Tag Archives: California Poppy

Candles and flowers for Pascha.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life!

The last several days have been kind of a blur. We Orthodox were “in Jerusalem,” our rector kept reminding us, following Christ step by step from the day He was acclaimed and lauded with hosannas, on through His last meal with those men closest to him, His prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, a farce of a trial… and on to the cross on which He offered Himself for our sakes. Every day of Holy Week we had at least two holy and liturgically rich services, sometimes three.

This year I was able to participate in these beautiful and moving services more than ever before, and to feel the continuity of them, at the same time seeing afresh how each is unique. This was the first time I thought, after Vespers on Holy Friday, “Oh, I must try to come tonight again, for Matins of Holy Saturday, because there will be the reading from Ezekiel about the dry bones, which in the whole year I can only hear tonight.” And stronger still was the need to be with family whose Beloved was suffering; how could I think of resting at that point?

But we did all occasionally have to go home for sleep or to eat a bite and many people of course must work or attend school. So between my car and my front door I would take a picture, and when I went out in back between rain showers to get some more firewood I took some more. I am in love with the new fig leaves and miniature knobs of fruits.

Saturday we gathered at 11:30, under clear skies; at midnight we streamed slowly out of the church with singing, and came back to the porch to hear, “He is risen! Why seek ye the living among the dead? Christ is a stranger to corruption!” I took some pictures that are blurry, but I guess that’s appropriate. I was so sleepy, my mind was a bit foggy, too, in a happy daze.

Children slept in a jumble of blankets on the floor, or played with the melting beeswax of their candles. Adults like me are often seen playing with their candles, too! Before the service started I sat on a bench along the wall and kept putting my unlit candle to my nose to drink the heady honey scent.

I had an extra friend from church stay here for a few days to reduce her driving time. She brought me pale pink tulips, so lovely. And Trader Joe’s had stock in other perfectly Paschal-Spring colors, from which I made my first stock bouquet ever. In the garden are dozens of calla lilies that I will bring in tomorrow.

We returned for Paschal Vespers on Sunday afternoon (So strange to sleep, and then eat breakfast on a Sunday morning!) and then a BBQ and picnic. And this morning the radiant Bright Monday service, processing with decorated Artos bread. The weather has been perfect for the last two or three days, but more rain is coming. What a blessing all that rain is; and I’m glad I don’t live where it snows at this time. But even there, it would be springtime in our hearts.

By Thy Cross, Thou didst destroy the curse of the tree.
By Thy burial Thou didst slay the dominion of death.
By Thy uprising, Thou didst enlighten the race of man.
O Benefactor, Christ our God, glory to Thee!

Summer whites and lesser colors.

gl 6 chamomilegerman.jpg 6-16I got confused about my chamomile. All I could remember was that one is perennial and the other annual. When I noticed that they are both starting to bloom now, I had to try to figure out which was which again. This is what I’ve found.

<< The annual German or Hungarian chamomile is the taller of the two, to 24″. From what I read it often self-sows, and I hope it will do that in my yard.

German: Chamomilla recutita syn Matricaria chamomilla 

gl 6 redpoppies

It’s growing near the red California poppy that I planted from a nursery pot, and whose flowers just opened this week. The white variety of this plant that I put in at the same time bloomed a couple of months ago, much less enthusiastically.

That makes me think about something I read in the Summer book I mentioned last week, a quote from Chesterton, from “A Piece of Chalk,” in which he gives an account of how he reluctantly tore himself away “from the task of doing nothing in particular,” and set off into “the great downs” of England with his brown paper and his brightly colored chalks, all on a summer’s day.

To his dismay he had neglected to bring any white chalk — and he begins to hold forth on how the color white, in art and in morals, is essential:

One of the wise and awful truths which this brown-paper art reveals is this, that white is a colour….a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. When, so to speak, your pencil grows red-hot, it draws roses; when it grows white-hot, it draws stars….Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.

Perhaps my spindly white wildflowers, just starting out and blooming faintly without any other color around them to contrast with (even their foliage was already faded when the buds opened), do not provide a fitting metaphor to match this principle, but it did seem like a good place to tuck in that quote about something I do believe in.

