A gardening and birding blog

Dec 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Courtesy of Dover Publications

Hope your spirits will be bright this holiday season! Happy Holidays, everyone! And may butterflies always come to your garden!

Oct 8, 2009

California flora

One of California's unusual flowering bushes

White crane among waterlilies

Lily hangs over the sidewalk.

Oct 1, 2009

Italian and Thai Basil

My dining room is fragrant with the smell of basil. I think it's the purplish Thai basil that's giving off the herbal fragrance. I planted both kinds this summer in the garden and have potted them for the indoors. I only hope they will survive in front of the south window, and may have to give them and the other indoor plants some artificial light.

In the green mix by the window are a long box of basil, a large pot with a banana plant and its large sucker (making it two plants), a lemon leaf tree, and a small planter with philodendron, a palm, and a few other tropical plants. I often lose the herbs in winter from lack of light and maybe some neglect. Will see how they do this winter.

Jul 15, 2009

Robin's Nest Revisited

I'e been neglecting this blog terribly, even though the garden is full of birds and critters, a few new plants and flowers, and there is a lot to post about.

Back to the robin's nest. We found out that robins can lay eggs up to three times a year, beginning in spring and through summer. A robin, I don't know which, has been coming back to the now empty nest. It has been sitting and fussing in the nest on and off and seems to have been fixing it up, maybe for another clutch of eggs?

However, I haven't seen the robin in a few days. Abandoned the nest again after buzzing back and forth to it, like a mother with empty nest syndrome (laugh)? My better half had left a long green water hose on the lawn. I hope that sight didn't scare the robin away! I wouldn't mind looking at another set of eggs getting hatched right outside my front window!

Anyway, I rolled up the green snake-like water hose and it's now out of sight! We'll see if said robin(s) come back!

Jun 18, 2009

A Robin's Empty Nest

Another empty nest! Today, the second of the two fledgling birds flew the coop,literally. The first one left yesterday and must have come back today as the second followed it out of the nest to the dogwood tree nearby. Now they have both flown off.

We had watched a robin build her nest over the past month and then settle in. When I came back after a 10 day vacation, I saw two large chicks fluffing and preening in a nest in the tall woody bush outside the front window. Mother bird would fly out to get food from the grass after a rain, but had back up food sources - a serviceberry tree in the front yard and a sour cherry tree in the back, both with lots of red fruit.

Now both chicks have flown the coop and I admit I miss watching them, almost as much as I missed having my own empty nest years ago when our second child left home!

Wonder if another robin will find the nest next year, if it will last that long!

I'm glad to see our garden supporting wildlife!

I have photos, but will post these later.

May 7, 2009

The Trail of the Wild Rose by Anthony Eglin, review

Gardners who love a mystery might like this book which discusses roses from China and the influences they had on the varieties of modern rose we have today.

The book weaves botanical and horticultural information throughout.
"The introduction of the China roses to Europe changed rose culture forevermore. Chinese roses offered several distinct traits that had been lacking in European roses of the eighteenth century." Ch. 13, p. 106.

This is a garden mystery written by Anthony Eglin, The Trail of the Wild Rose: An English Garden Mystery, published 2009, in which plant hunters are being targeted by an "assailant" in Britain.

Click here to see a review of the book: Trail of the Wild Rose.

May 5, 2009

Double Hibiscus

Summer of 2007.

Harvey, our bichon, thought there was a two-eyed monster by the back fence and barked at these white hibiscus one dusky evening. I had to walk up to the plant and give the flowers a shake to show him they were harmless!

Wide as large saucers, white and red hibiscus were blooming in the front and back yard. A second hibiscus opened up right next to the first and created this image of a double bloom.

I've since moved all the hibiscus plants to the backyard so they wouldn't have to bend and stretch to get the full sun.

Lion's Head Maple, Shishigashira, Ojishi

Another view of the Japanese Lion's Head Maple in the backyard.

Click on the pictures to see the crinkly leaves in detail.

The Shishigashira above is still thriving under the shade of taller trees, surrounded by a ground cover that keeps its roots moist.

Click here for more picture of the Lion's Head Maple.

Yarrow and Japanese maple

From last year's garden.

A Yarrow flower. These yarrow plants were uprooted several years ago from the front garden as they were not producing very good blooms. They kept popping up in the driveway median strip year after year and were mown down. Last year, I dug them up and replanted them where there is more sunlight, and they developed bright pink blooms!

Underneath the canopy of a green-stemmed maple. The leaves of this maple cultivar overlap and mound. The branches avoid the shade of the house and another bush, so there is a big space where I could duck into with the camera. The tree is only about 8 feet tall. It's one of the highlights of the garden.

