October 18, 2020

I was up early for a little garden tending before church. The new white monkey flower has come back for a second bloom. A delight to see it becoming established, just in time for the rainy season.

I trimmed back the two butterfly bushes to let them rest, leaving a core and trimming off the lower shoots. They have always responded well to pruning – my kind of plant. Next fall I may need the loppers to cut back the central stems.

October 17, 2020

I watched the sunrise over the barn as I fed Spots this morning. Sunrise is now just after 7.00. I may need to adjust to my winter schedule soon.

At breakfast I saw a hummingbird on the bottle brush just outside the nook window. I am reminded of the hummingbird on Ben’s marker. The hummingbirds find any number of interesting sources of nectar in the garden.

A white egret soaring gently through the sky stopped me. I watched it disappear into Jerry’s pine tree.

Mike and I are starting the renovation of Spots’s house for the winter. I cleared out the manure and dried mud from inside. The four by eight sheet of plywood that will be the new roof received two coats of stain sealer, the color that I rejected for the barn steps.

October 12, 2020

This morning began with a light pruning of the fringe flower under the breakfast nook window. The blooms are just beginning to show. I usually look for full bloom in December.

Sent Martha a picture of the astermania this year. The full bloom is a little late this year but still magnificent. I will let it flop over the sidewalk for the next few weeks. Astermania draws amazing swarms of bees.

I lost the new primrose in the Circle Garden overnight. Time to let go of that dream and enjoy the Mexican primrose in Oakland.

I dug out the Spanish lavender gleefully. As is the habit of the plant, it was overgrown and mostly dead underneath and at the center. Removing the lavender will also allow the spectacular lilac osteospermum to expand. I will look for a rockrose or salvia to fill the newly opened space in the back porch garden.

Warmer temperatures due for the rest of the week and wildfire warnings. I was able to mow the lawn at midday.

October 11, 2020

At breakfast I can watch robins on the front flagstone outside the kitchen window. The garden draws lots of birds. Hummingbirds in particular find plenty of plants to feed from.

Today was the first Sunday for in-person services at Creekside. A blessing to see half of the congregation come back.

I removed the oenothera from the Circle Garden at the barn having found another “Beach Primrose” at Annie’s – camissonia cheiranthifolia. As I planted, the ground was moist but well drained. In the same quadrant of the circle garden I also planted a native iris – aristea inaequalis, having among other wonderful qualities a tolerance for clay. I added a new feeder to the irrigation line directed to the iris. The blue eyed grass just might survive.

October 10, 2020

This is harvest time for the grapes. We bottled 25 cases of a 2018 zinfandel barbera blend today to clear a barrel. A long lunch followed after which we ripped into the Republicans.

The day was cloudy with no rain, making for a spectacular sunset. Gun metal skies, with the sun lowering below the clouds to give the last light of day.

October 9, 2020

The Monterey agave has its first bloom. It wintered over last year and appears to be fully established as the anchor for the front succulent garden. The container plants will be sheltered along the house for the winter months.

Canadian geese overhead are a daily routine, now that cooler temperatures have come. Sunrise is now after 7.00, and the day is down to eleven and a half hours.

September 30, 2020

As I fed Spots, a large flock of our Canadian visitors flocked overhead, loud cries in the morning sky. Early morning skies are gray now even as the sun rises about 7.00. My morning awakening is adjusting to the shortening days.

The front hose had no water pressure this morning. Before giving in to despair I checked the filter, an it was black. The pond water is pulling in a lot of algae as the water level recedes. I scrubbed out the filter and water pressure was back like magic. Mike reminded me that we have a spare filter in the garage. Next time I will soak one filter in bleach and swap in the spare.

The bayberry off the back porch is taking on its fall colors – the leaves turn orange at this time of year. The baybery in the front border garden receives more direct sun and its turning is a little behind. No aster blooms as yet.

September 27, 2020

I am back from an overnight in Oakland, attending the virtual awards dinner with a tri tip plate from the Black Bear Diner and my final TEXCOM meeting. This Sunday morning I was back in church for the first time in four weeks, still on the church lawn under the huge oak tree.

The drain pipe is almost out of the fire prevention pond water. Triple digit temperatures and unhealthy air have limited my work in the garden for the past two weeks, and high temperatures are forecast for most of the week to come. I will fill the pond as needed, hoping for a cooler day or two to prevent evaporation.

The bowl in which the ranch house sits circulates the delta breeze nicely. High winds in October are a concern, at the end of a long dry season.

The photinia is showing its fall foliage colors, orange leaves are starting to appear. I hope that it can winter over and come back stronger next season. The asters have buds but have not yet bloomed, a little late this year.

September 22, 2020

I made an overnight visit to Fresno last week, and we went to the cemetery on September 17. I did not have much to say, but was glad to share a quiet moment. The hummingbird on the grave stone was a nice touch.

Monday ended a three week marathon proofing the Ethics Guide, when I sent back my comments on the second round proof. Now I am back at the ranch with flocks of Canadian geese for a morning greeting call. Back to the things that matter.

Today I saw a great blue heron on the fire prevention pond, perfectly still. I watched from the main room windows in the house, unwilling to move myself and disturb the serenity of the scene. After a few quiet moments the heron took wing magnificently.

2020 is the year of munching and animal repellent. The new oenothera did not last a week. The rhaphiolepis and the roses are being chewed to bits. The roses can not put out new growth fast enough to keep up with the damage. The rabbit trap that Mike and I set out last week was not successful. An animal did a fair job of chewing up the pittosporum next to where we laid the trap.

Cat litter still appears to the most effective deterrent.

August 29, 2020

The moon was almost half full last night, and I could walk the house by moonlight.

I spent two and a half hours in the yard this morning.  The main task was clearing weeds from the western end of the back yard border garden.  Every bit of two hour and a half hours  I worked Preen into the soil and added a layer of Preen mulch.

The three roses disappeared overnight, leaving nubs and and signs of leaf munching.  The back side of the lemon and lime trees were another snack. I cut back the bare stalks and sprinkled animal repellent liberally.  Amazingly, the lemon crop survived even though most of them now hang from  bare stems.  I will need to see if they keep ripening.  Mike asked about how long before harvest.  I guessed three to four weeks because this is the first crop of retirement.

I found a roseate agave at Lowe’s yesterday, light green in color with thick palmate leaves.  That agave will start another succulent garden by the crassula and the purple gray container agave. Eventually the lewisia in the Experimental Box will join them.  I poured Vitamin B-1 enhanced water in the planting hole, and not surprisingly found good drainage in the soil.  I will try a full circle stand sprinkler in that area.

I replaced the bubbler on the sedum with a half circle stand sprinkler, hoping to send less water down the hill.  The ice plant below that section of the retaining wall appears to be well-established and withstanding the hottest days of the summer tolerably.

I cut back the spent sunflowers and scattered and buried them in every green patch I found on the back slope.  I am hoping for a Van Gogh painting next season.

While at it I applied another dose of  Vitamin B-1 to the new oenothera and * in the front yard.