To Plant a Tree

“One day is not enough to watch a tree, one life is not enough to love a tree.
I wonder when I see a new leaf, it was like a new born baby come to meet the world.” ~~ Karthikeyan V

It is high summer now and usually I would be writing about the floral offerings of July — and they are there — but this year all the interesting stuff is happening in the new mini-orchard area and in the expanded vegetable garden and in all the new construction that supports this growth.

Several new trees were planted last winter and I love to follow their growth.  This Italian Prune was nothing but a bare stick when planted in January and it is now taller than my head.

PRUNE x2

“The planting of a tree, especially one of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.” ~~ George Orwell

The new Fig (sorry, not a good photo) is establishing itself nicely.  These are not fast growers but will one day be bearing like its already established neighbor.

NEW FIGFIG

The Nectarine is growing nicely (that’s a Fuji Apple behind it).

NECTARINE

“Plants are nature’s alchemists, expert at transforming water, soil and sunlight into an array of precious substances, many of them beyond the ability of human beings to conceive, much less manufacture.” ~~  Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

Persimmons, Pears, Pomegranates are all bursting with new fruit.  And, in one of my favorite moves, the strawberry bed that was ruthlessly evicted from the garden area to make room for more tomatoes and peppers, was relocated in part to the corner of a flower bed nearest the office door — right where we can graze through each time we walk past!

STRAWBERRY x2

“More grows in the garden than the gardener sows.” ~~ Old Spanish Proverb

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Back Corners

Life is sometimes made of the small moments of contentment you find in the quiet corners of your day ~~ Anonymous

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This may well be my favorite corner of Ray’s Garden.  It’s that back corner that is really no part of the garden — it’s just a waiting place — never static, always changing …  I check it out every day that I am here and, as you can see, I’ve been photographing it for quite some time, in many different seasons.  It is a small, beautiful piece of art in and of itself.  And you never never know what will pop up here:  house plants coming out for a breath of air, a pot with nothing more than a stick in it – until, against all odds, the stick sprouts one leaf at its very top — and later yet becomes a fig tree.  Sometimes its an old teapot used as a planter and often, stray toys left by the grandchildren.

blue petunias

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before. ~~ Vita Sackville-West

abutilon

This is the corner where sick plants come to get better — or to finally die.  This is the “waiting room” where things go while a permanent bed is made ready for them.  This is that paradox:  a place of permanent transition …

peashootsyellow primrose

Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate. ~~ J. R. R. Tolkien

basil and geraniums

I think what I love the most is the fact that this corner doesn’t expect anything, doesn’t ask anything — it simply accepts whatever comes its way each day and offers itself, whether it’s bright and colorful or mostly quietly green.  It just is — for awhile — and then it’s something else  …

In this world without quiet corners, there can be no easy escapes from history, from hullabaloo, from terrible, unquiet fuss. ~~ Salman Rushdie

all green

This one is a different corner — even less in public view — but another favorite …

pots

I love the hodge-podge of shapes and colors and the fact hat every piece is ready — waiting to play its role in the larger picture.  I can only wish my life were this organized!

I look out of this window and I think this is a cosmos, this is a huge creation, this is one small corner of it. The trees and birds and everything else and I’m part of it. I didn’t ask to be put here, I’ve been lucky in finding myself here. ~~ Morris West

Looking to the New

“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out.  It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.” ~~ Vita Sackville-West

It has been — it is still being the strangest of winters.  We had virtually no rain through all of December and January.  We had several weeks of freezing weather, which is most unusual around here — we get scattered nights with below 32 degree temperatures but they are few and far between..  We soft-living Californians were like hot-house plants suddenly thrown out into the cruel cold.  These freezing weeks were immediately followed by two or three weeks of such balmy warmth that we walked around in shorts and flip-flips. While that might be somewhat normal for southern California, this is northern California — no sandals here in January! On top of that we are now officially in a drought — yet it is raining outside today — glorious rain! — the first real rain we’ve had this long winter.  Last weekend we even had snow in the hills around us!  Again, a pretty unusual happening — something that comes maybe once every four or five years. ….. A very strange winter!

