August 4, 2020

Today was a maintenance day. Purple lantana is encroaching everywhere. I cut it back off the house wall, out of the pink geraniums, and off the railroad tie border.

I gave supplemental water to the pink salvia that is coming back slowly from pruning.  The earlier pruning may have been a bit too enthusiastic.

The white oleander shows more evidence of scale and the blooms are diseased.  I pruned the shrub back by a third, removed the diseased blooms and applied another round of neem oil.

I mowed the lawn at midday.  The lawn has mostly filled in up to the rock border on the downward slope and actually grows faster than the rest of the lawn.  Not all of it is crab grass and Bermuda grass.

August 3, 2020

I was up early to clear green growth just below the west end of the back retaining wall.  In the process I uncovered another sunflower.  In the great tradition, I trimmed the spent flowers and sowed the seeds onto the ground.

The hummingbird on the cherry salvia out the breakfast nook window is becoming a regular companion.

I adjusted the sprinkler in the east corner of the back lawn and directed it back towards the grass.  That corner has not yet produced more than seasonal Bermuda grass.  Still, the patch to clear next winter will be smaller.  I am thinking of seeding in the fall as well, as soon as the rains arrive.  Little Myrtle of the Far East will need to survive on a bubbler.  I replaced the caps blown off the irrigation hose in the Corner Garden, to limit excessive watering of the flagstones.

I enjoyed sitting in the summer house for a few minutes and taking in the land.  The breeze up the valley was delight.  While there, I twined the sweet pea up and down the guide wires.

The moon is full tonight and I can walk the house by moonlight.  I even saw a harvest moon in the early evening, low against the sky with that deep burnt orange glow, silhouetting the valley oaks east of the house.

August 1, 2020

I came back this afternoon after a week in Oakland finishing the Ethics Guide and taking down a twelve foot rose bush for recreation.

The evenings are still cool, and sunset came at 8.15 with twilight for another half hour.    Mike was up to work on the irrigation to the Circle Garden up at the barn, and asked me to inspect the work. Three plants on the far side of the circle were stressed in the heat, and I couldn’t figure why the irrigation feeders were not working or how to rescue them. Mike to the rescue – with a new higher diameter irrigation line and direct feeders off that line. His theory was that the old system had a tee, and the water flow continued forward without branching off.  I finished trimming dead growth off Shrub, and hopefully will encourage it come back.

Mike was intrigued at  a post that for the first time in 822 years, a single month will have three Saturdays, three Sundays and three Mondays.  Apparently, an omen of prosperity in Chinese culture.

July 27, 2020

I was out early morning for my chores. Temperatures are expected to remain high for the remainder of the week.  I will be in Oakland for most of the week finishing the edits for the Ethics Guide.  In addition to the benefit of high speed internet, temperatures in Oakland should be 20-25 degrees cooler by the Bay.  Thank you, California micro-climates.

I pruned back the two longest established salvias, pink and royal blue, in upper end of the front slope garden.  The goals are to avoid sprawl and conserve water.  The sage smell when cutting was a pleasant start to the morning.

July 26, 2020

I attended the Ione service this morning.  The ladies set up chairs on the lawn beside the church and under the shade of a magnificent, decades old oak tree.  A light breeze made for a beautiful morning.  Pastor Mark encouraged us to hum under our masks while the soloist sang.  I appreciated being with a community and coming back to my Sunday morning spiritual habit.

On the way home I saw a white egret on the pond.  There must still be some water  in the pond, although the shore line keeps creeping inward. I added supplemental water to the Circle Garden, but Shrub is not responding entirely.  I will ask Mike to look at the irrigation setup for that garden while I am away this week.

I watered and mulched the point of the Triangle Garden where the alyssum grows and adjusted the irrigation feeder for more water.  Mulch should help to conserve water.  The ground at that point of the garden was close to concrete.  Despite the dry season, the white alyssum is throwing out tiny auxiliaries.

July 25, 2020

Another gratifying two hours this morning clearing brush off the back slope and opening up the view of the land.  I uncovered another sunflower in the tangled grass.