It may be variegated Acer palmatum "Oridono Nishiki," a grafted tree also known as Orido nishiki. The name is said to mean "the rich colored fabric of the master."

There is some pink, white and cream in many new leaves in spring, though now in summer all are a bright pale green. The tree is said to reach the height of 15 feet or more in 15 or more years.

Polka dot plant, creeping jenny

Last summer's flowers.

The "polka dot" plant above, the only annual I have this year, is sitting in a pot with other greenery, yet to be replanted in a place that gets only morning sun. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the beautiful spotted leaves up close - dark pink, pink, and green combined in each leaf.

This young hosta is doing nicely and gives the garden bed some bright yellow color

A new Creeping Jenny keeps close to the ground, has been growing quickly, and also brightens up the flower bed (while we wait for the chrysanthemum bushes to add red and white and yellow in early fall). Hopefully there won't be a problem keeping Creeping Jenny under control!

Yellow and Purple Crocus

From last spring, the first flowers that appeared by the backyard fence were these bright crocuses, in a spot where the squirrels have not yet been able to dig them up!

Rambling Rose

Another transplant from another blog, this photo was taken in the backyard a few summers ago.

Forgot to raise the screen when I took this picture from the back window. The climbing roses with long branches made quite a little tree. This was before the 90 degree weather came, and the rains, to make havoc with the blooms. We enjoyed them for a couple of weeks, though.

Harvey, bichon frise

We lost our 14-year old bichon Harvey on June 5 last year and we still miss him. Even in his later years, Harv was never afraid to look you straight in the eye. Our fearless little dog used to challenge much bigger dogs in the neighborhood with his animated barking. but then he would become very friendly up close.

Garden Reminders

We bought this painted bunny as a nice reminder of our bichon, Harvey, whom we lost almost a year ago.

The stone angel in the backyard, where Harvey liked to explore, is hugging a rabbit, but we like to think it's a small dog.

Astible, False Spirea

From my summer garden a few years ago, I've pulled this picture my other blog, where it doesn't belong!

With the purple spikes, it's about a foot and a half high. It certainly likes part shade, moist soil, and being kept cool surrounded by other plants.

May 2, 2009

Mossy Roof, Kyoto

Moss adorns the roof over the front gate of a house in Kyoto. Taken last year during a walk in a residential section of the city.

Mar 16, 2009

Mar 15, 2009

Spring is Just around the Corner

We've seen the last of the snow, the tulips are pushing up their leaves, the rains have finished, the skies are sunny - seems like spring is almost here. Too cold to venture out into the garden for me. I've started a few seeds.

I may even grow more vegetables this year apart from the usual tomato and green and hot pepper plants.

There are new neighbors. Wonder what they will plant?

Feb 27, 2009

Climbing rose bush

This climbing rose bush blooms like crazy every year then stops after the first flowers fade. In 2007, I trimmed the bush and waited to see if it would continue producing flowers through the summer!

it didn't very much. I think it's a one-time perennial bloomer.

Sour cherry tree

A post from June 2007 re the backyard cherry tree.

No sour grapes here, even though heavy spring rains and winds flattened the cherry blossoms and discouraged the bees that usually pollinate this tree.

As a result there are about one-third or less of the usual amount of cherries this year. I decided not to pick them but to leave them for the birds, and for those eager backyard squirrels - gymnasts who hang upside down and adopt fasicinating postures to get at the fruit.

The tree is a Montmorency sour cherry, I believe, which is self pollinating, though when I bought the tree it was labeled a McKinley cherry tree. I was told that it needed another tree of the same kind for pollination. The tree has fruited every year, so either there is a similiar tree in the neighborhood or the tree really is a Montmorency.

In the past I have been creative with the cherries - have stewed the fruit with lots of sugar, removed the seeds, and made a cherry syrup to put in sangria, make a cherry drink, or pour over ice cream. I have also pitted the fruit and cooked them down in sugar to make filling for a traditional pie. So has my neighbor, who exchanges tomatoes from his garden for a bowl of our sour cherries!

Wonder how well the tree will blossom in spring 2009 after a harsh winter? And will there be enough bees to ensure a full covering of cherries?

Banana Tree

The plant has been doing well facing south in zone 5, and has so far weathered the cold while indoors by the window.

Feb 26, 2009

Outdoor Bonsai

In a residential section of Kyoto, I caught sight of this bonsai tree that was cut to fit the space it's in as well as to please the eye, its leaves artistically cut. The Japanese admire things that are "sculpted and controlled," in the words of writer Pico Iyer, who lived in Nara, close to Kyoto.

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see the "fence" made of horsetail plants that are grown closely together around the base of the tree. Very ingenious. The tree with its gnarled and shaped branches in a "pom pom" look, must be quite old.

Note the decorated ceramic tile roof of the house in the background.


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