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.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

5 Bucks Gets You 7 Minutes

Here I am, camping in Joshua Tree National Park out in the Mojave Desert, and who'd have thought the campgrounds have no showers?  If you want a proper shower, you have to "come down to town" to the Joshua Tree General Store....

It was 82 dgs at 3pm when I went to take my shower at the General Store. Getting out of the van with 5 Bucks in my back jeans pocket, I walked up the wooden porch to the general store. The sound of wooden planks under my feet was familiar, as if I had lived in the Old West before and had walked down wooden porches that connected one shop to another in some dusty Western town.  One step inside the store, though, and I was back to the Year 2013 instantly.  A "new generation" girl was at the cash register, with a shop full of gifts, tokens, clothes, everything for the hiker, rock climber and weekend urban escapee.  I knew what I came for, having been here several times already. I came for the Shower key and Token.  I marched right up and traded my $5 bill for a wooden duck with a key attached.  It was painted orange.

I trotted off, back down the wooden walkway and around the wood  building to the back.  A wooden sign with a finger pointed toward the showers.  There were two of them sided by side in a wooden out building.  One had an Orange Duck on the door, the other had a Purple Moon.  I got lucky. I was the Duck today, the larger of the two shower rooms.

I stopped to look at a Pear Cactus, full of vibrant yellow blooms standing against a wood wall.  This plant was clearly loving where it was living, in all the desert sun with a water spigot nearby.

The Shower was coin operated.  Once you put that token in, you had 7-1/2 minutes, so you better be ready!  The water was nice and hot, and washed the sandy desert winds right off of me.  Feeling much refreshed, I went to return the key, pausing to look at a colorful upright piano sitting right outside!  It was painted all different colors.  I lifted the keyboard cover to try it.

As I expected, it sounded horrible: tinny and neglected... perhaps from sitting outside in the desert heat.  A sign on it said "Play Me I'm Yours."  I had seen two pianos like this before: one in Monterey and one in Pacific Grove, CA.  But, those two had been playable.  Why wasn't this desert piano being maintained then?  Perhaps on my next shower stop I will have to "Inquire Within."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Desert Wildflowers of Joshua Tree

A recent trip to Joshua Tree National Park provided me with some wonderful wildflower photo opportunities. I wanted to share some with you. Hope you enjoy! (Click to enlarge photos) 

                  Flowering Cactus, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Photo by Kathy Vilim

                                 Flowering Creosote Bush, Larrea tridentata, 
                                 Joshua National Park, CA, Photo by Kathy Vilim

                                 Bumblebee on Ocotillo Plant, Fauquieria splendens
                                 Joshua Tree National Park, CA, photo by Kathy Vilim

For more about Joshua National Park, check out my newest post for the Beautiful Wildlife Garden.

For an update on where you can find California wildflowers: http://www.theodorepayne.org/hotline.html

May your Spring be filled with Wildflowers! ~Gypsy Gardener

Monday, April 8, 2013

Deciding When to Go

                      Monarch perched on Monterey Pine Tree, as if 
                         ’Deciding When to go’, photo by Kathy Vilim

Here I am, the Gypsy Gardener on the Central Coast of California.  I am in the town of Pacific Grove, which calls itself "Butterfly Town".  For good reason: It is one of the overwintering sites of the West Coast Monarchs.  Here in this photo a Monarch is perched on the end of a Monterey Pine branch. Most of Monarchs here have left, following that special sense that only they have: of knowing where to go, and when to go. Off in search of Milkweed, they fly inland from the Coastal overwintering sites.

  Pacific Grove's Monarch Sanctuary, Photo by Kathy Vilim

I feel much like the Monarch. Like him, I stand perched deciding where I should go next.  I have been to three overwintering spots since October, 2012: Ellwood Butterfly Preserve near Santa Barbara, Pismo's Monarch Grove, and Pacific Grove. I have enjoyed watching them as they spent their winter months resting, taking refuge in the safety of stands of tall Eucalyptus & Pines on the Coast. Now that they are on their way to Spring & Summer locations all over the West, I wonder if I shouldn't be on the move, too.

You can see more on my visit to Butterfly Town here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Sunrise over Monterey Bay

                            Photo by @kathyvilim Taken from Lover's Point Beach

The Sunrise was gorgeous on Easter Morning. I had no idea I would see the sun rise over Monterey Bay.  I am from Topanga, where the sun SETS over the Ocean.. not RISES!  Seeing the sun in the East made me feel all backwards.. but didn't keep me from grasping the opportunity to get a gorgeous Sunrise photo. Easter Surprise!

Hope you check back to enjoy my travels as they unfold, along the Golden Coast of California~
Gypsy Gardener~

Wildflowers, Santa Monica Mtns

Wildflowers, Santa Monica Mtns