The power of sunshine.

Sunflowers, Sungold tomatoes, baby figs and basil and hollyhocks – It’s summertime! I’ve been feeling it, and seeing the effects of heat.


First, the bad news: My beloved osmanthus/Sweet Olive could not transition to life without lawn water, and was ultimately killed by years of drought. Below is the last scene of its root ball being rolled into a truck. I will never forget this Garden Friend who gave me so much joy. If I ever live where it rains in the summer I will plant another one as soon as I move in!

Let’s get this next unpleasant picture out of the way, too, of Puncture Vine – the bane of my childhood bicycle tires and bare feet! This particular one was growing in the Central Valley, but I also saw some of this weed in my neighborhood yesterday! Its stickery seeds are certainly a product of summer sun.

My favorite rose at church

I’ve picked so many green beans, I was able to make two batches of Turkish Green Beans, a great luxury. This dish freezes so well, it’s ideal for using up the basketsful you get at peak of harvest. The evening that I was preparing the beans was one of those sweet times in summer, when the breeze and the neighborhood sounds of birds and wind chimes and happy voices are coming through the open window, the kitchen window, and I am satisfied and content, having made good use of my garden, at least this week.

All the carrots I harvested had been stashed in the fridge and I eventually made some coconutty soup with them.

There is one exciting thing that happened in my garden that is less directly related to the power of sunshine, and that is the hatching of bluebirds in the birdhouse! I had never seen a bluebird before, but I’d bought a bluebird house, and other people who did that got bluebirds where they’d never seen them before, either. So…

Last spring chickadees nested there, and they might have again if I had thought to clean out the house. They checked it out this year and found their old nest all soggy, and departed. I cleaned out the house, and next thing you know, there are bluebirds nesting in it!!! I took a few pictures and videos of them growing up, until the parents began dive-bombing me, and I left on a trip. This early one is the best that is a still shot. And now they have flown!

Even when I am lazing about in the mountains or hanging out with my children in faraway places, people like Kit keep making use of the sunshine and flora of summertime to make welcome-home bouquets like this:

When it was Kit’s birthday I cut some Queen Anne’s Lace at the creek and put the stems in different colors of water. The red and the green had an effect, but the blue did nothing.

Ground morning glory
One of Kim’s hollyhocks

Last and mostest, the Delta Sunflowers! They have passed eight feet tall now, and I can’t get in between the side branches to get an exact measurement. The poor things are like gangly teenagers, growing so fast and lanky that their lower branches snap off and lie down, but so far the sap is getting through by some means and those stems aren’t wilting.

I feel very proud of them when I come home in my car or from a walk, the way their exuberance displays the best of summer and the power of the sunshine.

18 thoughts on “The power of sunshine.

  1. Love it! How exciting to have bluebirds nesting in your bluebird house! All the goodness of sunshine and heat. The church rose is just lovely.


  2. Your sunflowers are definitely impressive!! I’m sorry about your osmanthus. I went back to read your Oct. 2010 post about it and it sounds like a delightful shrub/tree to have. Too bad about the drought but it does seem like we’re getting more and more unusual weather in Canada as well as U.S.
    Have a pleasant week!!


  3. Ah, the joys of an open window in summer! I just posted a picture of wildflowers very like yours.
    Is your bluebird the Mountain Bluebird? All blue. We have a bluebird with reddish breast, although I have never seen a real one, either. Maybe we should get a house for them. I would love to see a bluebird live!


    1. Lisa, I think it might be Western Bluebird. It does have a rosy breast, though I haven’t seen one very clearly. I took a picture of one of the adults sitting in the pine tree guarding the house, but he was in the shade and kind of far away. Mostly I saw them like flashes of blue leaving the nest!


  4. I never knew stickers were called a puncture vine. I didn’t know those terrible things had a name. The bane of my existence still. I spend so much time finding the middle of the plant and taking out by hand as not to leave one single goat head. That holly hock is much prettier at your house than they were at mine. I love its ruffle. Your garden is lovely. So is your produce. I am so glad you have had a nice summer.

    I like that you put food coloring in the Queen Anne’s Lace it looks so pretty.

    I still have my four grandsons here. They are outside with one of their uncles playing with walkie talkies. So its nice to have a bit of computer time. Have a wonderful week.


    1. Kim, it was only a few years ago that I saw in Weeds of the West that the name my parents used for that plant was the accepted common name. My husband grew up calling them Goat Heads. Our children used to get their bicycle tires full of them, too!


  5. How lovable those baby birds are. It was good of you to respect the dive bombing parents.
    For being out and about so much, you sure have a lot of thriving going on in your garden!


  6. Your little tomatoes look great. I wish we’d planted some, they’re always so nice to just go pick and eat in the garden. We have big tomatoes (yellow brandywine and purple Cherokee) that are growing well, though, thankfully. I remember doing that with food coloring and Queen Anne’s lace…pretty neat, too bad the blue didn’t work, that’s my fav color.


  7. I didn’t know they are called Delta sunflowers but the birds plant them in our garden and they are glorious indeed!
    You are so enjoying all the plant life God has given you.
    The baby bluebirds look like small miracles.


  8. What a lovely life you live. Here, it’s the hardest season. The gardens are finishing, the flowers are between seasons, the fish and birds have disappeared, and the heat and humidity are oppressive. In short: all is as it should be, during a Houston summer!


  9. Your flowers are wonderful! And, love those Queen Anne’s Lace. They just grow wild at the creek? What a beautiful environs you’re living in. 🙂


  10. Your summer and its bounty look so beautiful and pleasant — open windows!! I can’t imagine. Here, it’s so oppressively hot and muggy (a soggy, oppressive humidity) that one can barely work outside. Adam came in feeling sick today, from the heat. Your rose from church is breath-taking. I’m very sorry about the loss of your tree friend. I remember our conversations about its lovely aroma. I know you will miss her!


  11. Years and years ago my brother and I made hideouts in “the stickerbushes,” as we called them, a short walk from our house. For some reason there we felt safe from the adult world since we thought only children coukd learn how to navigate the dangers. Never saw in the midwest those plants spread out along the ground; they would definitely be a menace for bikes.Thanks for stirring up a memory though!

    Also, I know exactly how your sunflowers might seem like “gangly teenagers.” I’ve got one now (grandchild), and she sure brings a lot of sun to my world, tall flower that she is.


Leave a Reply to Mary Kathryn Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.