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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.



California and Santa Ana Winds

by Lorraine on November 3, 2011

Every Autumn in southern California we have a very “windy” event, otherwise known as the Santa Ana winds.   In many parts of the world communities  have their own terrible, driving winds which are unique to their particular area and we are no exception and upon their arrival the damage and  havoc that can ensue by winds which sometimes have gusts up to 70 miles per hour!

These winds develop out of the higher deserts located northeast of the Los Angeles basin and funnel though the canyon passes with a verocity that can be deadly and quite often cause brush fires.   Last fall we were quite fortunate, in that the Santa Ana season was quite mild and we didn’t experience the insanity of constant blowing winds and it was a relief to me, since I hate them….

On Tuesday we started to develop a mild Santa Ana and by Wednesday they were ferocious.   Downed trees everywhere, tons of debris and everyone is on edge, as it makes you quite uneasy with the worry of brush fires.

Whew!   They ended last night, there were no fires that I know of and other than experiencing a lot of sneezing due to allergies, there’s a mess in my garden.   I JUST swept it up and cleaned it out the other day and now everything is smothered in fallen leaves and small branches.   Even my little Certified Wildlife Habitat sign from The National Wildlife Federation got blown over.

But I’m relieved that there was no damage this time around and the worst I have to deal with is cleaning up all the leaves and small branches that came off my neighbors Ash tree and my three Liquid Amber’s.

However, this can change quickly and we are only just beginning the season for, what some people call, “Devil Winds” and I’ve got my fingers crossed that this year, will be one like last fall.   Very, little wind and very little worry.

Just dried and cracked skin.   I need lots of good, creamy lotion.



California and Native Plants

by Lorraine on July 15, 2011

As I open my front door each morning and take a peek outside to see how the day is looking, I wonderful fragrance of sage wafts around me.   The sages have just about finished blooming and in particular this year, they all grew to become quite large as they gorged upon  the rain that fell during our very wet winter.

They were absolutely spectacular with all the the branches covered in flowers that lasted for weeks.   The shades were from the deepest blue, to pale pink and of course white.   I would cut some branches and bring them inside to enjoy them while the bloom lasted.   What a display this year we have had  and now it’s ending as we move into another season.

Sigh…there is never a day that I regret having my garden and it’s the one place that I can retreat to when I need to simply ground myself and reconnect with nature, even if it is only in my front yard.

We have had only a few hot days so far, but typically in southern California the hottest months of the year are August and September and if we have the seasonal Santa Ana winds in the fall, the heat will continue.   And that used to be considered our brush fire season, but that now seems to include the entire year as the climate is changing.

My garden put on a spectacular show of flowers this past spring, especially the penstemons, Woolly Curls and of course the poppies.   But there were also are native Iris, Monkey Flowers and the ceanothus.   The garden was a wash in various shades of blue, with yellow and butter scotch shades emanating from the Monkey Flowers and the Channnel Island Poppy bush.

And that is only a very brief list of the entertainers.   There were many more particpants in the celebration of spring and I hope they won’t be offended if I leave them off the credits here on the blog.

Now the Fuchsias are just starting to bloom and along with their beautiful silvery foliage they will fill the eye with delight.  I particularly enjoy looking at them late in the day as the sun is setting because they  postively  shine in the receding light with their orangey-red glow.

As I open my door each morning, there is the fragrance of sage.   As I open my door each morning, there is a new beginning.   And as I open my door every morning, there is the delight and appreciation for my own life and that of nature.

What is out your door?


Native Plant Garden Melody

by Lorraine on May 5, 2010

Well, that’s how I tend to think of my garden, a melody or maybe a concerto.   Not only is there the wonderful smells and textures of the plants but there is most definitely a melody; a melody of tranquility and peace.

Something that everyone seeks and needs in their lives.

And it is an entire orchestra made  up of nature’s instruments that plays their arias throughout the day that consists of many different tunes and songs, wending their lovely melodies into our hearts and minds.

Obviously the birds lend their voices and lately there has been quite a number of visiting musicians to the garden.   Humming Birds, House Finches, Lessor Goldfinches, Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves, the return of the Hooded Orioles and others.

And there are the bees….they have so many choices to collect pollen.   I wonder where their homecomb stash is?

The “Hummers” have a favorite perch on a bend stem on the Channel Island poppy bush and although the stem looks a bit unattractive, I wouldn’t dream of removing their throne, since they love overseeing the garden from it and chasing off any unwanted interlopers.

Bush Anemone Starting to Bloom

In the last few days the Bush Anemone has begin to bloom and has the most beautiful, white flowers on it that look like small Camillas and I am sure that the Hummingbirds and bees will be visiting it for its nectar as it is quite alluring in its appearance.

The Bees and Hummingbirds will love this!

The melody raises and falls, there is a variation in the tune and each day the rhythm of the melody of wind, temperature and song changes to reflect the nuances of nature and life goes on…

And that’s one reason for having a native garden.   I become part of it too and lend my melody of love to it’s pages.

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Spring’s Arrival in California

by Lorraine on March 27, 2010

The sun is warm, the skies are blue and oddly, we are experiencing Santa Ana winds that typically are an event that happens in the fall months in California and hearld our brush fire season.  But certainly not in the springtime.

I am in my garden, writing this on my new lap top and listening to it blow though the trees with a “sigh”, gently swirling around me as I write and with it’s song, that of the birds too.

With the warmer weather we have already experienced our first rattlesnake of the season, who happened to be dozing underneath a trash barrel and as my neighbor went to pull it in from the street…there was the reptilian surprise.   Needless to say, I am paying more attention to where I put my hands as I poke around in my garden, as a snake bite would certainly ruin any one’s day including mine.

The garden is flush with new bloosoms and fragrance.   Just about everything in it is blooming or just starting to.  I can’t begin to give a list here, as it would be too long but some of the plants that are now blooming are Woolly Blue Curls/Trichostema lanatum, Blue-eyed Grass/sisyrinchium bellum, Penstemons,  including the spectabilis, all the Salvias, India mallow and also Apricot Mallow.  

Some of the bulbs are just getting ready to display their flowers and the Iris’ are hinting at putting on a show, too.  I have two Ceanothus otherwise know as  Far Horizon and they have been blooming for the last several weeks along with the Howard McMinn manzanita.  And not to be left out, the Monkey flowers/Mimulus and Coyote Mint/Mondarella villosa are blooming as well.

In the next few weeks, the garden’s display will only become better, just in time for the Republican Womens’ Club Garden tour which I am on this year.   My garden is the first native plant landscape that they have featured in their tour and I know that the members will have many questions about it, since they are unfamiliar with this type of landscaping.

There are some wildflowers blooming and of course, one of them is the California Poppy and some Baby Blue Eyes.   In the last month and a half I had a problem with a gopher  and this dope managed to eat quite a few of the roots of the poppies, killing a number of them.  So my poppies this year are a little less impressive but still make a glorous fluttery glow with their delicate orange flowers.

Spring has arrived, summer is around the corner and beauty and nature thrive in my garden.

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