March 12, 2021

I woke up to flocks of Canadian visitors on the Fire Prevention Pond. Getting to be a regular rest stop on the northbound highway. I can only watch from the kitchen window because when I open the door, they all fly off in a flutter. A dozen or so cows were peaceably munching away in Tork’s old pen. Digging up oak seedlings and acorns is the never-ending task for this month, with spot weeding in the Front Slope Garden this morning.

I mucked out Spots’s house, retrieving the heavily saturated straw. Seems likely to acidify the soil. I pulled out the overgrown grass and clover around the Berry Patch and laid down and expanded the straw blanket.

Rain cemented in the new Piazza del Serpenti nicely. I swept off the excess polymeric sand and uncovered more of the varied colors of the pavers, depending on age and exposure to sun and rain. Mike and I are both pleased with the end result.

March 10, 2021

I drove up from Oakland this afternoon, following the levee road across to Stockton. The San Joaquin Valley in the spring is amazing. Large fields are now being cleared for spring planting, Climbing up out of the valley I passed fruit orchards just beginning to bloom. Engaging music on Capitol Public Radio and I lost track of where I was, until I came to in Lockeford. Heavy cloud cover all the way across the Valley but only intermittent rain.

Taking advantage of a few more hours of afternoon daylight, I pruned the three crape myrtles. Large Myrtle and Myrtle of the Far East both showed green growth at the cuts. I pruned back for height and shape, and trimmed lower growth, dead wood and dried berries from last season. The center stem of the crimson myrtle was unrooted and really truly dead; it went down the hill. Two slender side branches were left and still healthy. I tied the two remaining branches off again, with room in the knots for growth.

March 8, 2021

I tucked in a little work this morning before heading into Oakland to finish the Stay at Home Tea. I dug out the oxalis around the radiant lantana in the Front Border Garden and laid down Preen mulch between the bayberry and the grandfather penstemon. The new growth on the penstemon was a joy to see. A paid of ducks paddled around the pond while I worked.

I fit in a little more brushing on the Piazza del Serpenti in true perfectionist mode.

March 7, 2021

I rented the tile saw from Ace Hardware yesterday. Mike and I cut and laid out triangles to finish the Piazza del Serpenti – only a few hours of work. Mike was at the saw, and I was measuring and marking. I even used the saw myself for the last few cuts, without severing an artery. With his dedication to a complete job, Mike dug out the borders of the paved space and laid down vinyl border stripping. We replaced the bricks that I laid under the soil on the downward slope to shore up the paver base and prevent erosion.

I spent a few hours this afternoon finishing the paving. I used the remaining paver sand to fill in major gaps and edges, and covered the entire area with gray polymeric sand. As idiotic as it may seem, I prefer using a small brush to fill the remaining gaps. Little brush strokes over an area of thirty to forty square feet. I need to forget time for a job like this. Rain is forecast for Tuesday, to help cement in the polymeric sand. I am very pleased with the result, and the time I devoted to laying the pavers was very much justified.

March 6, 2021

MJ and I were on the phone with the Overseas Adventure Travel agent this morning. We have tentatively reserved the trip to the Galapgos and Machu Picchu in May 2023. Apparently the 2022 tours are already mostly booked up.

I found a replacement radiant lantana at the East Bay Nursery, a trailing variety. I planted it this afternoon, replacing the radiant lantana in the Back Border Garden that did not survive. An unlooked for blessing, I also found another matilija poppy. I dragged a large border stone up from Tork’s old pen and laid it down to help prevent erosion and subsidence down the hillside. I named it Madeline after the story of the twelve young girls who went out from school, and the youngest of them was Madeline. As I weeded, I almost pulled out a new self-seeded poppy. They seem to be ready to propagate and spread across the hillside, as promised.

I had more oak seedlings to dig out. Two self-seeded geraniums determined to plant themselves along the rock border at the bottom of the Front Slope Garden.

The daffodils along the driveway have blooms but have not yet popped. This is the season for daffodils, all along old Route 49 leading down into Sutter Creek.