Here in Ray’s garden, almost nothing is blooming — the paper-white narcissus and the old-fashioned purple iris are the only winter faithfuls doing their job right now.  And so, clean-up and planning for future additions is about all that’s going on here, but goodness knows, that’s plenty.

cutting corners

Here they are “cutting a corner” — actually repaving a spot that a delivery truck destroyed one day.  While the location is often mistaken for a home, this is a business, and very large trucks come through making deliveries.  After the third or fourth time this corner was flattened, Ray wisely decided to cut it back and give the trucks more space.

The major remodel however is happening in that back area where things get dumped that you don’t want seen — every garden has a space like this.  This one has been cleared out and has some lovely new paving in place.

mud path

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“Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Gray skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday’s dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.”
~~ Nelda Hartmann, January Morn  

The grapefruit tree once stood where the paving now lies, and the persimmon and pear trees are just around the corner.  The grapefruit, which was always in an awkward spot, has been moved to a back corner and we are all anxiously watching to see if it will survive.  The existing trees are now to be joined by a Mission Fig, an Italian Prune, and a Fuji Apple.  (That’s the heavily-pruned grapefruit under cover in the back corner.)

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Now we wait.  These are the waiting weeks.  Clean-up has been done.  Pruning is finished for the moment.  The beds have been cleared of excess growth.  Everything is clean and bare — and now we wait for what this very strange weather-year will bring us.  And we dream of bright blossoms and fresh new fruit.

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.” ~~  Andrew Wyeth  

“That Plump Thing with a Navel”

How it all began: Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”. ~~  Fun Facts

combine

When I first began this blog I thought it would be easy enough to find things to write about all year round.  After all, this is California, where bearded iris bloom in January and roses flourish all year round, but I’ve found out that there is almost too much happening at the peak of a season. I appear to prefer the change-over months, the in-between times — the times of beginnings and endings.

The flowers were abundant this summer — maybe too abundant — it proved difficult to focus on any one thing when there were color and pattern everywhere.  I loved spring, when the new plants were set out and enjoyed following the drama when an unusual late frost threatened the new seedlings.  The vegetable garden quickly took most of my attention once I recorded the promise of newly set fruits on the autumn bearing trees (they are coming very close now!).

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.~~ May Sarton 

tomatoes

The tomatoes became the story of the season. They flourished.  They became ridiculous! They threatened to take over the entire vegetable section.  The quickly outgrew their cages and escaped their plots and exploded across the disappearing pathways.  They grew so wildly that it was work to find the actual tomatoes in the center of the plots.

But Autumn is here and the vines are dying back.  Most of the leaves are gone now and the remaining tomatoes glow like fairy lights strung through the naked vines.

cherry

naked

mix

I love the color spread in that last photo.  And speaking of color, these below are the current stars of the garden:

black

Their bottoms are finally turning red, which means they are ready to eat.  They are a sweet-tasting fruit — nice but nothing special in flavor.  Just an ordinary tomato, despite their exotic appearance.

Heaviest tomato. The heaviest tomato on record weighed in at 3.51 kg (7 pounds 12 ounces). A “delicious” variety, it was grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986. Gordon sliced the tomato to make sandwiches for 21 family members. ~~ Fun Facts

While this baby  doesn’t begin to compete in actual pounds, it does look more like a small pumpkin than a tomato —

pumpkin

I think we all have a dream of what it would be like not to work and grow heirloom tomatoes, and I do have that dream. It would be lovely. I do love gardening and all of that, but I do love my work. ~~ Helen Mirren 

I’ll end today with my favorite out of this current batch of quotes.  Happy October, all!

