Tag Archives: manzanita

Breakfast by the creek.

It’s invigorating to get outdoors in the springtime, at least, when we aren’t having cold winds and cloudy days. Last Saturday when Liam and Laddie were here, they collected manzanita berries from my bush and made pies.

Every time I go to church lately, something new is bursting with color. A type of salvia I haven’t seen elsewhere has flowers that glow like jewels:

And the California poppies! I feel that own garden will not be truly complete until these orange poppies are blooming in it — but I am a little afraid to throw out the seed and have them grow like weeds.

This morning, I took a walk by the creek. You might guess from my shadow that I am shaped like a bug. But I assure you, I more closely resemble a human.

From the bridge I heard a toad croaking;
blue jays were busy about something, hopping around in the trees.
Many other birds were singing and chirping. I don’t know who they were.

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I had set out before having breakfast, or so much as a glass of water. Uh… forgot that I can’t do that anymore. The squirrel scrabbling up and down a tree contrasted sharply with my slowing gait.

Besides the many wild things growing along the path, there are the backyard plants that have climbed over the fences. Like this trumpet vine:

 

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honeysuckle

Oh, the banks of honeysuckle were sweet! But I’m afraid they didn’t make a proper energizing breakfast, no matter how deep the whiffs I inhaled. And I stopped so many times to frame pictures with my phone’s camera, my excursion grew longer and longer…

Salsify is opening its puffy blooms.

I think the Queen Anne’s Lace must bloom six months of the year. It is already bearing fully opened flowers, as well as these darling younger ones:

When I finally got home, it didn’t take long to satisfy my body’s need for fuel.
My soul had already had a full breakfast!

What streams and shines.

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The abundant rain made January of 2017 less depressing than average for that dark and cold month of the year. It looks likely that my town will have received 40 inches for the season-to-date before the end of the week. Usually we get 20+ inches. When it rains the air is cleared of pollutants and the burn restrictions are lifted – so we had lots of wood fires which are always cheering!

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Christmas joy and lightness always carry me through Theophany on January 6th, but then I have the reality of a Christmas tree that needs taking down eventually. I strained my shoulder slightly a few weeks ago, which slowed me down, but it gave me time to read five books in just the first month of the year, often sitting in front of that woodstove. I started drinking coffee, which is a mood-elevator for sure… and now suddenly, it’s February, and the weather has been 20 degrees milder.

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Flocks of goldfinches and juncos have returned to the garden, swooping down from the bare branches of the snowball bush. The juncos peck around on the ground, and the finches hang all over the nyger seed feeder, even in the rain.

And flowersgl-asparagus-2-8-17-standing-water are coming on dear Margarita Manzanita, buds on the currant bushes and calla lilies. I went out and took pictures just now under the umbrella, so everything is too wet to be optimal, revealing how one of my asparagus beds is less than optimal – we didn’t dig down deep enough into the adobe clay, and now there is standing water. That may not portend good for the future of that planting.

I made several gallons total of various soups in January, including Barley Buttermilk Soup, which I decided to try incorporating into bread yesterday. Here you have it, Barley Buttermilk Bread. It was enough dough that I ought to have made three loaves of it, but what I did was bake one oval loaf on my pizza stone, with butter brushed on top toward the end, and a round one in the Dutch oven. I added some oat flour which made it soft, but by this morning its crumb is very nice, and I like it very much… even too much.

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It’s been a long time since I had eggs from hens who ate lots of greens. My fellow communion bread-baker James brought some pale blue-green eggs from his Americaunas to our last baking session, and I was the lucky one to take them home, just as he had brought them, in the bottom of a paper shopping bag. They are so wonderfully orange-yolked, I had to take their picture, too. They go well with Barley-Buttermilk Bread. 🙂

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Every week the peas and the poppies have been beaten down by the rain…

gl-poppies-p1060639But they keep growing and blooming. Overall, they appear to thrive in it. I am reminded of this verse from the hymn “O Worship the King,” which likens God’s provision for us generally to the moisture that falls.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Sometimes, it is not only a metaphor.

