make the most awful bitter wine but delicious.

  2. I love it!

    By the way, the other day I went out through the mountains and to the coast, saw jellyfish and whales. Very unlike the midwest. It was awesome! I love it out here!

  3. Lovely lovely lovely! Mine is still a tangle of weeds and dead stalks from last year. Must get out and do battle this week. And yes, the garden always kicks my butt. But she repays me later.

    "Promiscuous bloomers!" Those are bloomers that come down easily?

  4. LOVELY, lovely, Mr. P. Miss J LOVES CA natives and has a couple ceanothus herself.

    Also like Mr. P, Miss J loves the gardening but not the aching back and all that other drama. She now makes MR. J do all the pick axe-related labor... That's the real reason straight people marry. That and you know, to have a designated driver.

  5. Next year I'm coming in the spring. And pooh to Dan: I too planted wildflower seeds last fall and I've got an abundance of flora, including poppies both Californian and red corn. You know, the heroin kind. . .

  6. Hmmm...flower porn! Living in a high rise in the tropics, I don't get to garden much so enjoy these posts. I also don't spend my weekends with a machete anymore, which makes me happy and sad at the same time.

  7. Beautiful!
    Your garden is so ahead of mine here in Portland!
    I love your blog!


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