Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Sacramento has been stuck beneath its famous winter fog for weeks. So, when the sun came out for the whole weekend, we ran outside to meet it.

I have two enormous lavender bushes. They smell wonderful. The bees love them, yet all I want is to be able to see the bird bath from my office window. Last week I picked up some old fashion hedge trimmers at an estate sale. Lavender #1 got a serious hair cut.

 Saturday, I did my annual post-Christmas trip to SMUD (Sacramento Municiple Utility District) where they offer free wood chips to the public. Yard smells of pine trees. 🙂

Weeding around the compost boxes I pulled up a rogue red potato. Yummy.

Refilled the bird bath, a popular watering hole for the local blue jays and chickadees. And now I can watch them from my window. 🙂

I hesitantly trimmed back the Chinese Lanterns. Saved these few flowers for the window sill.


Out at the river, Zephyr couldn’t be happier. At nearly 12 years old, he is still a spry & handsome dude.

Trying to capture the both of us on our own, a tricky photo-op, but we’re both happy to be out in the sun.


Thank you sunshine, d xo

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I have been meaning to weed Shadow’s tree for some time now.  The crab grass was about to wind up the trunk,  and the city park’s lawn mower got so close the last time he mowed, he snapped one of the tree stakes in half  like a tooth pick. (If that had been Shadow’s tree, he would have been a hunted man.

The paper work, red tape, tree search, delivery, digging, permits it took to get this tree in the ground was staggering. I might have skipped it all and planted it when no one was looking.

I planted this tree four years ago, to honor Shadow, my first and most beloved dog who had just died. It fills in a line of plain trees along the fence of our neighborhood park and I walk by it  every day. I have watched it grow like a hovering parent. In hot months I have watered it, weeded it, fertilized it and even wound  protective tape about it during soccer season.

Trees, for whatever horrific reason, get badly abused around here, branches snapped off, bark peeled, spray painted or simply torn down. They need all the help they can get. I love this tree.

An hour later in the blistering heat–Zephyr watching from the shade–it is nicely clean. The lawn mower can keep his distance. 

Next,  I will lay bark and possibly some geraniums.  but my dad warns, “don’t bring any more attention to it.”  Good point. Let it quietly live, unflashy or beckoning to be bothered. Just watch it close and let it grow.


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Recently I was talking to someone about finding blue potatoes, then right away I found this mix at the store–not blue, but purple!  

I cut the purple tubers open & couldn’t believe the color! They were dripping purple!

Am cooking them now. Will I have purple mashed potatoes? It feels a little like food from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  Now I want to plant some. Will they grow purple plants too? Wonders.


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Today, I finally went to Talini’s Nursery in Sacramento to find two fabulous center pieces for the enormous cafe garden pots. It seems simple enough but I have been to two other nurserys with very little help and haven’t found just the right plants to take over the beautiful Chinese Lanterns that died in the watering system fail.

Today, was a success. This sweet nursery worker (below) showed me lots of plants, told me all about them, then stood around patiently helping me decide right down to the color. She gets big Helpful Points–where as Capitol Nursery does not, but onward…

Helping me wheel the vibrant blood orange roses out to my jeep. Tight squeeze–and with a seat belt!

Talinis Nursery

One rose in the ground. Florishes need fixing, especially on the left. I ran out of gazanias, plus the sprinkler is set for a half cirlce at 8 feet! Tomorrow’s project. Still, the color is beautiful.

cafe plants

Planter #2: The origin of the sprinkler depacle. I shoveled sludge from this planter that truely smelled like the zoo. Lovely for the dining table beside it, don’ t you think?  Now it has beautiful roses. WHAT a project.


cafe plants2

I had another $100 to burn, so I bought a few fillers for the large triangle garden at the far end of the sidewalk. Gazanias and this firey shrub, whose name–as always–I never looked at. (Bad gardener).