93e53-yellowcapoppy4-11So far I haven’t sown any seed for the standard orange color of our state flower because I am a little afraid of them taking over. The other colors are not as vigorous, but some of them are really special in their rarity and subtlety, and when I have had one re-seed itself or, more often, go dormant and hidden for the winter only to surprise me the next spring, I am thrilled. This pale yellow one did just that for several years in my old garden, but could not be saved.                                                                                                           >>

The red ones are my first variety that are both rare and bright. I hope they self-sow — but much of the garden is experimental. I’ll see over the next months what likes growing in this environment, and not fuss over the things that aren’t thriving.

Back to the chamomile… Just in case the Germans don’t bear children next year, I planted a perennial type, the Roman or Nobile. It grows half as tall and is sometimes used as a walkable ground cover, or part of an herbal lawn mix.

gl 6 Roman 1

<< Roman: Chamaemelum nobile syn Anthemis nobilis

An hour after I took this picture, I strolled past again and noticed that ten more buds had swelled enough to be noticeable. History in the making!

I had a house guest for two nights and a day – we spent a nourishing and relaxing time, even though we did no artwork or gardening or poetry-reading. We did eat and shop and update our family birthday lists. But now I have lots of garden work that needs to be done, before I go to see brand-new Baby Brodie next week. Here’s a yarrow bloom for you to look at while I am out tending to my beds.

gl 6 yarrow 6-16

Philoflora

pink climber at church 09
old picture of friend I helped this week

The job I was committed to doing in the church garden was deadheading roses. It took longer than I expected because in the years since I bowed out of regular gardening there, many more floribunda roses have been planted, and most of those needed a thorough trimming right about now.

The first day I put off driving over there until midday, and in spite of my sun hat I got hot and tired halfway through. So later in the week I started earlier in the morning and enjoyed my work very much. Some of the rose bushes are my old friends, and some other plants are, too.

Like this Phormium oP1100242r New Zealand Flax. I didn’t plant these, but on my watch, maybe five years ago, the plant in one pot died. I combed the nurseries in vain to find a replacement, and then I had a brilliant idea. Since these perennials grow constantly larger, I could “thin” and divide the two healthy plants and use what I cut off to start a new one in the third container.

It was a big project, but I completed it in a few hours one day. I spread a tarp on the concrete nearby, and after watering the pots thoroughly I managed to turn them on their sides without breaking them, and get the plants, dirt and roots dumped out. Then I cut and reassembled my plants and set them back in new planting mix. I must not have had my camera that day because the only pictures of the event are in my mind.P1100243

Now don’t they still look good? New Zealand Flax (not related to the Linum usitatissimum that we would call the real thing) doesn’t need much water, and in order to stay attractive it only wants old dry leaves pulled out or trimmed off from time to time. When I passed by these plants I noticed that this trimming hadn’t been done recently so I used my rose pruners and took care of them before I took their picture.P1100233

At home, where my tasks are more vast, I have run into problems. I put off adding horizontal support lines for the sweet peas until it would have been near impossible to get behind them to do it  — so they grew about twice as high as the trellising, and bravely reached for the sky, holding on with their delicate tendrils — to what? Only to each other. And then, still clinging together, they fell.P1100235

At this point the only rescue that could be accomplished was very crude and unpretty, but it should make it possible for me to get a few more bouquets of the flowers that are now on very short stems indeed, because of the heat.

seed bank crp

 

For my birthday a while back a friend took me to the Baker Creek Seed store near here, which is in an old bank building that they now call The Seed Bank. She wanted to buy me some seeds, but as it was a surprise I wasn’t at all prepared. What to get? I ended up with hollyhocks to plant next fall, and hyssop and fennel that I planted this spring, but I don’t remember what day. That’s flaky to begin with.P1090112

None of the seed packets from Baker Creek have much information onP1100253 them of the sort I’m used to. They don’t tell you how many days to maturity, or how deep to plant the seeds, or how many days they might take to sprout. Maybe they have that info online? If so, that’s too new-fangled for me; I don’t have a smart phone that I consult when I’m in the rows.

So I just watched my seed beds and kept them moist and saw that day after day nothing was coming up, except weeds and volunteer nasturtiums. One morning I decided it was time to face the failure and start in on the weeds – but wait! Those tiny two-pronged spikes I see when I put my face down by the dirt…. they just might be the beginnings of feathery fennel leaves! So I will wait a few more days. But the hyssop – I don’t think so.P1100252CA poppies yellow-pink 5-30-14

We put cages around our tomato plants, and I made labels to tape on the wire. Only about half as many plants as last year.