The compression dripper on the jasmine was generating almost no water.  I added soil amendment and Preen mulch and watered heavily.  To my relief, Jasmine responded almost immediately.

This Saturday is a date for hazardous waste collection at the dump five miles up the road.  I cleaned out of lot of pesticides and insecticides that I had no idea the use.  In the process I found enough grass seed and weed control to last for the foreseeable future.  Interestingly, I found a bottle of wet water that is meant to help with water absorption in compacted soils.  I will try it on the segment of the ice plant border that is not as thriving.

I trimmed back the sun-generous gold lantana that was spilling everywhere.  Deadheading the geraniums is part of the daily rounds now.

July 23, 2020

After feeding Spots I went up to the Circle Garden at the barn. The oenothera, blue eyed grass and Shrub were not receiving adequate water, even though the time is up to 45 minutes daily.  Shrub never looked so deathly.  I removed the dead branches with loppers, about a third of the plant, and added supplemental water, and redirected an irrigation feeder.  I will need to monitor over the next few days to nurse it back to health.  I never thought that it needed irrigating before.

The Australian fuchsia has begun to bloom in the Large Box Garden, with its delicate pale pink flowers. The California fuchsia in the container has bloomed for a few weeks now, with the pale persimmon blooms. Now if I could only get the gooseberry to produce fuchsia flowers.


July 22, 2020

I ran water into the fire prevention pond overnight.  The water level is holding steady and circulating fresh water may help with algae.

This morning I made significant progress in clearing dead grass off the back slope, almost up to the Citrus Box.  I filled the entire truck bed and carted dead grass off to the burn pile.  It is very gratifying to look out from the house windows and see the rolling hills and valley oaks, without a barrier of overgrown dead weeds.  Now I can even look down and see Spots patrolling the lower pasture on the other side of the fire lane.

I replaced the irrigation feeder to the coleonema that was spewing water at a grand rate.  The replacement bubbler should solve the issue of water runoff down the driveway.   I will need to monitor its progress with steady but lower water.

I ran the weed whacker along the stone border and boxes in the back yard, and then continued along the rock wall at the bottom of the front slope garden.  I yanked out Bermuda grass and other volunteers out by the handful.  Hopefully less water down the slope will discourage growth along that rock border.

July 21, 2020

I had noticed that the venerable white osteopernum was  not thriving during this dry season.  The main irrigation line was buried in the neighboring sweet pea, and when I untangled it I found no irrigation feeder to the osteopernum. When plants are struggling, sometimes the explanation is simple.  I trimmed off the dead growth, attached a new feeder, and will apply supplemental water for a few days. The white osteopernum is one of the longest established plants with a deep root system.  It responded almost immediately to water.

While in the area, I reset irrigation feeders to the society garlic and the lilac osteopernum.  I need to investigate why the feeders pull off the irrigation manifold.

Rust nearly ate the middle rose alive.  I have never seen such an attack before.  I trimmed off the dead growth, which was two-thirds of the plant, and applied the Natria pest control.  The bottle is ancient and almost crumbled in the sun, and the sprayer was asthmatic.  I will need to look for a new bottle of rose pesticide control.

July 20, 2020

I mowed the back lawn today.  I keep the trowel handy, and dug out strange clumps of crab grass growing in the middle of the lawn.  Next I may try the crabgrass control that I found in the garage.

Mike and I were out on the pond this evening.  We made a rough measurement of the water level, and it does not seem to have dropped even with significant string of hot days.  We tied two concrete blocks to the well water line and dumped them overboard.  The blocks successfully submerged the line where we tied on the blocks, and it popped up to the surface a few feet further along.  We need to investigate that anomaly further.

We also took the boat up towards the inlet coming down from Verna Falls; it still has water but is receding.  Mr. Beaver was out for a swim when we sailed by.  I think he has a lodge on the island in the middle of the pond, or he has tucked under the tree roots.  As we tried to get closer, he submerged.  Peaceful evening on the S.S. Minnow out on the pond.