January 10, 2021

Temperatures rose by midafternoon, but no rain for the next two weeks. The ducks on the fire prevention pond performed a nice flutter as I came out the front door.

The last, or first, section of the front border garden has always looked ratty to me. It offered a nice contained project to occupy an hour or so. I dug out all the clover, applied and watered in the Preen and laid down a layer of Preen mulch.

I also dug out two daffodils who did not get the relocation notice. I will need to check on the bulbs that were transplanted beside the driveway along the rock retaining wall.

Today was the first sign of wildflowers, snowdrift, along the far side of the driveway.

January 3, 2021 – Epiphany

This morning was bright and sunny, with rain almost certain for tomorrow.

I pruned back the senior geraniums in the front slope garden – two pinks and the cerise. The goal was to avoid sprawl and remove dead growth from the core. I cut back the three geraniums by a third to a half, not as severe as at the end of the drought last year. Spots enjoyed his geranium snack.

Our Canadian visitors found the pond beside Jackson Valley Road. A lovely sight in the early afternoon light.

January 2, 2021

A brief rain shower fell as I was on the road into Ione – not even a quarter inch, but steady for half an hour.

I spent an hour clearing thistle off the slope below the retaining wall off the back porch, just beyond the butterfly bushes and the far end of the front slope garden. The exposed new growth received liberal applications of Roundup. At least I hope to slow it down. Bob Fyock reminded me that Amador County has a program for eradication of thistle, largely because it destroys grazing for cattle.

I loaded the cleared thistle and brush onto the truck and hauled it off to the burn pile. Later I inserted a file box of old brokerage statements under the boards from Spots’s old house. Mike has the idea of using the tractor to build a fire perimeter around the pile before we burn and to have a hose with a good source of water handy.

The ashes on the slope below the gazebo have done a terrific job, all but killed everything growing just beyond the retaining wall and planter. Part of my ongoing program for a defensive perimeter and an open view of the country.

January 1, 2021

I started the New Year by recording the music for the Epiphany worship service. We offered the Southern Harmony version of Brightest and Best, that was new to the pastor. Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid.

In the afternoon I mucked out Spots’s house to his great annoyance and laid in new straw. Spots is definitely not retaining water. I laid the old straw was laid over the Berry Patch for mulch and additional acid in the soil, and fed the new berry bushes with vitamin B-1 water.

December 31, 2020

Mike spent some time on the irrigation system at the Circle Garden. The solar powered timer had a filter that was clogged with algae and the batteries needed changing.

Mike had shut off the valve for the intake because a pipe on the same system was broken at the fence near the water trough. Lots of cattle hoof prints in the area. Water shut off made working on the irrigation system much more pleasant. The water is back on after the trough was repaired, and a new float operates as promised. Drink up.

December 28, 2020

At Lowe’s this morning to pick up soil amendment, I found a Princess Pink Esacallonia. I had looking for a plant to fill the whole in the Front Slope Garden above the lime green ceanothus, near to my heart. The new plant certainly will fill the hole at a mature size of five feet wide and six feet high. I planted it with gopher baskets and soil amendment with a Quick Start chaser. The esacallonia should be drought tolerant after the first year and is hardy enough for the Central Valley winters.

The purple lantana that overruns the manifold will vex me no more. I dug down and transplanted as much of the roots as I could down the slope where it can sprawl to its heart’s content. The transplant hole was substantial and needed expanding a few times to embed the roots. The lantana should be near indestructible.

December 27, 2020

I spent a few hours this afternoon uprooting thistle and raking out the dead undergrowth off the slope just below the back porch. I finished with a healthy dose of Roundup throughout the area. A new technique this year, trying to catch the tender new thistle seedlings and give them a miserable death before they have a chance to set down roots.

The marguerite daisy is in full bloom. Mike commented on the nice surprise from what is apparently a winter bloomer. The camellia in the Triangle Garden has many promising buds that I hope will pop in the next few weeks. The white mimulus also appears willing to bloom year round.

I planted the two new succulents in the Circle Garden at the barn and watered them in. Time to let go of all the plants that I have tried in those spaces. The flowering quince seems to be taking root, and the native California iris is bravely hanging on. The Circle Garden receives supplemental water whenever I return from a trip to wherever.

December 25, 2020

Mike and Betty came over for Christmas dinner, bearing ham and sweet yams and Martinelli’s sparkling pomegranate cider. Quite the revelation. I brought in blooms from Grandmother Camellia for the dinner table in a cobalt blue bowl. Eucalyptus and pine greens filled the standing vase, supplemented with bayberry, cotoneaster stems and berries and Saint John’s wort from the garden.

December 21, 2020

Outdoor temperature reached the mid-fifties by early afternoon, warm enough for work in the back yard. I expanded the circle around he deep red crape myrtle, infilled with soil amendment and coffee grounds, and re-laid the stones. I also had a pleasant hour weeding the length of the back border garden followed with supplemental water. The white lantana delighted me with its first blooms.

One more fortnight lily was pruned back to its core.

Tonight is the longest night of the year. I looked for the conjunction of Mars and Venus that resembled a bright star in the night sky but it was obscured by dense nighttime fog. The people still wander in darkness.