August 18, 2021

Back from Fresno after a few days of even more extreme heat. Heavy smoke from the wildfires in the Sierras now extends all the way down the Valley.

The sunflowers are back!

All volunteer corps, self-seeding along the length of the back slope. Birds may assist in scattering sunflower seeds up and down the slope. The sunflowers are almost spent, and I will try scattering the seeds uniformly along the back slope to see what takes hold and blooms next summer.

The pictures capture how smoky the air is this late afternoon.

July 10, 2021

I made my first trip up to Silver Lake today. At 600 feet the ranch basically follows the weather pattern of the Central Valley, with a high of 113 degrees today. At 7000 feet the temperature was twenty degrees cooler. The timber line is thinning but not gone at that altitude.

Following Highway 88 just past the Bear Reservoir, you crest a hill and see the entire lake spread out below you below. I wound my way down to the lake at Plasse’s Resort. From there, a two and half mile shoreline walk takes you out to Granite Lake, an associated body of water. An afternoon filled with the scent of pine and wildflower meadows, a gentle breeze off the lake flowing over granite outcropping where I sat. A bit further down the path was a high ledge above the lake, and a rock at the perfect height and shape to act as a pillow for a nap.

July 9, 2021

I dealt with a few chores early in the morning. The forecast high is 109 degrees today and higher temperatures tomorrow.

I cleared the irrigation lines to the two butterfly bushes that were sagging in the intense heat. The kangaroo paws received supplemental water because the paws have yellowed in the heat. It may be time to prune them back, encourage root growth and hope for a second bloom maybe in the fall. The correopsis is slow to bloom, not the riot of blooms that I have had in prior years.

I cleared out the herb garden, tearing up mint and oregano by the fistful. I drew water from the rain barrels to give the Berry Patch extra attention. The ground under the straw cover stays surprisingly moist.

I applied fertilizer on the rhaphiolepis in the Triangle Garden. The recommendation was for a nitrogen rich fertilizer, which I could not find. I will try 10-5-14 and see what results, if any, I get.

July 2, 2021

The investigation of spigot that feeds the Fire Prevention Pond is ongoing. It sputters for a minute or so, and then the flow reduces to a trickle. I will need to dig out the spigot to determine where it connects and what line it connects with. Other spigots sneeze but eventually clear the air holes. The tank for irrigation water in the barn is now nearly full. Any issues with drawing pond water up the hill have yet to surface.

The two larger myrtles have begun to bloom. The correopsis is almost ready and on schedule for its annual bloom. The maida elegans blooms in the morning and then folds up in the midday heat. It still gives off that wonderful scent while I was mow the lawn and weed early in the morning.

I applied deer and rabbit repellent generously on the photinia that refuses to die. Surprisingly, the white geraniums are not thriving in the extreme heat this summer unlike their pink and red cousins.

While I was away, Mike worked on the irrigation lines and sprinkler heads at the Berry Patch. All three varieties have come back to life although unlikely to bear this year.

July 1, 2021

The mystery plant is a type of fuchsia with orange-red tubular flowers. One of the successes flourishing this summer in the relentless hear. The French lavender is also profuse. Most of the Front Slope Garden is carrying on with just a drip on a two day cycle. I will let the last of the coleonemas go.

The two shrub rockroses and the Saint Francis Rockrose are getting spars for Spots. I will need to consider a drastic pruning in the fall to keep the plants compact and full.

The dianthus in the Circle Garden at the barn gave up the ghost. It seemed to have adequate water but was unable to take sustained days of extreme high temperatures.

One of the carpet roses in a gazebo box was in critical condition, strangely because the other was thriving. I cut back dead growth and will monitor the water. The Japanese euonymus also appears to suffer in high continuous heat.

Juneteenth, 2021

The first time a new federal holiday has been declared in 47 years. Extreme temperatures may abate a little today.

Most of the work now is checking and repairing irrigation systems as needed and cleaning the main filter. Mike may need to speak to the pump contractor about an automatic shutoff in case the pump starts to suck only algae, or worse yet only air. I gave the blueberries and photinia supplemental water. So far everything is surviving on a minimal drip and two day cycle.

June 18, 2021

The temperature reached 90 degrees by 9:00 in the morning and I expect it will still be at 90 degrees at 9:00 at night. Sunset is just fading at 9:00 on these longest days of the year.

I brushed the moss off the air conditioning units at MJ’s suggestion. The first use of the year and all three units, including the upstairs unit, seem to be fully operational. I will try running the unit for the main room from noon to 1:45 each day I am here, to keep the temperature around 78 degrees.

I spent the morning weeding out the back slope ice plant. Surprisingly, the ground is mostly moist and the weeding went easily.

The Saint John’s Wort needed a generous pruning, mostly removing the lower growth and suckers at the base of the plant. It is very giving with a profusion of red blooms and yellow berries. While in the area, I dead headed the Martha Washington geranium, which appears headed for a great summer season.

June 17, 2021

Triple digit temperatures are expected for today and the next two days. Voluntary conservation of energy use is asked from 5 to 10 in the evening.

I tend to chores early in the morning, rising heat preventing work after 9:00. Animals are in search of water wherever they can find it. Every morning I find the irrigation line at the east end of the Back Border Garden neatly taken off at the connector. I deployed cat litter and and deer and rabbit repellent. Deer and rabbit repellent also on Myrtle of the Far East and all three roses. Deer seem also to have found one of the ceanothuses in the Front Slope Garden.

Ants have taken over the kitchen. Just leave a knife a residue of a cheese slice on the counter and you will attract a crowd in minutes.

I cut off the spent bloom stalks on the sweet pea at the gazebo, and pruned back the dead growth. MJ spoke with a homeowner and gardener on the Skye Walk in San Diego who was trying to train a sweet pea up a trellis. The common wisdom was that the sweet pea favors horizontal and not vertical growth. My solution was to load the end vines onto the top of the gazebo hoping to encourage new horizontal growth across the roof. The sweet pea received supplemental water from the rain barrel after its pruning and shaping.

June 16, 2021

MJ and Judy drove up for Bob’s memorial service. We loaded the car for the southbound trip this morning, mostly treasures for the new Magic House.

I was proud to give MJ a tour of the garden that she has not seen in a year and a half. I shared my theory of the back yard looking out on the land, inspired by the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. She was surprised that the Ice plant on the back slope was not irrigated and yet was established.

The pink and deep red oleanders are just beginning to bloom. The liberta in the back border garden has a feathery pink bloom, even if I mistook it for a California native iris. Another unlooked for blessing.

MJ is willing to send the last coleonema on its way, leaving a large hole in the front slope garden to fill. Two likely candidates are the lamium and spider agave in the Experimental Box. The coleonema never responded well to pruning and always looked ratty.

We sat at the gazebo and watched the sun set below the ridge of trees. Jerry’s pine tree and his ice plant hold him in memory.

May 22, 2021

I was up early to muck out Spots’s stable and spread more cover over the Berry Patch. Spots got past me out of his enclosure and would have eaten his way through all three berry bushes, if allowed. Several minutes of a chase with a hit and run on the berry bushes. I am now giving Spots more grass as he misses greenery at this time of the year.

The purple lantana in the Front Border Garden has already outgrown its space. I cut it back by a third and cleared the sidewalk.

The spent stalks on the native verbena were cut back. I am not sure it will have a second bloom.

I kept the Insert from the last Communion Sunday. It includes a beautiful Prayer of Confession and Pardon that reflects on the image of the vine and branches. Forgive us, Lord when we neglect to draw deeply from the sap of life. Have mercy on us and prune our unfaithful branches My inspiration for cutting back the purple lantana.