Tag Archives: lamb’s ears

The happening illimitably earth.

I wanted to go walking on the earth this morning. It was still dark when sleep left me, so I waited a little while, and put some water in the fountain, and saw a perfect half moon in the seemingly illimitable sky. It had rained in the night and the air was damp and cool, but not at all cold.


I walked half a block, and looking east, I saw the prelude to the sun’s birthday.

Along the redwood-lined path, I sniffed the woodsy scent; I walked along the mowed hayfield where the essence of sage-y weeds was carried in the humidity. And then along the creek, with swampy smells wafting across the way.

And the sky! It was big. God was big and so rich toward me, in His earth and creation, His presence. My senses were not adequate to the feast and I knew I would be drunk before breakfast. Glory to God in the highest! It was the birthday of (my) life and love.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings; and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any – lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

–e.e. cummings

My Delta Sunflowers are big, and as they grow tall they break and fall over, so I have cut some, and made tangled and droopy bouquets that seem to be better suited to the patio table than the kitchen counter, where the flowers hung down and dropped little piles of pollen on the stone, on the appliances, whatever.

The lamb’s ears need thinning. My two species are so different! Here are the new ones, after cleaning up, in the front yard:

And here are the old survivors that keep growing just as vigorously, and even make flowers. But they look scraggly by comparison. I have to love my old vintage ears more; because they are thinner and gangly, they don’t make a convenient nest for the earwigs the way the fat and lush ones did this summer:

I found plums on the Elephant Heart Plum trees after all. First I spied one on the ground from the kitchen window: “Hey! That’s a plum!” So I went out right away and picked it up, and rummaged through the two trees to see if I had missed any others. I found three more fruits that didn’t seem to be quite ripe, hiding very effectively. So I ate the one that had fallen, and it was yummy. Since then I’ve been out twice to check on the other three, and they are nowhere to be found.

But our recent heat-smoke-humidity wave has started my figs ripening. This was the first one, which I discovered on the day when it had overnight turned from green to black. After taking its picture, I ate it, and it was everything a fig should be: juicy and sweet and more refreshing than a glass of water.

This is tasting touching hearing seeing breathing – yes.

Water, watercress, and catsear.

Dandelions and false dandelions – Over the last couple of years the false kind, or catsear, Hypochaeris radicata L., has flourished in dead or dying lawns in our town. Many people have let their lawns go, because of the drought, and there’s no recovering them now just because the winter was wet.

The catsear is prettier, I think, because the flowers are on long stems that wave in the breeze. I had them before my re-landscaping project began, and several of my neighbors still have them in abundance; here I am showing Ray’s place, as good as it ever looks, because he never does anything but mow once or twice a year….

And below, Vera’s front yard. Unlike Ray, Vera likes to garden, and she gave me my aloe saponaria start many years ago.

I never see real dandelions anymore. They must need more water, and the recent conditions are letting the catsear dominate.

I walk by this rose bush several times a week. It’s not cared for, and looks generally bad, but on this particular morning there was one rare perfect bloom proudly standing out from the mess.

The most interesting thing I’ve seen in a long time on my walks was two Asian women down at the creek gathering watercress.

And the prettiest thing was bees on Russian sage. I can’t resist trying to photograph one more bee on one more flower, especially if it is a pairing of insect and flower that I haven’t captured before. I was so happy on my walk this morning, I didn’t want it to end, so I changed my route to add a few more blocks, and that’s how I happened to see these bees.

 

Back in my own garden, more plants are blooming. Kim gave me hollyhock seeds three years ago, and I planted them in my new greenhouse last fall and transplanted them to a spot that I think must be too shady, because the plants are diminutive – but the first bloom is out!

 

 

When designing my backyard garden, we deliberately planted the salvia near the dodonea, to get this color contrast. It’s working right now!

Above: fig tree, mock orange, and sea holly.

I have two kinds of lamb’s ears: the old ones that were propagated from my old garden, and which are all sending up long flower spikes right now.

…and new ones bought at a nursery, which have broad leaves, more green, and may not flower much. Lots of people have told me that their lamb’s ears don’t. But one of them is sneaking out a flower, only to send it on to the sidewalk to risk a trampling.

June has brought warmer temperatures, and I hope to spend more time in the garden again. Yesterday my dear godmother came over and we did sit eating our ice cream where we could hear the bees humming and the see the goldfinches at the feeder.

And we could smell the sweet peas! I ended up picking four bouquets of them yesterday, including one to send home with her. I also had to trim back some of the stems to keep them from squishing the pole beans. So this may be the peak of the bloom. There’s not much room for me to grow anything else just yet, because it’s the Year of the Sweet Peas!

Gardening? I’m on it!

pimiento peppers with nasturtiums

I thought I would skip this week’s discussion of The Hidden Art of Homemaking at Ordo Amoris, because what on earth — or about growing things in the earth — could I possibly say, that I haven’t said in my 115 blog posts that already have the tag “garden”?

