Welcome to my Garden Blog

Nature: wild & untouched. Photographing it, preserving it, taking walks and drinking in the landscapes as they unfold.

Gardens: touched by loving hands. Cultivated, nurtured. Drinking in those landscapes is wonderful, as well.

In my garden one enjoys some of both. Generally unpruned & wild, my plants reshape the garden as they grow.

Beyond the garden borders, natives from the Santa Monica Mtns await. Oak trees with their shady canopies. Cactus & Sage in the sun.

Always there are animal creatures to join in the fun.

I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with you as they unfold.

Monday, July 19, 2010

From My Mat - a Hot July Day

I do a downward dog pose and feel a gentle breeze on my neck. The wind chimes sing their song, made of notes rich and whimsical, in a pattern that matches the wind. Birds chirp sweetly along with the chimes. Way above me, a small airplane flies lazily by, its motor speaking of Summertime as it cruises through the sky. A group of black birds fly over with a noisy "Kah Kah" on their way to a tall pine tree. Then, there is the whirring hummingbirds at their feeder. I am out of my yoga pose by now. One hummingbird flies right in front of me as I lie here on my yoga mat! He is young and skinny and wants me to get off my mat and feed him already! All right. I will. I retrieve the feeder, carry it inside, and fill it up nice and fresh for him on this hot July day.

Shadows move across my mat, as the wind blows the pine branches lightly above me. I am so fortunate to get this breeze today, and to have the shade of the pine tree on such a hot day. I wait to see the hummingbirds return to the feeder. I hear one now clucking from high up in a cottonwood tree, whose thin branches are swaying in the breeze, leaves rustling. The only other sound is my dog's heavy breathing, sitting beside me here in the shade, with my wind chimes singing their song.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Container Gardening: Summer in Southern California is all about the Water

In Southern California rain is scarce, especially in the hot Summer months. So my thoughts turn to protecting favorite potted plants from too much hot sun and keeping them from drying out. Luckily for me, part of my Topanga Canyon patio enjoys the shade of a large California Oak tree. Every Summer, I move many of my potted plants under its canopy.

Another way I protect my plants is to use Sphagnum Moss as a mulch in the top of my pots. (Canna lilies w/sphagnum moss pic above) The moss works great at keeping moisture in and the soil cool. Plus, it looks pretty! Once I even had a tiny tree frog living in my moss :-)

Summer is time to think about the critters that need water, too. Birds, bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, squirrels.. everybody is thirsty! Birds need to drink and take baths. In Southern California, putting out water for the birds in Summer months is more important than seeds! Pictured above is a small bird bath that I created. I just used a bowl and smooth stones (making it bee friendly). In the center is a Sea Lion sculpture that I got on a trip to Carmel one Summer. My Mother and I had taken a drive up to that lovely town and found this at an outdoor art gallery/garden shop. It was part of a much larger fountain sculpture of an entire sea lion family... all spouting water!

The hummingbird feeder I keep filled, as there is less food for the hummers now that the wildflowers of Spring have stopped blooming. If you have room to plant Cape Honeysuckle, it will bloom all Summer and hummers love it. They also love Bouganvilla and that makes a wonderful privacy screen, as well.

Bees need food and water in the Summer, too. Did you know: they have to fly much greater distances in Summer than in Spring or Autumn to find blooms. One plant you can keep in a pot for them is: Lavender.

Hope your Summer finds you relaxing on your patio with your beautiful Summertime plants and blooms.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We're Making Honey Out Here in Southern California!

 Phacelia grandiflora

We're making honey out here in Southern California.  And how do we do it?  Well, beekeepers are taking advantage of some of nature's finest resources:  Flowering Native Plants!  Many  California plants have nectar that is delicious to the honeybee:  Buckwheat, Sage, Cactus Flowers and Wildflowers.  Beekeepers take their bees to a meadow where Wildflowers are blooming in the Spring, and then when those blossoms are done they move to a hillside of Sage or Buckwheat, which bloom into the Fall.

Luckily, the hillsides are covered with blooming natives in the Coastal Mountains from Santa Barbara down to Baja. including Topanga Canyon, home to Topanga Quality Honey.  This diversity makes for a delicious variety of honeys, and makes for some happy local bees, as well.

California Buckwheat. (Erigonum fasciculatum

This drought tolerant native blooms all Summer, even into Fall.  It has an abundance of flowers, creamy white, tinged with pink.  As they mature, the flowers turn to a rust color.  "Viewing hillsides covered with the coppery seedheads of California Buckwheat is a uniquely Western Experience." As expressed in Carol Bornstein's California Native Plants for the Garden.  The honey  made from this plant is sought after for its dark, full bodied flavor, as well as its high antioxidant and nutritional value.

Purple Sage (Salvia Leucophylla) Introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne.

The bees of the Santa Monica Mountains are lucky to have such an abundant and diverse source of native plants to feed from.  And, we are lucky too, as this allows us to enjoy a variety of unique tasting honeys.  By adding native plants to your yard or garden, you can help add to the biodiversity in California or the State you live in.  As 'top dog' on this planet, the job falls on us to act also as good stewards of all we have inherited.

You can visit a Honey Tasting Room at Bennett Farms, Ventura, CA.
And find out more about the Research they are doing into Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Wildflowers, Santa Monica Mtns

Wildflowers, Santa Monica Mtns