Tag Archives: sunflowers

Sunflowers shine on my garden.

gl dragonfly 2 by JR 5-31-16

So many flowers are growing in my garden that I haven’t ever grown before, or not for a long time. The Kangaroo Paws are ever-changing and fascinating.  One of the three plants sent up a flower stalk months ago, and the blooms are opening now. I didn’t know that these little rising-sun flowers that have popped out were even part of the deal.

In May Mrs. Bread took this photo of a dragonfly who flew right to that plant that matched his own color. He knew, even though the buds were small then. >>>gl P1040891 k paws 7-25-16gl P1040891 k paws closegl P1040894 k paws

 

 

 

 

When I was in Monterey, on California’s Central Coast, I saw lots of Kangaroo Paws in different colors. Some plants were seven feet high.

Maybe next year all three of mine will bloom at the same time!

 

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I bought a bale of rice straw with which to mulch the vegetables and strawberries, and I did get the job done just before the heat wave rolled in. While I was pulling hay out of the bale I was swept back to my childhood when we used to play in the hay barns at the neighbor’s horse ranch. I had completely forgotten about what was a fairly brief, but special year or two of my life, but that hay smell….

My everbearing type of strawberry plants are producing their second crop, and I’m getting more than in their first fruiting. Every other day or so I pick a few to eat in the garden. I’m enjoying them more than I expected, now that they are responding to the summer weather and being healthier.

gl berries P1040889While most plants are growing taller, the fennel is getting fat. I’m growing the bulbs to roast as vegetables. It must be time to pick them, because flowers are beginning to form on the feathery tops.

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Chamomile flowers are cute little skirted pom-poms. This is the German variety, which is said to grow to 2 ft., but mine is 27″ high 🙂 The short Roman kind is on the other side of the garden, covered now with tiny yellow buttons, and no skirts.

 

 

 

 

 

When I bought plants in the spring, for some reason I thought I was getting an orangey-brown variety of sunflower, but my giant specimens are lemon-yellow, and I do love them. They are nearly 8 ft. tall, and would be all of that, if they held their heads up just a tad straighter. But then they wouldn’t look quite right.

The goldfinches have been hanging around a lot. This morning six goldfinches and one house finch were having a drinking party at my fountain, and taking baths, too, while I sat in the garden eating breakfast. Later on I surprised one that was pecking at a sunflower leaf, and last week as I was walking around in the evening I came upon a goldfinch perched quietly on a bachelor’s button, enjoying the air a bit before retiring.

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I wonder if it was birds who ate my green beans…. Well, I consider everything experimental this year. It will be interesting to see which things want to come back next spring. In the meantime, I have learned how not to plant tomatoes in a box, and that if aphids show up on my kale, I better wash them off quickly. The sunflowers are trying to convince me — and so far it’s working — that they are a success.gl P1040874

If we would all break out into such glory when the summer sun shines!

It’s a Eureka.

I am now the proud owner of a lemon tree, for the first time in my life. Unless you count my father’s ten acres of lemons that I helped to pick when I was about twelve; I also learned how to drive the tractor down the rows a few yards at a time to catch up with the pickers and make it easy to load boxes on the trailer.P1020744

When I tell people that I am planning for a lemon tree, without fail they ask me if it will be a Meyer lemon. No, it will not. I don’t know if Meyers are often grown commercially, but my father always showed scorn at the mere mention of a Meyer lemon, because they weren’t Real Lemons. All of my experience my life long has been with the old standard variety, Eureka, so that is what I wanted.

The Meyers are more frost hardy. If there had been a market for them, my father might have been wise to consider Meyers, because his lemon crop was ruined by frost so many times that he eventually pulled out those trees and planted more of the orange trees that were safer and more profitable. I’ve been living most of my adult life we don’t get a citrus-killing frost very often, but just in case, my tree will be planted under the canopy of my huge pine. If temps in the 20’s are predicted I can cover my baby, and/or put Christmas lights on it for a little extra heat.

This would be a good time to give you one of my recipes using (Eureka) lemons. I see I’ve already shared my favorite Lemon Poppyseed Sandwich Cookies, Lemon Curd, and Egg Lemon Soup. Here’s a different one, a recipe it seems I’ve never transcribed into a computer document, which is also one of my favorite savory dishes. Lemon juice is not cooked into the stew, but juicy lemon wedges are served alongside bowls of these beans at the table and squeezed over in the desired amount.

When I discovered this recipe and tried it for the first time — maybe it came from Organic Gardening magazine in the 70’s? — it reminded me so much of the beans I ate in Turkey that I wrote the Turkish word as the main title of the recipe copied into my funky notebook.

