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

Advertisements

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

And Suddenly…It’s Spring

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”  ~~ Anonymous

We’ve been away from Ray’s Garden for quite awhile.  I was called away to other tasks, and besides that, the weather has been just too bizarre this past whatever-it-was-that-passed-for-winter.  Those of us who live here have been befuddled and I think the garden has been pretty confused as well.  Shorts and sandals in January, freezing temps in February, and drenching rains in the middle of a declared drought in March.  The garden plants very wisely just sat quietly and waited for someone, somewhere, to make up their mind.

The best thing to do in such conditions — it appears — is to clean up neglected areas and plant trees — and that Is what has happened here.

fuji apple

This is the new Fuji Apple.

A grape was made to grow on a vine, An apples was made to grow on a tree.  As sure as I know there are stars above, I know, I know you were made for me. ~~ Sam Cooke

mission fig

And the Mission Fig.

italian prune

And the Italian Prune.

They join the Nectarine …

nectarine

and the White Fig …

white fig

the Pear …

pear blossom

and the Persimmon that were already here …

persimmon

and most exciting of all, the old, established Grapefruit which was dug up and moved to make room for the others is showing every sign of flourishing in its new location — Yay!

grapefruit

 

This is our brand-new mini-orchard.  Already, the leaves are bigger than these photos show … and it is going to be a great joy to watch these trees progress throughout whatever else this very strange year chooses to bring us!

“…every year one day comes, when, although there is no obvious change in the appearance of trees and hedges, the Earth seems to breathe and it is spring.” ~~ Elizabeth Clarke

Blessed Spring, All!

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

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

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall …

I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain; What a wonderful feeling, I’m happy again.  ~~ Arthur Freed

Into each life some rain must fall (at least according to Longfellow) but around here that has been a VERY little rain, lately — but we did get a nice shower a few  days ago.  It washed the leaves and cleaned the air.

full one

rain

Rain has been a largely absent commodity this year.  We’ve just left behind one of the driest winters I remember in awhile.  I fear it is going to be blisteringly hot this summer — the seasonal creeks that usually have water in them at least until July are already almost dry. That’s why it was so nice to spend some time in the rain-sweet garden –just breathing in the clean,sweet air.

When it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow. ~~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

lilies in rain

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.   ~~ Langston Hughes

full two

This rose looked unearthly in the overcast light- an eerie beauty … and no, it’s not photo shopped.

rain rose

I don’t expect more rain for quite sometime, but — oh — it was a lovely gift while it lasted!

full three