One successful  flower in the garden is this nice California Poppy in pink and yellow. I planted it last year from a mixed six-pack of seedlings, and it came back!

That’s my overview of the week’s Plant Love.

Not Lazy Summer Days


To be precise, summer only began yesterday, so I shouldn’t be complaining about the lack of hours sitting on a patio with tea, or in the shade reading a book. I will likely yet have time before we get to the fall equinox for solitary early-morning weeding sessions in the garden while towhees splash in the birdbath nearby. But lately I’ve been doing so many fun and good things, I’ve been getting a bit depleted.

A week ago today, I was baking pies. It was a satisfyingly creative job, even if I did have a huge mess afterward.

Initially I wanted to bake an apple pie for the father of my children, for Father’s Day. And at church the ladies were bringing in pies for the agape meal, also in honor of the day. I made three for that contribution, using up some flaked coconut and other goodies in my pantry.

This one above left was named Million Dollar Pie where I found the recipe online, but as I improved it by cutting the sugar in half, I’ll make that Two Million Dollars. It must have tasted like a candy bar, what with the coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts it featured, but none was left over for me to try.

The recipe I found for Coconut Pineapple Pie made two pies from a 14-oz. bag of flaked coconut and a large can of crushed pineapple, with some eggs and butter, etc. in the mix. I did get a taste of that concoction, and I wonder if it might have had more zing if I’d used a name brand of pineapple. Even with its sugar cut in half it was a little too blandly sweet for me, but people liked it.

My newest favorite kitchen gadget got used that day: silicone pie crust shields. In the past I used aluminum foil to keep my crusts from getting too brown, but foil is not nearly as handy.

The day after Father’s Day grandson “Pat” flew to California all by his lonesome from D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Airport, mostly to spend a while with Pippin’s family, but we grandparents had the happy task of meeting him at the Oakland airport. Oakland is next door to Berkeley, where year by year I as a child visited my own grandparents, so we stopped in that old neighborhood of Indian Rock and Indian Rock Park in the Berkeley Hills.

Indian Rock

My sisters and I used to play here, just down the block from my grandma’s house, and even my father had his picture taken on the Rock when he was a small boy. It’s such a lovely thing that the houses were built all around this cluster of craggy boulders that seem more likely to be found in the Sierra Nevada. Pat climbed “cross country” on them, while we older people used the flights of steps long ago cut in the rock.

My father in 1927

From the top you can see far and wide, both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, and at the bottom, where the hill slopes into the town of Albany, it’s possible to walk down to Solano Avenue by way of stairs passing between houses. It takes only a few minutes to go this way, descending to shops and in my grandma’s time, her beauty parlor and the ice cream parlor that she let us visit by ourselves. Those were the days when children were safe.

After a couple of days having Pat all to ourselves, I drove him north to have adventures with the Professor and fun little cousins.; we listened to most of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the way up, with me interrupting frequently to say, “Would you look at all those sunflowers!” (There were a couple of thousand acres, I think, visible from I-5.) and “Those are tomatoes in that field, and this is alfalfa….” Sadly, we couldn’t get one of those faraway views of Mt. Shasta because of clouds.

I had a few sweet hours with Scout and Ivy before I wore myself out driving back the very next day. I needed to come home and get ready for multiple house guests, and for events such as the much anticipated Feast of Pentecost.

Friday morning when I was back watering the garden I discovered that more of my unusually colored California poppies had bloomed, like this one.

A brief look-around at my flowers didn’t seem to be enough R&R, though, so I asked Mr. Glad to take me to the coast where I could “just sit and stare at the ocean.” He was happy to comply.


The weather wasn’t as summery and calm as the predictors had led us to expect, but the fog hung around only thinly so that we mostly noticed the sunshine. I tied a bandana around my head so that the wind wouldn’t make a total tangle of my hair, and we sat in the lee of a sand dune where I could rake my fingers through the warm sand for an hour.

I don’t know how long I may have to wait to experience even a short string of rejuvenating days, but for now I think my half of a lazy afternoon will do nicely.