Updating my Garden Journal

Meā culpa, meā culpa, meā culpa …. Yes, I’ve let the blog slide a bit. So, I’ll start with something pretty.

IMG_1535This is Milky Way Morning Glory. The morning light hit it just right (not re-touched!).


I enjoy keeping a few of the vines in my vegetable garden. Always feel that the bright flowers help the pollinators find their way to my beds.


The flower beds were looking good a bit back. Presto Coreopsis, at only 8 inches tall, flowers all summer and is easy from seed to boot.


Unfortunately, this guy and his family have moved in and decimated a few beds (pocket gophers). I have a ‘no kill’ garden (sometimes that means ugly plants or dirt). Living on the edge of forests, I’d be killing and removing critter bodies daily if I tried to keep them out. Not my idea of a good time. The voles (tiny meadow mice) are prolific here as well, and quite voracious to boot, Thus every year is an experiment to see what works. Wire under the veggie beds is a huge help, but I think it’s ready to be replaced (ugh!). Purchasing wire gopher baskets can get expensive and building your own takes a bit of elbow grease and patience. So, experimenting to see what survives it is. Usually things look good through spring. I’m accustomed, due to the heat and dryness in addition to critters, to allowing the ratty look come September. I don’t strive for perfection here.


Hate to say what they haven’t eaten as seem to jinx myself and they attack that next – but thusfar Salvia Victoria is looking good.



Flowering Spring Cheer

IMG_0013Tips for healthy Daffodils (Narcissus):

  • Sun – six hours of daily sunlight. Without enough sun you will not get blooms the next year.
  • Fertilize when the flower starts to die back to help nourish the bulb. If there is a prolonged dry period after fertilizing, you may water it in lightly. Bone meal is not recommended because it can attract animals and it is incomplete nutritionally. Planted in ground in our nutrient rich clay, you may be able to skip fertilizer, but any bulbs in pots or beds filled with compost/mulch will need it for repeat blooms.
  • Allow the stem and foliage to thrive unfettered for six to eight weeks, until they die back naturally for maximum photosynthesis and chlorophyll production that nourishes the bulb for next year.

Narcissus are referred to as Daffodils or as Jonquils, reflecting the types of Narcissi historically grown on a regional basis over time.
IMG_0011 (1)
Leucojum aestivum, the Summer Snowflake, is an English native dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. Although in the right place it can create drifts, I prefer to have some close to where I’ll be passing by as they’re so delicate looking I crave a close-up view.
IMG_0050Narcissus Tête à Tête is the shortest I grow at only 6 to 7 inches – cluster of them are just so dang cute.
IMG_0019It works well with Muscari.
That I also enjoy in pots near the front steps.
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Violas make me smile, sprinkling some seed in each of my bulb pots in one of my annual late fall tasks.IMG_0104
Forget me nots are another well used heirloom flower that brightens my early spring garden. This one can become invasive in some areas My exceedingly dry summers prevent the unwanted spread.
I debated about sharing this shot. If you aren’t careful when holding your iPhone, you’ll suddenly find a slew of photos taken in “Vivid” mode. I lightened the coloration but couldn’t quite get it back to normal (and it’s been raining since). However, this rates up with my favorites so I wanted to be sure to include a shot of Dickcissel for my own records.

If you grow Paperwhites in pots – did you know that “A dilute alcohol solution limits paperwhite growth and keeps them from flopping over”? Check out the details from Cornell University’s experiment.

Love Narcissus for Spring Cheer

IMG_0105I adore spring here. When it’s not storming, it is by far the most pleasant time to be in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Mentioned before that I’m using the blog as part garden journal, so up now is a couple of posts on delightful spring blooms.
Grabbed a few shots between our rains – some of these varieties are new to me. Above is a Tazetta Narcissi, they have multiple blooms per stem.
I was surprised the Congress (split orange wavy center) survived the rains as well as it did. 
This is most likely Red Devon.
Fortune (also yellow with orange center) is similar a strong performer, a bit larger so good in beds further away. Stormed quite a bit last night, but you can see it’s going strog this morning.
I generally prefer shorter varieties as it does seem we always have rains around bloom time and those shorter stems recover better. Sweet Love (top photo, white with light yellow center) is a one of the 12 to 14 inch varieties. Above is popular Ice Follies, one of the larger varieties that’s usually prevalent in stores.
Kedron (light orange, orange center) is a more unusual color but also showed the most signs of being beat up by the weather.
Part 2 of my flowering spring collection will be posted tomorrow, so come on back.

This post is participating in Sundays in My City at ByClaudya.com. Stop by to see what others have been up to..

Catching up – Creating Knit Scarves

Mystic done 1It’s obviously past time to update the blog with projects I’ve finished over the last few months. I’ll start off by sharing some of the knitting ones.

I have a collection of long warm scarves that I’d shared in this blog post https://ceodraiocht.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/dash-dazzle-and-flair/ . But, as our winters haven’t been as cold lately, I’d hardly been wearing them. So, decided to frog of a few (frog means to undo knitting or crochet, think rip it rip it rip it). Knitters know that with mohair blends that’s no easy feat. But, with snippers at hand, I tackled it.