GREEK BEANS

Greek Beans original-1

I don’t want to take time to type in the recipe right now because I have been so busy for several days, I am about to crash, and  hope to get sleep for another busy tomorrow. Much of the hubbub has to do with the garden project. At times four or five people have been working at once, on three different parts of the plan.P1020680

Soldier son came over again and finished the planting boxes. He also got the Craigslist playhouse off the driveway and into its final resting place, after building a foundation and floor and then moving it on to the spot that he had carefully leveled. P1020697

These pictures were taken a couple of days ago and already a lot more progress has been made; I hope that next week I can show you the paths all complete in their several layers.

Today the workers didn’t need me to make decisions or anything, so I caught up with some friends. First Elsie and I took a walk, which we’ve been trying for months to coordinate our schedules for. I took her on my favorite bike path loop which doesn’t require getting in a car to go anywhere.

When we got back to the house we stood out on the sidewalk looking up at the sunflowers and wondering why the birds haven’t eaten the seeds. Her eyes traveled up a little higher and spied a kestrel on the roof of my house! I am a great one for not seeing birds; if I had seen this one I wouldn’t have known what it was. But Elsie once saw a raptor like this grab a blue jay from her back yard so she read all about them. She also told me a story about an Australian woman she met who had lost her small dog to a hawk who swooped down and carried the tiny creature off.

I decided that today was the best day to cut the sunflower heads off, because if the birds don’t want them, I do, and I don’t want them getting rained on again and getting moldy. I went into the garage to get my loppers, and lop, lop, lop — the three plants with the seeds big enough to find and eat were down. I gave one seed head in a pie tin to Elsie — the seeds were falling out without us doing anything — and she went home to roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Mrs. Bread hadn’t seen my yard since the real landscaping has started, so I phoned her and she was able to come over. She helped me to harvest sunflower seeds, but we found the seeds toward the middle much harder to extract. We got tired of this digging and went to the store together to buy me  a handbag.

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I am having an improved blogging experience tonight. Since last winter I have acquired a laptop and an easy chair, so now instead of sitting in front of the desktop in the corner of the house we call Siberia, I can sit comfortably and toast my toes by the wood stove. At first I noticed how much easier it is to think when I’m warm, but now….I’m getting sleepy…very…sleepy. I’ll be back another day.

bees, butternuts, and ribes

GL 10 IMG_0791I just came in from working in the yard where if one is digging, toting and harvesting under the sun, it is hot.  My last sweaty session of gardening was in the mid-afternoon, this week when the temperature has been in the 90’s; that workout made me resolve to take the first morning available and head outdoors early to get my seedlings into the ground.

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baby collards

 

 

Of the seven packages of old seeds I tested, three have sprouted up thickly: collards, kale and parsley.

 

 

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I’ve been intending to plant them for over a week, but every time I get started I enGL 10 P1020110 sunflowersd up doing something else, only occasionally preparatory. This morning I spent a while trying to take pictures of the bees drinking from the mums. Last week I accidentally included a bee on a sunflower.

A gardener friend gave me sunflower seeds in the spring, and I bought some plants at the same time. The varieties planted from seed were mostly eaten by birds when they were little, but I do like the few that survived, better than the tall plants that bloomed earlier in the summer.

Lacking a back yard to garden in this summer, I had tucked the sunflowers and some vegetables into the borders of the dead lawn, where the irrigation emitters oversprayed anyway. In the middle of the lawn where this doesn’t happen,  big cracks have opened up in several places. I poked a yardstick into one and it went down 30″ easily. That’s a crevasse measuring 36″L x 4″W x 30″D.

I didn’t figure out the volume, but I started filling it with whatever organic material I could find, including flour left over from Y2K, old coffee beans, and a pile of dirt that had been sent over by my Landscape Lady from another installation. I topped it off with some old planting mix, and am thinking of planting some Rainbow Chard seeds in a jagged row.

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Rainbow Chard bed in foreground.

Another task I’ve worked on out front is harvesting my butternut squashes. These are the ones I picked last week, on the patio table where I had been transplanting things into and among pots. The total weight on those was 15#.P1020149

(In the blue bowl is a sunflower head from which I will save the seeds.)

Today I picked the remainder of thGLYP1020148e fruits, and brought them in when I was too hot to work any longer. That’s never happened to me before noon before! I set them on the counter and then pushed them aside to make a smoothie with frozen blueberries to help me cool down.

