Tag Archives: pomegranates

She danced in with a leafy surprise.

I was following a Cabbage White around the kale patch, when I happened to look into a squash blossom. It was pointing straight up like a cup, and I saw a hoverfly in the bottom, not hovering at that moment, but I assume drinking nectar…? He didn’t move. While I was pointing my camera down there, another hoverfly zipped right in. For a moment they were piled up, but soon arranged themselves one on either side of the cup. Who knows how long they might have sat companionably at their juice bar if a third insect, flying so fast I couldn’t see, hadn’t flown in, and quickly out again; that agitated the fellows and they departed.

On the same tour of my estate I noticed bees at the dwarf pomegranate bushes. They would buzz around slowly checking out various blooms; I soon realized that they were looking for flowers that were at the right stage of opening, because they have to crawl deep into the narrow cave to get what they want. The flowers don’t seem to be open very long before they start to wilt, and then there is no way to get in.

I never believed in Mother Nature before this week, when I found a gift that was so clearly chosen with my particular gardening eccentricities in mind, I thought immediately that she would be the one who left it for me. But — I went back to that quote from Chesterton, following St. Francis of Assisi, who said we should think of Nature more as our little dancing sister,” who delights us into laughter. We have the same Father, we and Nature. Okay then, I’ll say it was my Little Sister who gave it to me: a tomato plant.

I used to grow the absolute best flavored tomatoes that you could find anywhere. A big part of my method was to dry-farm them, the way the Italian immigrants to California used to do. You water when you plant them, deeply, but then not again all summer. I tweaked that system and usually gave mine a drink every month or so.

But in my new garden, I haven’t found a way to do this, or a place. This year I didn’t plant one tomato, and I gave away all my tomato cages. Recently I saw my neighbor Kim’s tomato “garden” which is all in big pots, and it gave me the idea to try that next summer, and I could put the pots in my nice hot utility yard, on the gravel.

This week I went out to the clothesline and saw a tomato already planted in that very space. I’m thinking it must have a deep root, as it’s not near a water source. I did laugh, I can tell you. Whether or not I get a tomato from this plant, it was a very sweet and thoughtful gift from my little sister, and I take it as a pointed word of encouragement about my idea for next summer’s tomato experiment.

Water music for workers and for hospitality.

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Last week I felt such relief from having a load lifted from my mind, I was immediately energized to prune the plum trees. These are the Elephant Heart plums that I had to buy two of after all. You might remember that I polled the neighbors to see if anyone had a Santa Rosa plum or an Elephant Heart to be the pollinator for mine. Several did, but then I found out that the helper tree would have to be within 50-100 feet of whatever I planted in my space. That is, next door. Which they weren’t.

A pruned tree might not be a lovely thing if it were not demonstrating a great success to the pruner, that of surmounting my fears and inadequacies and ignorance and getting it accomplished. Landscape Lady had given me some tips, and then I rgl P1030363 pruned plumead quite a bit online and printed off some pictures and advice about how many inches between scaffold branches and what percentage of the length of the branch to cut off, etc. — things I don’t already know from pruning ornamentals.

The relief I felt was over the completion of my fountain project. This was another story that was in process when I thought it was done, because the first fountain was found to be defective. The finish peeled off in big flakes before it had been here two months. The tasks of getting my money back and getting it taken away was hard enough, and then the shopping for a new one… I needed the help of two friends two days in a row to find what I wanted, and praise the Lord it was one I could buy right there, and have it set up within a few days. gl P1030392 hospitality

Now we garden workers and garden sitters can enjoy the accompaniment of the fountain song again. And I think I like this new one better than the first. I learned that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, which made me happy, because I want my new garden to be a place where I can be hospitable to my friends, both human and animal. If you look closely you can see the bell of bird seed on a pole in the distance behind the fountain, a gift to the birds from Kit.

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Kit is also pruning, the wisteria, right at this moment while the warm air and the water music come in the open windows to where I am typing. I told her to prune it hard, that she couldn’t kill it, and she climbed up on the arbor and has given it a drastic haircut. Maybe the towhees won’t think us very hospitable for taking away a nice platform for their nests.

 

The last few days have been downright balmy. So when I finished pruning I did more things, like planting a succulent and a thyme plant, and weeding in the front yard. And taking pictures of buds.

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I dearly love the viburnum buds that come out the end of January, two-by-two along their gracefully curving stems. Even the dwarf pomegranate bushes have buds, which I was not sure about when I first saw them last week. I bent down to trim the ends of the tangly branches, and saw red dots that looked like mites, they were so tiny and bright; now they are easier to recognize for what they are, bold upspringings of pomegranate life. I have to use my hand as a background in order to get the camera to focus.gl P1030378 pom buds

This season when sprouts come up and out of everywhere — I never can get used to it! I will have to write about it every year.

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This week I made another bold move: to phone the “Oriental Gardener” who leaves flyers around the neighborhood from time to time advertising his services. I got a bid from him for pruning the osmanthus at the front of the house. It has dead wood from drought damage, and needs to be reduced in size. He will do it tomorrow, so I took a Before picture this afternoon.

 

 

 

Housemate Susan told me that she used some kale from the front yard recently, and that pleased me very much, because I have not eaten one leaf of all the greens I planted last fall. While I was waiting for the Oriental Gardener to come by I picked my own bowlful of collards and Swiss chard and am looking forward to a good mess of greens real soon.

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I love a tree — and the earth.

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The most exciting thing that happened this week was the delivery of trees, and the most beautiful one that came was the pineapple guava. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautifGL P1020536ul specimen of tree. And so big already, stretching its arms wide, eager to grow on a trellis in the corner of my yard, behind a sitting area.