Mystic done 2The triangle shape is so easy to toss over my shoulders and wear on only brisk fall winter or spring days. I’d made up the pattern – yarn over increases two, sometimes three times after the ribbing edge and stockinette stitch. The scarves are laid out here, but usually they’re worn closer to the shoulders with a knot or scarf pin.

Mystic start 2

The yarn is Kidlin Mystic, a linen and mohair blend.

Mystic blockingIn blocking, you can see the increases better. I wanted this one wider than the blue (that only had he one set of increases on each ribbing edge). I’ll do a blocking post with sources and come back and link here. 

My icy shawl doneI’d worked this blue one with yarn left over from a gift I’d made a few years back. Frogged it multiple times as I worked out what kind of pattern to go with. Did this one before the one above and didn’t keep notes. Pretty much ribbing edges, yarn over to increase along each edge and garter stitch.

My icy shawl

Both scarves were done on size 15 (10mm) circular needles.Icy shawl blockingI‘m not a perfect blocker as you can see on the increase edges, but I do enough so that the  scarves look pretty good when worn.


This heartbreaking video came into my Facebook feed buried in all the Black Friday Last Chance and Cyber Monday buy this silly crap ads. GIVING TUESDAY is coming and I wanted to share it.

Pray for Paradise “I See Fire” Ed Sheeran from Judy Abbott on Vimeo.


The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. It’s also the deadliest wildfire in the United States since 1918.

Nearly 19,000 structures were destroyed, including more than 13,000 residences (with an average occupancy of 3 people per home).  Not 1,300 residences – 13,000. For many, their place of work also burned. Jobs in California are scarce – recovery will be slow and extremely difficult.

Folks not close to a disaster area may not be aware of the painstaking complexity of recovery.  The cleanup of toxic waste removal before any work can be done on any property took more than 6 months to complete after the 2015 Butte fire (that I was too near, so know a lot about) – and that was under 500 residences. All those batteries, tv’s and computers – stuff you’re not supposed to just trash – the burned waste is considered radioactive and very toxic. FEMA won’t put trailers on land that has not been toxic waste cleared; contractors cannot work there. A burned tree fell and killed a fire fighter in Yosemite this year – the dangerous tree removal also must take place to assure the safety of people working in the area. And all the infrastructure (for things like power) is burned.

The very few homes for sale near the area are all going for $50,000 to $100,000 over asking price and realtors report no rentals at all are left. 13,000 homes gone – it boggles the mind.

There is so much need.  Although, within a few days centers were buried in used items and pleaded for folks to stop sending such – even new items and toys had to be tuned away as space for people indoors is the first priority. Volunteer centers reported after 6,000 applications they had to stop taking applications. Word now is that volunteers may be needed in January and February, but not before. Money can do the most good, but for some reason people never want to do it – running off to buy things that they get angry  when their carload/trailer load of things can’t be accepted.

Local Support Non-Profits recommended in responsible media, most also have a Facebook page if you want to check them out further:

• North Valley Community Foundation: https://www.nvcf.org.

• North Valley Animal Disaster Group: https://www.nvadg.org/donate
• Caring Choices: http://www.caring-choices.org.

Larger Support Non-Profits
• American Red Cross: www.redcross.org.

• Salvation Army: give-do.salvationarmy.org.

• United Way: www.norcalunitedway.org.

If you want to know more about the animals, visit the UC Davis Veterinary Hospital page or check out the KTVU news article how to help the animals affected by California’s wildfires.

Screenshot from ABC news showing Silicon Valley size versus the fire’s size.

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If you’re looking to give anything this season, know that money donated here will go to people who are in need.



Plant Journal – Summer

I’ve been remiss posting garden pictures and really prefer not to have  a physical paper garden journal, but to have my notes readily accessible online. So, I’ll be writing a bunch of posts with the name beginning with Plant Journal. Photos are more for my record than any “ooh, let’s frame this” kind of thing.  Until I catch up, they’ll be out of seasonal order (say next one might be Spring instead of Fall).Calamint Marvellette b
This is Calamint Marvelette Blue (Calamintha nepeta, aka Clinopodium nepeta aka lesser catmint aka dwarf catmint – take your pick). It’s a 2016 Gold Medal Fleuroselect winner. Ground cover Verbena’s flower and feathery leaves are visible on the right and upper right. Calamint is a dwarf  and technically a shrub. This is its first year from seed from Park Seed. It’s advertised as “offers much brighter blue blooms than the species, which is a pale lavender” but all my blooms have been a light lavender although the spot it is growing in gets shade after 2pm (so it’s not sun bleached).  I’m beginning to wonder if Park’s seed is Marvelette or somehow crossed with the species. At first I was disappointed as the blooms are teeny and mine has more of a progression of blooms up the stem than the all-at-once effect shown in Park’s photos. Supposed to only reach 8 inches high, some of my flowering stems are about 12 inches. But, it’s a very neat mound of a tiny shrub that I’m starting to think could be quite useful.  Next season I’ll see if some of it can handle my sunnier beds.