cafe plants3

I love this one. I may need another. So vibrant &, because of thorns, child proof. I didn’t pick roses just because they are lovely. A cafe garden has a lot to contend with–dogs, children, pickers, parking bicylces, cigarette butts and the waitresses keep throwing water glasses into the pots–with lemon wedges! Michael, waiter, said “but don’t they evaporate. . . ” Send this boy back to horticulture 101 .

cafe plants4

My garden. A labor of love or foolishness. I’m not certain. But neighbors have expressed their appreciation and that works for me. ♥

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The backyard is bustling like any metropolis. The bees are working in the lavender. The hummingbird hangs out in the tall sage and the squirrels are having their own raging bacchanalia in the walnut tree. Every morning the yard is strewn with shells and branches, like a post frat party yard, beer bottles and plastic cups everywhere. I half expect to see the little marmots prostrate on a branch, beer gut, belching. I have yet to get a walnut of my own from this tree. Oh well.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes are finally blushing.  tomatoes

And this surprise: an unknown Japanese cucumber had been growing all this time and I never saw it hiding in behind the corn. cucumber

Here’s one of the hairy little pests caught red handed. I can’t even sit in the shade anymore. I got pelted but good last week. Squirrel

While I was shooting this photo, the other little pest took a whiz from atop the tree and sprayed me. I got peed on by a squirrel. I hope that isn’t a sign of the day to come. Let’s call it good luck, shall we.

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I love Myers lemons. I mean, I really love them. My neighbor has a tree smattered in yellow like polka dots. They never eat them. I take them away in full bowls. I squeeze them in water, baste salmon, stir lemon thyme pasta and occasionally make lemon squares.

Three years ago I properly planted seeds I had squeezed from one such lemon, although my compost pile is filled with them.

First lemon

The seeds took root upon my kitchen window sill, grew larger until I moved them outdoors. They battled winter, bugs and various other attacks of nature that descended on them like locust.

After a year,  I had three plants left, one barely hanging on. They vary in shape and size, like siblings perhaps, but this year to my absolute surprise one blossomed an aromatic flower and then two.

The weather, being particular balmy, urged them on and this is the fruit of my labor–my very first lemon. It’s only an inch and half long yet and as green as a lime, but still, it feels like magic.

This winter when the rest of the garden as fallen asunder I have this to look forward to, one–maybe, more–delicious homegrown Myers lemon. 🙂

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Today is my two year anniversary of keeping the cafe flowers . Two years ago I sat and sipped coffee beside one of these enormous cement pots. A dead gardenia bush stuck from it’s center while an array of cigarettes and detritus floated about it. It was appalling.

Cafe flowers

I went inside at the urging of a waitress I knew and told the manager, Remon– a very friendly, flirty man whom I’d met before–that I was going to the nursery for myself and that I wanted to get  flowers for the cafe too. I told him I was going to replant that one pot.

I planted a fiery apricot Chinese Lantern surrounded by various  flowers I had no name for. It looked lovely. Customers applauded; I referred them to Remon.

So, I planted another, then all five; then later–a very ambitious undertaking–I dug up a 10 feet long triangle of curbed ground along their side door. A dead begonia, weeds. I pulled up buckets and buckets of cement clods beneath sparse inches of dirt. The cooks hauled them to the dumpster in intervals. It was nearing 100 degrees. We were exhausted.

I imported dirt, mulched, watered, fertilized, then finally, I planted: two French lavenders, rosemary, a gardenia, yarrow, wild grasses and a plethora of yellow, orange, pink and white Gazanias. In the spring I added sunflowers that grew to overlooks one table. It looked wild and lovely and I have fought to keep it that way.

Cafe flowers2

Customers are the enemy. Cigarette butts, gum, lemon wedges from water glasses (wait staff) and various unwanted food pieces. Children pick the flowers–actually, so do adults.  And sometimes a random clump of flowers will disappear completely. I have no idea where to. Still, I keep showing up. I water, prune, declutter, fertilize and replant.  I treat it like my own garden.

