Monday, August 31, 2009

Poem of the Month: Touch the very Peace

To look at anything,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say
‘I have seen spring in these
Woods,’ will not do—you must
Be the thing that you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.
            John Moffitt

This poem is centering and peaceful for work in the garden.  That's appropriate for this day when fires rage on the hill above our neighborhood, threatening more homes and gardens. The smoke obscures our view of the hills and changes the colors of the foliage outside my window.  It's frightening and makes us realize how delicate and vulnerable all life is.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Caladiums are Cool


As the heat wreaks havoc on my blossoms in the August heat, I opted for more caladiums this year for color.  Here they are in reddish color next to my garden griffin statue.  He also protects the garden from bad spirits.  I usually use colors in the red and pink range in this long bed right off my patio.

This one is a cooler color with chartreuse leaf and accents in burgundy.
This one is a pinker shade next to my Tiki statue, bringing good luck from the Pacific islands. 
A little less pink and the cooler of shades of green.  They're related to elephant ears, which always fow so large.  Usually they grow much larger than mine.  But in the dry heat, they stay small, like a miniature caladium.  They love humididy.  When we were groing up in north Texas, my mother always had green and white ones on our front porch to match the color of the house's trim.  Very sheik. And she said they made the porch look cooler.  She's always been an inspirer to my gardens, but I'm much more eclectic and mismatched in my garden style.  At any rate I still think of cool Southern porches when I see caladiums. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reverie on a Spring Flower

On this triple-digit day, thoughts of spring (see May Dreams Garden) take me back to one of my favorite flowers, cerinthe.  It has been called the shrimp plant, but that name is so undignified for such a beautiful and graceful form.  Here it is in all its glory.

It is an old-fashioned plant, so only recently coming back into gardens.  The flowers are surrounded by leaves that join in the hurrah of color the flower has. The flower has all the look of being an aberation of the leaves that nestle it.  Its neat, upright habit in the photo above bely the branches' sprawling, haphazard habit.  The treat is that each branch is topped with one of these candy-like, deep-deep purple flowers, as in the photo below.
I try to save seed from the flowers each year.  If they drop before I succeed in doing that, I buy them.  The seed are hard to find, but more nurseries are carrying them.  Often they will self-seed where I least expect it.  But I love these surprises of nature and am each year glad to see them in my spring garden.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dog Days

I've just gotten out to water in hopes of saving some of the plants that were seriously wilted in the hot bed.  Hope they perk up.  The others will get a good watering in the dusk hours.  It was so hot here today that the heat came off the pavement in waves. They're predicting a few more days of this, so I will do my best to keep anyone in the garden from flagging.

I've really gotten into sedum of late.  I've used succulents other than cactus in the garden.  They don't mind the watering and survive the summer in great shape.  Sedum is another kind of succulent I'm very excited about.

This one is one of my favorites.  Besides being variegated, you can barely see the pink showing on it's branches.  And it is really growing in the heat. 
This one is also interesting, more in gray tones with leaves that look stickery, but are so soft to the touch.  Sedums are also really easy to root. I want to start making gifts for friends from the sedums and other succulents, arranged in small pots.  They're so easy to take care of.  This is one of my first tries.  I put a small statue in it that scares away bad spirits, as do the gargoyles on gothic churches.  I'll try some other such pots for friends.
One other very interesting development for sedum is that they are being developed into what are called sedum mats to replace parts or all of the lawn.  LA Times has a nice blog about it with photos.  In our water-hungry land new ideas for saving water are au courant.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Welcome to the first of many blogs. I think it'll be fun! I've written about my garden for years, but never in such a public way. So this is a beginning for me. I've been a gardener as far back as I can remember. My mother handed me my first spade and said, go to work. I planted Bachelor Buttons, still one of my favorite flowers. My secret garden has been an experiment with new plants and learning what will go best, where. It's never complete, but always in the making.

It's the end of August and the heat has taken it's toll on this southern California garden. It's the time for heat-loving plants. The tomatoes, sown in pots on my patio, are still producing, but wilt in the afternoon sun.

The passion flower vine is blooming profusely, as is the firecracker salvia, both plants for the hummingbirds of this garden. The roses that still bloom are short-lived, as the strong sun wilts and dries them quickly.

I've already ordered my fall vegetable seeds from Seeds of Change. I'm going to convert the sunniest beds into areas for vegetables. Most of my garden is shaded by a large live oak and nearby houses, so there is little garden area for most vegetables. I've spoken with my garden spirits (fairies, gnomes, as they are known by other names) and they feel I am right to try lettuce, chard, radish, cilantro and parsley in those spots.