Calendula Fiesta z
Remy’s Sample Seed shop had included Calendula Fiesta Gitana, a Fleuroselect Bronze Medal winner, as an extra in my seed order and I’ve grown it for a few seasons now. Mine’s always the yellow (orange is also available). It stays compact (under 12 inches) and neat. The pollinators love it. But, it gets pretty heat stressed by early July in my dry sunny bed and starts to look  pathetic. I’ll be adding a note to my recurring Google calendar to just rip it out once it starts to look bad as it doesn’t really recover even with additional water. But, it’s easy from seed so I’ll treat it as a spring / early summer annual. 

Calibrachoa z
Like people, plants have dominant genes. Well, for Calibrachoa – the dominant appears to be pink. I’ve only ever purchased it in Terra Cotta but this is what I have growing now. It does beautifully in the bed with afternoon shade. This one’s a ground hugger, nice and low. Could be the voles, as it’s not handling the full sun bed by July.

Coreopsis Presto b
One of my new little gems that I LOVE is Coreopsis Presto (height < 8 inches).  First year grown from seed from Park Seed again. I’ve been searching out dwarf plants as I live in Northern California and fires can be a problem. Smaller plants with more space between them = less fuel = safer here. That’s a young variegated Liriope coming through it that I’ll move once cooler weather settles in. Coreopsis usually handle my full sun beds with brilliant vigor so I plan to purchase even more seed (it’s an F1 hybrid) to start additional plants this year. Hoping they can help me out in the ‘late summer chopped everything back’ horrid looking space I endure July through September here. This variety was awarded a Fleuroselect Gold Medal.

Echinacea b
I’ve plunked these in with the summer photos – but it’s early summer. Everything was chopped down to 8 inches in July and hasn’t rebloomed. Seed for the Pow Wow Echinacea was shared with me and I don’t know if that plant comes true from saved seed (most hybrids do not). Mine has stayed under 24 inches (good) and although the petals recurve it’s not as pronounced as the species (also good in my book). My main complaint is that it didn’t rebloom. Asked another Master Gardener here and she also finds the Echinacea don’t rebloom as well as say Rudbeckia or Coreopsis. I’ll leave it but won’t be propagating more. Its color does blend beautifully with the Lychnis coronaria (aka Silene coronaria) Rose Campion. Rose Campion is a prolific re-seeder, problematic in areas with easy growing conditions, tough enough to survive and flower here (a plus). Self seeding is reliable enough that I simply yanked out and composted the tall specimens in July, just banging the seedheads about.

Hibiscus syriacus lavender
This photo is more pink where my bloom is actually lavender. I’m thrilled with the light purple as I don’t want any more pink in the garden and have been searching out white and purples. Luck was with me as Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon, will often revert to pink from seed saved from many different color cultivars. When I grew this from seed, I had trouble finding any information about growth rate. Here it flowered this it’s second summer and grew about 2 1/2 foot tall. I’ll try some of these planted in the ground next season but also keep a few more protected in pots.

It turns out I’ll need at least one additional post to note what I want to capture regarding summer growing. The vegetable garden didn’t do as well as I’d like – my main note for next year regarding veggies  is to plant more Sungold cherry tomato as that one excelled. Off to write more posts, so stay tuned. 🙂 

Maggie’s Eva’s Shawl

Eva's Shawl blockedWith our horridly hot summers here, I like to knit or crochet in the afternoons. It’s just too hot to do anything that requires moving about or intense concentration even with a/c. To boot, California tends to stay blanketed in smoke from the many fires that plague us as summer moves on. Can’t do much outdoors. So, needlework it is.

Eva's shawl
If the item is larger, a TV tray table (breakfast in bed table) will keep the fabric off you while you knit. The added bonus of summertime needlework is that blocking anything is easy. It’s so dry that if you put something sopping wet on a towel on carpet – everything’d be bone dry the next day. I make a practice of washing and blocking any item that needs it during the summer (have I mentioned we’re dry here?).

Eva's Shawl 1
Picked Wool Ease Navy Sprinkles yarn (a discontinued colorway) out of my stash with thoughts for a shawl. I found a beautiful free pattern right here on WordPress: https://milobo.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/evas-shawl-pattern/. I love this pattern!

Eva's Shawl 2
Use markers and this is a joy to work. Very simple crochet stitches with easy repeats makes this a relaxing project you don’t have to concentrate on.

Eva's unblocked
Although Wool Eases is a predominantly acrylic yarn – you can see from the top photo (blocked) to the one above (unblocked) that blocking does make a difference. Unb
locked it almost looks like a ratty old thing – blocked, ahhh – so much better!

Eva's Shawl close up
Yes, it’s for lace but I had a pretty good idea of what it’d look like in worsted. This shawl isn’t fancy but it does go perfectly with jeans and living in the mountains – exactly what I’d wanted. The only change I’d made is that I like to add a single crochet all around the outside edge. I’ll be doing this pattern up again.