From the monthly archives:

May 2009

Nature, Environment & Self

by Lorraine on May 31, 2009

 “Life is a chain.   All things are related.   When any link is harmed, the other links are affected.   We should think of the environment as our mother…Mother Soil, Mother Sea, Mother Earth.   There is no crime worse than harming one’s Mother.”  Daisaku Ikeda

Sespe Wilderness

Sespe Wilderness

I took this photo on my last volunteer event earlier this month.   This is looking westward from a trail along the Middle Sespe in the Los Padres National Forest.   It was a hot and demanding day to be doing trail work, but a dip in the creek cooled me off and being outside, experiencing the stong connection that I feel with Nature, is like being in love.

Sespe Creek

Sespe Creek


Birds, Bees & A Morning in the Garden

by Lorraine on May 30, 2009

I’m amazed at how much activity is going on in the garden this morning, since it’s not warm or sunny but overcast, coolish and gray.   But for some reason, the birds have been very, very active this morning and I cannot believe how many I’ve seen feeding and flying in and out of the garden.

Whirly Blue Sage/Salvia

Whirly Blue Sage/Salvia

The little Lessor Goldfinches, House Wrens and the beautiful Allens Hummingbird are all in the garden at the same time and it’s funny how they manage not to crash into one another in their crazy, speedy way of flying.   The Hummingbird got very “huffy’ when another one flew into his turf and it was very amusing to see the little dude “stop” in midair, fan how his tail feathers in display of his annoyance and big-time attitude.

The other Hummingbird, sped out of the area, leaving the Allens Hummingbird content with his “win”.   I also saw a Robin that was sitting very, very still on my stone wall as though he was frozen.   I’m thinking what is up with this?   is he okay?   He didn’t move a feather for about 5 minutes but seemed to just be observing the action of all the other birds and then he finally flew to the grown in my neighbor’s yard, looking for worms, hopping about and enjoying himself.

I plan on being in the garden this weekend to do some trimming and other things.   And as always, I look forward to that time.   Spending time in my garden, makes me become part of it and makes life seem so much more beautiful and meaningful.  Too many people have lost touch with the natural world  and I believe that it is essential for our overall well being.

Children in particular seem to be losing this experience as their parents don’t take them camping, hiking or just to the local park.   There is an actual term for this condition and it is called “Nature Deficit Syndrome”.  The first time that I heard this term, it struck me as so true.   I’m very glad that my own grandchildren experience nature with their parents on a regular basis through camping and fishing.

Santa Cruz Island Poppy

Santa Cruz Island Poppy

So get outside away from phones, computers and other electronic devices and renew yourself.  Unplug for the weekend….ha, ha and here I am on the computer but not for long!

Go take a “hike”!

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by Lorraine on May 22, 2009

If there is one bird in California that could be considered a “Wall Flower”, it would be the California Towhee, Pipilo crissalis.   Those of us here in California have seen the birds frequently, as they are very common to the area.  But most of us  probably haven’t paid too much attention to them because they are so drab in their homely appearance.

My garden is constantly drawing birds into it to feed and drink and have disputes (Think Hummingbirds) and everyday I’m seeing some sort of drama or just the daily activities they have in feeding, hopping about and flying in and out of the bushes.

Lately there have been two pairs of Towhees and they have attached themselves to the garden because it’s so attractive to birds.   But their little habit of kicking leaves and mulch around to uncover insects is messy.   Along with the Doves, they tend to rummage around on the ground, kicking up whatever is in their way in their dedicated and passionate pursuit of food.

The sidewalk is littered with their diligent efforts in this regard and every day I need to sweep the mulch back into the garden area.   I really don’t mind and I’m happy that they are here and finding food, they just need little brooms to clean up afterwards.

Looking at them a bit closer, I noticed that they are not entirely brown but have a bit of rust coloring under their throats and their voices  are a true “tweet” and I’m not talking about Twitter….  Although I’ve heard them “chirp” as well.

Yes, they are very plain, no color and just kind of a background to other birds who have more going for them.   But maybe the advantage to their plain attire, protects them in some way.

I actually enjoy watching them go about their business but I just wish that they would pick up after themselves.


Plants are getting BIG!

by Lorraine on May 17, 2009

I have somewhat slowly, come to the conclusion the Deena and I put in too many plants when we started the garden in the Fall of ’07.    It can be very deceptive when you are buying your one gallon plants, thinking that it might take awhile for them to grow and fill out. 

I must say, that that would be an understatement because they will most definately grow if you’ve done everything correctly.   The rule is that when you are laying out the garden, to space them about 3 to 4 feet apart, because the do grow quickly.   And they did and now I will have to make some decisions that I would prefer not to do!

I’m now coming to the realization that I will probably have to remove a few of them and I’m loath to do that but if I don’t, the garden will look messy and that’s not how I what it to look.

I’m already planning to dig up the CA Buckeye tree while it is still virtually a twig.   Because where it is currently located, will not be ideal spot within the near future.   And I have three Ceanothus (Far Horizons) in the main part of the garden, too.   And they have gotten to become quite large and spreading.

I’ve started to prune them from the bottom to force their growth upright and hopefully become an attractive small tree and get them under control.  Then there’s the other one called, Snowball that’s on the other side of the garden.   I’m thinking that it will need more space, too but for now, it’s still small so I won’t touch it.

I’m yanking out Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus, as it has become a nuisance.   It mounds and starts to cover every plant in the immediate area.   And I thought the Poppies were bad, these cute little plants are monsters.

It’s about 90 degrees this morning and I’ve been tackling this stuff for the last two hours.   I’m hot, sweaty and ready for a fruit smoothie.


Taking Time in the Garden

by Lorraine on May 16, 2009

I realized that I’ve been a bit behind in doing some routine garden maintainance  and even though it is a native plant garden, there is still some things that have to be taken care of.

All of a sudden I began to notice how LARGE some of the plants have become and that the earlier bloom was beginning to fade.   Especially the Poppies.   The were looking pretty unattractive, gray, drab foliage and dead branches and leaves under the plants.

I prepared a little bit in advance of pulling them out, because I remembered from last year what a total pain the were.   Very, very tough to pull and the roots on some of them were as long a 8 to 10 inches and I swear they looked like carrots.

I started pouring some water on them over a few days to loosen them up a bit and sure enough, pulling them out this time was quite a bit easier.   There are still some very small seedlings but I know that as things get warmer, they will die out.

The Wooly Blue Curls look awesome and each bush has become fairly large as well as the Sticky Monkey Flowers.  The California Bush Daisy is covered in flowers and I spent a great deal of time deadheading them to make them look better.

It’s hot today but the garden thrives in this kind of weather and I can see that the Fuchsias are getting reading for their vibrant bloom later in the Summer and there is lots of bird activity.

The photo above is of a Mariposa Lily, Calochortus venustus.   They grow from a small bulb and I fell in love with them many years ago when I was hiking the the Los Padres National Forest.  They love the sun and usually can be found in very dry, rocky areas.   They also can be pink or yellow and I love the little delicate “brush” of color on the inside of each petal.

I’ve seen Hooded Orioles, Lessor Goldfinches, House Finches and a Western Tanager has made it’s nest way up at the top of the tree by my kitchen window.   I’m only hoping that when her babies hatch and leave the next, they will land safely in the garden.   I will have to pay close attention when I’m walking around then, so that I don’t accidentally step on one of them.