July 24, 2017

I am trying out Wednesday as my turnaround day for the rest of the summer.  An extra day in Oakland lets me enjoy a bit of cooler weather and allows more time for  professional work. When I need a break I  tend the garden in Oakland, which is a little neglected.  I trimmed the dead growth off the monkey flower, and trimmed back the trumpet vine to keep it off my neighbor’s driveway.  I don’t want to pay for a paint job to remove a scratch on the new car.  Despite heavy trimming to accommodate the house painting last winter, the vine thrives and is more spectacular than ever.

I came up through North Camanche Parkway this afternoon; it is becoming my favorite road with broad vistas of the reservoir and the road that leads down to the bridge with blue water on either side.

I stopped at the circle garden on the way in and gave all the plants supplemental water, trying also to keep the mulch soaked.  High temperature today was 102 degrees, just as I was coming across the San Joaquin Valley.  The program is keeping all the plants alive during the next two months, the hottest months of the year.

Temperature is 90 degrees at 9.00 at night when I am going to bed.

July 19, 2019

I am developing my technique with wood filler.  The face boards are riddled with holes, and some are too large to fill.  The filler just oozes out the other side.  One large hole is just about at eye level.  I have declared it to be a peep hole that I am keeping open for safety purposes.  The filler dried in fifteen minutes and could be sanded.  Two coats of the finish coat followed.


Little Myrtle of the Far East is in full bloom.  I left a drip on the large crape myrtle overnight because the buds are drying out   The third crape myrtle tucked into the back lawn is not yet blooming, perhaps because the house shelters it from the sun for most of the morning.

The correopsis is wilting and may require emergency intervention. Mike commented on the dead growth at the base of the gooseberry.  I may need to trim back both plants, let them rest and add irrigation lines.  I also watered the three matilija poppies even though the staff at the Berkeley Hort recommended no water.

July 18, 2019

Mike installed a new gate on the backyard fence.  He salvaged the face boards and attached them to an essentially rebuilt frame with two by fours.  The gate now has a new center lock and release, avoiding the need to reach over the top to slide the bar into place.  The new ground spike will prevent wind opening the gate doors during the winter.  A work of beauty, including matching the trim pieces as they successively step down the slope from the house.

I applied two coats of primer to be followed by two coats of paint.  The trim pieces were new unfinished wood, and I sanded down the old face boards almost to bare wood.  Primer seems appropriate for the extreme heat and winter rains the fence endures.  That process on the rest of the fence has worn well.  I will paint the fence the same house colors that I used before.  The directions on the paint can warn against painting at higher than 90 degrees.  I will need to stop at noon and start the finish coat tomorrow, and the trim pieces most likely on Saturday.


July 17, 2019

I turned on the air conditioning for the first time this year.  I run it at 78 degrees for four hours at midday, shutting off at 2.00 when higher electric rates apply.  Lowering the temperature is not as important to me as circulating moist air.  Tends to freshen the dead air in the house.

The eastern two-thirds of the country is reporting record heat – temperatures above 100 degrees from Chicago to Boston.  From Boston Lucy discussed dew point with me, adding to the insufferable index.

Hurricane Bruce is expected to hit landfall tomorrow morning.  My niece and her husband expect to shelter in place, and their neighborhood is on higher ground.  The capacity of the levees is all over the news reports.  Of greater concern is the expected torrential rains over the next few days over a broad stretch of the southeast.  All of that rain drains into the Mississippi River and has no place else to go than through New Orleans and hopefully out into the Gulf.

Last evening I replaced bubblers on the cotoneaster and the neighboring fortnight lily  on the upper border garden.  Those two were getting drenched.  In theory, correctly functioning bubblers should maintain water pressure further down the line.  Seems to work – the white geranium, crimson salvia, sweet pea and osteopernum down the line are already looking healthier.

On that subject, Mike found an open line by the low spreading deep crimson rose spewing water indiscriminately.  He added a bubbler to limit the outflow to a drip and to force water to the two roses further down the line.

It is a breakfast nook, but I have all my meals there.  At dinner I can watch a hummingbird sipping on the magenta salvia just outside the window.  Must be something sweet in those magenta flowers.

