Water music for workers and for hospitality.

gl P1030388 plum bud

Last week I felt such relief from having a load lifted from my mind, I was immediately energized to prune the plum trees. These are the Elephant Heart plums that I had to buy two of after all. You might remember that I polled the neighbors to see if anyone had a Santa Rosa plum or an Elephant Heart to be the pollinator for mine. Several did, but then I found out that the helper tree would have to be within 50-100 feet of whatever I planted in my space. That is, next door. Which they weren’t.

A pruned tree might not be a lovely thing if it were not demonstrating a great success to the pruner, that of surmounting my fears and inadequacies and ignorance and getting it accomplished. Landscape Lady had given me some tips, and then I rgl P1030363 pruned plumead quite a bit online and printed off some pictures and advice about how many inches between scaffold branches and what percentage of the length of the branch to cut off, etc. — things I don’t already know from pruning ornamentals.

The relief I felt was over the completion of my fountain project. This was another story that was in process when I thought it was done, because the first fountain was found to be defective. The finish peeled off in big flakes before it had been here two months. The tasks of getting my money back and getting it taken away was hard enough, and then the shopping for a new one… I needed the help of two friends two days in a row to find what I wanted, and praise the Lord it was one I could buy right there, and have it set up within a few days. gl P1030392 hospitality

Now we garden workers and garden sitters can enjoy the accompaniment of the fountain song again. And I think I like this new one better than the first. I learned that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, which made me happy, because I want my new garden to be a place where I can be hospitable to my friends, both human and animal. If you look closely you can see the bell of bird seed on a pole in the distance behind the fountain, a gift to the birds from Kit.

gl P1030389 new succulent

gl P1030409


Kit is also pruning, the wisteria, right at this moment while the warm air and the water music come in the open windows to where I am typing. I told her to prune it hard, that she couldn’t kill it, and she climbed up on the arbor and has given it a drastic haircut. Maybe the towhees won’t think us very hospitable for taking away a nice platform for their nests.


The last few days have been downright balmy. So when I finished pruning I did more things, like planting a succulent and a thyme plant, and weeding in the front yard. And taking pictures of buds.

gl P1030396 thyme

gl P1030375 snowball bud

I dearly love the viburnum buds that come out the end of January, two-by-two along their gracefully curving stems. Even the dwarf pomegranate bushes have buds, which I was not sure about when I first saw them last week. I bent down to trim the ends of the tangly branches, and saw red dots that looked like mites, they were so tiny and bright; now they are easier to recognize for what they are, bold upspringings of pomegranate life. I have to use my hand as a background in order to get the camera to focus.gl P1030378 pom buds

This season when sprouts come up and out of everywhere — I never can get used to it! I will have to write about it every year.

gl P1030355 fountain

gl P1030404


This week I made another bold move: to phone the “Oriental Gardener” who leaves flyers around the neighborhood from time to time advertising his services. I got a bid from him for pruning the osmanthus at the front of the house. It has dead wood from drought damage, and needs to be reduced in size. He will do it tomorrow, so I took a Before picture this afternoon.




Housemate Susan told me that she used some kale from the front yard recently, and that pleased me very much, because I have not eaten one leaf of all the greens I planted last fall. While I was waiting for the Oriental Gardener to come by I picked my own bowlful of collards and Swiss chard and am looking forward to a good mess of greens real soon.

gl P1030400

16 thoughts on “Water music for workers and for hospitality.

  1. A garden is such a joy in so many ways, but I will have to wait a good two months before there is much joy in mine! Well, spring joy….Right now I have joy from occasional sunny days and from the thick snow storm with impossibly huge flakes that graced us here this morning…But new life? Not much for a while. (I still can, however, harvest parsley from the deck.)


  2. Pineapples are big in VA and have been since Colonial days and for the same reason, hospitality. Williamsburg has them all over the place. Your garden is lovely; hard to believe you’ve got growing stuff; mine is sleeping under a foot of snow and another foot expected by Thursday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gretchen – Your enthusiasm and pure enjoyment of your garden is so inspiring, especially your being so thrilled at the new buds! I can’t wait to get back to my wonderful garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “This season when sprouts come up and out of everywhere — I never can get used to it! I will have to write about it every year.”

    I am so grateful that you do. Especially since it’s too bitter and white for me to go outside and look for signs, which in Missouri in early February exist only in the hopeful imagination anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love to read about your garden. Northern California is so beautiful and it must be such a pleasure to choose and nurture plants that suit that climate. So many things blooming already! Here in Tennessee, we have rocks and clay and humidity – I have to say that I find clay and rocks discouraging! Maybe it all depends on what you try to grow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth, in my area we don’t have humid weather too often, but clay we have in abundance. I can’t remember how many yards of various soils and amendments I had to bring in just for this garden, but it’s a constant problem dealing with the local clay called adobe. That makes me wonder about the kinds of clay soil that may be in various places; does yours have another label, too, or is it just “plain” clay?


      1. Hi – that is an interesting question… we just call it red clay, but I looked it up and the other name for it can be “ultisol” – it is a very old soil that can take 100,000 years to form. [That makes it sound like it is a rare resource instead of a pain in the neck for gardeners 🙂 ] It may be that it is really the same as adobe, with possibly differing amounts of iron causing the color to be different.

        I grew up in South Carolina in the mid-state, which is a sandy, loamy soil. My mother could set new plants out in her yard with ease. In some places she could do it with her hands! Sigh. However, the types of plants that grew easily there were some of the ones I saw on our trip in California… camellia, gardenia, quince, jasmine – some old favorites!


  6. I love reading about your garden. It feels welcoming online, I am sure much more so in person. Your spirit of hospitality for people and animals reminds me of the saints. xoxo


  7. Look at all your things budding and coming to life! It looks spring, and since you speak of open windows and warm drafts, I must believe you are far ahead of us. I long for such a day — open windows!! I want to plant things. I’m so glad you got a better fountain, even though the transition was a pain. We are trying to start thyme (and other things) in the greenhouse, but even there it’s too cold, really. Much too early to put anything in the ground except some old bulbs. Today it’s blowing hard and raining buckets. Very winterish.


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