April 9, 2021

This morning I played at the funeral of John Ferrell.

Later, I spent three hours weeding out the ice plant on the back slope, clearing two-thirds of the way down the forty-eight foot planted strip. The entire Back Border Garden received supplemental water including the new sedum beside the aptenia. The great and joyful surprise was the tricolor sedum around the mahonia that may have established itself in spite of all my efforts to kill it.

The Triangle Garden received an entire bag of mulch, tucking in the new native verbena and specialty geranium. I also opened the drip to the new sweet pea on the Mezzanine Level. It seems to be an uncertain stage, whether to start to grow out or to hunker down for another season.

The native iris in Saint Francis Plaza is showing white buds, a very slow opener.

April 7, 2021

I followed the levee road to Stockton this afternoon. The scene in the central valley is vast acreage cleared for planting. Crews are laying down precast irrigation pipes, ten to fifteen feet and a good two to three feet in diameter.

I made a quick run at the East Bay Nursery yesterday. No verbena was in stock except a native variety, which qualifies as an unlooked for blessing. I also found a geranium with a pinnately lobed leaf, maybe with a variegated bloom, that was too interesting to pass by. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I removed the last of the verbena from the Triangle Garden and refilled the center with the native verbena and new geranium. That area has almost no topsoil, rock shelf being no more than four inches below the surface. I broke up the ground and added soil amendment, with Quick Start to establish the roots. What little soil the bed holds is nonetheless moist.

I also found a new sedum to try filling the empty third of the aptenia bed. This afternoon I trimmed back the dead growth from the aptenia and pulled up imbedded weeds and grass. The culling out was less than last year as I have grown accustomed to the dormant period for the aptenia.

I transplant the angel wings into a new and larger pot because the current pot was almost outgrown. The combination of Miracle Gro potting mix and Quick Start should help the transplanted roots.

At the end of the afternoon a pair of Canadian geese graced the sky, perhaps the last of our winter visitors.

April 3, 2021 – Holy Saturday

Last night we read the Passion story from the Gospel of John. That story has a detail I had never noticed before. Near the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb where his body was laid. I kept the Easter Vigil in the garden this afternoon, losing track of time.

I pruned back the last of the coleonemas, clearing out the dead wood underneath and trimming it back for a fuller plant. As ever, more weeding and acorns and generous applications of Preen mulch.

The California native iris in Saint Francis Plaza has a single shoot with a cluster of buds. I am intrigued to see how it blooms.

April 2, 2021 – Good Friday

Temperatures today are unseasonably warm, high of 81 degrees. I will need to switch to early morning work in the yard for the summer months.

The lower rockrose in the Front Slope Garden has a profusion of buds and looks ready to pop in a week or two. Mid-April is the usual blooming time for all three rock roses. I pruned around the buds for Spots.

I settled the new spider agave and lamium ground cover into the Experimental Box, and filled the containers with petunias. Each container including the calibrachoa received a booster of potting soil and a blanket of Preen mulch.

Weeding is the primary activity for the next few weeks I dug out a section of the Front Border Garden around the Christmas Star cactus, watered in the Preen and laid down a layer of Preen mulch.

Little Myrtle of the Far East is showing new growth and promises another faithful blooming season. I pruned back the firecracker plant and gave it supplemental water from the rain barrel. I will save the Back Border Garden weeding for Monday morning.

The lemon and lime trees are both leafing out and the lime tree has buds. Patience is rewarded. I will need to consider removing the oldest branch of the lemon tree; most of the new growth is from the base. The goal is to keep the citrus trees under three feet.

I spent the afternoon looking at past years for Good Friday plantings. Year 2020 was a miss because all the nurseries were closed. 2019 was, however, the year of the Circle Garden planting.

April 1, 2021 Holy Thursday

I spent a bit of time weeding and laying down Preen mulch around the marigold box. Now is the time for spring bloomers and the new annuals.

The white monkey flower is in full bloom, a great success. The variegated geranium in the Front Border Garden already has profuse blooms, I will clip those and the camellia blooms for the Easter cross.

I found a small container of lamium at Loew’s and will try establishing it in the Experimental Box, next to the new spider agave. The last attempt droned in the large bowl with no drain hole.

The unidentified succulent in the Back Porch Border Garden is showing its spring tentacles and buds. I replaced the manifold for more consistent water. The matilija poppies are self seeding with abandon on the back hillside.

The magenta osteospermum has a single white bloom at its edge, Very curious. The three established osteospermums are at the end of their blooming season and should be pruned back with the next two weeks.

March 31, 2021

I prepared for my annual tradition of planting in Holy Week, which was interrupted last year. In Oakland on Tuesday, I made the rounds of the Ace Garden Center and the Berkeley Hort. The Trailing Plant Section at Ace was limited but I did find one purple petunia (Tiki Torch) that may trail. I also found a fine spider agave for the Experimental Box and a dudleya for the great bowl in Oakland. The Berkeley Hort was responsible for the Prince William geranium, clarkia – a new choice for the turquoise pot, and a tall penstemon for the front porch. The bronze leaf begonia appears to have survived against all odds.

The pale yellow and white California native irises exploded for Holy Week, giving me hope for the two native irises at the Ranch. They are just coming through their first winter over.

Jasmine in budding both in Oakland and up country. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the large crape myrtle and two remaining branches of the scarlet myrtle are showing new growth.

Afternoon temperatures were in the mid-70s when I arrived back at the ranch. I did not want to be inside so I mowed the lawn. Mike and I dug out and replaced two older underperforming sprinklers beside the porch slab. Seems to have worked magnificently.

March 20, 2021

Steady rain the past two days, giving way to lots of weeding including oak seedlings and acorns. Mike had the tractor and mower out for the first time this season.

The annuals have started with this year with orange and yellow French marigolds from Lowe’s, and a pale gold calibrachoa with a red center. The deep brown Preen mulch sets it off nicely. I dug out the containers and added new Miracle-Gro potting soil.

Jerry’s ice plant is back for another blooming season including the new growth. Poppies are blooming out against the snow drift back drop. Other wild flowers have appeared on the slope behind Zoe’s tree that I do not remember having seeded. Bonus package.

March 17, 2021

I spent the day in Fresno with Karen, and we wandered along the Blossom Trail. A late winter storm with wind and hail the prior weekend dispersed most of the blossoms. But taking a left turn to nowhere we came upon an orchard of flowering plum trees with white blossoms. Just beyond the next cross road was peach orchard with pink blossoms. We took a few minutes just to wander among the trees and the blossom atmosphere. Above and beyond the trees I could see the snow-capped Sierras that ring the Valley, set against a clear blue sky.

March 13, 2021

Spring is coming. The senecio that immigrated from South Africa is blooming for the first time, delicate yellow flowers at the tips of the branches. I believe the mezzanine plant next to the new sweet pea is also a senecio, just past its first winter over.

The variegated geranium in the Front Border garden is showing its first bloom, and the monkey flower is starting to bloom. The white geraniums, descendants of the Great Mother, are already flourishing steadily. They do not increase much in size from year to year, much to their credit and my relief.

A little more rain is due on Monday and mauve later in the week.

I mowed the lawn in the late morning and ran the weed whacker along the verges and down the driveway. Poppies and other wildflowers on the far side of the driveway are coming back for another season. Like a box of chocolates, Forrest.