July 12, 2019

From time to time I check out the Walmart Garden Department, although the stock is often overgrown or wilting.  But never say never.  I found a lovely silver and green euonymus to replace the lost soul.  I swapped out the uninspiring agave, which I potted and added to the collection in front of the terra cotta planter beside the summer house.  I added plant starter to welcome the euonymus to its new home.  Once more with feeling.

The larger of the two creeping rockroses at the west end of the front slope garden is  showing dead growth.  It is also not blooming as its companion is only ten feet away.  I checked the water line and bubbler, and pruned off the dead undergrowth and outliers.  I will also give it supplemental water for a while.

The red and gold lantana on the upper level is still growing and is a daily joy.  It is the first plant I see when walking out of the house onto the front porch.  I give it supplemental water because I dearly want it to succeed.  So far so good.

I finished sorting through the garden debris and moved the metal table to the summer house.  I look out of the office window onto a clear front porch, with the plumbago to one side of the door and a camellia japonica to the other.  I walk in and out of the office door several times just because I can.

Corrosive plant chemicals ate through the metal table over the years and leaked onto the floors.  I discovered that white vinegar helps remove rust stains from concrete.  I also was recommended to a Super Green cleaner that people swear by for cleaning grease off floors.

July 11, 2019

After his systematic review Mike left four lines free.  With a smile he told me I would have to look for new plants. Who am I to resist such a challenge? I found a mock orange (pittosporum) that is supposed to tolerate mild drought.  It is billed as a  woodland plant, and I will try it under the trees to replace the lately departed euonymus.  It should be a slow grower which will help in that section of the garden. I also found another gold lantana to brighten the opposite end of the front slope.

The succulent section at Lowe’s was uninspiring today.  I did find an agave to try at the bottom of the front slope garden by the bench.  I applied plant starter to all the new plants and turned up the bubbler on the mock orange.

During a water break yesterday Mike and I sat on the picnic bench looking up the slope.  The water from the pink and white geraniums on the mezzanine level heads right down the hillside.  I scrounged  for decent sized rocks along the driveway and in the cow pasture, and cannibalized a few from the existing rock formations.  The rocks shore up the slope below the geraniums.  I added soil amendment, dead headed the plants and will give supplemental water for a while.

Mike added a bubbler to the container with the butter colored marigold.  Water collected during installation, and I dumped out two to three gallons to keep the plant from drowning.  I topped the container with new (dry) moisture control potting soil and will hope for the best.

Penumbra   10.12

Half penumbra 12.46

July 10, 2019

One advantage of early morning work is actually watching the irrigation line in operation and repairing it as needed.  The main line at the sweet pea in the upper border garden was gushing water like a severed artery.  Amazing what a little duct tape will do.  Finding leaks is as easy as following the plants that look a bit too lush for the dry season.

The calibrochoa and gazania in the containers are responding well to irrigation lines and bubblers.  They are now in bloom and spreading.  The trailing petunia is unstoppable and keeps spilling over the sides of the container and onto the sidewalk.

The euonymus at the far end of the slope garden died while I was away. Only ten days.  With regret I sent it into the high grass.   Mike and I discussed the sprinkler system, and the difficulties sending water to the far edge of the front slope garden.  He  spent the day on a systematic review of all lines, feeders, bubblers and stakes on the front slope.  The bubbler at the euonymus was closed or clogged but now has adequate water.

We moved the work table to the front porch where it fits perfectly.  I bought a storage cabinet at Mike’s suggestion that fits under the table.  The cabinet has drawers for storing fertilizer spikes, spare stakes and bubblers and miscellaneous tools and fittings.  I will need to sort through the tools and store the lesser used ones in the corporation yard.

The ceanothus nearest the geranium in the narrowest part of the front slope garden is struggling in the heat – I will increase its supplemental water.  The correopsis is blooming on schedule.  The largest crape myrtle has buds, but Mike tells me that the bubbler in that planter box was giving almost no water. Mike installed a new spread sprinkler for the area with the aptenia and the Mexican daisies.  I am still astonished at how well the aptenia has taken to the spot.

The bulbine does not have an irrigation line because I eventually expect to move it.  Lack of an irrigation line does not appear to slow it down however.  My kind of plant.