Just when you’re beginning to think pretty well of people, you run across somebody who puts sugar on sliced tomatoes. ~~ Will Cuppy 

Green, Green, and More Green

“It’s not easy being green.” ~~ Kermit the Frog

Well, with all apologies to Kermit, it seems it really is pretty easy to be green.  A walk through Ray’s Garden today shows me a seemingly endless variety of shapes and and shades of green.

junipery

I am not the gardener here — I am simply the chronicler of this lovely piece of earth where I am blessed to work.  I can’t tell you the names of most of these plants but I am endlessly fascinated by the colors and especially, the textures.

While not a domestic gardener, I do possess a Peterson’s Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers which is my bible for all wild things green and growing.  It is tattered and worn and scribbled in from being carried around in a backpack for years.  My favorite part is the back end-pages and the charts of leaf shapes.  Such a wonderful litany of Shapes:

Ovate, Delta, Lance, Heart, Kidney, Spatula, Elliptical, Pinnate, Palmate

and Textures:

Mealy, Rasplike, Smooth, Glandular, Hairy

and Arrangements:

Whorled and Basal

henchicks

agapanthus

The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadows of his fluttering leaves.~~ J.R.R. Tolkien

lily of nile

anothersedum

greennwhite

tiny ground cover

light thru stripes

(Oh, I do love green …)

sedum2fuzzy

yucca

greennyellow

“ ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed — green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.” ~~ Russell PageThe Education Of A Gardener

Grow a Rainbow

Red and yellow and pink and green,  purple and orange and blue — I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too. ~~ Arthur Hamilton

I don’t know about anyone else, but when the temperature outside is hanging out at over 100 degrees, I am inclined to leave the garden to get along on it’s own for awhile (except for watering, of course) while I stay inside at my computer.  So this week I am sorting and categorizing the photos I’ve been taking for the past few weeks – and I have been struck – as I think I am every year – by the sheer profusion of colors to be found in one small garden.

There’s golden yellow:

rubeckia

and a charming peachy-orange:

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and a profusion of purple:

purple2

The garden doesn’t really need a lot of words from me — it’s enough to just look …

There’s a heavenly blue:

blue

and pink “naked ladies”:

naked ladies

and more purple:

purple1

and a small but present dahlia in an eye-piercing yellow:

yellow dahlia

And that doesn’t even begin to include the dozens of colors represented in the various roses around the place.  Next week I’ll be featuring the vast profusion of greens to be found when you look past the vivid colors.

Gardening is how I relax. It’s another form of creating and playing with colors. ~~ Oscar de la Renta

It May Be Early — but it’s Spring! (Almost)

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”  ~~ Ruth Stout

We’ve had an extremely weird winter, so far.  We had pouring, drenching rain through much of December — and not much since — which does not bode well for the latter days of summer this year.  Then in late January we had a week or two of freezing cold, which was most unusual for our part of the world — and the rest of the winter we’ve rarely needed more than a light-weight jacket or sweatshirt.

I read other gardening blogs and it seems that most of the ones I follow are still posting photos of snow in their gardens.  Wherever they are it is definitely still winter.  But here, this is an in-between time – a liminal time of year.  Winter is gone — and spring is oh-so-near, but not entirely here just yet.  The flowering plums and pears are almost finished with blossoming out.  The daffodils are almost gone for the year.  This is the time for setting out bedding plants – very carefully.  We can still get caught by a late frost.

waiting 2

… primulas, peas, and parsley … there ought to be a nursery rhyme in there somewhere …

seedlings

Two of my favorite gardening quotes:

And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden…You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.  ~~Rudyard Kipling

Spring is nature’s way of saying, let’s party!  ~~Robin Williams

The first acknowledges the plain hard-work that goes into spring — clearing out last year’s leftovers, turning the soil, mulching, planting and moving.  The second expresses so well the sheer joy that is spring — the happiness that comes with getting out there and getting your hands in the dirt, planning  new beds, finding new varieties to try.

Rosemary

Some plants just do their thing, winter or spring.  The six-foot tall rosemary  doesn’t care what the calendar says — and neither do the bees.  You can’t really see them here, but every day when the sun shines they’re out there — swarming all over the blue blossoms … busy, busy, busy 

Happy Spring everyone!