March 1, 2021

A short morning for inspection and chores before I head into Oakland. I clipped off all the blooms on the marguerite daisy at the tip of the Front Slope Garden, it being almost at the end of its blooming season, and pruned back the sprawl and undergrowth. The osteospermums are in full bloom, magenta, white and lavender. The magenta is so splendiferous that I can see it from the road. Now also appears to be be the blooming season for the bronze leaf begonia, a sturdy, workaday potted plant.

February 28, 2021

After church I mowed the back lawn for the first time this year. A quick trip to Lowe’s on the way home yielded a bag of Scott’s Soil Builder, a soil and compost mix meant to enrich and break up the clay ground that surround this property. I added half the bag to the topsoil pile beside the driveway and worked the rest into the sections of the back lawn that I recently cleared.

I continued digging out sprinkler heads in the back yard and removing filters clogged with algae. I changed the irrigation timer to two day watering, twice a day. The, evening and morning shifts seem to be working so far, with moist lawn and surrounding ground and beds. For unknown reasons the main irrigation line to the Large Planter Box and herb garden does not seem to function. The plants in that Box seem to take in enough water from the lawn sprinklers.

The irrigation system in the Berry Patch is working overtime. The ground remains moist under all four plantings. The raspberry that I thought I had killed has come back to life so now I have two and hopefully enough raspberries for the entire population of Ione. The straw blanket also appears to have done its job of keeping the ground moist and warm, with limited damage to branches blow off in high wind.

I moved succulents out from under the porch and into the Front Border Garden. Spring temperatures and mild weather are expected this coming week.

Green growth on Myrtle of the Far East New gladdened my heart. I will wait a week or two more before pruning and getting it started on its summer run.

February 27, 2021

A bright sunny day, the high wind felt cold on my back and shoulders. The cry of Canadian geese is becoming a regular early morning experience. I spoke with Elizabeth on her birthday and will plan a visit to La Mesa the first week of June.

Mike and I surveyed the back yard irrigation system in preparation for the dry season. We attached connectors to patch the main irrigation line along the east end of the Back Border Garden and cut out the leaks and broken stems. We replaced and cleaned all the feeders along the main line, once it was repaired. I also replaced the two-port manifold in the Citrus Box with one broken stem that spewed water entirely to the lime tree.

With healthy curses, I dug out a section of Bermuda grass by the large crape myrtle box. I laid new topsoil mixed with grass seed on top. Mike has suggested digging out the entire Bermuda grass section along the rock border and laying down new sod. Instant grass. Real grass. Maybe next year.

Later in the day we cleaned filters in sprinkler heads on the edges and center of the back lawn. We worked through the five valves connections and traced them to the station on the timer in the garage. All lines should now be functioning. Mike will undertake to diagram the system for future reference. Such as this time next year.

February 26, 2021

A warm sunny day, with no rain forecast for another week. I had accumulated a sizable bowl and coffee grounds and went the next step to mix them into the remaining topsoil pile. I will also try a few around the front border garden oleanders, mixed in with the new topsoil layer.

I spent several hours weeding the ice plant on the slope below the back yard retaining wall. The ice plant is well established at the fence end that was planted first, a little sparse just before the Citrus Box. It seems to have rooted down to water somewhere below.

Mike and I reviewed the irrigation system for the back yard. One valve appears to be permanently open and not responding to the timer. We unclogged bubblers all along the line at the Back Garden Garden all the way to the carpet roses, jasmine and sweet pea around the gazebo. I later disassembled the four sprinkler heads along the stone border at the lower edge of the back lawn and washed them out with rain water.

February 25, 2021

High wind this morning. The ripples on the fire prevention pond were due to the wind and not due to ducks. A hawk made its solitary progress against the sky.

I scraped in a layer of new topsoil around the two oleanders in the front border garden and mixed in the last of a box of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Lowe’s did not stock that formula of fertilizer, but I found and will try another all purpose plant food.

I cleared grass away from the photinia and will hope for the best. Clearing acorns out of the front slope garden seems to be the chore for the next while.