From the monthly archives:

February 2012

Sunset Magazine & a Palapa?

by Lorraine on February 21, 2012

It’s the weather, music, my mood and the recent arrival of  Sunset Magazine that always puts makes me envious, wishing I had a “Sunset” lifestyle.

Sigh…it’s so beautiful today and although I have been working at my profession, I’m not in the mood to do it because the skies are blue, the breeze is gentle and the sun is soft.   I’d like to do nothing but spend my time in the garden, read the magazine and dream….

At this time  California poppies are beginning to bloom and their bright, brilliant color in the garden, are like sententials for spring.   And then there are the blue, dainty flowers floating upon long stems of Blue-Eyed Grass /Sisyrinchium bellum that make such an eye catching contrast against the poppies.

I have been listening to Hawaiian music on  the Mountain Apple Company’s “radio” for most of the morning and dreaming of a Hawaii and the peace and beauty of the islands & the time when I kayaked from the beach at Kailua over a coral reef to a small island.

Then there’s the Palapa….Sigh, I could be on a Mexican beach, staring out over the ocean, drowsy and dreamy.

But I’m here and not in Mexico or Hawaii but I do have my native garden that is a good substitute for a vacation, sans the palapa but at least I do have Sunset magazine.


“Oh What a Beautiful Morning…..

by Lorraine on February 19, 2012

Oh what a beautiful day…..I’ve got a beautiful feeeeellllinnnng! Everything’s going my wayyyy”….Okay, so I guess who ever is reading this, knows this is my attempt at singing the song from the musical comedy, “Oklahoma”.

And what does it have to do with native plants, gardening, habitat creation and other aspects of life?   At least my life?   Probably nothing other than it is a beautiful morning and as morning gives away to the afternoon, there are implied promises that the day will continue to be inspiring.

It doesn’t take much for me to be happy and I just completed spreading out four bags of mulch which gives my garden a neater look, especially since this year I won’t have the usual display of wildflowers.

And that is because it hasn’t’ rained enough to encourage the seeds to sprout but there will be plenty of California poppies putting on their best colors as they daintily slip off their slender, green overcoats.   And they never disappoint and can be counted on to show up and show off..

I am so far behind on writing regularly here and I do want to share some of the notes that I took while attending a class at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants…a few months ago conducted by Barbara Eisenstein on the exciting topic of irrigation.

Then there are those times that when I just simply fail when I try to do something such as digging up, dividing and transplanting some of the Douglas Iris’.   Most of them died but failures are to be expected in life and it’s best that we take them with a smile and learn something from them.

Although the ones that I gave to my daughter-in-law are apparently doing just fine.   Or at least that is what she’s telling me.   Maybe she doesn’t want me to know  she killed them, too.

I guess the song from” Oklahoma” is saying that no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, no matter how scared or hopeless you may feel, the sun is always raising somewhere and that includes your heart.

Figueroa Mt.'s Poppies/Santa Barbara County

It’s a beautiful day….




Four Years Later

by Lorraine on February 17, 2012

I was looking at the pictures on the right side of this site, that rotate and show different aspects of the garden and one that includes Deena who originally helped with it’s design, when I realized how much the garden’s appearance has changed.

In the four years since I pulled out the lawn and created the garden, I am amazed at the difference.   Comparing the pictures on the site to ones that I’ve taken since then, there is a huge difference.   I have since removed quite a few plants and changed up some others in the meanwhile, but what is quite obvious, is how quickly everything grew.

Here is a picture that I took in the spring of 2011 when the garden was in high-gear and displaying a bounty of blooms.   At this time in February, things are more sedate but there are hints that soon a show will be debuting, although probably not as spectacular as last year because there has not been enough rain.

Sometimes I wonder where the time as disappeared to….and I wish life would slow down a bit and I can’t believe that it’s been as long as it has been since I started my project.

But there’s never a regret, the garden is a lovely place to spend a few hours, watching birds (Especially the hummingbirds…they’re in love with it) and seeing how the setting sun back lights the grasses & plants at the end of a day  into a soft, sensuous glow.

And what do you think?



Fickle Weather

by Lorraine on February 16, 2012

It has been a very dry winter this season unlike last winter when it seemed as though we were being rained upon almost all the time.   Everything was so saturated and one storm was  particularly intense as it blew in from the southwest, smashing against the house with high winds.

I remember that I had a problem with water coming in underneath the front door and into the hallway.   Ha, ha…lot’s of fun.   I’m outside in the driving rain, completely covered up in rain gear and attempting to cover up the front door in plastic as everything was whipping around me but all the time I kept thinking how lucky I was that I wasn’t someone that was faced with losing their home in a flood as they were back East at the time.

Then I had a temporary flashback of a particular El Nino year when it seemed the state of California was going to drown and I had a leaky roof.   I would climb up on it  when it was raining  (Not the smartest thing to do) with huge rolls of plastic and attempt to hammer it down and keep the inside of the house free from leaks, all the while making sure I didn’t slide off and get hurt.

(One of my more enjoyable experiences of being a single Mom.   And a “thank you” to my son Ryan who was right along beside me, building  his character.)

But the storm from the previous winter ruined the wooden front door although  somehow my flooring survived the assault and out of this, one of my sons gave me a beautiful new front door a few months ago.

So, I’m digressing here…I think I was talking about the lack of rain we’ve had this year and I have been doing some supplemental watering in the garden.  I’m disappointed that none of the wildflower seeds I had sown a few months ago, have appeared.   But the poppies are plentiful and I noticed this morning that one has a cheery, orange flower bouncing upon itself.

A couple of days ago I purchased four large bags of shredded bark  and this weekend I plan on spreading most of it out in the areas where things are a bit bare.   All I need to do is get them out of the trunk of the car.

Where’s a man when I need one?

As I was saying, the weather has been odd this winter.   I few weeks ago it was hot and that’s when I had a rattlesnake in my sitting area and then yesterday, it became very cold (Something I hate) and it hailed!

So what’s next?   I think most of us are still hoping for more rain, as we certainly need it but in the meanwhile my garden still looks beautiful.   And at the end of the day,  I can enjoy the tranquility and peace it provides to me and know that life is good and each day brings it’s blessings if we are only paying attention.



Native Americans, Herbs & Lanny Kaufer

by Lorraine on February 14, 2012

Once a month I volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service to help maintain the trails north of Ojai in Ventura County, CA.   I’ve been doing this for a number of years and I always enjoy meeting people that show up for this event and spending a day with good friends.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet a large variety of personalities and from all different types of professions including those who are fortunate enough to be retired and have the wear with all to pick up a Maddox or a McCloud & join us on the trail for a day of frivolity.

Well, not quite.   We tend to work our butts off but there is tremendous satisfaction at the end of the day, knowing that we have made a trail more passable  for hikers, equestrians and and available to people that come out to enjoy wilderness for the day.

On my last event, I met Lanny Kaufer and as it turned out, he has a very interesting background in ethnobotany, the local native American culture and the use of wild herbs for ceremonies, crafts and gardening and has been leading walks and holding workshops for quite some time.

He leads walks in the local mountains to provide education for people that are interested in local plants and their uses and teaches how to identify the plants and their uses.   This sounds like something I should be signing up for, sometime in the future.

He’s a very interesting guy and as we were “chugging” of the trail together, we shared a discussion of our mutual love of nature and in particular native plants…

I’m sure that I will probably be seeing him on the next Forest Service event in March but in the meanwhile you may want to take a look at his web site.   It’s very well done.