As soon as I pulled out the extravagant sweet peas, the Blue Lake pole beans were happy to take over that planting box, sharing with basil. The other box is empty, and I don’t seem to have time even to think about what to do with it — so, I guess nothing until next month. But I picked enough basil to make a batch of pesto, and now am starting to enjoy the beans.
Flowers are everywhere, too. The white echinacea and the Delta Sunflowers in the front garden are my favorites. Those sunflowers are amazing – For years I’d been seeing them wave their bright blooms in the hot winds of California’s Central Valley, on zero summer water. Even last week I took some pictures as I was on my way home from the mountains, showing how they love to volunteer and reseed themselves in temperatures over 100°.
Landscape Lady suggested that I consider them for the way they bloom over the whole season, last fall when I was talking about sunflowers in the front, and she offered to share some of the plants that make babies year after year at her own place. She gave me five, and all five quickly revived from transplanting and started growing like the weeds that they are at heart.
They naturally look a lot nicer here where they get a little moisture to their roots.
I’ve been gadding about too much to be an attentive gardener — that’s where it pays off to have this relatively low-maintenance kind of space that produces so much beauty to welcome me home in a new way every time I return.
Today was one of the hottest days of the summer, at least 97° in my garden at the peak. But after a week of my being indisposed and then out of town, there were piles of yard work that needed to be done. Piles to be made, of pine needles and trimmings of spent flowers, and wisteria vines. I was able to plan my day so as to work (or walk) outside until 11:00, and then again at 3:30 or 4:00. When the sun is slant, the heat is not so unendurable and long-lasting.
The Apple Blossom penstemon is at its peak right now, so it doesn’t need trimming – only admiring.
Last month I gave the lemon tree another iron treatment and some extra food, so the new leaves are looking healthy. And the lemons are growing, too – yay!
Some things are a little out of sync with the seasons – a couple of the lavender plants are in full bloom, almost three months late. By next spring I expect they will be on track with the rest.
I pulled all the remaining leeks to make room for planting those greens, and lots of pea seeds. I hope later this week.
In the afternoon I chopped the roots and the upper tops off the leeks, standing at the patio table in the shade. It was still very warm, but since I was not exerting myself very much I could just bask in the balminess, and remember periods of my life when I lived in places with less coastal (brrrr!) influence.
I was a little worried when I noticed that about half of the leeks had started to form tall stalks. I wondered if they would be the woody and unusable parts that happen when flowers are forming.
But I read online that if that is the case, there will not be layers of flesh. And if you do find a hard and tough core, they say you can just discard that part and use the remainder of the leek. These stalks had no signs of flower buds, and inside they looked normal. So I cleaned them and added them to the pile ready to chop and cook.
Today was probably the last hottest day. Tomorrow won’t likely get above 90°, and the next day the high will be in the 70’s. As I type, at 7:30 in the evening, it is still 80° outside. 🙂 This weather is too late to ripen the tomatoes, but comes at the perfect time to warm my soul.
In a way, my gardens have been too successful. I planted tomatoes where they didn’t have room to grow, and have had to drastically prune them back so that I could get in there to pick them as they ripen. No pretty picture to show you there.
The fennel grew so lovely – now I realize it was overgrown and woody before I picked it. I’m eating it anyway, and the edible parts are yummy. Next year will be my third growing fennel and it should be the charm.
Rudyard Kipling said,
“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.”
That goes for harvesting, too! But the making I need to do today and next week concerns seeds…. Before my next trip to see grandchildren, I have a few weeks to get seeds planted in flats in the greenhouse, and to water them once or more daily until they are big enough to set out in the garden where they will get automatic watering from then on.
What seeds? I don’t even know yet. But perhaps these that I received from Prairie Moon. I saw a picture on a blog post, of unidentified coneflowers growing wild on the prairie, and researched to find out what variety it might be, and where to buy seeds. It turns out they are Echinacea pallida. The company sent me milkweed seeds also, as a gift, and I dug out my own milkweed I had collected a couple of years ago. I’m not even sure that I can successfully plant them now to have plants to set out in the spring. Probably I should be reading up on that instead of writing and speculating!
My front yard is taking a lot of attention. In July we laid cardboard and mulch thickly all over the lawn (this is called “sheet mulching”) to kill it, and now that that has been done stonemasons are beginning work on a walkway and a wall.
Later we’ll landscape with some plants about which I am still deciding. I had two rosemary bushes in the front, one of which was about 25 years old. Landscape Lady said it looked like a Bristlecone Pine, and at first we were going to keep it around for its venerableness. But it wasn’t that worthy, and would scratch and poke me twice a year when I took the pruners to it, over the years shaping it into its crotchety self. I didn’t want to go through that one more time….so I took parting pictures.
Now that I have great soil and many options for growing various things, I don’t know if I will ever have a chance of “keeping up” with my garden. But I plan to go on enjoying it, and reporting about it here. Perhaps even while sitting in the shade.
What a strange day… starting with a strange night, during which I was awake for four hours. What? At first I tried to pray and go back to sleep at the same time, but after an hour or so of that I switched on the light and sat in bed writing in my journal. I didn’t turn on my phone – yay for me! But if I had I might have been able to talk with my dear cousin who was wishing from the East Coast that she could talk to me, as she wrote, “I wish you were not still asleep.” Little did she guess that I was not.
Eventually I slept a little more, and got up late. Today is sunnier than in a long time, and I noticed out the window the hopbushes that line the fences, also looking brighter than ever decked in their flowers. I took my lunch outside to eat under the umbrella, with my back out of the shady area and baking, but as in a very slow oven, so I remained in place.
I conversed with friends blog-style about moments and fleeting time and what happens to those moments: Are they like the picture Annie Dillard paints in words for us, “…a freely given canvas… constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream….” ? The violence of her image doesn’t set well with me now, but just a few months ago its tone would have matched what I was feeling, not about a moment but about the entire lifetime of my husband.
Now here I am, in a lovely moment, a warm and springy afternoon with birds and insects crossing paths in the air around me. The bird bath has water in it and the towhees are taking advantage of that — or is it just one towhee who has a daily bath, and a long one at that? He splashes around for about five minutes while I watch and wait from the kitchen window, because I know that when he’s satisfied I will need to refill the bowl.
Near the birdbath is one of my two remaining Mexican Bush Sage plants. The old one at which I used to watch hummingbirds out my window for several months of the year was dug up and divided into six plants. The one we transplanted into the new garden died, and the others spent the winter in pots, three of which I gave away on Freecycle this week. I always forget until I get up close, how furry the flowers of this plant are.
And the echinacea are already blooming. At this time I have six of this variety, but no traditional purple ones. I was planning to buy a purple one to replace one that was eaten by snails, but didn’t find one anywhere.
As I bask in this moment of an hour or more I am writing, yes, because that is what I do with many of my moments and minutes and hours. It isn’t often that I am enjoying a space other than my computer corner while I write, but today I’ve written in two other places. Because I took the trouble to move myself out here to the spot in my garden where I have the wide view of everything from Margarita Manzanita to the bird feeders to the greenhouse, my moment seems to expand into deliciousness. And this isn’t the time to wonder where it has gone, poof!
I was planning to sit out here and read this book that I haven’t given up on by any means, but have been neglecting. Then I looked aside and saw the first calendula flower, and this is what happened. But now I will get down to business.