This second picking yielded 22#. The prize-winner weighed 7 1/2 pounds. This was my best butternut crop ever.

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Last week I found a fountain for the back yard, and yesterday when she came with the installer to talk about organizing the upcoming transformation, my Landscape Lady brought along a few plants that she had bought, with apologies for me having to babysit them; they are California natives that she had to get a little early before they sell out. I don’t mind babysitting at all — I am jazzed to have these promises of good things to come, right here on site.

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Ribes and Festuca

 

We discussed the most efficient sequence of the various steps, preparing beds, laying paths and irrigation, planting; who will build the vegetable boxes and how to prepare the greenhouse floor — Did you even know that I am planning for a greenhouse??

The two months during which I have been staring out at a sea of dirt seem like two years, but luckily I have had plenty of other work and fun to occupy my mind while I’m waiting. Now things are starting to happen.

 

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This Yerba Buena grows in the wild in our area, and will like the soil and shade under my pine tree where it can trail around. It’s edible and minty and good for making tea if I want. Lots of things in my new back yard will be edible, including the ribes, also known as Pink Flowering Currant. The Native Americans used to harvest the berries to eat, but I read that they are not that tasty to modern humans, so I plan to enjoy watching the birds feast on them while I relax on the bench nearby. As soon as it is sittable, I hope you will come and watch with me.

IMG_0364 s.f. a.m.

 

Hurry up and wait.

I woke this morning with a kink in my neck, and it never really went away, in spiIMG_0564 orange flowerte of many treatments including a thorough and deep massage by my friend who is staying here. When you are in pain, the hours pass slowly. I was lying on my bed a lot or taking walks, and thinking. I know I shouldn’t be typing at a computer, but — I am. While I was resting I read a line about Virginia Woolf, that she wrote in her diary every night, because she didn’t feel that anything had really happened unless she wrote it down.

In the morning I did my usual route on the bike path, following the advice of my chiropractor long ago who said that when you are walking “every step is like a spinal adjustment,” and as therapeutic. And I thought more about Metropolitan Anthony’s words I quoted recently about how to have an intense life.

I took pictures with my cell phone, even though the sun was a little too bright. I walked up the next street over, behind our house, the street where the people live who sing Chinese karaoke for the neighborhood, and who ran their leaf blower at 7:00 a.m. last Saturday. I wanted to write down their house number in case there is a next time with the leaf blower.IMG_0366 trees from CC

And I took this picture of the tree line. That Dr. Suess Tree is the redwood that dropped needles in our pool when we had a pool. My pine tree is the next one to its right. The other trees are in other yards in the neighborhood. I’m glad I don’t live in a new development where all the trees are young and short.

But living in a neighborhood of any sort requires patience. I have had yappy dogs next door for years, and I didn’t get too bothered by them until Mr. Glad died, and then I became irritable. My priest confessor warned me that this would happen, but when I lost my patience with the dogs who yipped and yapped nonstop every time I went into my yard, I didn’t repent. I started thinking about how some people have poisoned dogs, and I understood.

Then when I was standing in church on the Feast of the Transfiguration, the realization came to me that my attitude toward the dogs was the real problem. St. Herman or St. Seraphim would have made friends with the dogs, even through the fence, while I had not even thought of praying for them, who were after all only doing what is natural for dogs. My own angry thoughts were making a racket in my soul that was much nIMG_0553 berriesoisier than any dumb creature’s barking.

For a week I did pray for them, and for their owner; I knew she didn’t know what to do about their incessant outcry either. Then for three days while great tumult was happening in my yard, the poor pups probably didn’t know what to think, and if they were barking no one would have been able to hear it. After that, they were gone. Yes, their owner and they have moved to another town.

Having patience can be an intense activity. I think there must be a connection to the scripture, “Strive to enter into that rest.” When Met. Anthony tells us to “make haste,” I trust this is what he is talking about. I’m not too sure that his exhortation is for me right now, because any kind of hurrying or striving sounds like what I am trying to get away from.

He has said many other things about time and managing it to God’s glory, and I will be musing over more of his words here soon. For this evening, when I walked again at dusk, I was more restful about accepting the intensity, the struggle that has been given me. I don’t see any way to avoid it, if I wanted to.

IMG_0364 s.f. a.m.

I also have to accept the necessity of waiting. As many people have pointed out, there are lessons and pictures of my wider life, in this suburban back yard and town. On my evening walk the light was just right for photography, so most of these pictures were taken then.

Only yesterday I was complaining about my inferior tall sunflowers, but today my shorter variety is blooming, and looking cute. I just had to wait a little longer for it.