The fullness of spending and leisure.

A pair of blue jays were playing in my manzanita and pine when I came back from my walk this foggy morning. I hadn’t seen any here in many months. Oh, down by the creek I do, not far away; I don’t wonder that they prefer to hang out where there’s even more going on, more things to eat. True, there are no manzanita bushes or Canary Island Pines by the creek; maybe they came here for the the dried manzanita berries under the bush.

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Anyone who has been following the Iceland poppy contest in my garden will want to see what I think is the winner of the endurance trial. It is probably an indication of how cool our summer has been, that one plant stayed alive all through August and accomplished a lonely bloom on September 7th. Surely it is the last! — and the plant does appear to be shriveling, as its companions did a few weeks ago.

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In the vegetable boxes, mice, as I suppose, are eating tomatoes. I don’t seem to have energy to find a deterrent to these nightly raids; I do know that the mice probably need the fruit more than I do… but it’s an ugly mess they are making, and the solution is probably to pull out the Early Girls that are the favored item on the mouse menu. With the weather we’ve been getting, it’s not likely that the tomatoes will get as ripe as I require, anyway, and I have seen some appealing recipes for fried green tomatoes lately.

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My front yard re-landscaping might be completed this month. Right now we are waiting … the hardscape is finished, these pictures showing the work of two weeks ago.

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And back in the back yard, I finally bought a bench for the corner by the birdhouse, and Soldier happened to be here soon after to assemble it for me. Look how tall the native currants have grown up in that corner! As soon as the rains begin (God willing, they shall) the calla lilies will start sprouting enthusiastically and I’ll have to pull them out, eternally.

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Soldier’s whole family was here for part of a day, and Liam worked in the playhouse, making a pie (so he said) out of flowers and herbs I told him he might pick for the purpose.

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Autumn Joy sedum is still looking beautiful, as it has for at least nine months now, and the acanthus is sending out new flower stalks.

 

 

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As I’ve been writing, and drinking my tea, the sun came out. Now it seems possible that I might get myself out to do some cleanup in the garden. Today I am going to soak my pea seeds, and hope to plant them tomorrow.

I have a feeling that it will always be a challenge, keeping up with all the things I want to do and need to do in the garden, not letting the housework go too neglected, reading and writing and praying, loving my friends and family, communing and working at church…. Life is very full. Today is very full. I looked for a closing quote to express something of what I’m feeling, but could find nothing more suitable than these lighthearted admonitions.

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ~John Gunther

That one I’ve already taken care of.

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you. ~Annie Dillard

And this one is next!

 

Xerophytes

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Xerophytes are plants that are xerophilous, which means they have special features that enable them to survive in very dry environments. One of my favorite xerophytes is the Bristlecone Pine, which I wrote about some years ago, calling them Gnarly Patriarchs.

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gnarly patriarch

Some of the plants in my home landscape are considered to be xerophilous, though to maintain a xeriscape such as I have it is not necessary to have nothing but xerophytes. A xeriscape, in addition to featuring drought-tolerant plants, uses deep mulches and other means of conserving water besides those that are built into the plants themselves.

In a patch by my driveway, enclosed on all sides by concrete, Mexican Evening Primrose blooms and thrives all summer with a little water once a month or so. It thrives so well that such an enclosed space as it lives in here is usually the best spot for this plant, unless you are okay with it taking over the whole garden.

Mexican Evening Primrose
Mexican Evening Primrose
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toadflax – Linaria vulgaris, with warrigal

The picture at right is of warrigal or New Zealand Spinach, an edible green, growing alongside a yellow mystery flower [since discovered to be toadflax], both of which I consider quite xerophilous, as they lived in my back yard for months last summer with no water, and never so much as wilted.

That root xeros comes from the Greek, for dry. My current project is to incorporate more of these unthirsty friends into a plan for my front yard, and I hope to have them planted by the fall.