The trellis will provide support for a generous eight feet in each direction, sideways and up, and the tree will be one part of the design that blocks out things like the neighbors’ big boat across the fence; it will be one of the many plants that help to turn my yard into a sheltered and cozy oasis.GL P1020588

 

 

 

Early in the week workers drove noisy machines into the hard soil and clay to make trenches for irrigation pipes, and for electric wires to the spot where a fountain will play water music.

Landscape Lady brought more plants in the back of her car and we carried them together to the back, succulents and yarrow and salvia; lavender, phlomis and kangaroo paws, some still in bloom or with fruit, like this darling dwarf pomegranate.

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Now when I look out the window I can see so much more than the sea of dirt. In addition to the many pots of colorful plants, huddled in the spot reserved for the play house, I see orange or hot pink paint, drawing out the lines for paths and planting beds, so the edging will go in the right place, after the dirt goes in the right place. Landscape Lady has had to draw these lines several times because the workers tend to smudge them into oblivion.

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Huge trucks have dumped three kindsGL IMG_0866 dirt of dirt/rock into my driveway: base rock to form a good foundation for the gravel utility yard, compost to mix into the unknown stuff that was packed into the pool cavity, and vegetable planting mix to fill the boxes.

This is what it looked like before it all was carted to the proper places. Tomorrow another truck will roar slowly down the street and back into my driveway to dump three times this much, 20 yards of soil ! that Andres and Juan will push in wheelbarrows to the back yard and mound up in the planting areas. Waterlogue 1.1.4 (1.1.4) Preset Style = Natural Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = Normal Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Average Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Narrow Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light Options Faces = Enhance Faces

In the front yard my chard and collards and kale are growing; they liked the recent rain. The late sunflowers are pretty still, waving at the people walking by; I let the Waterlogue app paint one for me. I weeded and trimmed salvias and roses and more things out front, and staked the heavy mums again, on one of these gorgeous fall days that make a person fall in love with the eGL P1020602arth.

This afternoon I made my first-ever solitary trip to the apple farm that has supplied our family for at least 25 autumns now. It’s a little late, so they only had four of their 27 varieties for sale: Arkansas Black, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Rome Beauty. Even their names are delicious! I brought home Ladies and Beauties, and ate one as soon as I got back in the car.

I stopped to get some supplies for yet another koliva, the ceremonial dish we Orthodox make for memorial services. Tomorrow we will have prayers before Vespers, in memory of a parishioner who helped me learn to bake communion bread many years ago. As she doesn’t have any family in the parish who might want to do it, I offered to make the koliva.

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In this town I can’t get single colors of Jordan almonds, which are very traditional to include, so I sorted out the colors I wanted from an assortment. The bright chocolate-covered sunflower seeds looked appealing, too, so I picked over and separated some of those. I don’t know yet which I will use for decorating the dish of boiled wheat — except for the chocolate pastilles; they will go on top for sure.

Some recipes say that pomegranate seeds are essential, to mix in with the wheat and nuts, etc., but of course they aren’t always in season, and they weren’t when I made my first batches. Now I guess you can often find them frozen in upscale markets, but certainly in centuries past not all memorials were held in late summer or fall. So I didn’t worry about not having them. GL P1020612

Now that Pearl has moved back to California, she has a giant pomegranate tree right near her front door! And this time I have the seeds to add to my recipe. A pomegranate is a wondrous thing; I remember an orchard of them near my house as a child, and the first time I broke into a fruit and discovered the honeycGL P1020587omb of juicy red seeds. My grandson Liam eats each seed carefully, biting it and sucking out the juice, discarding the (mostly) pithy part.

One pomegranate yielded just over a cup of seeds. I boiled my wheat tonight, and ate another apple, and now that I have told you some of the story of my week, I will go to bed happy and in love.

Smelling the decorations.

It’s the time of year when I go into the garden and get high on the aromas coming from the earth and the air. My immediate impulse is to take pictures of all the plants and trees that are making me love them and making me happy. I get them uploaded and find out that actually nothing looks that great: shriveling tomato vines with rotting fruit and flies underneath; weeds mixed in with the leaves blown in from the neighbors; redwood branches cluttering the surface and bottom of the swimming pool.

Around here, the excitement is coming through the senses other than the visual. Just taking some time to skim the debris poms 14from the pool somehow feels fallish to me, and is very relaxing, as I listen to the blip-blip of the water, and make things tidier there. Even though the afternoons have been hot, you can tell that it’s not summer, maybe because the rays of the sun are coming at a slant so the heat is less direct.

At the market, I’m back to the visual; heaps of pumpkins look extravagant and appropriate, signifying the abundance coming from the farms. From the highway I can see fields of corn, some of which will be carved out with paths to make a maze for the schoolchildren to wander through. And on my kitchen counter fields of tomatoes look normal for this time of year.

For many years I’ve made a habit of buying a pumpkin or two, to put on our front step, but this year I’m restraining myself. They never look as nice when I separate them from the crowd where they seem to belong, especially when squeezed into a corner on the concrete by the door. I’m not ppump bread joy 14repared to spend a bundle to buy a crowd of them with which to make a mountain on our dead lawn, though this would be the year of opportunity!

So this time, I will enjoy looking at the piles at the stores — or on Pinterest. To add to our tomato decor I bought some pomegranates, which fit better in our space, and turned out to be much more economical.

But wait — I’m not going to forsake pumpkins altogether. My favorite market didn’t have any little pie pumpkins today, but soon I will find some and invest in a couple of them so that I can have the best fruit for cooking up a pie or bread like DIL Joy brought us last weekend. That’s the way to turn a visually pleasing pumpkin into an olfactory autumn event. Mmm-mm.

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