Nooks and Crannies …

It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~` K.T. Jong

lantern I wrote last month about my love affair with the out-of-the-way back corners of Ray’s Garden.  Well, it seems I am still finding little nooks and crannies – small, quiet places, tucked away — offering just a moment or two of grace in a normally busy phones-ringing, people-talking, radio-playing world. bunny This little guy is one of my favorite garden inhabitants.  He lives under a shrub, as befits a proper, quiet rabbit.  I believe he is meant to be depicted as eating something but, to me, he always looks as if he is holding his paws to his face saying, “Oh, my!”

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~~John Muir

2 cherubs It appears one of these cherubs has lost a wing – which is certainly sad, but they do seem to be entirely content to be earthbound in their little piece of garden.

It’s tucked away in a quiet corner, shadowed and obscured… It doesn’t advertise and it doesn’t care if you habitually pass by on the other side. It’s just there for when you need it. ~~ Simon R. Green, Agents of Light and Darkness

lantern 2 There are little patches of grace and beauty all around us — just waiting to be noticed.  I guess it is my job to open my eyes and actually see them … instead of simply rushing past with my eyes set on the screen of my cell phone.

Welcome, wild harbinger of spring! To this small nook of earth; Feeling and fancy fondly cling, Round thoughts which owe their birth, To thee, and to the humble spot, Where chance has fixed thy lowly lot. ~~ Bernard Barton

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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

One Year Ends …

I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be. ~~ Douglas Adams

This seems the perfect quote for a gardener.  In spite of all our plans and hard work, a garden has a tendency to go where it wants to go.  I know that I have never once achieved the garden I saw in my head as I did my winter planning.  Sometimes it’s fallen short of my image and other times it has turned out to be much better.  It is always it’s own thing.

Things are quiet now in Ray’s Garden.  We have been having strange weather.  Much too dry — we are starting to worry about another drought year — and unseasonably warm for December – even though the warm spells are interspersed with spells of freezing temps. lower than anything I can remember around here.  A very odd year indeed.

Looking back over the year that is now passing, it has been a profligate year in the garden.  The flowers never really stopped last winter and really exploded in spring and summer.  In the fruit and vegetable sections, the tomatoes bore more than anyone could keep up with, the strawberries were abundant, and the grapefruit were so plentiful they pulled the limbs down to the ground.  My favorite part of Ray’s garden each year is watching the full cycle of the fruit-bearing trees — from new leaf to blossoms to set fruit — to ripening and harvesting.

persimmons2

persimmons 5

Persimmons are an especial favorite because they not only provide delicious fruit, but a season-long display of changing leaf colors …

Persimmons leaves

But — as does all good fruit — this is where they finally arrive …

Persimmons in box 2

… harvested and ready — along with some equally beautiful pomegranates — for eating, out of hand, or baked as cookies or muffins or, in this case, Persimmon Chocolate Chip Bread!  Oh, yum!

Persimmons bread

Happy New Year, everyone!  And may your New Year be blessed with an abundance of green and growing pleasures!

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. ~~ T. S. Eliot

Autumn Quiet

“During Prohibition hot claret wine gargle becomes popular “cure” for sore throats.”  ~~ Sonoma County Historical Society

This is the quiet time of year.  Nothing particular is happening in Ray’s Garden.  The bed’s have been cleared of summer’s excess, the persimmons and pomegranates have been harvested.  Now we wait for rain.  It’s a quiet time.

Mostly it’s quiet because The Crush is over for the year.  The wine grape harvest is in and it’s up to the winemakers now. Just a few weeks ago it was anything but quiet.  Trucks and tractors and gondolas clattering up and down the roads twenty-four hours a day in a controlled frenzy to get the precious grapes in at their sugar peak.

Now the vineyards are gold and orange — and bare of grapes.

vines 1

vines 2

Many  of the wineries in our part of the world bear Italian names, but it was a Hungarian, Count Agoston Haraszthy, who is credited with first bringing grape cuttings into our region, back in 1857, and in spite of changes in consumer taste, Prohibition, and Phylloxera-scares grapes have flourished ever since.

leaves 1

Other crops have had their day in our sun:  Wheat was the primary crop here in the years when gold-seekers and entrepreneurs flooded California — until the wheat rust epidemic of the 1890’s pretty well took out wheat completely from California.  Gravenstein Apples still are prized today and pears and prunes once ruled our valleys.  And we never forget that innovative horticulturalist Luther Burbank arrived and set up his experimental gardens in nearby Santa Rosa — giving us, among other things, Shasta Daisies and Santa Rosa Plums.

Today, grapes reign supreme here — and we are entering a time of relative quiet in our vineyards.  Soon the beautiful colors will be stripped from the vines and the fields will rest.

leaves 2

“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

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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