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

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  

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

Home Territory

 “The sun had already set behind the mountains, and the sky had been drained of color. The trellises of sauvignon blanc flowed down the hill in even rows toward the valley floor. Whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t outside. As far as I could tell, the grapes were minding their own business.”  ~~ Frederick WeiselTeller

While running errands this week I was reminded once again that this place we live in is incredibly beautiful.

valley scene

While this is a blog about the happenings in one particular small garden, the temperate climate here virtually guarantees that every otherwise unoccupied inch of earth will have something growing in it — so I decided to broaden the scope of this one post — to some of that beauty outside Ray’s garden.

This is wine country — premium wine country.  Our particular mix of valley heat and coastal fog is, they say, the perfect climate for wine grapes.  Some of the biggest names in wine originate here so we live and work in the midst of mile after mile of vineyard.  Whether we have have any direct connection to the wine industry or not we live in its midst.  It’s the language we all unconsciously speak.  Our year is marked with the rituals of the vineyard – new berries, “will it rain?”, sugar-content and especially The Crush.  Right now we look at  the new grapes and speculate on what kind of year it will be …

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do. ~~ Galileo Galilei

close-up

“What I aim to do is not so much learn the names of the shreds of creation that flourish in this valley, but to keep myself open to their meanings.”  ~~ Annie DillardPilgrim at Tinker Creek

We tend to be a monoculture, but that does mean that we are always green and lush.  The vistas never get boring because all of this happens in small valleys divided up by rolling hills. We lie at the juncture of oak savannah and coastal redwood forest so the hills carry a variety of tree life, as well.  Grapes aren’t all we have here.  There are rolling hills for long walks…

hills

and a river runs through it all …

confluence2

And on top of all that, the ocean is only one short hour drive away…

beach scene2

“It is a pity indeed to travel and not get this essential sense of landscape values. You do not need a sixth sense for it. It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly through your nose; you will hear the whispered message, for all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. ‘I am watching you — are you watching yourself in me?’ ~~  Lawrence DurrellSpirit Of Place: Letters And Essays On Travel

Given all this, it is a natural thing to want to continue and add to the beauty within one’s own patch of land — gardening becomes inevitable…..

But it is difficult, sometimes, to compete with Nature.

G'ville