This morning I confirmed what we suspected: Bluebirds have hatched in the birdhouse! I peeked in, sort of, with my phone, because the angle into the little space doesn’t work for my big head, and there was a hefty earthworm lying on the nest, too. This family has somehow been planned since February, when the mating pair first started investigating my Bluebird House, as it is marketed. It’s the second time for bluebirds; chickadees used it several times, too.
My own house is getting a new roof, a blessing of an entirely different category probably not to be compared with baby birds, but both of those events of the week are happy and uncommon. One way they differ is in longevity. I am pretty sure that this roof will last 25 years, and far “outlive” those tender creatures who recently pecked themselves into the open air. The roofers are making loud clomping, thudding and banging noises, while the baby birds sweetly peep. Also, my new roof is not blue.
In the front garden, I have let the asparagus go to ferning, making food for next year. It looks like a big flyaway bush hiding my car, which I parked on the street so that the roofers could use the driveway:
In the back, I moved all the potted plants away from the house so that they don’t get little pieces of old roofing shingles dropped on them. That’s penstemon in the foreground:
Love-in-a-Mist is growing nicely where I scattered seeds last summer. It is known for self-sowing, so I’m hoping this will happen again and again. Hello, May Flowers!
My first sewing teacher used to tell me that she found sewing relaxing. I have never become skilled enough that I ever found that to be true for me. Even when I generally derived great satisfaction from sewing darling doll clothes, my neck would get stiff doing the tiny hand stitches at the end. It would never occur to me to pick up a needle and thread for fun or sustenance, during the days of preparation for a big expedition.
My usual way is to endanger my overall health by snacking and forgoing exercise as I become more anxious about setting off, so I was surprised at myself for taking several walks this week. This morning I even walked the whole two miles of what was formerly my daily routine. I saw a family of quail, and some old favorite plants, but it was too early for the bees.
And now here I am working on yet another blog post, after reading and thinking and perusing this and that… one might think it a pretty inefficient use of my limited time, because I am up against looming deadlines. But, I am finding that these activities are as necessary to my overall well-being as the walking is to my legs and back — sometimes I think they are more so.
Evidently there is something about engaging in creative activity that is calming, and clears the mind. The preparations for a big social event also constitute a creative work, but that one is not my favorite, and requires a lot of extra oomph, plus a type of thinking that is a stretch for me. So I sustain myself with words and flowers.
My first Love-in-a-Mist flower bloomed today! This was a Big Event, a project that started off with my longstanding admiration for these flowers, and a desire to grow them myself. It took years, and the donation of seeds from two friends, and then a couple more years, before I got them planted in the greenhouse in the spring. I put them in three different places in the garden, and hope that they will self-sow at least a little and keep themselves going from now on.
All the white echinacea are standing up tall and elegant, not losing their gracefulness even when the overeager asparagus fronds drape themselves on them.
When the sunflower that the bee sleepers were using began to fade, they rearranged themselves on others. The three above were seen yesterday morning, but last night and today, no bees at all were bedded down in the open — only this small creature was nestled in a sunflower bud:
I am traveling next week, driving nearly to the bottom of the state, which I’ve never done before. My trip will involve lots of visiting with friends and family, a wedding, and a mountain cabin. I hope to tell you about some of the bloggy details as they emerge, but once I’ve torn myself away from my desktop and my garden, there’s no telling what might happen!
For us Orthodox Christians, Holy Thursday is still four weeks in the future. So when I woke I wasn’t immediately thinking about the events of that day that my western Christian friends and family are commemorating.
Rather, I thought to go open the greenhouse door so that it doesn’t get over 100 degrees in there today. On Monday, before I had realized the effect of the sun’s changing orientation in the sky, and how it has been shining on the winter-shaded greenhouse more minutes of every day, I glanced at my indoor-outdoor thermometer to see — 113°. Uh-oh, I don’t think any of my plants would like that for very long.
Look what was blooming this first day of April: a Christmas cactus. It is one of many I propagated from the large cactus I gave away, and you can see in the picture below another five that I’d like to give away. If any of my readers who lives within an hour’s drive of me would like one of these smaller plants, please let me know and I will bring it to you. Maybe they will bloom soon, too…?
More scenes from the greenhouse, where the newer Love-in-a-Mist seeds are outperforming the older ones. The Winter Luxury Pumpkin starts are getting their secondary leaves. This is a small heirloom pumpkin that I got from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. It has a reputation for good flavor.
I also picked asparagus early this morning, because the stalks continue to emerge at record speed and in record numbers. Only half of the crowns that I originally planted survive, but those produce more every year, so I really have plenty….. though I do wonder if one can ever have too much asparagus.
I accidentally broke off one crisp spear in the middle, and it only took me a few seconds to decide to eat it right then and there. That made me think back to various discoveries over my gardening life, of the many vegetables that are pretty tasty when they come right off the plant and are eaten “alive.” Asparagus is one of those that is sweet and juicy at that moment, but it loses flavor and tenderness fast. I used also to eat green beans, sweet corn, and bell peppers before I ever got them into the house.
I know one can eat Brussels sprouts raw, but I don’t think I have. And I’ve never grown them successfully, either. But since vegetables are the topic at hand, here is my favorite way to cook that one. Now that I have a standard recipe and can count on success, it’s easy to have a container in the fridge that I can snack on. They are like candy to me, but more satisfying, of course.
In the front yard, in ascending order of the day’s favorites:
Returning to the most beautiful remembrance of the day….
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
“This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
This map shows how severe our current drought is, affecting half the nation. The darker areas are the worst, named “Exceptional Drought,” and my part of California is down a notch from that, at “Extreme Drought.” You can see this and four other instructive maps more clearly here: Five Maps of America’s Massive Drought.
We began several months ago in our household to collect water in buckets in the shower, to use for flushing the toilets. We are also letting our lawn die. I didn’t want a lawn anyway; I’d rather have flowers like these below, which I snapped at the library this morning.
They are Matilija Poppies (Romneya), and if you have a big space they can be a good fit – so dramatic and graceful. I tried them once but didn’t really have room. They prefer dry soil.
I don’t remember what these fun blue flowers are, but they were also decorating the parking lot at the library, obviously part of a planned xeriscape. [Thanks to Jeannette for enlightening me in a comment below.]
Over the years we Glads have emphasized drought-tolerant ornamentals in our landscaping and have collected quite a few. Sweet alyssum and Lamb’s Ears are always ready to sprout up and fill spots where thirstier plants languish, so much so that we are constantly cutting them back so that other less invasive plants like this salvia and California poppies can also thrive. California poppies grow all over the bare golden-brown hills in the summer, where where not a drop of rain falls.
As I went looking through my pictures for examples of plants that are good choices for the arid West, I discovered more than I remembered, like aloes, rosemary and lavender.
Even the ground morning glory that grew beneath the manzanita for years required little water. The orange-topped succulent is an Aloe Saponaria.
In the front yard my favorite of these plants that thrive in drought is the pink Mexican Evening Primrose. In the middle of summer it doesn’t need water more than once a month, and it never stops blooming from spring through fall.
And in the back, the prize goes to the Mexican Bush Sage (do you notice a theme here?). It likewise has its long spikes of purple for half the year, and makes me happy by the hummingbirds that love to visit it and that I can watch through the window.
I don’t know what lesson to take from all this beauty. So I guess I’ll just take the beauty. And pray for that sake of all the plants that next winter will bring lots of rain.