May 7, 2019

I have been away for two weeks, between the retreat at Arrowhead Lake, the Jazz City Singers concert at Stanford Hospital, and Scott’s Birthday.  Route 395 was as spectacular as everyone had told me.  I spent two hours at Manzanar until the sun, the wind and the sand stung my eyes.  The interned Japanese-Americans diverted the snow melt off the Sierras, collected a reservoir and planted orchards and gardens.  The gardens are gone but the stone spillways for the waterfalls remain.  A triumph of the human spirit.

I only had flying visits to the ranch, twelve hours at the most.  I had just enough time to check on the garden and apply supplemental water before celebrating Mike’s birthday.

On my way out of Oakland today I stopped at American Soil and Stone in El Cerrito.  The 22 inches long  terra cotta planter that I purchased two weeks ago was lost on the platform I built below the summer house.  I went for the next size up planter at 32 inches and will hope for the best.

These long days gave me a few hours of daylight when I reached the ranch.  I cleared   overgrown grass and brush just beyond the stone border that marks that edge of the back lawn.  The planter box for the large crape myrtle has reappeared from the jungle, and I almost made it to the citrus planter box, the halfway point.  I also dug out a section of overgrown grass and distressingly healthy thistle along the rock wall at the bottom of the front slope garden.  Hopefully we are at the end of the wet season and the weeds will not grow back.

Both penstemons are flourishing, including the lost soul that suffered under the shadow of the overgrown oleander last year.  Another unlooked-for benefit from the pruning in January.  I will need to prune the penstemon sprawl shortly.  The roses give new definition to the word robust.  The geraniums are all back, including the two large deep pink geraniums that will be the glory of the garden through the summer.  The fortnight lilies are just now sending out their blooming stalks.

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