But this chapter comes in springtime when it’s hard not to talk about gardening. I’d rather be in the garden doing it, but what do you know, it’s raining as I begin this ramble. And I happened to run across a couple of other blog posts as reminders that I haven’t covered every aspect of the subject.

kale with Mexican bush sage

The spiritual aspects of gardening are well treated by Vigen Guroian whose book is excerpted in  this blog. But I have a hard time making myself read about gardens or gardening, and if I wanted to convince a non-gardener to give it a try, I would just have them work in my garden with me a few times, and hope that they might by osmosis come to see the fun to be had.

If you don’t have a yard, as Edith says you can have a pot of something, and if you don’t want that, you can grow some sprouts on your kitchen counter. There are so many kinds of sprouting seeds available that you can grow a tasty and gorgeous salad in a week or so.

I do love to visit other people’s gardens and even look at pictures of my own yards of yesteryear, so I looked long enough at this Garden Rant post to see that it was about the gardener’s dismay when he realized that he had planted a dreadfully monochromatic and inartistic design.

His problem is the flip side of what I am careful about, the planting of clashing colors. What? you say, echoing my husband, don’t all the colors go together, as in God’s creation? It doesn’t seem to work that way in my gardens. Magenta flowers have caused me problems in the past – they don’t look nice with some of the red flowers nearby.

Once a bunch of bright red-orange flowers pretty much spoiled the look of my pale yellow and pale pink roses when they sprouted up in between, while the lavender bush in the same spot blended in nicely. So, I try to avoid mismatches and matchy-matchy. Most of the pictures I’m posting here are of nice contrasts in my own garden, but the one below is from our friends’ neglected beach cottage yard. It’s surprising how glorious these bright and wild colors look together. In foggy coastal areas it seems that whatever flowers you have are a welcome brightness, and they always steal the show by contrast with the white or grey skies.

Here’s a much quieter scene: Greyish Lambs Ears make a soft contrast to almost any bright color, as with these pincushion flowers.

 

And even the magenta rhododendron is nice with blue campanula. I have learned to think of my garden beds as individual paintings, each with its own color scheme that may change somewhat with the seasons. Some have magenta, while some on the other side of the yard have red.

unusual California poppy with Hot Lips salvia

Either color can go with yellow or orange or blue…

It’s fun creating landscapes, if you don’t mind surprises, and  w – a – i – t – i – n – g  for things to grow and bloom, and sometimes having to re-do your design or be happy with a missing part that died. If you take pictures or actually take paints to paper and save an image of the way your plants’ colors and textures have miraculously blended to become Beautiful, you can remember and enjoy your past gardens for years to come.

Wandering into Urban Homesteads

God willing, today was the last day I will have to live out of my car. The floors took two weeks instead of one. In the meantime I have forgotten how to keep house–having a thick layer of fine wood dust on everything each night has beaten me down–and haven’t learned how to be a gypsy. I’ve been leaving the house at 9:00 and wandering around the county doing little errands or some shopping. I can take all the time I want to try on clothes or look for that special title at the library’s used book store…

But today, Memorial Day, the library was closed, and there was no place to be. My bed, my computer, and some vegetables were what I longed for. I have lost all my sociability and courage and just want to be a housewife hermit for a few months.

But before today’s last straw, some outings I enjoyed were gardening at church, and having a long-overdue chat with my priest; sitting in Starbucks on a day of pouring rain and drinking the largest Café Mocha I’ve ever indulged in; and visits with crafty gardening friends.

K. and S. got more chickens, and a hive of bees! They are growing everything from parsley and onions to raspberries and blueberries. K. has been knitting sweaters and socks. It was lovely to catch up on their homesteading developments.

One night we visited with our longtime friends who I will call The Artist and The Hermit, Art and Herm for short. Herm is one my best-ever book friends; we never have enough time to sit by a fire in winter, or on the patio in summer, to talk about our reading and how it is all connected. She and my husband never tire of sharing music from their old and new favorite musicians.

Art creates beauty, whether it’s in his sketchbook or the garden. Among the santolina, lavender, germander and California poppies he had this yellow-flowered giant I wasn’t familiar with. He said it was sage, and wanting to know just what sort, I went home and researched it online.It didn’t seem to be in the salvia group, so I set several of my botanical sleuths on the chase and found out that it is Jerusalem Sage, not a salvia but Phlomis fruticosa. I also learned that Salvia and Phlomis are both members of the Lamiacea family, also known as the mint family.

 

 

 

In addition to propagating unthirsty plants such as the ones that populate the textured garden in their front yard, he has created a clever drip/wicking irrigation system that gets the needed amount of water right to the roots of his back yard vegetables. In the photos here, if you look closely you can see that the wick goes into a piece of hose carrying the moisture deep to the root zone. The paper bag that normally hides the water pot from the sun has been lifted briefly for me to see it.


Writing about these inspiring gardens and people I love is helping bring my most stressful day and fortnight to a better close than I thought possible when I sat down here an hour ago. Just remembering gardens and books and good friends is soothing and healing.