Friday, December 30, 2011


DSC_2189_7277If you’re in California, have you noticed that the leaves in the trees are sticking around longer than usual?  Several people have observed this to me. 

DSC_2185_7273Sure.  They’re coming down; but leaves are still up in the trees mocking Winter.  Maybe that’s the problem.  It hasn’t been cold enough.  There hasn’t been any rain.  How about a little wind?  I can’t stand the wind – freezing rain will do nicely.

DSC_2191_7279Meanwhile, we’ll just have to be patient and wait OR know that on Monday when the tree trimmer comes, our wait will be over.

Below are some images taken earlier this year of Ajax to use as a scale of growth.DSC_2352_5778


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas



Seems like the geranium has a peppermint flare to it.  Just in time for Christmas - which looks to be sunny, clear skies.  Dang. 

Hope everyone has a great Christmas.  Enjoy relaxing and looking through all the seed catalogs.

Here’s mine:

Favorite Christmas movie:  Christmas in Connecticut – It’s so hunky dunky!

Favorite Christmas song:  Marshmallow World – Johnny Mathis  (I still know where the skip was in my father’s LP.)

Favorite Christmas hymn:  I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

You can understand my choice by dedicating only 8:36 minutes. Worth it.


It’s difficult to pick.  If you can, let me know your choices.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Frosted Scotch


Frost formed on the Scotch Moss this morning.  Thank goodness.  More freezing weather is good for the fruit trees.  Well, not so good for the citrus trees.  Citrus is covered on super cold nights (in the 20s) using a beach umbrella draped in plastic.  It’s easy up and easy down.

Now that the freezer door is open, California needs some moisture in the form of snow up in the high Sierras.  Many are getting nervous that the hopes of another bountiful water year will be dashed.  I’m hopeful but practical.  The garden is equipped with water saving irrigation.  Nothing radical – just practical.  I’m ready either way. 

You know I’m just happy to not be wearing swamp pants.  And that’s the truth.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is Citrus


Rio Red Grapefruit

At Christmas, all kinds of citrus is ripe around here.  I remember as a kid going out to the shed at the citrus orchards and sampling all kinds of citrus that could be purchased and shipped as gifts.  All the fruit was naturally cold, sweet, and juicy.  This Christmas I only have 2 varieties ready (or real close) – grapefruit and lemons.


Variegated Pink Lemon

It’s a brain scratcher seeing the price of citrus in the grocery store then seeing loads of wasted fruit in yards with citrus trees.  Fruit is left to rot on the ground until the gardener comes along and carts it off to the dump.  What a lame waste.


Even though I’ve never experienced a White Christmas or anything that resembles a scene on a box of Rite Aid Russel Stover’s candy, I have enjoyed Christmases with fresh citrus fruit and blossoms.  If I can’t have the snow, this is a fine trade.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trimming Trees


It’s pruning time in the garden.  The shears are sharp and washed with hydrogen peroxide.  The green waste can is read to receive the nubs of pruning waste.  The worn out garden gloves are ready to be worn further and the good ol’ pruning guide book is there as a reference.

The Blenheim apricot tree is 1st in line for a good grooming.  Once I’ve worked my way through all of the fruit trees, Farmer MacGregor will follow with dormant spray – more on that later.


The apricot was probably the heartiest of the fruit trees in 2011.  Fruit production is progressing nicely with this 3 year old espalier.  I pruned at the end of summer to allow for a little bit more growth since fruit production is supposed to develop on year old growth.  This winter pruning will be to thin out branches, remove any dead growth (none here), and shape.  I remove branches that grow downward from the laterals.  It’s too hard for me to get down under there for constant pruning and harvesting.  All the laterals have growth on the top only.  This practice also helps shade the lateral branches from the harsh summer sun.

I’ll post images of the tree after it’s grooming after all the trees are finished.  I hope to be able to finish everything tomorrow morning so Farmer MacGregor can work his magic.  We don’t have a Christmas tree to trim; but we have 6 espalier fruit trees to trim.  And not one partridge in sight.  Good enough.


All the fruit trees were groomed by the end of December 18.  All were clipped, raked, and soaked.  It was a very warm day.  Hope they aren’t tricked into an early bloom.  Farmer MacGregor will dormant spray whenever he’s ready.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Red in the Garden

Red in the garden this time of year seems to be just as abundant now as in the summertime.  Is the garden forecasting the results in November 2012?  Don’t know.


Pansy – Crown Scarlet


Snapdragon – Chimes Red


Skeletons of summertime scaretape decorating the grape arbor.


Lettuce Parris Island Romaine (green) & Marvielle of Four Seasons (red)


Geranium – No stinkin’ idea what variety.  The nursery didn’t have an identifying tag.  Thanks Bolles Nursery!


Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)


Some sad bell peppers from hotter days.


Lemon - Variegated Pink blossoms show a blush of red on the buds.


Beans - Borlotto Solista


Ajax’s well worn Kong toy with a nod to Santa to please bring a couple of new ones to enjoy.  He’s been pretty good if you don’t count terrorizing the wisteria and lilacs, destroying the Texas Ranger, and severely “pruning” the Bay Laurel.

Any suggestions for good “red” candidates for the garden? 

Poinsettias need not apply.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ajax the Garden Gnome

DSC_2171_53892 months old – December 6, 2010

It’s been a year since we picked up our latest garden gnome.  He was cold and wet and pooped in the car* 3 times on the way home.  Yes, I could have barfed up my In & Out dinner; but prevailed by not adding to the aroma.  This fella has grown into his paws but still acts like a puppy.  His favorite gardening chore is attacking and subduing any dangerous garden tools such as rakes, brooms, or hoes.  I feel safe.  He also has a knack for pruning.  Currently, he’s working on a lilac and a bay laurel tree.  He has completely pruned (killed) a Texas Ranger.  There is also a wisteria that I hope comes back in the spring.DSC_2196_54122 months old – December 7, 2010

DSC_2237_7058One year old – November 4, 2011

Probably the most favorite thing that Ajax does in the garden is race around the Chinese Elm tree as if he was a race horse.  He also likes to jump – jump high!  Fortunately, his weight (185+ pounds) keeps him grounded most of the time.  Digging hasn’t been much of a problem.  The best thing to do is wear him out/down by playing Kong ball on the grass.

Right now, Ajax is sleeping at my feet after enjoying a neighborhood walk and his dinner.  Life is good.


*  A puppy litter box with cedar chips was made available to the pup to keep him comfortable and the Element clean.