Today,  I just buy flowers then give Remon the bill. I bought a new hose, a trolley and watering system replacement parts. I pushed Remon to get a new lawn mower man and  table umbrellas.  I mess with the watering system. I steam at Remon when any of it has been messed with. And often I can be found deadheading flowers as I sip my morning coffee.

And coffee is what I get in exchange. Depending on who you talk to I am either getting screwed or a great deal. Most days, I think it’s a great deal, because I have a two-trips-a-day coffee habit, minimum. Plus, I like having a place to go to chat. When you work at home there is no water cooler to stand around for gossip. The cafe is my water cooler.

Cafe flowers3

So, today has been two years of cafe gardening. I am their gardener; the cooks call me their “flower lady.”

This day is a good reminder that life is what I make of it. This includes work, relationships and even fun. (All of which I often think aren’t out there for me because I can’t, won’t, don’t see or find them.) But, like my garden, this is a good reminder that my life will take a bit of personal creation. Just because they don’t exist yet, doesn’t mean I can’t make them on my own.

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I had a rough morning. I came out doors to find my neighbor had dug two grand holes in my front lawn and planted  juniper shrubs awash in  red dyed bark.  I freaked.

I couldn’t fathom a person who just digs up another person’s yard. The boundaries are clear. He had to come across his cluttered driveway with a shovel, dig up my lawn!

garden holes

I was indignant, but something else as well, sad, even frightened. This inexcusable act of intrusion set off a history of personal trespassing that sent me into a rage and then tears. I was a complete mess.

I have been mistaken for a blank canvas my whole life, created for others, it seems, to carry out their bidding, their ideas, their lifestyles, their personas of who I should be and how I should behave.

I am not you–or her, or him, or a symbol of my parents, this family, your ancestry. I am not here for you to live your lost life through, or follow in your footsteps. I am me and no one else.

I pulled up the dreadful plants. I hate junipers. They are the ugliest suburban blight plant I can think of. And so appropriately nestled with dyed red bark; good god. . .

Later, after I had cried and told myself that my reaction did not match the intrusion,  that something grander and far deeper was going on than ugly junipers,  I wrote him a letter.

His boundary issues are his. He has none–and isn’t that ironic that I live next door to him. He claims he thought he was adding something pretty. “You are a gardener,” he said. “What’s your problem?” There was no point in discussing  it. He agreed to keep them out. I will repair the lawn and set my space back two feet to where it was.

I took Zephyr to the park after that. Laid on the grass, under a weeping tree and stared at the sky for a long while. We continued at home in the backyard, staring at the sky, sipping coffee, Z playing with his ball. I wanted to dig my body into the ground, grow roots like an old oak.


Staring at the sky eventually leads to rolling over and perusing the yard. Weeding ensued, then trimming, then planting. Planting is good. I want to erect a fence, a wall, steel girders, brick enforced, between me and the neighbor, but leaving it alone takes more courage. Saying the boundaries outloud and keeping them there are better. Return to planting.

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Hello, Just checking in. Letting you all know I’m still here. DahliaFound has been picking up business and I’m so happy. So I’ve been shopping and trying to get more posted. It never ends.

Meanwhile, amidst the world havoc I thought I’d take a minute today to appreciate my flowers. I’ve been gardening now for a year and a half at the cafe. That’s a lot of coffee trade. 😉 but the cafe is looking nice. My plants are happier with the temperature dipping. Soon, Autumn will produce a second spring, that only California gets. Let the flowers bloom!

Outside the Cafe

Outside the Cafe

One of 5 flower pots--Chinese Lanterns and Marigolds

One of 5 flower pots--Chinese Lanterns and Marigolds

Time for tea. Have a nice weekend, d.

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This guy–or gal–has been hanging out in my lavendar. Earlier this week he was green, now he’s blending in to the falling leaves. Nature is  pretty amazing.

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